Some of the essential conditions required for self realization are as follows:
Spiritual life has its own conditions peculiar to it. Without fulfilling these conditions one should not hope for self-realization.
Soul is the inner dweller. It cannot be realized by running after worldly objects, though this is the natural tendency of man.
Introversion is the concentration of the mind on the inner soul by restraining this tendency and taking away the senses from the external objects. This is the first condition of self-realization.
According to Kathopanisad, the self cannot be realized either by speech or by intellect or by hearing many things. In the Mundaka Upanishad, truth, austerity, real knowledge and the life of celibacy, have been taken as essential for self-realization.
3. Initiation from the teacher:
In the Chandogya Upanishad, Satyakama says that he has been told by many great persons like his spiritual teacher, that no one can reach his aim in the path of self-realization without initiation from the teacher. To quote the Kathopanisad, “Arise, Awake and learn from those who are better than you, because the path of self-realization is difficult like the edge of the knife.”
The wise seers have called it the most difficult path. In the same Upanishad, it has been said that if the teacher has not himself realized the soul, how can he initiate others? In the Chandogya Upanishad, in the parable of the man living in the country of Gandhar, it has been said that when the dacoit closed his eyes and took him to the forest in a far-country and left him there, he could come back to his country only when someone had told him the path. In this parable the need of a teacher to guide one along the path of self-realization has been very beautifully explained.
According to the Svetasvatara- Upanishad, unless the enquirer has sufficient devotion for God and for his teacher he should not be initiated into the path of self-realization. Some Upanishads have held renunciation to be the necessary condition for self-realization, but this has not been admitted by others.
After devotion, catharsis introversion, etc., and after initiation from the teacher, the enquirer proceeds on the path of self-realization. There are two important aids on this path—the practice of Yoga and the concentration on “Om”. When this concentration is complete, the self becomes one with Brahman and is realized.
According to the Brhadaranyaka Upanishad, the control of the mind on the body and the catharsis of the china through Yoga, make one suitable for Brahman realization. Penance is helpful in the catharsis of the citta. Sama, Dama, Uparati, Titiksa and Samadhi are necessary for self-realization.
One should practice the six-fold Yoga of Pranayam, Pratyahara, Dharana, dhyana and Samadhi. Asans or postures have also been described, but not included in the six-fold Yoga. In the Sandilya Upanishad, one finds the description of the eight-fold Patanjail Yoga. Ten forms of Yama have been described, viz.. Non-violence (Ahimsa), Truth (Satya), Non-stealing (Asteya), Celibacy (Brahmacharya), Pity (Daya), Arjava, Forgiveness (Ksama), Forbearance (Dhrti), restrained diet (Mitahar) and Cleanliness (Sauch).
Ten forms of Niyama have been described, viz., Penance (Tapas), Contentment (Santos), Faith in God (Astik), Charity (Dan), Worship of God (Iswar Pujan), Hearing of spiritual principles (Siddhanta Srawana), Shame in immoral actions (Hrir), Faith (Sraddha), Repetition of divine names (Japa) and Fasting (Vrata). In the Svetasvatara Upanishad, the physical effects of the practice of Yoga have been described.
After ascending the various steps of Yoga, concentration on ‘Om’ is necessary. The Upanishads have given much importance to Om. Om has been divided into four stages which are the four stages of the consciousness and suit different types of souls. These four stages are, waking, dreaming, sleeping and turiya, while the corresponding four types of souls are: Vaiswarar, Taijas, Prajna and Atman. The meditation on Om removes other stages and establishes one in the Turiya stage in which the pure self is realized.