Topic of the month – Becoming

507166_web_R_by_johnnyb_pixelio.de“Becoming” seems to be an ensnaring urge for human beings the world over. This drive to “become” better or different from ‘what Is’ is not merely confined to mundane matters; it pervades the spiritual scene as well. Accordingly most of the spiritual/religious approaches cater to or focus on this human need for betterment: improving this quality or eliminating that one, mastering siddhi-s, strengthening faith, deepening some trait or transcending another one etc. And all of this “becoming” is supposed to lead us to a preset goal – whatever this may be in the respective context.

Advaita is the only philosophy that goes beyond this ubiquitous orientation towards ‘becoming.’  Not that the acquisition of certain skills or the elimination of certain identifications would be devalued but advaita points out that becoming by itself will not lead anyone to the True Knowledge, the only goal of every pursuit – simply because that goal is never away in space or time from the seeker.

Advaita’s fundamental teaching that “You are That” means that everyone in essence is already the perfection, the sat – cit- Ananda, that he/she strives to attain. In fact the only missing thing is the recognition of that simple fact. Yes, in order to gain the understanding of who you truly are, usually you will have to invest some time and effort. But at least you need not struggle to become something different from what you already are. Advaita provides the signposts towards this understanding.

Please submit your quotes, short extracts or personal blogs on this topic.

Photo credits: johnnyb@pixelio.de

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About Sitara

Sitara was born in 1954, she became a disciple of Osho in 1979. In 2002, she met Dolano and from then on,discovered Western-style Advaita teachings, especially those of Gangaji. After reading Back to the Truth by Dennis Waite in 2007, Sitara started to study traditional Advaita Vedanta (main influences being Swami Paramarthananda, Swami Dayananda and Swami Chinmayananda). She teaches several students on a one-to-one basis or in small groups (Western-style teaching inspired by Advaita Vedanta). Sitara is highly appreciative of Advaita Vedanta while at the same time approving of several Western Advaita teachers. She loves Indian culture and spent many years in India.

3 thoughts on “Topic of the month – Becoming

  1. A couple of quick thoughts:

    1. “Becoming” is a precious word. It represents the most beautiful actualization of life on earth and everywhere in the space/time experience. Buds become flowers which become apples; children become adults, caterpillars become butterflies. It is magical and incomprehensibly magnificent. Becoming is everywhere. Embrace it. Marvel at it.

    2. The spiritual types who think they know something and try to tell others have themselves been told by those who have apparently gone through some sort of realization or understanding (folks like Ramana, Poonja, Buddha, Nisargadatta, recently Robert Adams, Douglas Harding, David Carse and who knows who else…) that in fact nothing every happened, no-one was every born, no-one dies, all is perfect exactly as it is, etc. Thus from their vantage point there is no becoming, there is only being. But all of these people also completely embrace life as it presents itself now, here. They embrace the apparent becoming as a part of the perfection.

    3. What is rarely understood is that “there is nothing to get” also means that whatever one does or is doing is perfectly great, for if non-duality is true there is no awakening to worry about and there is no-one to awaken. So the statement above that there is something to be done, ie, that “the only missing thing is the recognition of that simple fact”, which is that “you” are the perfection, is completely wrong. There is nothing missing, ever. Total ignorance and complete realization are exactly the same thing. There is no one here! There is nothing to do! Ever!

    Enjoy the becoming that permeates your experience, embrace it, wallow in it. If it is a dream and if you are a part of the dream, as non-duality says, well, make it a great dream!

    You know, 99.999999% of us try to figure it out or get the missing “thing” or whatever; maybe most of us live without even thinking about these matters. The other group, a tiny few here and there in each generation apparently “know with absolute certainty, from the heart” that nothing at all is happening or ever happened. This cannot be taught or even communicated. The rest of the world dances around them, maybe pretends to understand, but in truth cannot know what they know. “Understanding” is a random event precipitated by luck or grace or who knows what. Perhaps it is true or perhaps it’s a belief or perhaps it’s a de-personalization crisis of the brain, who knows, eh?. It cannot be universally accepted that they are right just because they think they are right. And knowing is not something that can be shared, so don’t trust a teacher to tell you anything.

    But so many others try to teach this, it is ridiculous. It cannot be taught and it cannot be attained because it if it is true it doesn’t matter (we don’t exist) and if it is not true it doesn’t matter (they are having an experience, but not touching truth.)

    So until the day when your own annihilation grants you that “knowing” for yourself, just relax and enjoy the unfolding of life.

    Finally, to that over-used and confusing phrase, “You are that”, please forget about it. If non-duality is true there is no “you”, no “that”, and no-one being anything. Radiant “Is-ness” IS, that is all. There is no awakening, no understanding, nothing missing, no time to invest, no effort to invest, no signposts, no stages or steps, no final realization, no understanding.

    Cheers! -John D.

  2. As to 1. “Becoming” is magical and incomprehensibly magnificent. Becoming is everywhere. Embrace it. Marvel at it.”
    I wholeheartedly agree.

    As to 2. “Thus from their vantage point there is no becoming, there is only being. But all of these people also completely embrace life as it presents itself now, here. They embrace the apparent becoming as a part of the perfection.”
    Absolutely, yes!

    As to 3. “What is rarely understood is that ‘there is nothing to get’ also means that whatever one does or is doing is perfectly great, for if non-duality is true there is no awakening to worry about and there is no-one to awaken.”
    True. In Vedantic terms this is the paramarthika vantage point, which reflects ultimate reality.

    “So the statement above that there is something to be done, ie, that “the only missing thing is the recognition of that simple fact”, which is that “you” are the perfection, is completely wrong.”
    It is wrong from paramarthika vantage point.
    It is right from vyavaharika vantage point which is the way 99,9 % of all people perceive the world, including all spiritual seekers. Once they are no seekers any more, meaning, once their perspective has changed from vyavaharika to paramarthika vantage, they will know that they are the perfection. And for the perfection, of course, no seeking was needed (or even possible) ever. But only then they will know that.
    Those who take up this vantage point before they realized it to be true, only console themselves.

    “There is nothing missing, ever. Total ignorance and complete realization are exactly the same thing. There is no one here! There is nothing to do! Ever!”
    Again this is paramarthika.

    “Enjoy the becoming that permeates your experience, embrace it, wallow in it. If it is a dream and if you are a part of the dream, as non-duality says, well, make it a great dream! ”
    Great, do it if you can.
    The 99.999999% you mention, can’t. Either they “live without even thinking about these matters” or they “try to figure it out or get the missing ‘thing’ or whatever.”

    “This cannot be taught or even communicated.”
    Correct. It only can be pointed to – more or less skillfully. In my opinion Advaita Vedanta is a remarkably skillful way.

    “It cannot be taught and it cannot be attained because it if it is true it doesn’t matter (we don’t exist) and if it is not true it doesn’t matter (they are having an experience, but not touching truth.)”
    If it is true it does not matter – following your own logic.
    This is not the logic of those who teach it. First of all we do exist (this is Vedanta not Buddhism). Vedanta: We do exist as existence–consciousnes –limitlessness (but not as a body-mind form that 99,9 % take themselves to be).
    Secondly it does matter to all those who “try to figure it out or get the missing ‘thing”’ or whatever.” Those who realized that in fact there is no missing thing but a missing understanding often make the effort to teach those who are busy struggling (to find the missing thing). Teach what? The missing understanding.
    “You are That” points out the essence of this teaching:
    You need not find anything anywhere else. What you need to find is “the diamond hidden in your own pocket”.

    “Finally, to that over-used and confusing phrase, “You are that”, please forget about it. If non-duality is true there is no “you”, no “that”, and no-one being anything. Radiant “Is-ness” IS, that is all.”
    This is exactly what this phrase says. It is confusing only to those who do not understand it.

  3. John,

    1. ‘Becoming’ can also be considered in its psychological sense, of becoming richer, more famous, etc – it implies the sense of one trying to move from A to B, to achieve something. This sense of becoming is not as marvellous, as embraceable, as worthy as the sense in which you articulated it. It is this ‘becoming’, this ambition, that is the source of sorrow both personal and global. Have another look around.

    2. I’m not sure that any of the ‘spiritual types’ that you alluded to would “embrace becoming as a path to perfection”. It seems to me that they all pointed out that the world is an illusion, therefore be still, detached, allow whatever is to be come to be, and without any striving to become anything – which can only be a separate ego’s volitional intent to gain something for itself. Buddha left his royal palace and family because he was so disenchanted with the world; his subsequent teaching revolved around the fact the life is suffering and the path out of suffering is to realise the ’emptiness’ (the absence of inherent / separate existence) of all things.

    3. ‘There is nothing to get’ cannot mean that anything one does is perfectly ok. Nothing to get means just that – because if this is understood and assimilated, then there can be no ego trying to achieve anything. But to the extent that there is an ego that says “there is nothing to get, so everything is ok”, then that ego is still entangled in the world. And yes of course there is nothing missing ever, but this is meaningless as long as there is an ego that is suffering.
    “If non duality is true, there is no awakening to worry about” can only be said if this has been realised; otherwise the sense of a separate person, which is the source of sorrow (personal and global) continues.
    The one who still has an ego can’t say “I don’t need to worry about annihilating my ego [i.e. awakening], because it doesn’t exist!!”

    As for “wallowing in the experience of becoming” and “making it a great dream” . . . that is what the majority of people spend their lives doing – making a great dream for their separate selves. You may have noticed that it has not resulted in a particularly happy or peaceful world. If non-duality is really true then, logically, ‘your’ experience and happiness would have equal ranking with others’ experience and happiness. There cannot be any perceived separation or preference.

    And to say “There is no awakening, no understanding, nothing missing, no time to invest, no effort to invest, no signposts, no stages or steps, no final realization, no understanding.” Well, then what are you doing at this website??

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