Q: One of the things that bothers me massively is that certain Indian masters are so popular that people start to worship them as if they are divine beings. I run away from that because I don’t feel comfortable while seeing that on YouTube. On the other hand, I talked with people who were on a retreat with such a master, and they had gained a lot of insights in his presence. They also experienced authentic moments of deep recognition and clarity. So, I am a bit hesitant about how I should cope with this. I feel I have a deep desire to devote myself to something or someone. I am attracted to go and see such gurus, but I also have some pride inside me. What would my husband and colleagues say if they would see me bowing for an Indian master? What is going on in these places?
JK: You see, this is a nice example to illustrate the difference between duality and dualism. Duality is the difference between the person in the front who is the teacher, say of mathematics, and his or her audience, the pupils listening to him or her to learn the basics of mathematics. From an outsider’s point of view, the teacher is standing in front of the classroom and the pupils are sitting in the rest of the room. That separation is duality. And it is totally fine. In spiritual circles, a similar situation may occur. There is a duality between the master on the one hand and the followers on the other hand. That is again totally fine, it is just a distinction made by the mind. And if there are a lot of followers, it is normal that the teacher is sitting on a platform so that everybody can see him or her. When a spiritual leader like the Dalai Lama gives a speech to the United Nations, it is also similar. And people can be touched by his words on many levels as well. Continue reading →
If you click on ‘About’ in the menu bar at the top of the page, you will be taken to the page that lists the aims of this blog and the associated website at www.advaita.org.uk. This page was written by Peter Bonnici (with assistance from Ramesam), with whom I initiated Advaita Vision around 4 years ago. (As most readers will know, Peter is unfortunately no longer with us.) Despite its ease of accessibility, one wonders how many visitors actually read it. Certainly it would seem that some have never done so. Accordingly, I reproduce it below, since its content is so important.
This site provides a platform for all who are attracted to the vision of non-duality and like to share their views and their approaches.
Here’s why Advaita Vision will be an open platform for all committed to self-enquiry:
People are at different points on their spiritual journeys.
Therefore different expressions of the fundamental principle of advaita are needed to meet their specific different needs. Continue reading →
Q. ‘Why wasn’t my consciousness generated by another brain? Why am I linked with this brain?’
I heard that everybody experiences consciousness, but then why am I my consciousness and not another person’s consciousness? It’s hard to explain.
Paul Bush. Yes, it’s hard to explain. Basically it’s because the most important part of consciousness, which is awareness*, is the same for everybody. There is only one awareness, and in fact nothing else. All the other aspects of consciousness, the contents, are projections of awareness as it identifies with small parts of reality such as bodies and minds. Such misidentification creates a perspective. From each perspective the part of reality not identified with is seen as the external world. The observer with a particular perspective and the world observed as a consequence of that perspective are both inferences created at the moment of identification.
So, there is only one awareness that is continually pulled into the illusion of being this or that observer. The ongoing personal identity that we think of as ourselves maintains coherence through the construction of the concepts of time and space; memory and an apparent (though not total) physical separation from the rest of reality. Awareness has no personal identity, it is exactly the same for you and everyone else, because it is singular awareness that creates each experience depending on the perspective of the entity that it is identifying with.
*(AM Awareness and Consciousness are generally taken as equivalent in Advaita Vedanta – no distinction being made) Continue reading →
Q: For the last few years I have been trying to develop a manuscript detailing a working model which marriages the teachings of Advaita Vedanta with contemporary research on NDE or “Near Death Experience” and similar fields of inquiry. There are several questions I have, but for now I will only bother you with one: Is it possible the Atman does possess a “spiritual ego”?
Clearly the culprit for the ignorance of our real self as the Self is the wrongful identification with the body-mind. Shankara explains the identification with the kosha-s perpetuates the illusion, which is nothing more than a superimposition of the kosha(s) on brahman helped by mAyA.
The way I see it, our greatest enemy is the ego, the human ego. This ego comes from the mind and is maintained alive by desires. But I have many reasons to suspect there is also a “spiritual ego” present in the Atman, which similarly perpetuates the ignorance of the wrongful identification by the so-called discarnate “spirit soul”.
The metaphor I have used is this: there is an actor in the “spiritual world” (the Atman) which wrongfully identifies with a spiritual ego preventing it from realizing brahman. This actor goes through an induced amnesia, after agreeing to play the role of a character in the Grand Stage of the world. This is the incarnation stage. The human ego is the combination of the spiritual ego – which carries the saMskAra-s and the vAsanA-s – plus particular influences on the personality traits caused by internal factors such as the brain/mind of the new body, as well as external factors such as family, society, education, etc. This is the embodied Atman as the jIva.Continue reading →
Q: How do we get the conviction to go on a spiritual quest? Unlike science, there are no indicators to give feedback if this is even the right path. We need to have blind faith in the general idea itself before we venture into it. Can we only do this through negation of the other paths, where apparent validations are possible by material feedback.
A devil’s advocate argument could be to dismiss everything associated with the vedas/upanishads as nonsense, since nothing can be proved. Another way to look at this is to acknowledge that the ancient sages have come up with practices such as yoga and meditation, which sort of proves their intellect and extrapolates on their ability to see things farther than a average person can and thereby have faith in their judgements.
I am not able to articulate my question very well but I hope I got my point across.
A (Ramesam): Man, by his/her very nature, feels incomplete. He seeks fulfillment of what he lacks through effort using his natural or acquired talents. In fact, it is this “lack” that drives his passion for action along the path of the means chosen by him suiting to his comfort-level.
At the most basic level the drives that motivate a man for action are the biological and physiological needs. As described by the Psychologist Maslow, the subtlety of these needs changes from a lower to higher level in the following manner: Continue reading →
To explore the womb, or tomb, or dreams; all these are usual
Pastimes and drugs, and features of the press:
And always will be, some of them especially
When there is distress of nations and perplexity
Whether on the shores of Asia, or in the Edgware Road. (T. S. Eliot. Four Quartets, 3.5)
If you are reading this magazine*, I suggest that there is a high probability that you are not happy! It is an undeniable fact that the majority of people today are dissatisfied with what they perceive as being a mediocre existence. They may feel that they are limited by an unattractive and illness-prone body or by a mind that is imperfectly educated and unable to make intellectual leaps of understanding. There are very many things that we want – objects, partners, lifestyle, jobs etc – but few that we seem to be able to obtain. (And, even when we do obtain them, their rewards are invariably ephemeral.) Western society relies upon the media advertising all of these things, and thereby continually reinforcing the desires. Being repeatedly frustrated by this materialistic lifestyle, it should be hardly surprising that many turn towards the spiritual in the hope that this might bring about peace and a durable happiness. Continue reading →