Shifting Framework of Ethics in the Journey of Self Inquiry

In this article, I take up one of the most complex and vexing issues that face any seeker in the journey of self-inquiry. The article begins with the journal of a student of self-inquiry who talks about his need for social approval and how it contradicts his ethics imbibed in childhood. In response to his journal, I wrote this article to show how a student of self-inquiry in the modern capitalistic society has to navigate through different ethical frameworks in his journey to freedom, right from childhood, till he is ultimately freed from all ethical frameworks, reaching the state of spontaneous compassion as the consummation of self-inquiry. … Read More Shifting Framework of Ethics in the Journey of Self Inquiry

Krishnamurti, Arrogance, Advaita & the Heart

Many people take to non-dual self inquiry thinking it’s just a matter of mind and philosophy. In this article I try to show how self inquiry cannot proceed without a very deep understanding of emotions, their inspirational power, as well as their myriad deceptions. To all my students who come new to self inquiry I always start them off with the teachings of J Krishnamurti for thier tremendous insight into human emotions. Without such background work, Advaita can easily be co-opted by the mind as one of it’s strategies to cope with suffering, instead of an ending of it, eventually leading to arrogance. Apart from showing how and why emotions form an indispensable background for self inquiry, I talk how the heights of awakening in Advaita is not knowledge but bliss or love. But this height is reserved only for the rarest few. … Read More Krishnamurti, Arrogance, Advaita & the Heart

How Does A Jnani Person Deal With The Negative Impacts of the World: Part 3/3 – Neurology

In the final part of this article series, I take up the neurological studies done on the root of human emotions by American neuroscientist Le Doux in 1990s, popularized by science journalist Daniel Goleman in his book ‘Emotional Intelligence’, and further developed into a model for self-inquiry by an Australian called Peter of Actual Freedom Trust. While Peter is openly critical of eastern spiritual paths, in this article, I show conclusively, how not only the neurological model maps to Advaita, but also to Peter’s path of Actual Freedom, which he claims to be his novel discovery; something Advaita has been teaching for more than last three thousand years. … Read More How Does A Jnani Person Deal With The Negative Impacts of the World: Part 3/3 – Neurology

How Does A Jnani Person Deal With the Negative Impacts of the World: Part 2/3 – Udasinata/High Indifference

Self Realization in Advaita brings one to the Witness stage. But this is not the end of the journey. In Vivartavada of Shankara one has to abide as Witness till all vasanas/karmic imprints/defilements end and the Witness dissolves, resulting in the total ending of subject-object duality. This is a very long period involving basically two stages. I talked about the first stage of Witnessing in Part 1 which was related to Titiksha/endurance of all consequences. That was an amoral stage of Witnessing to root out powerful worldly vasanas. In this article, I discuss the second stage of Witnessing called Udasinata/High Indifference. This comes about after Titiksha has ended all extroverting and reactive vasanas. After this one develops the capacity to consciously adopt the passive virtue of calm impartiality to all negative events and thoughts so that one can uproot the deepest and most primal vasanas resulting in the complete destruction of all karmic defilements/vasanas that cause suffering.… Read More How Does A Jnani Person Deal With the Negative Impacts of the World: Part 2/3 – Udasinata/High Indifference

Differences Between Advaita and J Krishnamurti : A Dialogue

I had the desire to write an article about the differences between the teachings of the seer J Krishnamurti and Advaita for a long time. The two have quite a few things in common but as I shall show the reader, eventually, they are two very different teachings methodologies, though both go on to complete deconstruction of subject-object duality eventually… Read More Differences Between Advaita and J Krishnamurti : A Dialogue

The Difference Between Thinker and Observer in Advaita: A Dialogue

The method of self-inquiry in Advaita is to examine gross objects to subtle objects and keep negating them as candidates for ultimate reality. One such inquiry is to distinguish between the mental observer and the thinker. In our technologically dominated society, the thinker is seen as the paramount tool of life, both in the technical and psychological realms. However, the seeker of the ultimate truth has to understand the limitations of the thinker and go past it to the observer. In Advaita, the observer is the more refined function of the intellect which has viveka/discriminatory power. It performs the act of discriminating between the ultimate reality of Awareness and the objects that appear to it. This dialogue discusses the confusions and difficulties that arise when a seeker is trying to make this shift. It also discusses how Advaita is different from all other yoga like paths in its handling of the thinking function. … Read More The Difference Between Thinker and Observer in Advaita: A Dialogue

Understanding “Consciousness is Everything”: Journal of a 15 yr Old – Part2/2: The World Was Never Created (Ajativada)

In Part I of this article series I discussed the journal of a young, 15 yr old student who studies in my Advaita Study Group. In his journal, he describes how he has conceptually understood that Consciousness is the Ultimate Reality and how all the phenomena we see in the world is just a projection of Consciousness which does not actually affect Consciousness. Further, in his journal he has also described, even though he is Consciousness, it is actually the Lord who is willing the actions of all Jivas and creatures of the world. The Lord is a sort of supercomputer, while the individual minds/Jivas are just receptors of the thoughts and actions willed by the Lord. In Part 1 I gave the whole of my attention to show how his journal had flashes of genius in it, uncannily describing the journey of a seeker in Advaita towards Self Realization as described by the four Mahavakyas. In this article, I would like to delve into the highest peak of Advaita: Ajativada. This is the doctrine propounded by Gaudapada in Mandukya Karika. It reveals something absolutely unbelievable: in the Absolute sense, the world, including oneself is devoid of changes or mutations like birth, growth, death etc. as also it is devoid of all duality. All this is verily Consciousness/Awareness alone. CREATION NEVER HAPPENED. Consciousness never gave birth to any world of Jiva(individuals)-Jagat(world of objects)-Isvara(creator). They are all nothing but imaginations of a mind operating in Maya/illusion. I show how even this was anticipated by my student in his journal.… Read More Understanding “Consciousness is Everything”: Journal of a 15 yr Old – Part2/2: The World Was Never Created (Ajativada)

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 1/3 – Titiksha/Endurance

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 1/3 – Titiksha/Endurance

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/Jivanmukta, 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 who have got freed from Prarabdha Karma like in Ajativada. Such Jivanmuktas whom I talked about in part 2, has ended with Prarabdha Karma while others have not. The keynote for a Jivanmukta undergoing Prarabdha Karma, however, is that the 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 Jivanmukta may seem to undergo suffering and do acts which can be labelled under the categories of virtue and vice, a Jivanmukta knows himself to be Self/Awareness which is not a thinker/doer/experiencer. For a Jivanmukta, his BMI (Body/Mind/Intellect) appears as an object to Awareness/Self, so even though his/her BMI is affected by Prarabdha, the Jivanmukta as Self remains unaffected. I wanted to explore the enigmatic inner world of the Jivanmukta; 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 refutation. I end with my understanding that they are speaking from the standpoint of Ajativada which is different from the standpoint of Vivartavada that Shankara adopts in some of his teachings – thus pointing to the difference between a Jnani and a Jivanmukta… Read More Prarabdha Karma After Self Realization: Seeming Refutations: Part 2/3