Advaita in the Vedas – Rig Veda 1.115.1

The imagery of the Sun features throughout the teachings of Advaita. It appears multiple times in the Upanishads and is first found in the Vedas. But what is its significance and how does it relate to the ultimate reality of Brahman? 

The meaning Rig Veda gives us couldn’t be clearer, 

The Sun is the Self of the whole world both moving and non-moving and rises with its own effulgence in heaven, the earth and atmosphere. [1]

Continue reading

Q.543 Life-coaching

A: Fundamentally, everyone is already the Self/Brahman/Absolute (whichever word you prefer), since there is only the nondual reality. But of course most people do not know this. They are only interested in pursuing money/fame/relationships etc. and would never accept the truth or even be interested in listening. Assuming that you, yourself, are convinced of the truth, you would simply be wasting your time attempting to explain this.

Nevertheless, again assuming that you fully accept Advaita, you know that these ‘others’ are in fact your Self, so why would you want to propagate their mistaken view of life? The only reasonable approach is to be available to help them move towards the truth if they actively seek to do this, but simply to let them continue in their ignorance otherwise.

Continue reading

Bhagavad Gita (Topic-wise) Pt 21

Part 20

6 Moksha
6-1 Preparation
6-2 Jnana, Jnani, and Jnana-Phala

6-2-9 Saguna and Nirguna 12(1 to 5)

Sri Krishna has talked about meditation on the Saguna God and Nirguna God. Arjuna wants to know who is better: one who meditates on Saguna or one who meditates on the Immutable and Unmanifest Nirguna. Sri Krishna does not intend to do a comparison. He says that those who constantly worship and meditate on Saguna God with Sraddha are among the best yogis. In the next verse, Sri Krishna says that a devotee of Nirguna God reaches him. He mentions some qualities of a devotee of Nirguna God. He has controlled the sense organs, he is even-minded, and is devoted to the welfare of all beings. He recognizes his very Self as omnipresent, indestructible, eternal, undefinable Brahm. Sri Krishna avoids any comparison because it serves no purpose as there is no option to do one or other. Both are to be done sequentially because it is difficult for a person who is attached to mind and body to worship unmanifest Nirguna God. It requires a mature mind. Worship of Saguna God for sufficient time is necessary for knowing Nirguna God. Sagun God is a means to Nirguna God. Nirguna God is formless and cannot be perceived by sense organs. Self is the same as Nirguna God and abiding in this knowledge is Its worship.

Continue reading

Advaita Gurus and Critics – part 9

Analysis and Interpretation
by Prof. Phillip Charles Lucas

<Read Part 8>

In the remainder of this article, I analyze and interpret the criticisms of NTMA teachers and teachings using theoretical frames drawn from the sociology of religions, history of North American religions, and ongoing scholarly conversations concerning adaptations and distortions that occur when Hindu traditions move from their homeland to the cultural matrices of North America.

On one level, the spread of Modern Advaita (both NTMA and TMA) gurus and organizations is simply a manifestation of the entrepreneurial spirit that long has characterized the North American religious landscape. In a sense these teachers are engaged in niche franchising of the Modern Advaita message. This is the case because most teachers active in North American Modern Advaita circles today spent time as disciples of one or another guru from either the TMA or NTMA orbits.

Continue reading

Advaita in the Vedas – Rig Veda 10.125.8

Rig Veda 10.125.8 is unique as it is one of the rare occasions in the Vedas where a mantra is spoken in first-person. Such mantras are categorised as directly relating to the Self, where the worshipper is identical with the deity being worshipped and the illusion of separation is seen through.

In Rig Veda 10.125.8, it is declared that,

I breathe forth like the wind, giving form to all created worlds. Beyond the heaven, beyond this earth, so vast am I in greatness.

Continue reading

Bhagavad Gita (Topic-wise) Pt 20

Part 19

Part 21

6 Moksha
6-1 Preparation
6-2 Jnana, Jnani, and Jnana-Phala
6-2-6 Action, inaction, non-action 4(16 to 18), 18 (13 to 15) 6-2-6-1

 4(16 to 18) Sri Krishna says that even sages are deluded about the nature of action, non-action, and inaction and offers to explain them so that upon knowing them, one is freed from the bondage of karma and samsara. An inquiry is important as people suffer from vague ideas about them. Action refers to action prescribed by scriptures. Non-action means prohibited action, i.e., not sanctioned by scriptures. Inaction is being idle. It is a cardinal mistake to think that the true nature of a person does any action and that it reaps the fruits of action.

Continue reading

Maya-stuff

According to Vedanta, Brahman is the Absolute Reality. The universe is a lower order of reality drawing existence from Brahman and is mithya. Maya is the power of Brahman with two aspects, namely, projecting power and veiling power. The former projects the universe and due to the latter a jiva forgets that his essential nature is Brahman. Indeed, maya is powerful. What is it made of?
There is a clue in verses 8.18 to 8.20 of Bhagavad Gita. A day and a night of Brahmaji constitute one calendar day of Brahmaji which is made of two thousand maha-yugas. During his daytime, when Brahmaji is awake, the universe is in manifest form and when he is asleep during the night it is in unmanifest(resolved) form resting in potential form in the unmanifest Brahman. It is again manifested at the dawn of Brahmaji’s day. The universe has two states: manifest and unmanifest and the cycles of creation continue.
It follows that maya is the unmanifest universe. It is also called Prakriti. A jiva takes rebirth because of the causal body which is the sanchit karma, i.e., the karmic balance at the time of death. At the time of dissolution, i.e., at the end of a cycle of creation, the aggregate causal body of all jivas is the unmanifest universe resting in Brahman. Maya is the cosmic causal body. Brahman owes maya power to jivas.

Advaita Gurus and Critics – part 8

by Prof. Phillip Charles Lucas

<Read Part 7>

Theme Five: Pre-transcendence, Depersonalization and Level Confusion

A fifth and final theme of the critics is that NTMAs make no allowance for the Advaita distinction between absolute and relative levels of awareness. As a result, these teachers allegedly tend to devalue a life of engaged spiritual practice and the balanced development of physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual dimensions of the self. By placing all their emphasis on the most advanced state of spiritual realization, NTMA teachers and students are seen as being prone to “pre-transcendence,” a premature assumption of ultimate spiritual liberation that leads to de-personalization and disengagement from ordinary life. California-based NTMA teacher John Wheeler articulates this radically depersonalized position:

The real clarity comes from seeing the absence of the person. It is the person that gums up the works and creates all the problems and supposed solutions. Just keep coming back to the fundamentals. Your nature is luminous, ever-present, radiant, perfect, being-awareness. This is fully realized and complete right now…. With the emphasis off of the mind and the [personal] conceptual story, you will be much more present, because there is no filter. There is no person with all of its preferences and partialities trying to negotiate every experience.

Continue reading

Bhagavad Gita (Topic-wise) Pt 19

Part 18

Part 20

6 Moksha
6-1 Preparation
6-2 Jnana, Jnani, and Jnana-Phala
6-2-5-3: 13(1 to 11)
Arjuna asks Sri Krishna to explain six terms, namely, Prakriti, Purusha, Kshetra, Kshetrajna, Jnana, and Jneyam. They can be reduced to three. Prakriti and Kshetra are the same and represent the material universe. It is a field of experience. Purusha, Kshetrajna, and Jneyam are the same and represent the consciousness principle. Sri Krishna explains that the body is Kshetra and the knower of Kshetra is Kshetrajna. The physical body is like a field because karma requires a field for performance. In this sense, the mind and external world are also fields. Their common features are that they are made of matter and inert in themselves and further that they are subject to change and decay. A knower of Kshetra is Kshetrajna. The knower is the consciousness principle. Hence Kshetrajna is the consciousness principle.

Continue reading

Advaita Gurus and Critics – part 7

by Prof. Phillip Charles Lucas

<Read Part 6>

Theme Four: Shortcomings of the Satsang Format

A fourth theme of the TMA criticisms focuses on the shortcomings of the satsang format itself. The usual format of the NTMA satsang begins with a period of quiet reflection followed by mantra invocations/chanting and questions and answers from attendees. Some participants approach the raised platform where the teacher is seated and enter into an intimate dialogue with the teacher. As Frisk observes in her study of the Satsang Network, there is sometimes an element of entertainment and laughter in these events, often focused on questioners and their interactions with the teacher. [Frisk, “The Satsang Network,” 67.]

Music and dance also can be part of the program, although this was rare in my fieldwork experiences. The satsang format is well suited to North American seekers, who have been conditioned to the public confessional approach found on daytime talk shows such as Oprah and Dr. Phil and who may expect personal attention or “therapy” along with spiritual instruction from their teachers. TMA proponents question the core motivations of attendees and allege that many of them are simply seeking self-empowerment, “self-help,” and an ephemeral experience of spiritual community rather than serious engagement in the arduous task of ego transcendence.

Continue reading