Q: One of the problems I encounter with Advaita is that, even though it makes sense and resonates with me, it does not help from the point of view of providing guidelines on how to live my life. If we consider Buddhism, for example, we find a clear path on how to live one’s live that goes in accordance with the deeper philosophical explanations of what reality is, etc.
This is the part in which I find myself discouraged and not knowing how to move forward. What could you tell me about this? What would you recommend that I read?
A: All of the guidance given by Advaita regarding ‘how to live’ is directed at preparing the mind so that it is optimally able to gain Self-knowledge. Once this has happened, you know that in reality there is no world, there are no persons. ‘Life’ is just the apparent movement of forms of Brahman.
An enlightened person will simply continue to operate according to prArabdha karma until death of that body-mind. Of course, cause and effect still operates at the empirical level. So, now knowing the truth and probably feeling sympathy for other apparent (and ignorant) jIva-s, there will be a tendency to behave more considerately towards them! If you look at someone like Swami Dayananda, you will see that he was not only a brilliant teacher but also very active in charitable works etc.
But the bottom line is that it is not really meaningful to talk about ‘how should a realized man behave’. The Bhagavad Gita has a chapter on how a realized man does behave, but that is more to do with recognizing such a person. Possibly the best text I have come across regarding the ‘life path’ of a seeker is jIva yAtra by Swami Jnanananda Bharati of Sringeri.
Swami Paramarthananda gave a 15-hour talk on this at a residential course some time ago. You can download these (http://hinduonline.co/AudioLibrary/Discources/LectureonJivaYatraParamarthananda.html) and they are very good, but there is a lot of Sanskrit in them (he breaks down each verse for the Sanskrit students). This is not a problem really, since you can just ignore those aspects if you do not understand them. You can also download a transcription of the talks (http://arshaavinash.in/index.php/download/jiva-yatra-swami-paramarthananda/).