When the nature of one’s true Self as Awareness/Witness is revealed, one gets liberated from the notion of “doership” and “attainment”. Self/Awareness/Witness, being non-dual, is partless, whole and complete. There is nothing for it to do and attain. Thus ends the journey of all seeking and attaining which keeps one enchained to the world of suffering / samsara.
The notion of attainment and doership is only an illusion created by the “ego”. The “ego” is the ignorance that clouds our real nature as Self/Awareness/Witness. While as Self there is nothing to do or attain – it is always whole and complete – the illusion engendered by the ego is that one has to become something or get something to reach a state of completion. Thus the ego binds us to the notion of doing. As a doer one is constantly acting in time and space to reach a state of completion and happiness. All paths, all journeys one undertakes, whether in the material world or the spiritual world are, ultimately a journey in illusion. Since all actions and their results are limited by time and space, no doing or action can lead one to the reality beyond time and space. It is only through knowledge of the real Self and negation of the false or not-Self, by which one understands that one has always been nothing else but Self/Awareness/Witness which is immutable, unborn and undying.
But the illusion of the ego is a powerful one. It has existed for millenia. Not only is it powerful, it has it’s own strange intelligence. No wonder, the Indians gave it an alluring name of Maya – something which appears as real but not real. Thus even after having an insight into one’s real nature as Self/Awareness/Witness, there is still a residual force of ego which remains. This is akin to seeing the mirage of water in the desert even when one has known or ascertained the unreal nature of the mirage.
So even though there is no attainment and no path that remains after one comes to the Witness stage, there is still a journey that continues in time till the illusion of ego is not completely destroyed. I call this the pathless path. It is pathless because there is no “doing” involved but just abiding in the knowledge of Self/Awareness/Witness. On the other hand it can be called a path because there is a journey in time wherein the illusion of the ego dwindles gradually as one continues to abides in the knowledge of Self/Awareness/Witness. The Bhagavad Gita says that “Knowledge is the best purifier”.
This pathless path is full of surprises as well. It is not uncommon for the knowledge of Self/Awareness/Witness to be completely overtaken and clouded by the ignorance of the ego again. One again starts entertaining the notions of doership and attainment. But the beauty of the insight into Self/Awareness/Witness is that once it has taken place, it can never be clouded permanently. Eventually the knowledge shines through the trappings of the ego again. This play of light and shadow continues for some time (even years) till one starts getting stable in the knowledge of Self. The point of no return to darkness or, complete liberation, happens when the ego is shattered completely. Though, even saying this is a falsity. The ego is an entity in the illusion of space and time. As far as the Self is concerned, it was never anything but Self. The Self does not need any enlightenment. So even ignorance and enlightenment are equally illusory concepts operating in the dualistic world of Maya.
The ultimate truth is that neither bondage nor enlightenment exists. The Self is all that there is – One without a second 🙂