Here is Part 5 – the concluding part – of a new, short series on the Mandukya Upanishad, from James Swartz. This post addresses the nature of turIya and contains a verse translation of the Upanishad.
Q: Is there a difference in the teachings of Ramana Maharshi and Nisargadatta Maharaj?
A (Dennis): This is too general a question, really. The short answer is that the bottom-line message of any teacher of Advaita must be the same, obviously. But the methodology depends upon the teacher lineage. Nisargadatta did have a lineage, although his own style developed somewhat! And Ramana did not have a lineage at all. The absence of a lineage means that what is said lacks rigor and is subject to differing interpretations etc. This is why the recommendation is always to try to find a qualified, traditional teacher.
Q: I do realize that my question was too general and could not be dealt with in a short answer. What I had in my mind was with regard to their approaches to meditation/ self enquiry or the “path” recommended by them. In self enquiry Ramana stated that while enquiring into “who am I?” the I that is enquired into is the individual or the ego and not the Self. According to him, focusing on the ego or I would make one realize that it is a phantom and thus lead one to the Self. Nisargadatta, on the other hand, seems to suggest that one should focus directly on I am, which is the same as the Self. In this sense, I thought there was some difference in their teaching. Continue reading
Q: There are moments when I think I am the one that is creating my world with my specific positive thoughts – is that true?
Or is it the concsiouness bringing me those positive thoughts or negative thoughts? I know that I don’t have to ask for anything because in that way there is an infinite possibility of something fresh and new and totally different.
How do I pray? In silence only doing meditation?
A (Sitara): Yes, it is true. Your experiences (positive as well as negative ones) are constructs of your mind. The question is, what do you do with this information?
It seems that all of your questions are about, how to get a different life. For that you would like to know the mechanism of what in New Age (or Yoga, magic etc.) is called materialization of things, events, persons etc. Continue reading
Here are a few more short Q & A’s which do not merit a separate post of their own: (Dennis’ answers, so don’t blame any of the other bloggers!)
Questions addressed are: how to improve one’s life; the value of japa meditation; who it is that removes ignorance; and (that perennial favorite) why bother seeking enlightenment? Continue reading
Here is Part 4 of a new, short series (5 parts) on the Mandukya Upanishad, from James Swartz.
This post is not actually part of the Upanishad but provides a simple meditation technique for reaching ‘absolute silence’.
Here is Part 3 of a new, short series (5 parts) on the Mandukya Upanishad, from James Swartz.
This part asks the question ‘Who am I?’, examines the nature of upAdhi-s and describes a practical technique for meditation.
(Sorry I have run out of frog photos…)
Depression – Q. 330
Q: For years now I’ve been severely depressed and it doesn’t seem to be changing. What led me to Advaita, I think, was the intense desire to know what I guess I can only meaningly refer to as God.
I read a lot about how we are not our bodies and how if we can be aware of something, then that ‘something’ cannot be us. I understand all this. There is a formless awareness that appears to be prior to everything, prior to my body, my mind and the suffering of depression, I can see that.
One book I’ve read, not specifically about depression, advises that we remain with that awareness, as that awareness that is prior to both body and mind. However, I find this difficult. The body and mind come out of the Self and thus must be the Self. Beyond this the reasoning and experience of it gets quite subtle, but I’ll give it my best shot. Yes, there is an awareness that is before the mind and body, something that you might call the Ultimate subject, but It is only apparent because of the body and mind – without the body and mind, the Self wouldn’t know itself. Continue reading
Most spiritual seekers, Western as well as Eastern, meditate. Therefore countless forms of meditation have developed: still and in motion, silent, with chanting, with prayer, concentrating on something or seeking the opposite of concentration. In Advaita Vedanta meditation plays an important role, too. There are two forms: Meditation on an object and meditation without an object. Continue reading
Khajuraho and Kamasutra fire the fancy of any foreign tourist to India. Add Spirituality and the heady mix becomes a killer app for seekers of quick-fix salvation for paying a visit to India! Biologically sex evolved as reproductive mechanism to possibly capture advantageous heritable genetic traits from a partner. Only humans and a few animals like bonobos and dolphins indulge in recreational sex. Sex is closely tied to sensory perceptions and lies within the realms of the mind. Salvation transcends both senses and mind. “Rajneesh, the ‘horse’s mouth’ concerning the topic of enlightenment for Westerners for many years,” regrets James Swartz, “wedded two largely incompatible concepts, sense enjoyment and enlightenment.” One may lose ‘self identity’ and get enwrapped in an inexplicable joy in either as Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (IV-iii-21) says. But the bliss of enlightenment and the pleasure of sensual gratification are totally different. Our brains show it up all!
Human brain is a mass of interlinked neurons piled up in three layers. At bottom is the most primitive brain common to all animals. Continue reading
Q. Questions are always coming up in mind. Things are confusing. At the moment, for example, I’m trying to understand how one can know whether experience is valid or not e.g. if one saw an apparition of Christ, is one to interpret it as real/unreal, true/untrue etc. and how would you know one way or another….questions about truth and validness are always crossing my mind. Continue reading