Understanding “Consciousness is Everything”: Journal of a 15 yr Old – Part1/2: Mahavakyas (Great Statements)

In this article, I am presenting a journal of a student of the NEEV Advaita Study Facebook Group. He happens to be a 15 yr old boy, studying in the 11th grade, who discusses Advaita with me in the midst of doing his homework. Recently he sent me a journal describing the conceptual understanding he gained about how everything, including himself, is in reality Consciousness, and he is actually not a person. In Part 1 of my response to his journal I show how uncannily he has managed to pack all the four Mahavakyas of Advaita. Mahavakyas are “great statements” that serve as signposts for the journey of a seeker in the path of Advaita from ignorance to enlightenment. Thus, I use my student’s journal as a base to explicate on the journey of a seeker in the path of Advaita as he/she progresses through the four Mahavakyas. … Read More Understanding “Consciousness is Everything”: Journal of a 15 yr Old – Part1/2: Mahavakyas (Great Statements)

Fear, Action, Suffering and Liberation: A Dialogue

This is a dialogue based on the question of a student in my NEEV Advaita Study Group. The quandary he is raising is somewhat similar to the dilemma faced by Arjuna in Bhagavad Gita and almost all of us: What is right action given that each action leads to consequences? Albeit, the quandary being posed by the student in this dialogue is not based on any moral crisis. Rather it is a more general and psycho-philosophical question born out of fear of consequences of actions in the future while also seeing the fact that all actions are based on thought and thought is nothing but a conditioned response of memory. While the Bhagavad Gita starts off answering Arjuna’s questions by making assertive statements on the nature of reality, my response in this dialogue starts by looking at the question itself and deconstructing it to show that the real problem is not in the domain where the question is being asked. Which reminds me of the oft-quoted but never redundant words of Albert Einstein, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” … Read More Fear, Action, Suffering and Liberation: A Dialogue

How Does A Jnani Person Deal With the Negative Impacts of the World: Part 1/2 – Titiksha

A Jiva/ embodied being is subject to the attack of the dualities of life: to the turbulence of grief and joy, to the violent touches of pleasure and pain and to the tumult of his emotions and passions. It is not that the Jnani or a Self Realized being does not have to deal with all this. Just that the Jnani knows that these are events in the phenomenal reality affecting the phenomenal Subtle Body (Mind/Intellect) and the Gross Body (Sensations) but not his core Self. As Self/Witness he is unaffected by these phenomenal changes because Self/Witness is Unattached, and Contactless. However, till the Prarabdha Karma exist for the Jnani, ‘his’ BMI has to experience the dual phenomena. I have covered all this in great detail in my articles “Tat Tvam Asi” (You are-Brahman) and the three parts article series – “Prarabdha Karma After Self Realization”- through the lens of traditional Advaita scriptures. There has been very little literature, to my knowledge, talking about the subjective ways in which a Jnani deals with the negative impacts of the world. In this two parts article series, I am taking a psychological approach of describing two stages of psychological attitudes, the Self Knowledge of a Jnani fashions, to front the negative impacts of the world. I describe how this approach subverts conventional morality and ethics so that the ways a Jnani deals with the world can neither be termed as moral or immoral but amoral, especially so in the first stage which I describe in Part I: Titiksha. … Read More How Does A Jnani Person Deal With the Negative Impacts of the World: Part 1/2 – Titiksha

Difference Between The Teachings of Traditional Paths like Advaita, Yoga & Krishnamurti: A Dialogue

This is a fairly deep dialogue, almost a snapshot of Advaita, I had with my friend who is not a student of Advaita but has been greatly inspired by the teachings of J Krishnamurti. It goes into great detail about the differences between teachings of traditional paths like Advaita, Yoga and Krishnamurti. Through this dialogue, I show how ancient, time-honoured and tested paths have developed a very rigorous methodology for liberation. Krishnamurti undercut these very strengths of these paths, calling them authoritative, mechanical, traditional and imitative techniques which dull the mind. However, one must differentiate between tradition and traditional. We may not like the traditional but the tradition leading to Moksha/Eternal Freedom is not talking about matters caught in the matrix of space-time. All these traditional paths are talking about eternal principles. Their terms may be archaic but their import is valid across all space-time. Krishnamurti missed this point. And what’s more, it so happens, his teachings fall squarely in its principles of a particular Indian school called Yoga of Patanjali (though his method is slightly different) and leads to the same reality. It’s just that his language effectively couched the metaphysical principles he was basing his path on. Though he says that there is no path, there was certainly a path in is his teachings, which I reveal in this dialogue. Having said that, he has his place. His psychological style of exploring the mind through real-life relationships is something unparalleled. And most certainly what he said about truth was the same as all the paths say – it is never known as an object or concept of mind: though we can give it different names.… Read More Difference Between The Teachings of Traditional Paths like Advaita, Yoga & Krishnamurti: A Dialogue

Advaita & Paradox of Practice vs No Practice: A Dialogue

A modern seeker of truth is faced with a plethora of paths and schools in this digital age. While this is a boon, it also presents a challenge for the seeker to decide which path to take, because more often than not, paths conflict and critique each other. In this dialogue, a seeker raises some of these dilemmas. One dilemma he raises is that of the issue of practice vs no-practice. Many new age teachers, like Neo-Advaitins scorn effort, path and methods of traditional paths as useless baggage. In this article I show how this can be very self-defeating and disorienting for the vast majority of seekers who need a structure, path and practices for preparing the mind. I show how Advaita Vedanta teachings have a sophisticated methodology to lead a seeker through alternate superimposition and cancellation of concepts, and from practice to the final state of no-practice. One can enter the spiritual path at any point on the scale of practice to no-practice. I show how my teachings start just a shade beneath the point of no-practice but I do not totally discount practices.… Read More Advaita & Paradox of Practice vs No Practice: A Dialogue

You (Self) Are Not (Your) Thoughts: A Dialogue

That we all suffer conflicts of various kinds in our life is an undeniable fact. Self Inquiry is about unearthing and ending the root of all conflicts. In this dialogue with a seeker, I examine the conflict of the division between the thinker and thought. What sustains this division is the process of psychological becoming. One of the processes of psychological becoming is seeking to be virtuous. In this article, I differentiate between dharma/virtue as a process of psychological becoming and adhyatma/the spiritual science of eternal being, to help the seeker appreciate the difference, and overcome the conflict caused by this form of becoming. Finally, I introduce the various stages of self-inquiry, by which I help a seeker completely transcend the duality between the thinker and thought, as a means to ending of all conflict.… Read More You (Self) Are Not (Your) Thoughts: A Dialogue

Prarabdha Karma After Self Realization: It’s Experience of Suffering and Pleasure: Part3/3

With this article, I finish the three-part series on Prarabdha Karma. In this final article which has extensive quotes from the text Panchadasi, a reader gets the most exhaustive treatment of this subject found anywhere in Advaita literature, corroborated by my own experience. The purpose of these articles was to draw out the complexity of experience and actions of a Jnani, evident only to him/her rather than to an outsider, who sees nothing saintly or special in a Jnani, when contrasted to full-blown Jnanis or Jivanmuktas who have got freed from Prarabdha Karma. The Jivanmukta, whom I talked about in part 2, has ended with his ego while the Jnani still has one. The keynote for a Jnani is however that this ego and world of phenomena is mithya or only apparently real, therefore he does not evince any serious commitments to this world of mithya even if he appears to. His attitude is therefore of ‘high indifference’. Though the Jnani may seem to undergo suffering and do acts which can be labelled under the categories of virtue and vice, a Jnani knows himself to be Self/Awareness which is not a thinker/doer/experiencer. For a Jnani, his BMI (Body/Mind/Intellect) appears as an object to Awareness/Self, so even though his/her BMI is affected by Prarabdha, the Jnani as Self remains unaffected. I wanted to explore the enigmatic inner world of the Jnani; his/her experiential dimension that escapes onlookers: a person who is in the world yet not of it.… Read More Prarabdha Karma After Self Realization: It’s Experience of Suffering and Pleasure: Part3/3

Prarabdha Karma After Self Realization: Seeming Refutations: Part 2/3

In Part 1 of this series I introduced Shankara’s concept of Prarabdha Karma to show that a Self Realized being/Jnani is not necessarily an epitome of virtuous conduct as he is still affected by the momentum of past actions (both virtue and vice) called Prarabdha Karma which is sustaining the body of the Jnani. Though these actions do not taint the Jnani as Self. In Part 2 of this series I am exploring some post Shankara works that seem to refute the theory of Prarabdha Karma. I analyse these works and show what is the basis of their seeming reutation. The key to it is the distinction made between a Jnani and a Jivanmukta. While a Jnani is still not free from an ego, the Jivanmukta is one who is freed from the ego and has become disembodied. Prarabdha Karma holds for a Jnani but not for a Jivanmukta. I also show that probably Shankara agreed to this. … Read More Prarabdha Karma After Self Realization: Seeming Refutations: Part 2/3

Prarabdha Karma After Self Realization: It’s Philosophy – Part 1/3

In this series of articles, I am going to take a deep look at a very elusive topic of Prarabdha Karma. After Self Realization in Advaita, a Jnani is supposed to have got knowledge of himself as formless Awareness over which the body/mind/intellect is superimposed. So does a Jnani suffer like others or does he not? Does a Jnani have a body/mind/intellect or does he not? Why does the body of a Jnani not drop after attaining Self Knowledge? Why does it continue? This series of articles unearth the answers to these questions philosophically and experientially. To my knowledge, one rarely comes across a deep exploration of these topics in a manner that lays to rest all doubts and confusions. Through this series, I show that questions on philosophy and experience of Prarabdha Karma are not answered simply. The answer is complex and it depends upon the standpoint from which the question is being asked which leaves room for a lot of confusions about its nature. … Read More Prarabdha Karma After Self Realization: It’s Philosophy – Part 1/3

Watching Suffering: Journals of Two Young Girls

Suffering is a fact that is common to all human life. Nonetheless, we are never educated by schools, parents and society to understand and explore the possibility of ending suffering. On the contrary, they teach us to somehow escape suffering. In this article, through the journals of two young female students of NEEV Psycho-Philosophy Inquiry group, the various ways in which people escape or find solutions to suffering are discussed. Finally, it is shown how any movement away from suffering, even in the form of different solutions offered by dualist spiritual paths really do not address the cause of suffering at its root. I show how Krishnamurti’s approach of watching suffering and only non-dual approaches like Advaita solve the problem of suffering comprehensively. As the Katha Upanishad says, “He, who sees any difference here, goes from death to death.”… Read More Watching Suffering: Journals of Two Young Girls

Audio Interview: My Personal Journey to Advaita, Advaita Teachings & Difference Between Advaita & Other Paths

This is an audio interview between Taposhri and Priya of Dhi and me held on 22nd Aug 2020. Dhi hosts live talks and discussions with people in the spiritual field. In my blog writings, I have never mentioned my personal journey and the challenges I faced in my journey to Advaita. This interview fills in this vacuum. In this free-wheeling interview I discuss what is Self Inquiry, reasons for me to start my Self Inquiry, challenges I faced in my personal life while doing Self Inquiry, what is Advaita and Jnana Yoga or Yoga of Knowledge, why knowledge and not experience is the final truth and what is the use (if any) of spiritual experiences in the path. Finally, it talks about the subtle difference between Advaita and Yoga, Tantra, Buddhism, Direct Path and Aurobindo’s Integral Yoga. … Read More Audio Interview: My Personal Journey to Advaita, Advaita Teachings & Difference Between Advaita & Other Paths

You Are Awareness/Brahman: Dialogue with a Teenage Girl & Women in Vedanta

In this article, I am presenting a dialogue on what is the ultimate reality according to Advaita, with a teenage girl who is a student of the Facebook Psycho-Philosophy Group. As I started posting this dialogue, I thought it would be interesting to examine the role of women in the history of Vedanta because it is based on the study of scriptures, dialogue and wherever necessary debates: traditionally the bastion of males. I particularly examine the roles played by two women Gargi Vchaknavi of the Upanishadic era and Ubhaya Bharati of Shankara’s era. Going through the dialogues and roles played by these women, and subsequently going through my dialogue with the teenage girl, one can appreciate the fact that though times have changed- dialogues are held online instead of the forests – the method of transmission of truth, and the way of dialogue between teacher and student in the tradition of Advaita Vedanta remains unchanged, ever since Lord Brahma revealed the Vedas to Rishis and who transmitted this truth to a spiritual family-sampradaya: the lineage of teachers and students who pass the eternal truth down to the present day in an unbroken succession. Women are part of this eternal stream. … Read More You Are Awareness/Brahman: Dialogue with a Teenage Girl & Women in Vedanta

Prasthana Traya: The Triple Canonical Base of Vedanta Scriptures Followed by Shankara – Part 3/4: Bhagavad Gita

The Gita is a revolutionary and syncretic scripture in the canon of Vedanta. It brings down the Vedic truths from sequestered Himalayan caves into the active field of political life and crisis evoking tensions of fratricidal war. Religion is philosophy in action. Through the words of Krishna, who acts as his friend, guide, seer and prophet, Arjuna receives the practical application of teachings founds in the Upanishads. Throughout my active public life, I found myself in the position of Arjuna, facing a war, and asking the same questions he did, to Krishna. Thus it was that it was my favourite book till the time I did not renounce all organizational life. In this article, I discuss the Gita as a scripture of Advaita Vedanta along with its unique reformulation of action and renunciation, through what it calls action in inaction and inaction in action. I also discuss Shankara’s queasiness with this reformulation and his grudging acceptance even though it does not sit very well with his ideal of Upanishadic monasticism for a liberated being. … Read More Prasthana Traya: The Triple Canonical Base of Vedanta Scriptures Followed by Shankara – Part 3/4: Bhagavad Gita

Prasthana Traya: The Triple Canonical Base of Vedanta Scriptures Followed by Shankara – Part 2/4: Vedas/Upanishads

Forming the end portion of the Vedas, the Upanisads have had a vast and pervasive influence in Hindu Tradition. Upanishadic teachings and Upanishadic type realization run through a wide range of Hindu religious literature as dye through a cloth. It is well known to those who follow the Veda that the phrase ‘the method of the Vedanta’ refers to the method for teaching knowledge of the Absolute observed in the Upanishads which crystallizes around a number of key terms, the most important of which are Atman and Brahman. Atman, “the Self”, is at the root of the experience of self, or “I”, which is found in every human being. It is the Formless Reality which one is, above Life and Death, and above space and time. Everyone is that Reality, although without being aware of it, and It shines in the heart and mind of all living beings. In this article, I discuss the origin, the message and the unique traditional method of teaching the message found in the Upanishads, by Shankara, through superimposition and negation.… Read More Prasthana Traya: The Triple Canonical Base of Vedanta Scriptures Followed by Shankara – Part 2/4: Vedas/Upanishads

Prasthana Traya: The Triple Canonical Base of Vedanta Scriptures Followed by Shankara – Part 1/4: Introduction

I spent the first seventeen years of my inquiry with the teachings of J Krishnamurti (JK) after which I reached a stalemate. JK was primarily a master in investigating the psychological causes of suffering and despite having learned immensely from him in this regard, something within me kept clamouring to get metaphysical answers for questions like what is life, birth, death, self and creation. Moreover, like most Yoga-based teachings, Krishnamurti used to hammer at thought which according to him, in line with the teachings of Yoga based dualist schools, veils reality. However, unlike the depictions of Yoga based teachers like Buddha, Mahavira and other Hindu Yogis, Shankara is never depicted in a posture of meditation with eyes closed: always with a bundle of scriptures in his hand. This is a great testament to the fact that Advaita Vedanta, the path followed by Shankara does not believe in ending or shutting thought, but its science of Jnana Yoga is about using the subtle organ of thought, called intellect, and sharpen it to such an extent that it takes one to the reality that lies beyond thought, called Self/Brahman/Witness/Awareness, as revealed by the scriptures. In this series of articles, I shall be discussing the canonical base of scriptures and their paramount importance for the teachings of Advaita Vedanta of Shankara, where I found myself at home ultimately and received all my answers. … Read More Prasthana Traya: The Triple Canonical Base of Vedanta Scriptures Followed by Shankara – Part 1/4: Introduction