Advaita in the West

Readers of my books and blogs will know that, over the years, my position has shifted from early support of modern Western teachers to an increasing criticism of anything other than the traditional approach of Ādi Ṥaṅkara. My book ‘Enlightenment: The Path through the Jungle’ spelled out the key differences between these approaches and explained why so many aspects of modern teaching failed the seeker. More recently, my ‘Confusions in Advaita Vedanta’ books(s) are addressing specific topics in Advaita and showing how many post-Ṥaṅkara teachers have distorted or even rejected the original explanations and thereby brought much confusion to today’s seekers.

My next book will specifically address the problems of trying to learn about Advaita in the West and how to spot the indicators of good and bad sources. I have been doing lots of research for this book, endeavoring to look at all of the current websites purporting to teach nonduality, and Advaita in particular. In the process of doing this, I came across this paper by Phillip Lucas, who was a Professor at Stetson University in Florida until 2021. He has kindly given permission for me to post it here. In it, he looks at the modern attempts to teach a modified version of Advaita, adapted to Western ‘ethos’, and the increasing criticism of these attempts by those, such as myself, who espouse the traditional approach. It is quite long, so I will be posting it in around 6 parts over the next couple of months. The first part follows. My sincere thanks to Prof. Lucas.