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  1. 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 —
  2. 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.
  3. From the Vidya Gita, which is part Tripura Rahasya. Enjoy the enlightenment
  4. 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.
  5. Any one who wants to understand non-dualism, should absolutely watch this lecture. Here's wishing you a very happy enlightenment
  6. This is what I hope to get from my Qigong practice - To allow my mind to enter a state where I can experience "I AM". This conversation with Maharaj Nisargadatta in 'I Am That' seems to say everything that needs to be said. Why is it so hard for us to do? 65. A Quiet Mind is All You Need Questioner: I am not well. I feel rather weak. What am I to do? Maharaj: Who is unwell, you or the body? Q: My body, of course. M: Yesterday you felt well. What felt well? Q: The body. M: You were glad when the body was well and you are sad when the body is unwell. Who is glad one day and sad the next? Q: The mind. M: And who knows the variable mind? Q: The mind. M: The mind is the knower. Who knows the knower? Q: Does not the knower know itself? M: The mind is discontinuous. Again and again it blanks out, like in sleep or swoon, or distraction. There must be something continuous to register discontinuity. Q: The mind remembers. This stands for continuity. M: Memory is always partial, unreliable and evanescent. It does not explain the strong sense of identity pervading consciousness, the sense 'I am'. Find out what is at the root of it. Q: However deeply I look, I find only the mind. Your words 'beyond the mind' give me no clue. M: While looking with the mind, you cannot go beyond it. To go beyond, you must look away from the mind and its contents. Q: In what direction am I to look? M: All directions are within the mind! I am not asking you to look in any particular direction. Just look away from all that happens in your mind and bring it to the feeling 'I am'. The 'I am' is not a direction. It is the negation of all direction. Ultimately even the 'I am' will have to go, for you need not keep on asserting what is obvious. Bringing the mind to the feeling 'I am' merely helps in turning the mind away from everything else. Q: Where does it all lead me? M: When the mind is kept away from its preoccupations, it becomes quiet. If you do not disturb this quiet and stay in it, you find that it is permeated with a light and a love you have never known; and yet you recognise it at once as your own nature. Once you have passed through this experience, you will never be the same man again; the unruly mind may break its peace and obliterate its vision; but it is bound to return, provided the effort is sustained; until the day when all bonds are broken, delusions and attachments end and life becomes supremely concentrated in the present. Q: What difference does it make? M: The mind is no more. There is only love in action. Q: How shall I recognise this state when I reach it? M: There will be no fear. Q: Surrounded by a world full of mysteries and dangers, how can I remain unafraid? M: Your own little body too is full of mysteries and dangers, yet you are not afraid of it, for you take it as your own. What you do not know is that the entire universe is your body and you need not be afraid of it. You may say you have two bodies; the personal and the universal. The personal comes and goes, the universal is always with you. The entire creation is your universal body. You are so blinded by what is personal, that you do not see the universal. This blindness will not end by itself -- it must be undone skilfully and deliberately. When all illusions are understood and abandoned, you reach the error-free and perfect state in which all distinctions between the personal and the universal are no more. Q: I am a person and therefore limited in space and time. I occupy little space and last but a few moments; I cannot even conceive myself to be eternal and all-pervading. M: Nevertheless you are. As you dive deep into yourself in search of your true nature, you will discover that only your body is small and only your memory is short; while the vast ocean of life is yours. Q: The very words 'I' and 'universal' are contradictory. One excludes the other. M: They don't. The sense of identity pervades the universal. Search and you shall discover the Universal Person, who is yourself and infinitely more. Anyhow, begin by realising that the world is in you, not you in the world. Q: How can it be? I am only a part of the world. How can the whole world be contained in the part, except by reflection, mirror like? M: What you say is true. Your personal body is a part in which the whole is wonderfully reflected. But you have also a universal body. You cannot even say that you do not know it, because you see and experience it all the time. Only you call it 'the world' and are afraid of it. Q: I feel I know my little body, while the other I do not know, except through science. M: Your little body is full of mysteries and wonders which you do not know. There also science is your only guide. Both anatomy and astronomy describe you. Q: Even If I accept your doctrine of the universal body as a working theory, in what way can I test it and of what use is it to me? M: Knowing yourself as the dweller in both the bodies you will disown nothing. All the universe will be your concern; every living thing you will love and help most tenderly and wisely. There will be no clash of interests between you and others. All exploitation will cease absolutely. Your every action will be beneficial, every movement will be a blessing. Q: It is all very tempting, but how am I to proceed to realise my universal being? M: You have two ways: you can give your heart and mind to self-discovery, or you accept my words on trust and act accordingly. In other words, either you become totally self-concerned, or totally un-self-concerned. It is the word 'totally' that is important. You must be extreme to reach the Supreme. Q: How can I aspire to such heights, small and limited as I am? M: realise yourself as the ocean of consciousness in which all happens. This is not difficult. A little of attentiveness, of close observation of oneself, and you will see that no event is outside your consciousness. Q: The world is full of events which do not appear in my consciousness. M: Even your body is full of events which do not appear in your consciousness. This does not prevent you from claiming your body to be your own. You know the world exactly as you know your body -- through your senses. It is your mind that has separated the world outside your skin from the world inside and put them in opposition. This created fear and hatred and all the miseries of living. Q: What I do not follow is what you say about going beyond consciousness. I understand the words, but I cannot visualise the experience. After all, you yourself have said that all experience is in consciousness. M: You are right, there can be no experience beyond consciousness. Yet there is the experience of just being. There is a state beyond consciousness, which is not unconscious. Some call it superconsciousness, or pure consciousness, or supreme consciousness. It is pure awareness free from the subject object nexus. Q: I have studied Theosophy and I find nothing familiar in what you say. I admit Theosophy deals with manifestation only. It describes the universe and its inhabitants in great details. It admits many levels of matter and corresponding levels of experience, but it does not seem to go beyond. What you say goes beyond all experience. If it is not experienceable, why at all talk about it? M: Consciousness is intermittent, full of gaps. Yet there is the continuity of identity. What is this sense of identity due to, if not to something beyond consciousness? Q: If I am beyond the mind, how can I change myself? M: Where is the need of changing anything? The mind is changing anyhow all the time. Look at your mind dispassionately; this is enough to calm it. When it is quiet, you can go beyond it. Do not keep it busy all the time. Stop it -- and just be. If you give it rest, it will settle down and recover its purity and strength. Constant thinking makes it decay. Q: If my true being is always with me, how is it that I am ignorant of it? M: Because it is very subtle and your mind is gross, full of gross thoughts and feelings. Calm and clarify your mind and you will know yourself as you are. Q: Do I need the mind to know myself? M: You are beyond the mind, but you know with your mind. It is obvious that the extent, depth and character of knowledge depend on what instrument you use. Improve your instrument and your knowledge will improve. Q: To know perfectly I need a perfect mind. M: A quiet mind is all you need. All else will happen rightly, once your mind is quiet. As the sun on rising makes the world active, so does self-awareness affect changes in the mind. In the light of calm and steady self-awareness inner energies wake up and work miracles without any effort on your part. Q: You mean to say that the greatest work is done by not working? M: Exactly. Do understand that you are destined for enlightenment. Co-operate with your destiny, don't go against it, don’t thwart it. Allow it to fulfil itself. All you have to do is to give attention to the obstacles created by the foolish mind.
  7. 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.
  8. 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).
  9. 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.
  10. https://www.medhajournal.com/non-dual-awareness-is-without-attributes-but-what-about-love/
  11. 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 --
  12. https://www.medhajournal.com/close-encounters-of-the-fourth-kind/
  13. I have great respect for the philosophies and teachings of Sri Ramanuja. Even when I subscribed completely to Advaitic views, I still held Sri Ramanuja and his vedantic works in highest regard. He was a leader who led from the front, his life and the way he lived were an example and illustration of his teachings. In this post, I want to share Sri Ramanuja's views on Vedanta, Brahman, Atman and certain Upanishads that I find very interesting. Not just Ramanuja, there are so many other greats from the Sri Vaishnava tradition that have contributed so much to Vedanta and to Hindu thoughts in general. So often their thoughts and views get completely neglected or overlooked because of the perception that Advaita is the only explanation to Vedanta in the west. Interestingly Sri Ramanuja himself studied Advaita Vedanta for several years with the teacher Yadava Prakasa, who was considered the most advanced Vendantin during that period. Rest assured Ramanuja knew and understood what he was talking about and found as different. Brahma Sutras authored by Veda Vyasa is considered as the foundation and authority of Vedanta by everyone. Ramanuja's commentaries on Brahma Sutras called Sri Bhashya is considered as one of his major contribution to Vedanta. We can get into how Ramanuja justifies his interpretation of Vedanta as accurate in a little bit. Let's first take a look at Brahman and Atman as explained by Sri Ramanuja. This quoted part above feels like the core difference in Ramanuja's philosophy from that of Advaita teachings. The Ultimate or universal is not the same as the parts it comprises. Sounds quite simple and nice. It is actually as simple as it sounds. All individual or local jivas constitute modes or are qualities of the universal body of Brahman. So there is the local body, mind and intellect collectively as 'jiva' which is not exactly the same as the universal collective body, mind and intellect of all, aka 'brahman'. Read further and he states that jiva or local is identical with the ultimate or universal self (paramatman). Identical does not mean they are essentially the same. Here lies the major difference in the views. The word 'self' can be also misleading in this context. Our likeness with Brahman does not imply we are that entirely. In Vaishnava tradition, one can become like or in the image of Vishnu, but not exactly as the same one exact Vishnu. To continue.... Edit: Forgot to mention that Ramanuja's teacher Yadava Prakasa later changed his views and become one of Ramanuja's disciples accepting his explanation of Vedanta.
  14. Before one criticizes another tradition or tries to posit comparative analyses, the following questions should be taken into consideration. Why are you interested in the differences? You will know, deep in your heart why. Is it to prove X is better than Y? Do you think having a transactional (mercantile) attitude towards spirituality is going to serve you well in the long run? Have you actually learnt in their entirety, the systems that you are comparing? I'll take Advaita Vedanta for instance. Many a sharpshooter has tried to do these type of comparative studies of AV (AV vs This or That). Hold on a second...are you actually qualified to do so? If you want to do justice to your intellect and your spiritual path, you need to first qualify as a student. In Ancient India, there was a healthy tradition of debates between different schools of thought/sprituality. But that required a deep understanding of both positions (that which you are speaking for, and that which you are critiquing). If AV vs "X, Y or Z" is your topic of choice, you need to qualify as a serious student first, before you get the right to criticize it. In order to be considered a serious Advaita Vedantin, the following conditions need apply -- Sādhanā chatustāya - The Four Means What are they? The four means are -- Viveka - The ability to discriminate real from unreal (Real here means that which has independent Self-nature - aka the Self). This at least needs to manifest in the ability to discern what doesn't have independent self-nature (aka phenomena). vairagya - Non-attachment Shadsampat - The six virtues -- Shama - Tranquility of the mind (reducing the modifications of the mind) Dama - Control of the senses uparati - cessation of the need for sensory activities (not craving experiences), implying a sense of contentment titikshā - Fortitude - The ability to persevere with the inquiry/practice. Come what may, I WILL NOT give up until I have full understanding shraddhā - Respect for the tradition, the teachings and it's preceptors. samādhāna - Focus that will allow one to pursue the inquiry Mumukshutva - Burning Thirst for Liberation If you don't have these, then you are not a serious student of Advaita Vedanta. These are the qualities that qualify one to be an Advaita Vedantin (adhikāri). If you haven't done your homework, your comparisons are going to be in vain. Some of the shoddy comparisons I find pertaining to Advaita Vedanta prompted me to write this post. Somethings we should avoid doing is setting up straw man arguments. This is 101 in debates. Otherwise the comparisons/debates become farcical. What constitute straw man arguments? Attributing cherry-picked/out of context, or incomplete facts towards one party of the comparison/debate, or, worse still, half-truths (or half-lies). For instance - "Advaita Vedanta says World is False/illusory". Yes, but when taken in context of the second part of the statement - The World is none other than Brahman who is Absolute Reality, it doesn't seem as shocking or dramatic anymore. Or take for instance the statement - "Advaita Vedanta says that the limited being cannot experience the Universal Being". No where in any upanishads or commentaries of the various Advaita Vedanta masters is that said. Instead, when we study deeper, we find that Advaita Vedanta says the Universal Being (Brahman) appears to the individual being in different forms depending on the state he/she is in (waking, dreaming, deep-sleep). The list can go on and on...but I'll stop here. Hari Om Tat Sat
  15. There is a distinction -- in my view -- between the non dual Brahman that Vedanta talks about and the nondual that Abhinavagupta describes in Monism of the Kashmir Shaivism. The first one states that Brahman alone is real and everything else is unreal. This seems to be about subject and object. It concludes that Brahman is the only real thing and all else is mithya, false or unreal. Whereas the Abhinavagupta's nondual seems to be stating consciousness and energy are not two separate phenomenon, but they are one.
  16. The Art of Listening

    https://www.medhajournal.com/the-art-of-listening/
  17. A talk about spiritual enlightenment: https://youtu.be/ghsFEVeLbCk This talk discusses the following:1)Why seek Spiritual Enlightenment?2) Hedonic treadmill - A psychological theory which is related to the motivations behind seeking spiritual enlightenment.3) Some misconceptions about spiritual enlightenment.4) How duality or sense of separation is created.and more...
  18. https://www.medhajournal.com/tai-chi-as-a-practical-tool-for-self-realization/