In my teachings, the journey of self-inquiry goes through four stages of deconstruction. At the end of stage one, the thinker is deconstructed, at the end of stage two, the doer/experiencer is deconstructed, at the end of stage three, the witness is deconstructed, and at stage four complete subject-object duality is deconstructed.
This particular dialogue is happening with a student who is at stage two in his journey of self-inquiry. Therefore, my attempt with him is to help him deconstruct the last stages of the thinker and the doer.… Read More You Are Not the Thinker/Doer: A Dialogue
One of the most pervasive conditioning of human beings is that there is an objective, really existent world out there that is perceived by a really existent subject. It is this duality that is the cause of all suffering. The journey of non-dual inquiry consists in closely examining this duality and seeing its falsity. Since the hold of such a conditioning is powerful beyond measure, a student of non-dual inquiry is moved through various stages of deconstruction in Advaita; each stage taking years of painstaking inquiry and sustained effort. In this article which is primarily a dialogue with a student, I am helping the student stabilize in Stage 2/Observer stage of my self-inquiry stages. Along with the dialogue, I have written an extended preface that helps a student understand the various stages of self-inquiry a student has to journey through in Advaita to reach final non-dual realization and end of suffering.… Read More Observing the Rainbow of Sensations/Samsara: 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
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
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
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
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/Jivanmukta 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
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
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 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
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
The Upanishads are hailed as one of the most profound scriptures of mankind. Departing from the ritualistic traditions of the earlier Vedic age, the Upaniṣadic sages were engaged in a radical rethinking of the nature of self and reality that was destined to deeply influence the course of religion, philosophy, and life in India and beyond. Their main purport is to attain immortality. However, an examination of the contents of the Upanisads themselves will show that they were never confined to profound philosophical doctrines. All sorts of miscellaneous ideas, injunctions, incantations, theological interpretations, conversations, traditions, and so forth, regarded at the time are secret principles, or secret teachings were assembled and set down without any sequence. This article shows how the paradoxical contents of Upanishads have baffled ancient and modern scholars alike. Ultimately the article shows that the secret of the Upanishads cannot be unlocked by human reason. … Read More The Puzzle of the Upanishads
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
The path to Self Realization or Liberation which starts from self-inquiry is a long one. I break the path into three different stages in ascending order – psycho philosophical inquiry, meditative inquiry and Advaitic inquiry. I teach the first two stages in my FB group called NEEV Psycho-Philosophy Inquiry Study Group, and the last stage in NEEV Advaita Study Group (FB). The first group comprises of young people who are beginning their journey of self-inquiry. In this article, I give a brief outline of the activities of this group and post three journal entries of a 19 yr old girl in the group who has undertaken the study of self-inquiry with me. These journal entries provide a snapshot of the moving river of self-inquiry for those who wonder what it is all about, and how and where to begin. … Read More Meditative Inquiry: Is Thinking Same as Being Aware of Thought?
There is a widespread notion that Shankara is the founder of Advaita Vedanta. Still, others think that he may have introduced some personal innovations in Vedanta by borrowing teachings from other schools. This article seeks to conclusively put an end to such speculations, by showing that Shankara gave ultimate authority to the Upanishads/shrutis. He followed a traditional teaching method of Upanishads called Agama: stretching back right up to Brahma, the Lord of every cycle of creation, who reveals the Vedas to the Rishis, and who further transmitted this knowledge to a chain of teachers constituting the Advaita tradition/sampradaya. Shankara was just a link – a powerful one – in this sampradya, which continues till today amongst those who know the Agama – traditional method of teaching found in the Upanishads/shrutis. Finally when Brahman is intuited even the shrutis are transcended.… Read More Shankara: Not The Founder of Advaita Vedanta But A Link in the Timeless Tradition