Q: 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 →
Shravana is the first phase on the path of knowledge in the tradition. Preparation is all about becoming eligible to do shravaNa – listening to the scriptures.
This is another feature of the traditional teaching that rarely can be transferred to Western students.
Excerpts from the ‘Upanyãsa’ rendered by Brahmashi Mani Dravid Shastriji:
‘Vedanta shravanãdhikãri’, the requisites of a person that make him eligible for listening to Vedanta (…)
The term ‘Adhikãri’ refers to that person who is capable of attaining the fruit as a result of performance of some action (karma). Possession of some basic prerequisites are laid down by scriptures in order to attain the fruit of ‘Vedanta shravana’ (listening to Vedanta). Continue reading →
Part 15 of the serialization of the presentation (compiled by R. B. Athreya from the lectures given by Swami Paramarthananda) of upadeshasAhasrI. This is the prakaraNa grantha which is agreed by most experts to have been written by Shankara himself and is an elaborate unfoldment of the essence of Advaita.
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ROLE OF “REPETITION” IN SPIRITUAL INSTRUCTION, PRACTICE AND UNDERSTANDING — 2
This is an alternative viewpoint regarding the role of “Repetition” in understanding the core message of advaita. As it often happens, there is nothing like “the right perspective” in these matters. One may use one’s own discretion in evaluating these different points of view.
1. There is no doubt that Repetition helps in getting a thing by heart or to memorize a quote, a mantra, a verse etc.
2. We know ‘Practice maketh perfect’ and practice necessarily involves repetition.
That means, we are making an operation (mostly those that involve neuromotor skills) into a more mechanically executed action – transferring a routine from being a cerebral activity to cerebellar activity.
3. The ‘phala‘ (result) of certain ritualistic karma (like offerings made for the appeasement of gods, gaining merit etc.) is expected to increase proportionally with the number of times the ritual is carried out. (Please see Note: 2 at the end). Continue reading →
Q: As I understand, the sense of “I” (distinguished from the ultimate I/Self) is the source of “ignorance”. “Ignorance” leads to “the fear”, which inspires us to attempt to find “enlightenment”. The attempt to find “enlightenment” is the delusion that there is something to gain. The teachings tell us that “enlightenment” is the nature of existence. What needs to happen is the destruction/removal of ignorance, rather than the acquisition of anything. I already feel as if I have approached the “screen” upon which phenomenon occurs. By practicing “neti neti”, I attempt to see what always is, which is a temporary attempt to disregard things that can be seen. Once this happens, there is the inference of blankness/darkness/all-inclusiveness/voidness. And once this practice of “neti neti” is over, I begin to see things come of themselves, from little sparks … flakes of concepts … to their blooming as a climax of a concept. The climax wanes and the concept disappears of itself just as it arose.
A short time after this attempt at enquiry, the ease I had with reality fades. The sense that reality is not okay begins to gradually return. It feels as if I missed something from this experience. At other times, I feel as if perhaps this effort is part of the problem. Maybe the enquiry is meant to be a last ditch attempt to notice the fallacy of trying to do something, or even the attempt to try to do nothing.
Is this the realization? That effort is resistance? That surrender to this fact is the ultimate motion?
How does it happen that one can know “in the mind” that one is free, and yet continue to fall back into the conundrum of no longer feeling this freedom? Moments of complete freedom … knowing that it’s not my business to “do” life, not even to attempt to not “do” life … and yet slowly fall back into the habit? Continue reading →
Q: How would it be possible to deal with our common Bhagavad Gita in terms of Advaita Vedanta?
A (Ramesam): Please appreciate that Bhagavad-Gita is not the primary or basic text for Advaita. Though many of the verses in it are almost exact mantras from various Upanishads, prior to Sankara (8th Century A.D), Bhagavad-Gita was not perhaps as popular a scriptural text for teaching Vedanta as it is today. It was a part of the mythological story, Mahabharata. Some people hold that the Bhagavad-Gita of Mahabhrata contained 745 verses. Some others opine that the original Gita was much smaller and it was Sankara who compiled the present Gita putting together diverse verses from different sources. None of these opinions, however, have any credible supporting evidence. The first extant gloss on the Gita is by Sankara and it contains 700 verses (one or two verses are still disputed and said to have been later insertions). Continue reading →