Q. 386 – Has enlightenment been ‘dumbed down’?

Q: Self-Realization is a very rare occurrence – the Gita states something like 1 in a billion, and there are very few authentic, fully realized beings known to us, such as Ramana Maharshi, Nisargadatta Maharaj and a few others, (as well as the great anonymous ones). Granted, the world has changed and everything is much faster than it was, but this cannot surely apply to self-realization. The Neo-Advaitins’ awakenings or enlightenments cannot possibly be synonymous with the self-realizations of the great sages such as Ramana and Nisargadatta? 

Also, the hallmark of the great sages such as those mentioned above is that they have a transparent, translucent quality that emanates contentment and  peace.  The Neo-Advaitin teachers that I have observed do not emanate peace, instead, they come across with their body-mind personality traits/baggage as either ‘manic’, ‘neurotic’, ‘depressed’, ‘nihilistic’, etc. The talking, and so much talking at that,  is coming from the mind, and not from “mauna”. It is more like a mixture of counseling, psychotherapy and psycho-babble rather than pragmatic Advaitin philosophy. 

So my question is … has self-realization been dumbed down and redefined by the Neo-Advaitins, or do they not claim full self-realization, but only to be ‘awakened’ or ‘enlightened’?   Tolle comes to mind and Mooji, too… the talking never stops.

Responses from Melanie, Martin, Ramesam, Charles, and Dennis Continue reading

chidAbhAsa

The ‘Real I’ verses the ‘Presumed I’ – An Examination of chidAbhAsa

Ramana Maharshi’s instruction to seekers to ask themselves ‘Who am I?’ is lauded by many modern Western teachers as sufficient, on its own, to lead to enlightenment.  I suggest that this is not strictly true; that what it can do is rather to give us insight into what we are not and thereby point us in the direction of traditional teachings to learn about our real nature. It is inciting us to conduct Self-inquiry in the proven manner, i.e. by listening to a qualified teacher interpret the scriptures, rather than merely providing a mantra or formula to provide an answer directly.
An explanation of how traditional teaching can lead us to an understanding of who I am might begin with an analysis of our three states of consciousness – this is the so-called avasthA traya prakriyA of traditional advaita.
We almost certainly begin with the belief that who-I-really-am is only fully present in the waking state. In the dream state, I am not in command of my mental faculties so that the mind free-wheels outside of my control even though I am not actually unconscious. And we no doubt accept the deep sleep state as one in which mind and body rest and recuperate in order to be ready for the trials that the next day may bring. According to this interpretation, consciousness in deep sleep is in a resting state, as indicated by the lowered activity shown by EEG displays. (This view, also supported by many Western philosophers, claims that consciousness is a by-product or ‘epiphenomenon’ of the brain; an evolutionary advantageous development to enable an animal to find food and mate more efficiently than before. This is also the view of the chArvAka-s or materialists of thousands of years ago – it is certainly not new!) Continue reading

Q. 363 – Divine Grace

Q: Over the past eight years I have developed a personal relationship with a God of my understanding – or should I say with a God of my non understanding and I know that the term God is loaded and perhaps not word enough. I love God and naturally want to be with God.

 I have some experience of Hinduism and spent time studying Buddhism, I even spent time living at a Buddhist center while going about my ordinary business of work, life and family. I couldn’t continue with Buddhism even though they were wonderful people because in my heart I knew it was not the right path for me and I felt conflicted. I returned to my love of Hindu practices because it felt more right for me and over the past two years I have tried to find my way. I have deepened my understanding through reading books, internet teachings on you tube and meditation. 

 More recently I have ventured upon Advaita Vedanta and it feels right for me. However, I have no teacher and no one to ask when I have questions.  Sometimes it all gets a bit too non dual for me and I feel disconnected from the love part with all the philosophy and intellectual explanations.  I experienced the grace of God eight years ago when I was in a desperate plight and Divine Grace is an absolute for me. What I want to know is how does Grace happen, is it Brahman or Divine consciousnesses. Thank you for any time and consideration you might give to answer my question. Continue reading

What is Brahman? (Part 4)

(Read Part 3)

Leo Hartong also uses the metaphor of clouds, as thoughts, in the blue sky of ‘I am’ awareness:

“Ramana Maharshi recommended that one investigates by asking the question ‘ Who am I?’ When asked who you are, there might be a hesitation as to what to answer; but when asked if you exist, there is no such doubt. The answer is a resounding, ‘ Yes, of course I exist.’ When the answer to the first question is as clear as the answer to the second question, there is understanding.

“The realization is that both questions have in fact the same answer. That which is sure of its existence –the innermost certainty of I Am- is what you essentially are. In other words: I Am this knowing that knows that I Am. The Hindus say Tat Tvam Asi (Thou Art That). In the Old Testament, God says, ‘ I Am that I Am.’ This undeniable ‘ I Am’ is not you in the personal sense, but the universal Self. Ramana Maharshi called the fundamental oneness of ‘ I Am’ and the universal Self ‘ I-I.’ Continue reading

Q. 359 – Some potential practices

sleeperQ: As a long-time Krishnamurti fan, I often “practice” awareness (mindfulness): when a thought arises I watch it live out its life and disappear; when I sip coffee I am aware of the feel of it, the taste, the fact that I am sipping coffee, etc.

 1. Is it okay for me to continue doing this while I am studying Advaita Vedanta? (OK in the sense of not undermining the Advaita learning process.)

 2. Does Advaita hold that is valuable/beneficial to practice this kind of nonjudgmental awareness? Is there a similar practice in Advaita?

A: According to (traditional) Advaita, you are supposed to have gained sAdhana chatuShTaya before you embark upon the formal path of self-enquiry (shravaNa-manana-nididhyAsana). This includes shamAdi shakti sampatti, the sixfold ‘accomplishments’. And the first of these are shama and dama, tranquil mind and sense control. This is obviously a similar sort of idea to mindfulness. So any practice which helps bring the mind under control, so it is not thinking about something else while supposedly giving attention to Advaita, is fine. But very definitely the idea is become disciplined first, so that you can direct the whole of your attention. If you try to do it at the same time, you will end up doing neither well! Continue reading

Attending to the work

Quote

“Attending to the Self means attending to the work. Because you identify yourself with the body, you think that work is done by you. But the body and its activities, including that work, are not apart from the Self. What does it matter whether you attend to the work or not? When you walk from one place to another you do not attend to the steps you take and yet you find yourself after a time at your goal. You see how the business of walking goes on without your attending to it. So also with other kinds of work.” Ramana Maharshi

Be As You Are: The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi, David Godman, Arkana,
ISBN: 0140190627. Buy from Amazon US, Buy from Amazon UK

Beyond Stillness – Q. 331

Q : I am a “solo practitioner” of the advice of Ramana Maharshi, as I understand what I absorb of it. My enquiries move between an apophatic and cataphatic flavor.

 When I do this, I am moved to an absolute stillness. Upon ‘coming back’, there is a sensation of still not passing the barrier of stillness. I am not sure how to continue. Should I continue to practice just like this? Until I have destroyed differentiation? Should this be a lesson on what the real really is?

[Note (Dennis): Here are the meanings of those terms from my Oxford dictionary –

apophatic /ap’fatk/ – adjective Theology (of knowledge of God) obtained through negating concepts that might be applied to him. The opposite of cataphatic.

cataphatic /kat’fatk/ – adjective Theology (of knowledge of God) obtained through defining God with positive statements. The opposite of apophatic.] Continue reading

Dennis: Free Will (Part 3)

Go to Part 2

The metaphor of the motor boat crossing a fast-flowing river was used by Swami Chinmayananda. The current represents karma or destiny, as dictated by our prArabdha saMskAra; the power of the motor represents our own self-effort or free will. If the current is strong and our will is weak, we will be unable to overcome its force. If we are able to exert powerful self-effort (puruShArtha), we may overcome the force of habit and forge a new path.

Advaita tells us that who-we-really-are does not act in any case. For there to be action, there would have to be (at least) two things. But, empirically, we the witness see the body (which is only matter) performing actions. We identify with this and think that ‘I am acting’. The Bhagavad Gita (III.27) says: “The guNa-s of prakRRiti perform all karma. With the understanding clouded by egotism, man thinks ‘I am the doer’.” Continue reading