‘Tipping Point’ in Advaita Vedanta

Question:  “I’m curious what is the ‘Tipping Point’ in the Advaita philosophy.”
Answer:
Just as it is easier to say what the Self is apophatically, perhaps, the “Tipping point in Advaita” too can be expressed only by stating what it cannot be!

4.4.5, BU clearly establishes how everything, including objects, actions, interactions, thoughts, emotions, feelings etc. etc., in short our entire ‘perceptual knowledgebase’ gleaned from the time-space-causational world we are familiar with and live in, is merely upahita caitanya (conditioned Consciousness). Continue reading

Ananda Mimansa

Anuvaka 5 of Brahman Valli of Taittiriya Upanishad discusses two types of happiness: Anandamaya kosa and Atmananda. Interior to and subtler than the intellect sheath is Anandamaya kosa (bliss sheath) which is considered as Atma. Intellect sheath is relegated to the status of non-Atma. Bliss-sheath is subtle and assumes the shape of food-sheath (gross body). Its head is priya (joy), lefthand side is moda (hilarity), righthand side is pramoda (enjoyment), bliss is the trunk, and Brahman is the tail, the foundation. The state of deep sleep is bliss sheath. There is an experience of happiness a waking person recollects from memory.

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Q. 542 ‘Doership’ and Osho

A: Osho is not a reliable source of teaching according to Advaita. I have read a few of his books and was most impressed by his breadth of knowledge. But his sources are many and he does not always differentiate. There are several non-dual teachings and any may take you to the final understanding. But my own knowledge is now strictly oriented towards traditional Advaita (Gaudapada-Ṥaṅkara-Sureshvara).

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Advaita Gurus and Critics – part 5

by Prof. Phillip Charles Lucas

<Read Part 4>

Theme Three: Insufficient Grounding in Vedanta Traditions

A third theme criticizes NTMA teachers for their lack of grounding in the Sanskrit language and Advaita scriptures, and their concomitantly premature assumption of the guru role. TMA proponents see this grounding as essential for any teacher who is to be an effective agent of Advaita awakening. Without it, the Advaita system of self-realization gets watered down, key Sanskrit terms are misinterpreted, and NTMA teaching becomes little more than a psychological massage for stressed-out Westerners.

Sanjay Kumar Srivastava, a frequent TMA commentator on various Advaita-oriented discussion forums, bluntly summarizes the TMA position: “In ‘Advaita’ you get enlightenment only through study of Upanishads and other Vedic scriptures. All other religious practices including meditations etc. are considered at best a preparation of mind to understand the message of Upanishads and at worst superfluous.” [Sanjay Kumar Srivastava, “Watering down Advaita: Westerners Corrupt Hindu Terminology!” Sarlo’s Guru Rating Service, at <http://www3.telus.net/public/sarlo/Yadvaita.htm>, accessed 6 May 2013. The first entry is written by Sanjay Kumar Srivastava, but the whole seems to be Waite’s.]

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Bhagavad Gita (Topic-wise) Pt18

Part 17

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

6-2-3 Six definitions 8(1 to 4) The last two verses, 29 and 30 of the 7th chapter have introduced some terms without explaining them. 8th chapter begins with Arjuna’s question to know these terms, namely, Brahm, Adhyatam, Karma, Adhibhutam, Adhidaivam, and Adhiyagna. Brahm is the supreme imperishable entity. It is a pithy answer because, in the 7th chapter, Para- prakriti has been explained in detail as the imperishable entity, namely, consciousness. It pervades the creation. As such, it is within the body also. The embodied consciousness is Adhytama. Brahm is consciousness from a macro angle, Adhyatma is the same consciousness from a micro angle.

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Advaita in the Vedas – Rig Veda 10.129.4

Alongside Purusha Sukta (10.90), the Nasadiya Sukta (10.129) is one of the most famous Suktas of the Vedas. Known as the Creation Hymn, its fourth mantra says,

In the beginning, there was the disturbance of desire, from which sprung the first seed, which was born of the mind. Sages, searching in their hearts, realised the wisdom of the connection between existence and non-existence.

The creation the Nasadiya Sukta discusses is often believed to be the origin of the universe. However, 10.129.4 does not refer to any ordinary creation but, rather, the illusion of duality. This is attributed to desire in the mind – the first ‘seed’ of ignorance which gives the impression that we are separate. Before this disturbance, there was nothing to realise and no one to know because there was no appearance which was taken to be real as separate from the Self or Brahman. Continue reading

Advaita Gurus and Critics – part 4

by Prof. Phillip Charles Lucas

<Read Part 3>

Theme Two: The Necessity for Moral Development

The second critical theme claims that NTMA teachers ignore moral development as a prerequisite for spiritual realization. TMA proponents claim that efficacious sadhana includes the cultivation of traditional Vedic virtues such as faith, devotion and perseverance, and allege that many NTMA gurus not only lack these virtues but also fail to emphasize their importance. Some critics articulate the development of virtues employing the traditional practice of Vaidika Dharma, rules of conduct that govern human behavior according to a system of duties to society, the gods and one’s family. TMA proponents contend that when a person sacrifices personal desires to serve the Divine and others, vasana-production becomes non-binding and therefore no longer an impediment to realization of the self. [Swartz, “What is Neo-Advaita?”]

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What is ‘brahman’ like?

We all know that ‘brahman‘ being ‘avAngmanasagocara‘ (अवाङ्ग्मनसगोचर – 1, vedAntasAra), is ‘beyond the reach of words and thought.’ It is NOT available for perceptual knowledge either through the five senses or the mind within this time-space-causational world we live in and interact with. Hence, there is no way to show brahman, “It is like this” by pointing with a finger.

The kena Upanishad admits this fact openly; it says, “We don’t know how to teach It.” – (1.3).

The mANDUkya Upanishad speaks about It in apophatic terms for a little while, but hastens to declare that “It is inexpressible” and even adds, “It is unthinkable” – (mantra 7) !

However, the brihadAraNyaka sticks its neck out and gives not one or two, but three illustrations to show how brahman is like.

Advaita in the Vedas – Rig Veda 10.90.2

Alongside Rig Veda 1.164.46, 10.90.2, part of the famous Purusha Sukta, is one of the most succinct declarations of Advaita in the Vedas. It goes further than 1.164.46, as it gives a name to ‘what is one’ – Purusha (the Self). It says,

It is the Self who is all this – whatever has been and whatever is to be.

We could easily mistake this for a mantra from the Upanishads or another Advaita text, as it is perfectly in-line with their teachings. For this reason, it is unsurprising that it later appears in the Upanishads, in Shvetashvatara 3.15. Continue reading

Advaita Gurus and Critics – part 3

by Prof. Phillip Charles Lucas

<Read Part 2>

TMA proponents strongly disavow these claims and emphasize the necessity of lifelong, sustained sadhana. An essential aspect of this sadhana is mental preparation, which entails the development of habits of discrimination (discerning what is real from what is only appearance), detachment (releasing attachment to the world of forms), calmness of mind and a profound desire for liberation. Only once this preparation is well underway can the student’s mind fruitfully engage with advanced Advaita teaching. As put by American TMA teacher/author James Swartz, a one-time student of Swami Chinmayananda:

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