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  1. Most of us here have a practical background, having spent many years in the practice of a meditative method or art (e.g., qigong, yoga, taijiquan, etc). It is true that having a practice is essential for growth and learning. And yet, many seem to gloss over the role of knowledge. There are two kinds of knowledge -- one that is taught to us by another (such as a teacher, friend or some other medium -- book, etc). Let us call this "external knowledge" or "indirect knowledge". The other is the knowledge that is directly known -- usually as a result of a regular and diligent practice of the method of our choice. Let us call this "internal knowledge" or "direct knowledge". I've seen many practitioners of spiritual arts scoff at the external knowledge because it is considered somehow inferior to the "directly" known, internal knowledge that is supposed to be the fruit of our (glorious/valiant/heroic/add your own adjective here) efforts. And yet, we would not have embarked upon the path of our choice if we didn't have an external source of knowledge to guide us throughout our journey. It is quite possible that some people, due to their karmic influence are easily able to enter into deep meditative states. But that may not result in full awakening, without proper initiation into the external knowledge. The reason being, when the deep meditative states (samādhi) are entered, there is no mind involved (or minimal mind is involved). While repeated immersion into these deep states can result in thinning of the modifications of the mind, the mind still remains functional once one exits from such states. In the vedantic tradition, the entry into samadhi is called "mano laya" (or pausing of the mind). This is considered an intermediate stage of spiritual evolution. Once the practitioner exits from the samadhi, the mind resumes its functioning (perhaps with not as much vim and vigor as it did prior, but it generally tends to gather steam and pick up from where it left off eventually). The only way to cause what in vedanta is called "mano nāsha" (mind cessation) is to deliberately and methodically work with the external knowledge (as taught by the teachers and texts) and go through a process of intellectual assimilation. The mind has four components, namely the ego, the thought field, the storehouse of memories and impression and the intellect. For knowledge to be integrated, it has to be worked on with the cooperation of the mind (ego-thought field-storehouse-intellect). Key among them is the intellect. Whatever the intellect identifies with, the ego will do its level best to protect/maintain that. If the intellect identifies with the body, the ego will strive to maintain that identification. If the intellect identifies with the mind, ego will strive to maintain that identification. Therefore, the intellect needs to come onboard with the process of spiritual development. Once the intellect is onboard, all the other components of the mind will follow its lead. So with the study and contemplation on the external knowledge using the intellect, the intellect needs to be convinced of its 'place' in the grand scheme of things. When the intellect understands completely that it is merely a function of the mind, and that the mind is nothing but a process arising in awareness, the intellect will gradually relinquish its need to identify with anything. It might initially start by giving up identification with the body and the mind. Typically the intellect latches onto the idea of being "The Non-dual Self/Awareness". And it is a far better proposition that being identified with the body/mind. Then the seeker wants to constantly abide in this "non-dual awareness". Of course, life usually has other plans, so the feeling of non-duality, and the feeling of duality keep coming and going, oscillating between the two phases at regular intervals. This leads to great frustration in the intellect of the practitioner. And then one day the realization occurs, that what we truly are, is aware of both the duality and non-duality that seems to arise in the mind. And on that day, the intellect gives up completely, and the ego disappears, as it has nothing to defend anymore. This results in a fully non-grasping mind, essentially a mind that has ceased to operate as it used to before spiritual practice started. And therein is the direct knowledge or internal knowledge, which is nothing but that which is aware of both the apparent duality and non-duality.
  2. The Sun never fails to amaze, inspire and awe us — the giver of life, light and warmth. And like the outer Sun, the inner sun — Atman, the Self is amazing — without it, there would be no Sun, Earth or in-fact the Entire Universe.
  3. Māndukya Upanishad

    This one upanishad is adequate for spiritual awakening. May you awaken right now It’s very ‘cool’ to want exotic and mystical experiences. I’ve had many. But these are still experiences. When you realize who you truly are, reality stands revealed as it is — we can find the infinite and self-luminous One (Tadekam) in and shining forth through the infinite phenomena that make up the universe itself.
  4. Here is how to end the tyranny of the mind.
  5. A wonderful discussion by Swami Sarvapriyananda on the topic of why many people don’t get/realize the nondual teachings easily. And what should one do if direct nondual pointers don’t work for you.
  6. A question that I’ve asked and others I know also have — in fact it is a frequent question in the process of nidhidhyāsanam (Advaita Vedantic practice/meditation) : “How can I stay constantly aware of my True Nature?” Swami Sarvapriyananda answers beautifully —
  7. In Advaita Vedanta study, there are three steps. They are somewhat sequential but also overlap after the initial introductory period. They are - shravanam - listening to the teaching mananam - contemplation on the teaching nidhidhyasana - meditation, but really constantly working on separating the real (true nature) from unreal (apparent reality), until one is stable in their recognition of their Self as the nondual awareness initially after we learn the teachings and begin to understand it, we have the urge to constantly remember who we truly are (I know I’ve referred to this as “constant remembrance”)... But therein lies a mistake that ( in retrospect) can be avoided. Just like we don’t need to keep telling ourselves we have eyes, in that the fact is self evident with the act of seeing; similarly we don’t have to keep telling our selves that we ARE awareness, as the act of being/knowing itself makes that a self-evident fact. This is a subtle realization that happens once we realize that we are neither the body, nor the mind, and that the circumstances of our lives do not affect our inherent ground nature. The ups and downs of life can affect the mind, the body and even the circumstances in which the mind and body exists. However, that which knows the changing states of the mind, body and circumstances is totally unaffected by those changes. It is then that the need for constant remembrance can be dropped - which is in essence a subtle clinging to the idea of Being The Self (or Self realization). Swami Sarvapriyananda puts it beautifully here —
  8. A very interesting promise is made by Advaita Vedanta -- This might seem very silly to most people, but this promise is very profound and has great depth to it. What does "attain what you already have" mean? It means you are already Brahman/Atman. There is really nothing to attain per se. The attainment is merely a dropping of the veil that seemed to hide your true nature. After the veil drops, you realize you were already and always that which you realized What does "give up what is not yours anyway" mean? It means the world of objective reality, where you are a doer of actions and owner/possessor of things becomes apparent as just an appearance. So you give up the idea of being a doer and possessor, because you never were a separate actor or owner of "things". They were just appearances that rose and dissipated in you, the reality.
  9. From the Vidya Gita, which is part Tripura Rahasya. Enjoy the enlightenment
  10. This video is excellent as it gives a very pragmatic approach to taking Advaita Vedanta knowledge into our daily lives. Interestingly, it clarifies a lot of misconceptions about AV (often demonstrated on daobums as well ). If you want to *really* hear about AV from a genuine master’s mouth, please watch this (and other videos too) video lecture by Swami Sarvapriyananda.
  11. Any one who wants to understand non-dualism, should absolutely watch this lecture. Here's wishing you a very happy enlightenment
  12. My spiritual mentor is a venerable spiritual stalwart who was a direct disciple of two jivanamuktas in the Hindu tradition (one being the Shankaracharya of the Sringeri Math), a student of a Zen lineage holder (3rd generation dharma heir of Hsu Yun). He is a most spectacular individual, who somehow took it upon himself to guide me (as to why, is mystifying for me, but I'm not complaining ). Well, he asked me to read a book titled "Zen: The Dawn in the West", by Roshi Philip Kapleau. I've already done some studying of the buddhist sutras and found myself agreeing with everything the Buddha had said anyway. I'm halfway through the book and in it I found the most lucid, pragmatic and no-nonsense directions and advice about meditation and the spiritual approach, that I thought I'd recommend it here. At the same time, I found a beautiful illustration of the model of consciousness according to (Zen) buddhism, which piqued my interest. I have taken that model and added a correlation to the Vedantic model of consciousness (Being actually) which some might find of interest. In the above diagram, the left hand side is from the original book and the right hand side is my addition. It becomes infinitely clear that there is a wonderful overlap between the Buddhist model and the vedantic models. In the buddhist model, the first 6 levels of consciousness map very neatly into the vedantic (and actually samkhya) model of the five tanmatras (associated with the sense functions) and part of the mental apparatuses that identifies with the body (ego). The mind, intellect aspect of the antahkarana seem to correlate with the level 7 (termed manas in the buddhist model) while the chitta aspect (storehouse of impressions) seems to correlate with the 8th level or "relative Alaya consciousness". This also seems to correlate with the causal body (kārana sharira) which is said to contain the karmic seeds (samsakaras) from which spring forth actions and consequences in a cyclical manner. At level 9, is absolute Alaya consciousness, which he labels "Formless Self or True-Nature". This maps very nicely as Atman (Vedantic model). Somethings to ponder for sure. I hope this will lead to "peaceful" explorations of the areas of consensus, which has always been my primary interest.
  13. In Advaita Vedanta studies, an analogy using the example of clay and pots (made of clay) is often used to illustrate the nature of Turiya and the three "normal" states of consciousness, namely waking, dreaming and deep sleep. The analogy goes like this - This analogy/example has a limited purpose, to illustrate and evoke in the mind of the student the relationship between Turiya/Atman and the three states of waking, dreaming and deep sleep. If taken too far -- for e.g. some worthies might start going into the details of comparing the chemical compositions of the clay, the firing process, the presence of the potter, etc to try and prove that the pots are indeed apart from the clay, it has gone beyond the point of utility of the example. Another example often used is that of Gold and ornaments made of gold. While Turiya is called the "4th state", it really is not a state at all. It is the Reality in which the three states of waking, dreaming and deep sleep rise and fall. That implies that Turiya is always present and available. People have argued as to why then is Turiya called the "4th"? It is done so with the intention of gradually drawing the student's attention from the everyday experiences of waking, dreaming and deep sleep to the ever-present reality of Pure Awareness (aka Turiya). This type of practice is known as "arundhati nyāya or arundhati darśana nyāya" in classical Indian systems, wherein the student's attention is gradually guided from the most obvious to the most subtle (the most subtle being the actual topic of study).
  14. I recently had some conversations with one of my spiritual mentors and subsequently one of my spiritual brothers. The topic of being stable in the Self-knowledge came up. Being stable in the Self-knowledge to me means, never losing track of the fact that it is the Self that is witnessing all the drama which unfolds on a daily basis upon the body and the mind. Have a hard day at work or at home or in traffic or ______ (fill the blanks in)? If we get caught up in the issues (and hence suffering), then we are not stable in Self-knowledge. Because being stable means we will not suffer one bit. Even if the occurrences obfuscate our true blissful and unaffected nature for even an instant, in the very next instant the knowledge will pull us out of suffering, like a safety line will pull a bungee jumper out of the river as he/she takes a plunge. Being stable means our peaceful nature is never dependent on or is threatened by any occurrence or event. Our true nature is like the sky, which unaffected by the different shapes, sizes of clouds, winds and storms that blow across it. Similarly, irrespective of samsāra and its processes (good or bad), we are always the unaffected, unafflicted awareness.
  16. In Vedantic study, there is a concept called "jahad ajaha lakshana", which means the proposition of abandoning the literal and grasping that which is the essence behind the literal. The following example is given --