Q.543 Life-coaching

A: Fundamentally, everyone is already the Self/Brahman/Absolute (whichever word you prefer), since there is only the nondual reality. But of course most people do not know this. They are only interested in pursuing money/fame/relationships etc. and would never accept the truth or even be interested in listening. Assuming that you, yourself, are convinced of the truth, you would simply be wasting your time attempting to explain this.

Nevertheless, again assuming that you fully accept Advaita, you know that these ‘others’ are in fact your Self, so why would you want to propagate their mistaken view of life? The only reasonable approach is to be available to help them move towards the truth if they actively seek to do this, but simply to let them continue in their ignorance otherwise.

However, you do have a body-mind to ‘support’ for the remainder of its life, so you do have to earn a living. (In the past, in India, of course, you became a recluse and people gave you food!) Accordingly, it may well be that being a ‘life coach’ enables you to do this, as well as putting you into a position where you may be able to ‘nudge’ others towards the truth by the way that you respond to questions.

You cannot try to consider overall purpose. There is simply no answer to the question as to why there is the appearance of the world and people etc. It is all simply a present form of the Absolute.

A: You rarely come across ideas relating to spiritual progress. The only one I am aware of comes from Swami Paramarthananda (who is the best living teacher that I know). He says that you can gain some confirmation that you are progressing from three indicators:

  1. The frequency with which your composure is reduced as a result of negative emotions. Obviously this should diminish.
  2. The intensity of those episodes. These should also reduce.
  3. The time it takes for you to recover from them. This should also diminish.

Whilst your body-mind continues, these are not likely to reduce to zero but you should eventually be rarely disturbed by anything.

You know that you are ‘enlightened’, when there remain no doubts at all about the nondual nature of reality and the fact that ‘you are That’. Remember that this is all about Self-knowledge; nothing to do with ‘experience’. The above changes in your emotional responses come about as a result of your understanding. I think this effectively answers both your questions, even if I haven’t specifically addressed them. My last book (‘Confusions in Advaita Vedanta: Knowledge, Experience and Enlightenment’) goes into much more depth about related issues.

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