An Assortment of Short Questions

Here are a few short questions, with answers from Dennis, from the as-yet-unpublished backlog:

Q: I am a student of James Swartz.  I was wanting to find a good reference book for learning the terminology of Vedanta in Sanskrit.  James recommended I contact you to ask which one of your books would the most helpful.  If you have time to point me in the right direction it would be much appreciated.  Thank you.

A: That’s an easy one! The best book by far (of which I am aware) is John Grimes’ book. See first entry on (and if you click through to Amazon to buy, you will earn me a small commission!)


 Q: I am confused about what you mean (in the book ‘Enlightenment: The Path Through the Jungle’) by teachers who teach by Satsang.  I understood Satsang to mean an occasion to gather round a master to imbue his teachings and darshan and that this has been a time honored traditional practice of Saints and Gurus in India. Continue reading

Does practice make any difference? (Q. 315)

Q. Dennis–I have read your books( and appreciate them) and many books and tapes from many teachers on advaita and “neoadvaita” .  There have been glimpses and experiencing here in the last 15 years  resulting in much lightness in this life. The real freedom came when it was realized there was no more need to “decide” “who to listen to or follow” and “I” have followed them all.   I have one question which seems to separate your views from Parsons yet he, you and the others all state that “the bottom line is “nothing matters”  and whether or not an apparent person “gains” self knowledge makes not the slightest difference to reality-oneness.  The question is this: 

If the truth is ultimately only oneness always present, what difference does it make whether “I” as a separate individual meditates or doesn’t, “prepares myself for awakening or doesn’t etc, etc or does whatever “I” thinks it is doing??.  If I rob a store which seems to be out of the nature of this ‘I’,  why do you( or the traditional Advaita scriptures) say this is “dangerous” if not prepared??.  Whatever apparently  happens is going to apparently happen anyway with no “doing” by “me”  The freedom here has come from having intuitive trust and let life guide. Continue reading

Neo-Advaita versus Traditional Vedanta

A highly subjective view

By Tan


I was on the “spiritual quest” for more than 12 years after success in the material world did not keep its advertised promise of lasting happiness. I started my quest with Greek Philosophy, Krishnamurti, Taoism, Zen, Neurological Science and Physical Science and had read more books and attended more “satsangs” than I can mention without being thoroughly embarrassed. The quest led me in the final stages to “Neo-Advaita” and then in the end to Vedanta. I had spent the considerable amount of 3 -4  years in meetings – with so-called “Neo-Advaita“ teachers such as Tony Parsons, Karl Renz and only very recently had developed an interest in traditional Vedanta teaching. There I had spent some short time with the books of Dennis Waite whose friendly input had led me to Swami Dayananda, Swami Chinmayananda and in the end to James Swartz. I have no profound knowledge of Vedanta teaching methods nor an encompassing view of Vedanta, but can only report the impact of Vedanta once revealed by a true teacher such as James Swartz. Continue reading

Advaita – neo, traditional… and music!

Here at Advaita Vision, we are aiming to bring you the very best of both traditional teaching and modern Western approaches. We acknowledge that the traditional route has a proven track record of over a thousand years, with many of the stories and metaphors working just as well now as they did then (think of ropes and snakes, wave and water). And yet it is also true that many modern seekers are not yet willing to make the effort to look into the scriptures or find a teacher capable of unfolding them. Satsang and neo teachers speak to them directly of the truth, rather than leading them by the hand along the well-worn paths which, though they will reach the destination, appear to take a lot longer!

The method of teaching is like the pole used to vault over the high bar. Whether we use an old wooden pole or a carbon fibre one, we have to discard it before we can cross over.

So the aims are the same and there is an opportunity for some integration! Traditionalists need to speak more directly to the modern seeker, perhaps distilling the wisdom of the scriptures and representing it in a more modern format, shorn of references to concepts which are alien to today’s society. And the neos need to acknowledge that the old approach cannot be all wrong – else how can it have survived for so long, and how can it have led so many to enlightenment?

A useful metaphor for this can be found in the Indian fusion group ‘Advaita’ – eclectic in music in the same way as this site is eclectic in teaching. They are aiming to marry Hindustani classical music from India’s traditional roots with modern Western rock – and they seem to be doing it very well indeed!