Appearance versus Reality


Just as one sun is reflected in numerous puddles, each showing a separate image of the same sun, so the unlimited and ever-present light of pure Knowing is reflected in seven billion minds as the feeling ‘I am,’ giving rise to the appearance of seven billion selves.

 Rupert Spira

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akhaNDAkAra vRRitti – The End of Suffering

653350_web_R_K_B_by_Sabine Menge_pixelio.deThere is a very evolved state of realization that can easily be mistaken for the final realization brought about by akhaNDAkAra vRRitti. I do not mean the often mentioned state of samAdhi that also tends to be mistaken for enlightenment. What I am talking about is less spectacular than samAdhi. In my experience with Western students and friends, there is one moment in which an almost complete recognition of the true nature of oneness takes place. From that moment onwards, the general outlook of the person will change: suffering is going to diminish considerably and the person knows what it is that is actually sought by people asking the question “Who am I?”. He/she recognizes what is talked of in the scriptures as Truth. Continue reading

The Focus of Attention…


I find that somehow, by shifting the focus of attention,

I become the very thing I look at,

and experience the kind of consciousness it has;

I become the inner witness of the thing.

I call this capacity of entering other focal points of consciousness, love;

you may give it any name you like.

Love says “I am everything”. Wisdom says “I am nothing”.

Between the two, my life flows.

Since at any point of time and space I can be both

the subject and the object of experience,

I express it by saying that I am

both, and neither, and beyond both.

Nisargadatta Maharaj

adhikAritvam as explained by Sw. Paramarthananda


images-1If a qualified student gains the knowledge comprehensively from the shAstra through shravaNam and mananam, that j~nAnam itself is capable of directly giving liberation.  It  is  because  the  knowledge  is,  “I  am  already  free”.  Not  only  have  I had  the  knowledge  regarding  my  freedom.  I  am  able  to  look  at  the  aha.nkAra  as an  insignificant  one.  Therefore  I  become  a  sAkShi  pradhAna  puruShaH (for Sanskrit terms that are not common knowledge to advaitin readers see the glossary below).  aha.nkAra is  only  an  incidental  veShaH  that  I  have.  As  somebody  nicely  said,  I  am  a spiritual  being  incidentally  having  a  human  experience  and  I  am  not  a  human being  seeking  a  spiritual  experience.  Therefore,  for  a  qualified  student,  shravaNa and  manana  convert  him  into  sAkShi  pradhAna  puruShaH  and  his  aha.nkAra becomes a veSha. Continue reading

Thoughts on Seeking and Seekers III (adhikaris)

599101_web_R_by_Günther Dotzler_pixelio.deShravana for Western Students

Shravana is the first phase on the path of knowledge in the tradition. Preparation is all about becoming eligible to do shravaNa – listening to the scriptures.

This is another feature of the traditional teaching that rarely can be transferred to Western students.

Excerpts from the ‘Upanyãsa’ rendered by Brahmashi Mani Dravid Shastriji:

Vedanta shravanãdhikãri’, the requisites of a person that make him eligible for listening to Vedanta (…)

The term ‘Adhikãri’ refers to that person who is capable of attaining the fruit as a result of performance of some action (karma). Possession of some basic prerequisites are laid down by scriptures in order to attain the fruit of ‘Vedanta shravana’ (listening to Vedanta). Continue reading

Thoughts on Seeking and Seekers II (adhikaris)

2 Shri GangaRegarding preparation the only difference I see between traditional advaita vedanta and Western advaita satsang teaching is: traditional teaching owns up to the need for preparation whereas Western teaching usually doesn’t. Yet most Western teachers are constantly occupied with working on the preparation of seekers. The talks published on their sites and even more those that are made into DVDs or CDs, must not deceive one. Continue reading

Thoughts on Seeking and Seekers I (adhikaris)

East:WestIn this series I intend to post several short essays reflecting, from different angles, the topic of the month: adhikaritvam, the eligibility of the seeker. Along the lines I started in 2011 in Advaita Academy, I would like to point out the differences and similarities of Western and traditional Advaita – this month in respect of how to approach the students of both.

In Vedanta, the need for the preparation of the seeker is beyond question and the nine virtues of sAdhana chatuShTaya sampatti are considered to be prerequisites for anyone who wants to find a guru and embark on the path of knowledge. Not so in most Western Advaita where all this preparation is thought to overcomplicate matters.” Continue reading

One with All


A little story…

On the kitchen shelf of an apartment shared by students, there’s a colourful mixture of containers – a large box of teabags, a coffee tin, smaller jars with spices, a high glass with spaghetti, a blue and white saltshaker, a big muesli jar, etc.

The muesli jar squints at the glass with the spaghetti and sighs, feeling much too fat once again. But after a while, he realizes that the glass with the spaghetti is used a lot less frequently, which gives him a boost. Then he glances at the box with teabags, which is even more popular and moreover has an exotic design. His mood sinks. But luckily he remembers that actually the inner values count; he recognizes that he has a great variety of things to offer, exceeding all others, and he feels better immediately. But once he is placed back on the shelf, entirely empty after breakfast, the muesli jar falls into a deep depression. Continue reading

Karma Cubed – Three Views of Karma

Quoting from S.N. Sastri’s Terms and Concepts in Vedanta:

“The word ‘karma’ is used in two different senses in vedAnta:

(1) the results of actions performed, in the form of merit and demerit (puNya and pApa), which produce their effects later on, usually in another birth, and

(2) the action itself, whether secular or religious.”

After reading Swami Narayana Muni Prasad’s superb booklet “Karma and Reincarnation” I would like to point to a third sense in which the word karma can and needs to be understood, especially for advanced students of Advaita.

karmaKarma as puNya and pApa

At some point every seeker comes across the concept of karma in this sense. If he follows Western Advaita he may dismiss the concept as something altogether irrelevant or, if he is not yet an advaitin, he may subscribe to the Western version of karma as an assignment for this lifetime (see which, if successfully absolved, will produce the kind of life that everyone is wishing for: safe, pleasant and ethical. Continue reading