Q: I feel that reading and writing feeds the mind. But, when I am in Presence I don’t feel the need to read and don’t really have anything to say. For me this is a problem, since reading and writing are for me pleasant activities.
So my question is whether it is possible to read and write while respecting and being in Presence, or is it direct contract with no-thought Presence that is necessary?
A: ‘Presence’ is not a term that is used in traditional Advaita. I assume that you mean just witnessing what is happening without mental commentary and without any investment in the outcome, whether ‘favorable’ or ‘unfavorable’. This practice is just that – a practice, helping you to become proficient at controlling the mind. Mental discipline and control of the senses are required to a degree, along with discrimination and dispassion before you can (successfully) undertake the real activities of Advaita. These are listening to a qualified teacher explain the scriptures and then asking questions to clarify any doubts. The end result is to gain knowledge about your Self and reality. That is enlightenment. Just ‘being present’ will never give enlightenment, no matter how long or how frequently you stay there.
An Explanation of the Ending
One or two readers of this book have expressed some mystification over the ending; and maybe the other three were too polite to comment… Accordingly, it occurred to me that it might be helpful to write this brief essay to provide a little more explanation.
WARNING: If you haven’t yet read the book, what I am about to write will not be relevant to you and will spoil the experience if you do decide to read it later.
Here is the link to download the PDF document but, if you still haven’t read the book, here are links to purchase from Amazon first:
Buy from Amazon US (book)
Buy from Amazon US (Kindle)
Buy from Amazon UK (book)
Buy from Amazon UK (Kindle)
If you would like to read the Prologue to whet your appetite, read it here! The initial announcement for the novel also contained a further extract from the book.
Readers of this blog, and its associated website www.advaita.org.uk, will (I hope!) associate my name with my books on Advaita, which have been published fairly regularly since 2003. What very few people know is that I have also written a novel! In fact, this was the first book I wrote. I actually began it around 1974, while I was working as a contract computer programmer and temporarily idle. Unfortunately (I was still being paid), I was not idle for very long and the book was not completed until 1982! Since then I have revised/rewritten it four times! I did attempt to get it published back in the nineteen eighties, but without success. Earlier this year (after completing ‘A-U-M’), I decided the time had come, even though I have had to subsidise the publication as I am not recognised as an author of fiction.
I usually describe the novel as an ‘ecological thriller’, since the action revolves around a landfill site and waste disposal. The science fact also develops quite quickly into science fiction. By the time of the third iteration, however, I had reworked the material to introduce aspects of philosophy, with emphasis (surprise, surprise!) on Advaita. Originally, there had been lots of quotations from T. S. Eliot, but I discovered when writing ‘Back to the Truth’ that copyright permission for lots of Eliot quotes would be both difficult and expensive to obtain. Then I had the brainwave of changing one of the main characters from someone calling himself ‘Elyot’ (T. S. Eliot’s grandfather) to someone calling himself ‘Krish’ (short for ‘Krishna’). And, of course, I used quotations from the Gita instead of from ‘The Four Quartets’.
‘Krish’ only communicates via computer and, in addition to helping the principal character with his investigations into the waste disposal activities, he also discusses matters of Self-inquiry. Blending these elements without artificiality was quite difficult but I think I have succeeded. I was asked to write a blog on these writing aspects for the publisher to tie in with publication in early December. I reproduce this below, together with an extract from the book. (I will post another extract in a few weeks.) Continue reading →