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.
- Several practices and disciplines prepare the mind for truth.
Service, Prayer, Yoga, Pilgrimage, Meditation, Donation etc. do. Study of scripture does. Even psychological work may do. But none of these on their own constitutes advaita any more than a sharp knife, a clean pot, water or matches constitute cooking.
Advaita points out that as the problem underlying the ‘human condition’ is based on a misidentification of who I am, the only solution is to shed the wrong ideas for the right understanding. This site is more about the final meal and less about the implements.
- Any teacher of advaita – traditional or non-traditional – will point to the non-difference between the Self of the individual and pure existence-consciousness, Absolute Reality Itself.
If they do not, they are probably preachers of self-improvement and are therefore not included in this site. It is for the seeker to discover the approach that suits them. By presenting a range of approaches this site will ensure their choice is informed.
- Visitors to this site will find an array of voices.
By way of orientation, we present a who’s who of teachers and how they relate to the various lineages. This is to give visitors a context for their preferred approach and teacher. No preference or judgment is intended here – we respect the intelligence and sincerity of seekers.
- One can never tell what route the path of enquiry will take.
For many it isn’t necessarily a straight line: when students-followers-disciples come to suspect that their understanding isn’t growing with one teacher or institution or group – and if their spirit of enquiry is strong enough to overcome emotional entanglements with the teacher – they will start to look elsewhere (as many of us did). This means that simply things move on. This site can be a source to find the next stepping-stone.
- Advaita rejects nothing, includes everything.
Just because Newton’s laws of physics have been surpassed as a description of how things are, that does not mean they are useless: after all the industrial revolution was based on their understanding. Applying this reasoning we too accept all teachers who genuinely teach of the Oneness of all.
- Advaita Vedanta accepts dvaita [dualism] and vishiShTAdvaita [qualified non-dualism] as stages of understanding.
Still Advaita teaches that the final goal of a human life lies in the understanding of the essential ‘Identity’ of all. The technical name for this analytical methodology is adhyAropa apavAda [superimposition and negation]. This starts by accepting the superimposition of duality – Creator, the universe and me are three distinct entities. It then leads to the appreciation that we are part of one cosmic being, an atom in god’s cosmic body. And eventually the sense of separation is resolved by recognizing that there is only Reality, one without a second – I am That.
- The varNa-Ashrama system of India, too, recognizes the variety of each person’s proclivity and provides what’s most appropriate for that mentality and stage of life.
The stages in the life begin with the study to prepare one for participation in the world; some then enter the stage of social contribution and wealth creation, followed by a stage at which the pull of the world loses its strength and mind turns to self-enquiry, till finally one commits fully to a spiritual lifestyle.
There is no judgment here, just recognition of how things naturally unfold. These broad stages are common to all people despite their inclination: whether they are drawn towards spirituality, or towards intellectual or artistic or social leadership, or to wealth creation, or to simple service. The duties for one will be different from the duties of another. There is no ‘one-shoe-fits-all’ thinking on this site either, just common sense in accepting variety.
- Tradition reserves high praise for those who discuss Self, who teach Self, who enquires into Self.
If the only person qualified to write articles or conduct meetings is one who is shrotriya and brahmaniShTha, then Swami Dayananda-ji, for example, might never have met the teachers who finally introduced him to the tradition and from whom he gained the vision. If the only valid teacher of maths is the PhD supervisor, then what will the primary school teacher offer their 5 year olds who don’t yet know how to add? For this reason this site will not be judgmental.
- There are no absolutes in the gross or subtle worlds.
The only absolute is Existence-Consciousness-Infinite Brahman. For anyone to be drawn to the search, for anyone to suspect that everything the world offers isn’t the be-all and end-all of the matter, is a great achievement that needs to be encouraged and supported. Providing the best resources that support their continued enquiry is the intention of this site and we invite contributions of articles and opinions from all who share this vision.
As can be seen, it is made clear that the site exists for those who are interested in learning about Advaita with the potential aim of following this path for discovering the truth about one’s self and reality.
The corollary is that those who are not interested in following Advaita or, even worse, in denigrating Advaita as a valid teaching methodology, should not visit this site and, even more importantly, they should not contribute to the blog discussions – THEY ARE NOT WELCOME!