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Jerry Katz
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#1946 - Monday, October 11, 2004 - Editor: Jerry  


Vedanta is Dynamic, Based on Reason

Today, religious systems are governed by maxims and mandates. The science of religion has been reduced to mere allegiance to personalities. There is a saying: Grammar is the grave of language. Try to save the grammar, keep it invariable, the language will be dead. Just so, the rigidity of preceptors and precepts saps the vitality of religion.

Worldwide, the intelligentsia — particularly the youth — detest rigidity. They do not wish to be dictated by doctrines and dogmas. Young men and women ought not to be oppressed with the Thou shalts and Thou shalt nots. Whatever is forced is never forceful. Desire for anything only increases with restriction and prohibition. Static precepts, superstitious beliefs and mechanical rituals are being thrust on people. It frustrates them. Rather, they need to be educated with the know-ledge of life and living. The higher values of religion have to be presented systematically and logically to the modern intellect.   Look at Vedanta in its pristine glory. Make an independent assessment of truth without relying on authorities. Bernard Shaw once remarked that the most intelligent person he had met in his life was his tailor — "because he is the only one who takes fresh measurements every time I go to him". Take up Vedanta in the same manner; try to verify the knowledge in the context of life. When you try out the philosophical truths in your day-to-day living, you become established in Vedanta.  

However, most of us become passive recipients of knowledge. Some accept a religious belief just because it is the oldest and others, because it has a huge following. Still others accept it because it comes from a great personality. Few get to the merit of the teaching, much less imbibe the spirit of religion. There is a blind following everywhere.  

Such an approach to religion has brought about a spiritual epidemic. It is practically destroying the human race. If religion is to serve people it has to be accepted on its own merit. Not on authorities. The study of Vedanta will reveal to you that it is founded on its own authority. It is based on reason and logic. So we must approach Vedanta the way we would, science or mathematics. When you study science you do not accept statements just because they have been laid down by a Newton or an Einstein. A faith that is founded on authority is no faith. Take up Vedanta on its own merits. Do not allow the personality and life of a spiritual master to interfere with his teaching. The life and teaching should be considered separately. Only then you will be able to enter into the spirit of religion.   Truth is your own. Nobody can claim it. You do not have to sell your liberty to a spiritual guru. The gurus drew their inspiration from their own Self. The same fountainhead of inspiration is within you. You can do the same. There is no use relying on external forces for gaining internal strength. You don’t have to retire to the forest for the study and practice of Vedanta. Vedanta is not a retirement plan but a technique of dynamic living. No doubt this knowledge of life and living sprung originally from the deep recesses of the Himalayan ranges. The rishis had to retire to the jungles to pursue their study, reflection and experimentation. But practitioners of Vedanta, having acquired the knowledge, can work in their respective fields of activity. Historically, even preachers of Vedanta were actually engaged in serving the world. They were not recluses but men of action working in a spirit of renunciation.

from CityCamping list:  

excerpt from "A Good House" by Richard Manning  

"I was flying back to Montana one clear winter's morning early in
1991.  I had been on a magazine assignment of a curious sort, one
that had originally been my idea.  I had been chasing groups of
people who live in motor homes, a new sort of nomad class.  Most are
retirees, people we call "secure" when what we mean to say is that
they have a lot of money.  They must have to afford the life they
have chosen: cramped "houses" that cost well over $100,000 on
average, sometimes going as high as $500,000 or more.  These
behemoths stalk about the country at the rate of about 5 miles per
gallon, seeking nothing so much as the road.  We see them queued up
at the gates of national parks or, during the winter in the Sunbelt
states, stanchioned cheek by cowl in RV parks, aluminum ghettos
wrapped around golf courses.  We conclude that these people are
seeking scenery or sun or something like that, but this turns out to
be not at all true.  They are not seeking, they are fleeing."

"They flee the death of cities or small-town America or community,
or, in a darker sense, they flee people different from themselves. 
They flee change and loss of control.  In their refugee status they
are not that different from all of us, a lost and wandering people, a
people without place.  Whenever I visit the suburbs I am amazed how
few people walk.  The curtains are all closed, making windows
useless.  Virtually all houses face not outdoors to their land but
indoors to the television, our identical window on our identical


"I once talked to a motor-home nomad who had been camped for months
in the middle of the California desert.  Outside her $100,000 motor
home an inverted garbage can lid served as a bird feeder.

"What birds are those, " I asked her, because I was new to the region
and couldn't identify desert species.  "What are those shrubs they
use for cover?"

"Those," she said, "are just birds.  Just birds you always see.  And
that is just brush."

There was no use in her learning the names of the birds that had come
to live there.  She watered no trees and planted no seeds.  In a
short time she would be gone, down the road.  Her culture -- ours --
is incapable of inhabiting a place for thousands of years.

Her husband pointed out the nearby mountains as the scenic advantage
of their place, and I asked him their names.

"Those are the foothills," he said, as if mountain ranges required no
more identity than "the mall," or "the strip," or "McDonald's."  

"In this, the motor nomads are simply a distillation of what all of
us have become: a people without a place.  We have taken our lives
out of the context of the land, above the land.  Literally.  One can
see this most clearly on airliners.  Watch the new class of flying
itinerant merchants, men in gray suits and laptops.  Watch them board
and stash carry-ons in the overhead, then throw identical folds into
identical jackets and stow them at the top of the rack.  Even before
takeoff, briefcases are snapped open, calculators are powered up, and
numbers are crunched.  Watch them land in a new place and never
notice the window, as if the view were identical to that of the last
place they did not see.  To them, whose job it is to distill all
places to the ultimate line of profit and loss statement -- the new
map of the landscape -- this place is indeed identical to the last. 
They are at ease here above the land, distant and disdainful of

"As I flew around the country chasing motor-home people, I watched
such scenes play repeatedly.  I saw America, and then I flew home to
Montana.  I was convinced it was time I built a house.  The clear
winter morning that I headed home was a Sunday.  In a half-full
airliner the sun broke hard through the right bank of windows.  Few
gray suits were present.  These were different people.  The crowd ran
heavy to jeans and nylon jackets.  As the airliner neared Missoula, I
noticed people moving around the plane, shifting to the right side
and watching the sun play across the snowcaps of the Continental
Divide.  Most of us, it appeared, were going home.  We began naming
names.  People pointed out the Bob Marshall, the Swan Range, The
Mission Mountains, the Garnets and the Sapphires, and below, the
sedate, winding valley of the Clark Fork River.  They said the names."
"Then the airliner banked over Mount Sentinel and began its descent
to a runway at Missoula.  A descent to a landing.  Land that I know. 
As we approached, I could see it all coming into focus on
progressively more intimate scales: first the mountain ranges; then
individual valleys; then creeks and draws; and finally, tucked behind
a softly rounded but hard-cut mountain, a gulch that held the very
land that is the context of my house.  As the focus shifted from the
grand sweep to the minute and individual bits of land, it occurred to
me that this is how we find our homes.  We find them, then we build

Photo: Foothills of the Sierra, coming down from Sequoia National Park. California.


Radiant Mind: The healing power of nondual therapy

A course of study and counseling service developed by Peter Fenner.


The conditioned mind is the mind that thinks, gets confused, has preferences and experiences pleasure and pain.

The unconditioned mind is pure, unlimited and beyond all ego-identification.

The radiant mind arises when the unconditioned mind radiates through the totality of our conditioned existence, bringing peace, wisdom and love to everything we experience.

Most of us live our lives knowing only the conditioned mind. We have a very limited, or even no, access to the unconditioned mind.

We offer one-on-one counseling and an 8 month course that focus on deepening your experience of the unconditioned mind so that it can infuse and transform every aspect of your life.

~ ~ ~


The Radiant Mind Course has been developed by Peter Fenner as a result of his international teaching over the last fifteen years. Peter had the good fortune to meet the Tibetan lama Thubten Yeshe, founder of the Foundation for the Presentation of the Mahayana Tradition in 1974. Lama Yeshe accepted him as his student and in 1978 he was ordained as a monk. In 1983 he completed a PhD in the philosophical psychology of the Madhyamika school of Mahayana Buddhism. His other teachers included Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche, Geshe Thubten Loden, Geshe Lhundup Sopa, Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche and Sogyal Rinpoche. After nine years as a celibate monk, Peter handed back his ordination. As a postmonastic he embarked on an intensive exploration of Western forms of healing and therapy.

In 1986 he began offering adaptations of Mahayana wisdom to mental health professionals. His workshops integrated Buddhist nondual wisdom with an understanding of group dynamics. He subsequently founded the Center for Timeless Wisdom (, a Californian nonprofit organization, which offers contemplative dialogues and retreats in Australia, USA, Europe and Israel.

In response to requests from the many mental health professionals who attended his workshops, Peter has taught the principles and practices for a nondual psychotherapy. He also offers individual counseling sessions to clients in many countries.

In 1998 he teamed up with Dr. Mantel (President of the Association Internationale de Psychiatrie Spirituelle) to organize the first-ever conference focusing on the contribution of nondual spiritual experience to psychotherapy. This took place at the Mt. Madonna, California. The Center for Timeless Wisdom continues to sponsor an annual conference on Nondual Wisdom and Psychotherapy, with the additional support of graduate schools such as Saybrook Institute, California Institute of Integral Studies, JFK University, the Association of Transpersonal Psychology and the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology.

Peter’s books include The Ontology of the Middle Way (Kluwer, 1990), Reasoning into Reality (Wisdom Publications, 1994), Essential Wisdom Teachings (with Penny Fenner, Nicolas-Hays, 2001) and The Edge of Certainty: Paradoxes on the Buddhist Path (Nicolas-Hays, 2002). His psychological essays have appeared in journals such as the Journal of Contemplative Psychotherapy, Revision, Journal of the International Association for Spiritual Psychiatry, Psychologia (Tokyo), and 3e millenaire.

Besides offering experiential workshop Peter has given presentations of his work at institutions such as Stanford Medical School, Columbia University, Saybrook College, California Institute of Integral Studies.

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