Not all the spiritual paths are actually saying the same thing or pointing-to the same “result” of training in their methods.  That is a bit of a heresy in pop-spirituality circles, but it’s true.

The basic distinctions are between “dualistic,” e.g., classical yoga à la Patānjali or Sant Mat, and “non-dual,” e.g., Advaita Vedanta.

There is also the difference between paths that emphasize transcendence (e.g., Theravada, Patānjali’s yoga, and Advaita Vedanta) and paths that emphasize embodiment (e.g., Sufism, Shingon Buddhism, classical Tantra, and Vajrayana).

How these different modes handle the mechanics of consciousness and how they run energy are actually quite different.

The paths of transcendence hold that we’re “done” when we “reach” the Absolute and regard all the intervening planes and all manifestation as illusory or just leela, Divine Play.

The reason for this is in the “ascent” — which is not an ascent the way one climbs a ladder, but an aperture into perceiving each successively-finer vibrational plane. As one proceeds, the laws  of each plane become fewer but more profound and one understands how the finer planes are more fundamental to the structure of existence than the grosser ones … until the only law is Unity.

But when you retrace your incarnation from the Unmanifest into life, following the living thread of the Divine Impulse that eventually becomes yourself (and there are practices for this), a bunch of things show up that were imperceptible on the “ascent” — one of them being the purpose of incarnation and of existence-in-general.

And you see that all the planes are real, according to the appertaining laws of each plane — and because they all arise inside The One Being, they are as real as Oneness is real.

And you see how dualistic the intellectual “non-dualists” actually are.  They understand neither unity nor duality.

On a path of embodiment, becomes our task to live the realization of Oneness, in all of its contradictions, incongruities, and ambiguities, as fully as we can. Even when it’s janky, even when we don’t understand it.

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