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

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

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

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

The Place of Devotion/Bhakti in Shankara Advaita

Advaita, especially Shankara’s Advaita negates all attributes for the Absolute truth it calls Brahman. According to Advaita, Brahman is the only formless reality. The phenomenal world we see is just an apparent reality like a dream. Brahman never creates the world and the souls we perceive. The only way to get enlightened is to get intuitive knowledge of this Absolute Reality of Brahman. This can only happen through knowledge and not through any acts like work, meditation or worship. However, we find several works attributed to Shankara which speak about creator Gods like Vishnu and Shiva. Did Shankara worship these Gods? This article sets out to show that most of these works are not considered by all scholars as undisputed works of Shankara. After giving a short history of the beginning of the worship of Shiva and Vishnu, who are not Vedic Gods like Brahma, the article shows that even if we see some inclination of Shankara towards Vishnu, there is no evidence to show that he worshipped them but used these concepts provisionally only for their helping in purifying the minds of seekers to finally make them fit for attaining enlightenment through Jnana/Knowledge.… Read More The Place of Devotion/Bhakti in Shankara Advaita

Shabda Pramana: Enlightenment through Words in Advaita Vedanta: Presenting a Dialogue

Advaita Vedanta is unique amongst all paths for liberation. It is the only path that does not consider any form of action (meditation, yoga, chanting, worship) as the final means to liberation. These actions are a means to purify the mind so that it is qualified to receive and assimilate enlightenment through Knowledge. The only knowledge that can grant enlightenment to a student is the shabda/word of the Sruti/Upanishads transmitted by a teacher established in Brahman himself/herself. In this article, I describe the theory and practice of enlightenment in this unique path. Finally, I furnish the article with an actual dialogue that takes place between a teacher and a student in which the student gets enlightened.… Read More Shabda Pramana: Enlightenment through Words in Advaita Vedanta: Presenting a Dialogue

Faith vs Reason in the Spiritual Science of Advaita

Most people believe that spirituality is a question of personal faith and belief; that it does not have some universally accepted truth, which is only in the possession of empirical science. In this article, through a dialogue with my friend, I reveal how Advaita Vedanta is a spiritual science which follows the same procedure as empirical science in investigating reality: except that it goes one step higher. While empirical science demonstrates that reality is known more accurately through our mind/thought/reason rather than our senses, Advaita Vedanta shows that ultimate reality is known by an intuitive knowledge that even transcends thought. The procedure to get this intuitive knowledge is as scientific as the discoveries made in science through the exercise of thought/reason.… Read More Faith vs Reason in the Spiritual Science of Advaita

Self Inquiry and Issues Related to Teachers

Self inquiry is a long and complex journey to liberation. Spiritual teachers and paths are proliferating the world and internet. To a beginner of self inquiry, the variety seems daunting. In this article I try to summarize all issues which arise when one is deciding, or decides on a particular teacher. While very few are truly interested in going the whole distance, in the end, I give my advice on how to choose a teacher, if one’s aim is nothing short of ending of ego-sense/individuality. … Read More Self Inquiry and Issues Related to Teachers

Self inquiry and insight into one’s true nature/Self in Advaita

In this article, I have given an account of how one reaches the Advaitic insight of “I am Self/Witness”, following the traditional self-inquiry or Jnana Yoga of Advaita. This was an insight that gave me a kind of permanent home of peace that no outer crisis can touch. I wrote this to help others on the path of traditional Advaita.… Read More Self inquiry and insight into one’s true nature/Self in Advaita

Self inquiry: Have you questioned Death?

Self inquiry has its root in solving the riddle of death. Though most of us live in denial of this fact, it has the secret to the truth. No wonder this was a question which not only set me on my path of self-inquiry but also Buddha and Nachiketa in the Katha Upanishad, and every other inquirer across space and time. In this article, I describe my journey of self-inquiry with this question, interwoven with the other historical characters I have mentioned. … Read More Self inquiry: Have you questioned Death?

The Play of Identities between the Reader and Writer: and the Rise of Self Knowledge

This article explores how a very subtle, complex and unconscious relationship comes into action between a reader and writer, in a seemingly simple act of reading. It further explores how being aware of this relationship can lead to understanding oneself deeply. … Read More The Play of Identities between the Reader and Writer: and the Rise of Self Knowledge

A Life Lived in Entirety : Four Aims, Four Stages and Four Classes of Human Life – Part 1

An article which starts off with describing the various classifications of the ancient Hindu way of living and their relevance for the modern world. But I run into a self dialogue with myself about what is my viewpoint while I am writing this article. For the rest of the article I spend time exploring how my viewpoints are not fixed but fluid. … Read More A Life Lived in Entirety : Four Aims, Four Stages and Four Classes of Human Life – Part 1