Thought this might interest you, on nondual awareness and its nature and the subtleties of insight:
P.s Ramana went through stages too: https://web.archive.org/web/20190621085117/https://www.mountainrunnerdoc.com/page/page/5213285.htm
Mr M replied:
Bhagavan Ramana never went through any stages, because stages are impermanent and hence unreal. What is real must always exist, and that alone is what we actually are.
Dear Mr M,
Here is an excerpt with a quotation of Ramana as well from another site http://www.advaita.org.uk/discourses/teachers/turiya_peter.htm
Another reason for five states, rather than four, is due to the stage of establishing oneself in the Witness State and recognizing that 'I am' is not any of the other three states. Perhaps here, the term 'turIya' is used to stand for the fourth state as the Witness State. However, the spiritual aspirant has yet to realize herself as the non-dual Brahman - a fifth 'state' (so called). Hence this latter stage is referred to as turyatita, beyond the fourth (turIya). Sri Ramana says as much when asked, "Why is the Self described both as the fourth state (turIya) and beyond the fourth state (turyatita)?" He replies:
"turIya means that which is the fourth. The experiencers (jIva-s) of the three states of waking, dreaming and deep sleep, known as vishva, taijasa and praj~nA, who wander successively in these three states, are not the Self. It is with the object of making this clear, namely that the Self is that which is different from them and which is the witness of these states, that it is called the fourth (turIya). When this is known, the three experiencers disappear and the idea that the Self is a witness, that it is the fourth, also disappears. That is why the Self is described as beyond the fourth (turyatita)."
(from, "Spiritual Instruction" no. 8.
Dear Mr M,
I found some excerpts that might be of interest, including from Ramana Maharshi:
“When the traditional teaching says that the world is an illusion, it doesn’t mean that the world is unreal or not really there. It is not that the world is unreal – the world is absolutely real – it is just that the reality of the world is not dead, inert stuff called ‘matter’. It is totally alive stuff called pure knowing, awareness or God’s infinite being.
— Rupert Spira”
From rupert website: “Rupert elaborates on three steps in recognition. Firstly, we recognise awareness of our self as awareness of our identity. When we say, ‘I think’, the ‘I’ refers to the body or mind. When we say, ‘I am aware of thoughts’, the ‘I’ refers to awareness. In the beginning, we separate our self from that which we are aware of. Secondly, we become aware of the nature of awareness. Lastly, we collapse the distinction between awareness and the objects of which we are aware.”
THE WORLD IS REAL OR ILLUSORY? ~ Ramana Maharshi
THE WORLD IS REAL OR ILLUSORY ?
Question: "Brahman is real. The world is illusion" is the stock phrase of Sri Sankaracharya. Yet others say, "The world is reality." Which is true?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: Both statements are true. They refer to different stags of development and are spoken from different points of view. The aspirant starts with the definition, that which is real exists always. Then he eliminates the world as unreal because it is changing. The seeker ultimately reaches the Self and there finds unity as the prevailing note. Then, that which was originally rejected as being unreal is found to be a part of the unity. Being absorbed in the reality, the world also is real. There is only being in Self-realisation, and nothing but being.
Question: Sri Bhagavan (Ramana Maharshi) often says that Maya (illusion) and reality are the same. How can that be?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: Sankaracharya was criticised for his views on Maya without being understood. He said that: 1. Brahman is real, 2. The universe is unreal, and 3. The universe is Brahman.
He did not stop at the second, because the third explains the other two. It signifies that the universe is real if perceived as the Self, and unreal if perceived apart from the Self. Hence Maya and reality are one and the same.
Question: So the world is not really illusory?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: At the level of the spiritual seeker you have got to say that the world is an illusion. There is no other way. When a man forgets that he is a Brahman, who is real, permanent and omnipresent, and deludes himself into thinking that he is a body in the universe which is filled with bodies that are transitory, and labours under that delusion, you have got to remind him that the world is unreal and a delusion. Why? Because his vision which has forgotten its own Self is dwelling in the external, material universe. It will not turn inwards into introspection unless you impress on him that all this external material universe is unreal. When once he realises his own Self he will know that there is nothing other than his own Self and he will come to look upon the whole universe as Brahman.
There is no universe without the Self. So ling as a man does not see the Self which is the origin of all, but looks only at the external world as real and permanent, you have to tell him that all this external universe is an illusion. You cannot help it. Take a paper. We see only the script, and nobody notices the paper on which the script is written. The paper is there whether the script on it is there or not. To those who look upon the script as real, you have to say that it is unreal, an illusion, since it rests upon the paper. The wise man looks upon both the paper and script as one. So also with Brahman and the universe.
Question: So the world is real when it is experienced as the Self and unreal when it is seen as separate names and forms?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: Just as fire is obscured by smoke, the shining light of consciousness is obscured by the assemblage of names and forms, the world. When by compassionate divine grace the mind becomes clear, the nature of the world will be known to be not the illusory forms but only the reality.
Only those people whose minds are devoid of the evil power of Maya, having given up the knowledge of the world and being unattached to it, and having thereby attained the knowledge of the self-shining Supreme Reality, can correctly know the meaning of the statement "The world is real." If one's outlook has been transformed to the nature of real knowledge, the world of the five elements beginning with space (akasha) will be real, being the Supreme Reality, which is the nature of knowledge.
David Carse: “After the jungle, there is an intensely odd and very beau-tiful quality to the experience of life. In one sense I can only describe everything, all experience, as having a certain emptiness. This is the sense in which everything used to matter, to be vital and important, and is now seen as unreal, empty, not important, an illusion. Once it is seen that the beyond-brilliance of Sat Chit Ananda is all that is, the dream continues as a kind of shadow. Yet, at the same moment that all of what appears in the dream is experi-enced as empty, it is also seen as more deeply beautiful and perfect than ever imagined, precisely because it is not other than Sat Chit Ananda, than all that is. Everything that does not matter, that is empty illusion, is at the same time itself the beyond-brilliance, the perfect beauty. Somehow there is a balance; these two apparently opposite aspects do not cancel each other out but complement each other. This makes no 'sense,' yet it is how it is.
There is one tradition within Advaita which says that maya, the manifestation of the physical universe, is over-laid or superimposed on Sat Chit Ananda. I'm no scholar of these things, and can only attempt to describe what is seen here; and the Understanding here is that there is no question of one thing superimposed on another. Maya, the manifestation, the physical universe, is precisely Sat Chit Ananda, is not other than it, does not exist on its own as something separate to be overlaid on top of something else. This is the whole point! There is no maya! The only reason it appears to have its own reality and is commonly taken to be real in itself is because of a misperceiving, a mistaken perception which sees the appearance and not What Is. This is the meaning of Huang Po's comment that "no distinction should be made between the Absolute and the sentient world." No distinction! There is only One. There is not ever in any sense two. All perception of distinction and separation, all perception of duality, and all perception of what is known as physical reality, is mind-created illu-sion. When a teacher points at the physical world and says, "All this is maya," what is being said is that what you are seeing is illusion; what all this is is All That Is, pure Being Consciousness Bliss Outpouring; it is your perception of it as a physical world that is maya, illusion.”
From Zen Master Hakuin on the Five Ranks of Zen, “If the disciple had remained in the rank of "The Apparent within the Real," his judgment would always have been vacillating and his view prejudiced. Therefore, the bodhisattva of superior capacity invariably leads his daily life in the realm of the [six] dusts, the realm of all kinds of ever-changing differentiation. All the myriad phenomena before his eyes-the old and the young, the honorable and the base, halls and pavilions, verandahs and corridors, plants and trees, mountains and rivers-he regards as his own original, true, and pure aspect. It is just like looking into a bright mirror and seeing his own face in it. If he continues for a long time to observe everything everywhere with this radiant insight, all appearances of themselves become the jeweled mirror of his own house, and he becomes the jeweled mirror of their houses as well. Eihei has said: "The experiencing of the manifold dharmas through using oneself is delusion; the experiencing of oneself through the coming of the manifold dharmas is satori."” - http://www.awakeningtoreality.com/2008/02/tozan-ryokais-verses-on-five-ranks.html