NDM: So without a teacher/guru of some kind, how does one navigate a path through this non-dual jungle? How did you do this without falling into all the traps like getting stuck in the absolute, or only seeing half the picture and the other pitfalls?
Ramesam Vemuri:: Non-duality is not the jungle. Non-duality is clarity. Information on it, about it and around it is the jungle!
One of the derivative meanings for the Sanskrit word Guru is, as you may have known: “the dispeller (ru) of darkness (gu).” In the ancient times when knowledge is transmitted through oral tradition, a human Guru (dispeller of darkness or ignorance) was necessarily required because the Guru was the only information source. Each Guru developed, used and expanded certain terminology to explain the Truth as realized by that Guru to a lineage of his disciples.
Fast forward to the present day. We have now multimedia storage devices as information resources and satellite communication technologies for its dissemination. These do dilute the mandatory requirement of a human Guru (dispeller of ignorance).
The more important question is how do we manage with the information ‘overload’ and distinguish the grain from the chaff.
No acid tests are available. No guarantees provided. No Bureau of Standards certifications.
I do not know how it happens, but normally some or other information source becomes accessible when a seeker is seized with an intense yearning. Maybe because information (Grace) is everywhere or whatever. You resonate with the information that opens up before you and keep moving with your inquiry.
NDM. How does one know if one is deluding oneself without some outside source, authority, validating the persons understanding and knowledge and experiences?
Ramesam Vemuri: Tests, validations and approvals by an external agency can certify an acquired and accumulated knowledge and expertise.
Suppose there is a TV antenna that beamed several programs in the last one hour in different languages. Can there be a test to know the “understanding, knowledge and experience” of the antenna? The antenna does not hoard any knowledge. The seeker is like the antenna.
It is quite possible a person may be wallowing in his/her delusion. Advaita does not have a British Pharmacopeia or an American DSM to prescribe a standard line of therapy. (In the strictest sense of Advaita, ultimately everything as ‘Is’ is okay; nothing needs to be changed! So no prior manuals of remedies.)
If a particular individual is unclear, gets a doubt at one time or other, it is (s)he who has to define his problem and probe deeper into it. No advocate to hold a brief on his behalf. No proxy to ask and seek solution. Each individual seeker has to himself pose his question as it arises and he will find the solution. (The surprise is that the “questioner” is the problem; not the content of the question!)
NDM : Do you see we are living in a time of the end of the traditional guru. Or the cyber guru, giving email satsangs, or the universal guru that speaks one language only. English?
Greg Goode says (see here): No longer can people believe that liberation speaks only Tibetan, or that the world was created from holy Sanskrit syllables. People are saying, “If it can’t be said in my language, then it isn’t so universal after all.” Even as recently as thirty years ago, seekers of self-awareness had to trek to India or the Himalayas to see someone who could impart a message of liberation. These days there are many routes: Barnes & Noble, Borders, Amazon, Yahoo, Google, mobile phones and BlackBerries”
Ramesam Vemuri: Any stored information will always be something of the “past.” It can never be in the present like a live teacher is. A storage device conveys what is merely stored. A live teacher may be able to convey more than that in interactive mode and by interpreting the info in a more contemporary manner.
For example, ocean and waves was an ancient metaphor for brahman and world. In the mid-20th century cinema and film projection was cited. Present day teachers talk about computer screen and the documents on it.
Every new generation may come with new questions in the light of their own backgrounds because the Advaitic search is for the “Unknown” and not what is known at a given point of time. A static dead information device cannot meet such growing demands.
Thus while a live teacher may not get replaced totally, the seeker may be able to pursue his inquiry in greater physical comfort (sitting wherever s/he is) in the cyber age.
NDM: Also what about this sensitive money issue that seems to hit a raw nerve whenever it’s raised?
Is there anything right or wrong with doing this? Is there anything right or wrong with making a few , rupees on this ancient Nondual teaching? What is your take on this controversial and almost taboo question?
(To Continue … Part: 10/12)