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)

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

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

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

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

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

How Maps Of Mind Condition Us to Live and Act

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

Stages : From Self Inquiry to Self Realization

Self Inquiry/Jnana Yoga is said to be the ultimate path to enlightenment. But before one enters Jnana Yoga, it is said that one has to purify one’s mind through years of Karma Yoga. However, if one has the prerequisites, one can enter Jnana Yoga directly: without doing Karma Yoga or renouncing the world, as is usually required for Jnana Yoga. This is a unique path I followed and teach. It combines the teachings of J Krishnamurti and Advaita Vedanta. In this article I give a brief description of the stages involved in this journey for interested seekers. … Read More Stages : From Self Inquiry to Self Realization