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

Prasthana Traya: The Triple Canonical Base of Vedanta Scriptures Followed by Shankara – Part 2/4: Vedas/Upanishads

Forming the end portion of the Vedas, the Upanisads have had a vast and pervasive influence in Hindu Tradition. Upanishadic teachings and Upanishadic type realization run through a wide range of Hindu religious literature as dye through a cloth. It is well known to those who follow the Veda that the phrase ‘the method of the Vedanta’ refers to the method for teaching knowledge of the Absolute observed in the Upanishads which crystallizes around a number of key terms, the most important of which are Atman and Brahman. Atman, “the Self”, is at the root of the experience of self, or “I”, which is found in every human being. It is the Formless Reality which one is, above Life and Death, and above space and time. Everyone is that Reality, although without being aware of it, and It shines in the heart and mind of all living beings. In this article, I discuss the origin, the message and the unique traditional method of teaching the message found in the Upanishads, by Shankara, through superimposition and negation.… Read More Prasthana Traya: The Triple Canonical Base of Vedanta Scriptures Followed by Shankara – Part 2/4: Vedas/Upanishads