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
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
In my previous posts, I presented two dialogues on the difference between thinker and observer and the difficulties a seeker of self-inquiry has in coming to identify oneself as the mental observer. By now means this is an easy task. It requires great persistence, the subtlety of observation and the ability to take the risk of losing control. It’s almost an energetic transformation. As can be seen in this dialogue, it goes so deep to even raise questions of life and death. As I have written in my previous articles, coming to the observer stage is the most vital step before coming to any form of non-dual inquiry. Many people rush into non-dual inquiries before coming to this stage. In such cases, even non-dual inquiries become articles of faith, a ground for the mind to cling, rather than a real deconstructive inquiry. For anyone who wants to enter into a serious non-dual inquiry through any school, the deconstructive dialogue in this article shall certainly be of great help to move from thinker to controller to commentator to observer.… Read More The Thinker, Controller, Commentator vs the Observer: A Dialogue
In this article I am presenting a dialogue with a student of the NEEV Psycho-Philosophy Group, where he starts out examining the notion of success, failure and comparison in society, in his journal. The dialogue starts going deeper as it moves from the leaves, to the branches to the trunk of the mind. It reveals the overwhelming tendency of the mind to land on an answer, to arrive at a certainty, to land on a conclusion on which it can build its comfortable nest. It is the task of the teacher to keep demolishing the nest the student is trying to build by advancing answers, so that he/she find quick relief from suffering. In my last article, “The Difference Between Thinker and Observer in Advaita: A Dialogue” I had talked about how one needs to shift from being a thinker to an observer if one has to undergo the subtle level of inquiries in Advaita. The dialogue in this article shows how one can make this shift and the massive difficulties encountered by a student’s mind in making this shift. Without this step, none can hope to make any progress in any path of self inquiry or Jnana Yoga. It is the base on which all future self inquiry at the most advanced levels rests upon.… Read More The Network of Thought and the Mind’s Need for Answers: 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
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
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
Fear is the most basic emotion of man. For those who are inquiring into the question of whether man can live in total freedom, the feeling of fear has to be understood. Fear exists at various levels. It’s like a tree with various branches, trunk and root. How does one come to the root of fear? In this article, I address this question through a dialogue which I shared with a student in my FB Psycho-Philosophy Inquiry Study group.
Normally, as thinking people, we analyze fear. But this analysis does not go to the root of fear. In fact, as the dialogue shows, analysis is a device of mind to escape fear. … Read More Choiceless Awareness of the Tree of Fear
On reading one of my previous blog articles about the quest to understand death, an eighteen-year-old girl who is a member of NEEV Psycho-Philosophy group wrote about her own fear of death and her desire to go beyond it. Death is usually taken as a morbid topic to be spoken about in hushed tones. But for a self inquirer, who wants to know truth, death is an enigma he/she must solve. In my response to the girl’s journal I revisit the two characters – Buddha and Nachiketa – on their quest for going beyond death, whom I had mentioned in my previous article on death. This time I talk about how both of them ultimately conquer death – Buddha with his Nirvana and Nachiketa with his Moksha. I show that the common aspect to both these paths is how the cycle of birth and death actually begins with attachment to objects. Either one remains attached to impermanent objects and keep wandering in the cycle of samsara or one takes the path out of this suffering by taking the path of self inquiry. … Read More Attachment and Facing the Fear of Death
All of us are aware that we put various masks with different people in different situations. Prompted by a Facebook post of one of my friends, this article asks whether one can live without any masks. It also examines our unconscious motivations to put on different kinds of masks, the conflicts they create, and the enormous risks involved in removing them. Finally, it probes into the reason why anyone would like to unmask oneself.… Read More Unmasking Ourselves
Whether we consciously know it or not, the concept or rationalism and thus modernism is the foundation stone of today’s world affairs. The way our world is structured politico-strategically, economically and socially is based on rationalism and thus modernism, and even if reason as an end in itself is no longer an absolute paradigm today, it has shaped our world in a way no other philosophy recently has. The modernist project, the prioritizing of reason as a project for a whole culture, is the result of the prioritizing of reason by René Descartes (1596-1650), who prioritized reason for himself to a formerly unknown degree. Descartes never aimed at reforming the thought process of society, but merely planned to reform his thoughts without imposing on others to imitate the process. In this series of articles on Descartes, I examine his legacy: what we gained and what we lost.… Read More The Flatland Map of Scientific Materialism: The Dubious Legacy of Rene Descartes (Part 1)
We are born into a given world, a world mapped out for us in the form of ideas. We imbibe this map unconditionally in childhood. Very few know about the existence of this map in our minds, let alone question it. All that we think, and do in our life is because of this map. Even acts of doing good for society are born from this map. In this article I examine what these maps are, how they are formed, the difficulty of knowing them and the urgent need to examining their limitations rather than acting mindlessly from them.… Read More How Maps Of Mind Condition Us to Live and Act
Do we ever think that we have been conditioned to view life in a particular way: most of us don’t. However, we all agree with the fact that we face conflicts. Why do these conflicts arise? Some of us would like to go deeply into this question, while the majority responds by getting more entrenched in their conditioning. This article is meant for those who would like to go into the root of all conflict, which is, we all have maps of reality embedded in us. In this article, I explore how these maps are formed, how they govern our lives, and how we may not be having complete maps of reality with us.… Read More Have we got a complete map of life?
Nobody expected that a small invisible virus would arrive one day and hold the whole world captive for months. Life is capricious. We can make hay till the sun shines. But then there is always a crisis lurking somehwere in the womb of time. We can either fear it or at best prepare for it. But it comes. Crisis is unpleasant but it also has a light, and an opening to a wisdom that is timeless. In this article I make an attempt to show how we can use this crisis to reflect and perhaps make a movement to acquire a wisdom that permanently takes us beyond all suffering: which no crisis can affect.… Read More Arjuna – Krishna and the Corona Virus Crisis
Advancement of man is seen as evolution of self. In this article I show that since self is actually a fragment – a bundle of knowledge which is limited, no amount of evolution – of accumulation of knowledge – can make the limited go beyond limitations. And being limted and fragmentary, the self shall always divide man against man and man against nature. … Read More The evolution of self : really evolution, or perpetual conflict?