Lewis introductory post

Hello, everyone! I am honoured to join Advaita Vision. As a new writer, it is only right that I introduce myself. My name’s Lewis and I live in the UK. I first came across Advaita in my first year at university for a presentation on the ‘Hindu views on consciousness’. We could use the Upanishads or Bhagavad Gita and I chose the Upanishads. What was apparent was that consciousness was not taught as how I had been. I found it difficult to reconcile the four states of waking, dreaming, deep sleep and Turiya with my understanding because they seemed so different. 

I was determined to make sense of what I had read and returned to the Upanishads for an essay examining ‘how Hinduism informs our modern understanding of the psychological self.’ I understood the Self to be one’s true nature and Brahman to be an underlying reality which is in and manifests everything, but I couldn’t see how the Upanishads pointed to either or that they are ultimately the same. 

I left the Upanishads alone for another four years, when I suddenly had a breakthrough. I was watching a video by Swami Tadatmananda on Advaita and he quoted Gaudapada’s declaration that, 

The world never really emerged, nor will it undergo dissolution.

There’s really no one who’s bound, no one seeking enlightenment, and no one who becomes enlightened.

This is the highest truth. 

He explained that nothing in the world truly exists as it’s merely a form of Brahman and that this was what Gaudapada was referring to. It finally clicked. With renewed vigour, I picked the Upanishads up again and began applying what I had learned. 

During this period I graduated university and I started a Master’s course in the ‘Traditions of Yoga and Meditation’. I chose essay questions to challenge myself to see how well I understood the teachings of different texts. I was filling in gaps and familiarising myself with the key scriptures, but there was something else which kept cropping up I hadn’t yet looked into – the Vedas. 

When one of my coursemates introduced me to the work of Sri Aurobindo, I began exploring the different Vedic devas and their roles for myself. This was towards the end of my course, alongside working on my dissertation. It was during this period I had my first insight into the Vedas. When I looked for what they said about the senses, I found nothing. It was clear that the Upanishads were much more direct and transparent in which subjects they were dealing with. In comparison, the Vedas’ language seemed cryptic. If they were to make sense, I would have to go deeper. 

This is where the Upanishads come in again. In Katha 3.4, it is declared that the horses are the senses and the chariot is the body. Similarly, Shvetashvatara 2.9 states that the mind should be restrained just like untamed horses are yoked to a chariot. I realised that they were telling us what horses and chariots symbolised in the Vedas! With a new perspective on the Upanishads as the culmination of Vedic thought, I had a foothold in understanding and I have since delved deeper into the symbolism.     

Writing topics

All of this leads into which topics you can expect to see from me. My next post will be the start of a series called, ‘Advaita in the Vedas’, where I look at different mantras and highlight their similar (and, in some cases, identical) language to the Upanishads to show how they share the same truth. Aside from this, I plan on focusing on underexplored passages in the Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita and unpack how they contain the essence of Advaita. I also had the idea of examining references to the Vedas and their devas in both texts and contextualising how they point to Advaita.

There is nothing I would rather be doing than devoting my time to sharing the wisdom of Advaita as it has been my passion for many years, just as writing has. I have plenty to work with so I am looking forward to getting stuck in and thrilled to be on board! 

Q.457 Using meditation to ‘find the self’

Q: Undaunted by my belief that meditation to find the self (soul) is difficult, I would like to try, but there are no teachers in my area. Therefore, in the first instance, I would really appreciate your advice regarding a book to follow for this type of meditation that is suitable for a beginner.

A: The purpose of meditation is to help gain control of the mind and senses so that you can cultivate dispassion and discrimination and still the mind when listening to the teacher.

Meditation cannot enable you to ‘find the self’. You are already the Self – you just have not realized this. What has to happen is for the mind to receive knowledge about the Self, clear any misunderstandings, resolve any doubts etc. Ideally, you need a qualified teacher for this – someone who knows the truth and is able to convey the relevant steps (via story, metaphor etc.) to help someone else come to the same understanding.

As an introduction to Advaita, there are three books I would recommend:

1. ‘Introduction to Vedanta’ by K. Sadananda – see https://www.advaita-vision.org/vedanta-introduction-sadananda/;

2. ‘Book of One’ (2nd edition) by myself – http://www.advaita.org.uk/discourses/thebook/thebook.htm;

3. ‘VEDĀNTA the solution to our fundamental problem’ by D. Venugopal (This is serialized at the website (https://www.advaita-vision.org/vedanta-the-solution-part-1/).