About Dhanya

Dhanya developed an interest in Hinduism and Eastern philosophy in the early 1970s. In 1973, she traveled to India in search of a guru to guide her on the spiritual path. While there she encountered disciples of Neem Karoli Baba and his teachings of bhakti and karma yoga which influenced her life from then on. She studied Vipasana meditation for some time with S.N. Goenkaji beginning in 1974. In 1991 she met HWL Poonja, whose words sparked a desire in her to understand the teachings of nonduality. Subsequently she met other advaita teachers, including Jean Klein and Sri Ranjit Maharaj, who were great sources of inspiration to her. In 2002 she met her current teacher, Dr. Carol Whitfield, a traditional teacher of Advaita/Vedanta and a disciple of Swami Dayananda Saraswati. Having found a teaching and a teacher with whom she has a deep resonance and who clearly and effectively elucidate the means for self-knowledge, Dhanya now lives in Northern California, where she studies Vedanta and writes on the topic of nonduality.

Whose Story are You Living?

There seem to be a lot of churches on Maui. The missionaries did a very thorough job here. As I drive around I often see a cryptic message posted on a sign board outside a church. Little sayings that I suppose are meant to bring one back into the fold.

When I see these messages I often try and look at them from the understanding I now have about the nature of reality and the way the world functions as a whole.

Here is one saying that I pass quite often posted outside a Baptist Church. “Whose story are you living, God’s or yours?
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Belief versus Faith pending understanding

sraddha kidrsi? guruvedantavakyesu visvasaha sraddha

Of what nature is sraddha?  Trust in the words of the teacher and Vedanta is sraddha.

Quoting from Swami Dayananda’s commentary on the above verse from Tattvabodha:

Visvasa is trust, faith, in the words of Vedanta, vedanta-vakyesu.  What is that trust here?  That they are a pramana, a means of knowledge.  You give the status of pramana to the words of Vedanta.  You do not look at them as theory, speculation or philosophy, but take them as words that are an independent means of knowledge.  That is called visvasa.”

Dhanya’s thoughts:

This type of faith is considered to be one of the qualifications for the gain of self-knowledge. There is a beautiful saying in the Bhagavad Gita that Swamiji quotes a lot ‘shraddhavan labhate jnanam.’  (Chapter 4, verse 39). Continue reading

Ecstatic Spiritual Practices

Who doesn’t like to get high? Let’s face it getting high is what we human beings live for. Getting high can also be called getting happy. Getting very, very, very happy. People pursue a high in all sorts of ways, from negative ways like drinking alhohol and taking drugs, to more positive ways like spiritual practices such as ecstatic chanting and dance.

When we do spiritual practices like ecstatic chanting and dance we feel we are entering another ‘zone,’ a place that is not available to us in ordinary life. We may feel we are progressing on the spiritual path. We may even assume that the goal of spiritual life is to always feel as high, or even higher, than when we do when we engage in ecstatic practices. Continue reading

All One

When you have a dream at night, the dream comes from you, is sustained by you, and resolves into you; and yet when you wake up in the morning, nothing has happened to you.

Your being was the very being of the dream. The material of the dream was your being. Even the intelligence was your intelligence. Continue reading

If You Doubt You’re Out

More than 30 years ago I spent a brief time in a spiritual scene which had all the hallmarks of a cult. The leader famously used to say, “If you doubt you’re out.” What that statement meant was that if you voiced a doubt about the many questionable things that were going on, you would be forced to leave.

‘If you doubt you’re out’ is a kind of interesting statement in my opinion; and from the point of view of trying to understand that nature of reality the statement itself might be interpreted in different ways. Continue reading

The Ego

The following was written in reply to a correspondent of mine who observed that people often act from ‘a basic egoic condition.’

Although some people may occasionally criticize others for acting from ‘the basic human egoic condition.’ I think it’s important to understand that the ego–at least according to the teachings of Vedanta–isn’t a bad thing to have.

The basic human egoic condition in Vedanta is known as ‘self-ignorance,’ or in Sanskrit ‘ajnanam.’

It’s important to note that self-ignorance is considered to be a condition of birth and not the fault of anyone who has it. Everyone, every single living being has self-ignorance, or that being wouldn’t have been born in the first place. The only living beings that don’t have self-ignorance are the ones who have self-knowledge. And these are considered to be quite rare individuals.

What is the definition of the ‘ego’ in Vedanta. First of all it is known in Sanskrit as the ‘ahankara,’ the aham ‘I,’ kara ‘maker.’ The ego, or ahankara, is considered to be a type of thought, which is the hallmark of self-ignorance. Continue reading

You are the witness—or are you

Today on the beach on Maui my friends and I met a man who had a debilitating stroke that had changed his life completely. He was only 49 years old. His wish was to swim in the ocean, but he and his wife had felt unable to bring that off, and so they had stayed on the shore merely looking at the water. My friends helped this man into the water thus fulfilling his wish.

Later he spoke to us about the stroke that had totally changed his life. He was sad. He was depressed. He said that he no longer liked himself. His story was very touching.

With compassion he was advised to understand that in reality he was not the body, but rather the witness of the body, not only the witness of the body, but the witness of the thoughts which passed through his mind, including those thoughts about himself which were negative. Continue reading

What a Wonder!

The teachings of nonduality are very popular in the West these days. One of the reasons I feel many people are attracted to these teachings is because they assume the teachings circumvent or do away with the idea of ‘God.’ I mean if there is only one thing here, one thing that truly exists, that does way with the troublesome God concept, right?

The word God itself is used and defined so variously these days as perhaps to be rendered useless anyway. However, when one examines the dual world of experience, there is one thing that cannot be denied. It seems to be put together and functioning in an intelligent manner. Continue reading

Now, Now, Now

There is a picture that is making the rounds on Facebook of an old fashioned clock, and each number on the clock face is replaced by the word ‘Now.’

Although this is a fun picture to share, I wonder if in some ways it doesn’t give the wrong impression.

Is there a now, and then another now, and then another now, as if each now is different and separate from the other? Is there a now, now, now, which flows along in time and which changes, or in reality is there only the Now? Continue reading