The Master Key to Self-Realization

There is book by Shri Siddharameshwar Maharaj, Master Key to Self-Realization, that nicely partitions the spiritual path into stages that have to deal with our higher bodies.

There is first the Physical body that we must detach from on the road of spiritual cultivation - our body of flesh and blood. This is our unripe physical nature that must be purified on the spiritual path in order that we can geenrate the next higher, more refined subtle body of chi that internally resides within it as a potential.

If you can cultivate and open up your chi channels, you can detach from the inner chi body that is the source of our likes and dislikes, and achieve an independent, free roaming sublet body (deity body). This is akin to breaking free from the sensation skandha of Buddhism and achieving the yin shen of Taoism or deity body of Vajrayana.

If you can cultivate further, you can reach a state of mental emptiness and experience the Causal body. This is akin to the conception skandha of Buddhism or the Mental world of Sufism.

The Causal body is a state of emptiness, ignorance, or forgetfulness. It is also the realm of thoughts. In the Surangama Sutra, Buddha said its borders are memory and forgetfulness.

Surpassing the Causal body comes the Supra-Causal body. This is the real source of “I-am” realization for any sentient being, which is akin to the volition skandha of Buddhism. It is a subtle intellect. It is “I am” Primal Knowledge.It is the alaya consciousness.

While Ignorance of thought (emptiness) characterizes the Causal body, and while Knowledge (“I-amness”) characterizes the Supra-Causal body, both Ignorance and Knowledge are not one’s absolute nature. Letting go of even Knowledge, one arrives at the point where you feel one with all things and beings in the universe. This is the alaya consciousness or consciousness skandha of Buddhism that is the source of all matter and mind. This consciousness permeates everything, which is one one feels “oneness with all” at this stage of cultivation attainment. In reaching this stage ones sees the whole world/universe as oneself.

Nonetheless, the consciousness skandha, or alaya consciousness, is still not the real Self of either Vedanta or Buddhism. If one can transcend even the consciousness skandha one can experience the absolute nature or nirvana of Buddhism, or Parabrahman (Parmatman) of Vedanta.

Without filling in the details, that essentially is the path of enlightenment linking Vedanta with Buddhism. There are methods of cultivation for each body or skandha so that one may proceed to the next (stage of progress), and there is certainly gong-fu that one experiences along the way.
For instance, to cultivate the physical body we have foods, medicine and exercise, among other things. To cultivate the under subtle body we need to cultivate our chi using various cultivation techniques and meditation methods, as well as nei-gong methods. To cultivate the conception skandha we must cultivate dhyana or samadhi. To cultivate to the volition skandha we need wisdom (prajna transcendental wisdom, or understanding) which we also need to pass through the alaya consciousness.

When you study various sutras or teaching texts and practice special meditation techniques (“Where were you before your parents were even born?” “Who am I” “Neti, neti”, and many others) these can help you reach and pass through even the consciousness skandha.
The big key is that Shri Siddharameshwar Maharaj’s Vedanta teachings can be matched with those of Ramana Maharshi, Nisargadatta, Shankara, Samartha Ramdas and others. They can also be matched with the teachings of Buddhism, especially the stages within the Surangama Sutra. Together these give an outline of the spiritual path.


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