I edit Awakening Clarity, a Nondual blog, and as a result of that I get emails from the four corners of the worlds. A fair number of them express confusion. The writer has had some sort of spiritual experience. And now they want to know where they are on the spiritual map. One response that arises here when someone asks me something along the line of, “Hey, am I awake, or what?” is exactly this:
“If you’re concerned about whether you’re awake or not, then you’re not–at least not rightnow.” Such a question simply would not occur to conscious awakeness. Generally, in fact, given the nature of the situation the person is writing in about, and their choice of language their letter contains convincing evidence that they are not awake right now–at least not in the way they are asking about. In truth, everyone is always equally awake, so all we are ever talking about is whether or not we are consciously awake, knowingly awake–right now. If we can get clear on this we can see that there’s no room left for higher or lower, better or worse, more spiritual or less. All of those things spring from beliefs, opinions, and positions (BOPs), which conscious awareness simply doesn’t have. The apparently separate being it’s working through will certainly have a broad array of BOPs–that’s essentially what a separate being is–but not the awakeness behind it. You will understand, of course, that language is failing us here; we do what we can. Continue reading →
My teacher is a teacher of traditional advaita. I believe she is the only such teacher in the UK, if not in Europe. Some might look at what she teaches – Gita, Upaniṣads, Prakaraṇa Granthas (philosophical treatise) and stotras (devotional hymns) – and believe that they too, not only follow traditional advaita (because they too read these texts), but also have an additional, and arguably more powerful, key in the form of meditation or yoga or other such practice. Despite the surface similarity, however, I stick to my opening claim and will attempt to open up clear blue water between the teacher of traditional advaita simply by making clear what is mean by ‘traditional advaita’.
Two words set apart the traditional approach to teaching advaita from all others: sampradāya and pramāna.
Sampradāya is the established approach to unfolding the vision of Vedanta transmitted from one teacher to another. It is the traditional interpretation with a traceable lineage of teachers. Continue reading →
Below is the view of a bright young friend, Prashant Parikh, a keen, enthusiastic student of traditional Vedanta…
There are some errors in understanding I come across routinely, so I’m addressing a few of them briefly.
1) The Self can’t be experienced: The human mind is designed to go outwards (or even inwards) to gain experience. That is good, it allows us to innovate and progress in our worldly lives. However, when it comes to gaining AtmA jñAnam, the mind again looks for experience of an object called AtmA. This will fail miserable. AtmA is the very Self, the subject. Only an object endowed with attributes can be experienced. The consciousness, which is the Self, cannot be known as an object of experience. The Self can only be understood through the process of acquiring jñAnam through the timeless veda utterances. Tat tvam ask [Thou art That] is the teaching of the Guru, aham brahman asmi [I am Absolute Reality] is the understanding of the student 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 →
” a documentary that investigates the spiritual search; the search for the essential questions of human life: is there an eternal part of ourselves? what has lasting meaning? where do we find certainty? Rather than philosophical discussion, it explores the possibility of living a life devoted to a search for answers, and the radical possibility that answers exist, closer than we can imagine, within our selves.”
Today we bundle everything that is considered spiritual under the term New Age. There are even people, who consider psychotherapy as spiritual and again others who would call their traditional religious practices spiritual. Thus „spirituality“ is a broad field. Advaita Vedanta provides a very specific definition for spirituality that sets limits to this broad field. In Advaita Vedanta someone is considered spiritual only, if he/she wants to realize truth – the key to truth being realizing my true nature, who or what I am – as distinct from body and mind. Everything else may lead to spirituality, but will not provide the realization, that I long for.
All humans are seekers, all humans want to grow beyond themselves. Some want to multiply their possessions because they assume that thereby their limits extend. Others want to increase their quality of life because it helps them over the inevitable limits of human existence. Again others believe that such outer changes won’t be effective as long as one does not have a psyche that is able to enjoy possession as well as quality of life. These start to work at the psychological level to thereby grow beyond themselves. Others aim to extend their limits by exploring subtle phenomena and experimenting with them. Continue reading →