Q. 424 Paradox of the Illusory Self

Q: I’ve read your wonderful book, Back to the Truth, and much from your website. I’ve learned so much from what you’ve offered, it’s impossible to thank you enough. I do have a question that continues to arise again and again. Though simple, it’s never quite answered head-on. It’s hard to phrase it in a single sentence, so here goes: 

Sometimes it seems that nondual teachers are simply saying “Did you notice you’re conscious? That’s what you are.” There are many such teachers, as I’m sure you are aware. Some, similarly, seem to say that realizing there is no person is all there is too it, everything else stays the same. Meanwhile there are many many accounts of realization that include an understanding of the nature of consciousness, of seeing he world of objects as empty or transparent, and many have said that the mark of realization is an awareness that does not go away (or seem to go away) during deep sleep. These understandings seem beyond no-self.

So when an instructor says something like “who wants to know” or “who wants enlightenment” I get very frustrated. I get it that there is no person that wants to know. Maybe I don’t get it enough (certainly not experientially), but just dropping the idea of a self and saying “yep I’m conscious, I’m aware” does not lead to these other powerful understandings, or deeper truths. 

Body minds that have realized no-self still go on through life with a few desires and interests that they try to satisfy (Ramana Maharshi reading the news, for instance). This body-mind is interested in big Truths. So why tell me that seeing through the self, knowing that I am aware (or awareness) is enough? There seem to be another, bigger, even more interesting truth to be discovered. 

So, I guess a simple way of asking my question is: Paradoxes rise from a illusory self seeking to see through itself. but they don’t arise from a body mind (or even an illusory self) seeking to understand oneness, consciousness, the universe, etc. I assume we have to see through the self to realize the rest, but why do so many seem to ignore the rest? Continue reading

adhikAritva – Graduate Quals !?

Whenever I hear of ‘adhkAritva’, I am reminded of the ‘Graduate Quals’ or Prelims in the North American Universities.

Every aspiring candidate for Grad studies  has to cross these  nightmarish (for some) mandatory ‘hurdles on the course’ in order to “to continue studies at a higher level, and/or allow the student to comprehend his/her studies and see how prepared they are for the looming” super-knowledge he/she will earn.

In India, I understand, that such Prelims are introduced for admission of even Nursery class students by some elite schools to filter the mad rush of applications from the parents seeking the entry of their wards into the portals of those exclusive repositories of wisdom.

Perhaps there is a reason for all such uncanny devices of regulation and control where an ‘organized educational program’ requiring an approved Governmental Accreditation is involved

But for imparting the simple teaching that, at its core, says you are already that ‘nitya suddha buddha mukta‘ which you seek to know, do we have to have these mandatory regulations?

In fact it is said in spiritual matters that there is no teaching unless a question is asked. And it is equally true that there cannot be a fixed  teaching cast in a rigid framework of curriculum because the teaching has to be molded as a melodious tune in a waltz-like dance with the spiritual aspirant’s questions. There cannot be ‘institutionalization.’

After all, it is not about running the ‘business’ of “teaching shops” with product guarantees in a market environment. The spiritual Seekers these days come with a maturity of brain and having had varied experience in the phenomenal world. They come (mostly) with open minds to ‘question’ and are courageous to be irreverent (not impertinent).  These are not like the students in the good old ancient days when a ‘brahmachari’ is sent away to the ‘Gurukula’ at the tender age of 7-10 when even the brain cells of the kid have not yet matured, basic knowledge skills and analytical acumen are not yet learnt and the lad had to be educated even in the three R’s. Enormous times are spent in preparing their wavering child-minds to develop focus and attention, deductive and inductive logic, discrimination and discretion etc. Do we need to repeat all that on a 30 or 40 or 50 or whatever age person?

All that the advaita teaching talks  about is deconstructing the belief structures of the seeker. If the belief is in ego, egolessness is the teaching. If the belief is a hidden feeling in the nooks and corners of the body or mind, the teaching has to shine light to illuminate those hidden quarters.

On another note, it has to be said that the programs for ‘training trainers’ have perhaps a greater need for implementing stricter eligibility criteria.  The reasons are obvious. The prospective teachers have a responsibility not to mislead the eager seeker, should be able to maintain the pristine purity and integrity of the essence of the message and so on.

So steps to regulate them will hopefully help in curbing the mushrooming growth of the ‘industry’ of spiritual teaching being run on MNC marketing models, self-perpetuating their own authority and ‘brand development’ through their “Quals.”

Reincarnation – Q.335

Q: As you know, all spiritual traditions in Tibet, many in India and even the early Christians took reincarnation for granted.

 In Advaita however the idea is blatantly refused. Balsekar says, since there is no ego and the idea of an individual person is an illusion, what or who is there to be reincarnated?

Does this mean that the other traditions are wrong or is it a question of understanding, meaning that the people who argue differently do so from a different level of understanding / consciousness? Continue reading