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#3078 - Saturday,
February 16, 2008 - Editor: Jerry Katz
Nonduality Highlights - http://groups. yahoo.com/ group/NDhighlights
has written a new book: Enlightenment: The Path Through
the Jungle: a criticism of non-traditional teaching methods in
advaita. The Foreword was written by Greg Goode.
We present an extract from an E-Book which is a larger -- 37 page -- extract of the book, and very attractively designed, by the way. You may read more about this new and important work by visiting http://www.advaita.org.uk/discourses/enlightenment/enlightenment.htm. You will also find instructions for receiving your own copy of the E-Book. I highly recommend this work to anyone interested in the teaching of nonduality and how it is viewed and set forth in these times.
100. The neo-advaitin claims that 'we are already
enlightened'. This is a fundamental error, which results from a
failure to define terms clearly, and causes much confusion. It is
true that we are already brahman, the non-dual reality, because there
is only That. The point is that we do not realize this. Enlightenment
takes place when we do. This is why the term Self-realization is also
used - it is the direct knowing of the Self that we already are.
101. The error may well arise from the use of the Sanskrit term
mokSha for enlightenment. Strictly speaking the word means
'liberation', which is misleading because we are already 'free' in
reality. What it refers to is liberation from the mistaken belief
that we are not free.
107. Subsequent to enlightenment, that 'person' is known not to exist
as a separate entity at all; it is known that 'I am That (i.e.
108. Consequently, statements such as 'there is no person to become
enlightened' are willfully ignoring the context in which these terms
are used. At the level of empirical reality, which is all that the
seeker initially knows, there is most definitively a person to become
113. Similarly, the mind does not have to be literally destroyed in
order to become enlightened - if it were so, how would the j~nAnI
[one who knows the truth, i.e. someone who is 'realized']
subsequently function in the world? What is required is that it be
metaphorically destroyed by selfknowledge. This is achieved by
realizing that the mind is mithyA and does not have a separate
147. The modern, Western connotation of this term is considerably
different and does not really qualify as satsang in the true sense at
all. The teacher may begin with introductory remarks on a particular
topic (the nature of which the seeker rarely knows in advance) but
this lasts only a short time and is followed by questions and answers
on any topic at all, usually quite unrelated to the initial speech.
151. Satsang has come to be regarded by Westerners as though it,
alone, were an adequate means for achieving self-realization.
158. Effectively, it states the 'bottom-line' conclusions without
having carried out any of the intervening stages. Instead of
systematically undermining all of the seeker's pre-existing beliefs,
it attempts to supplant them with a radical new belief. This new
belief is contrary to everyday (i.e. dualistic) experience and there
is no rationale given in justification.
159. Neo-advaita has no methodology, since its teachers explicitly
reject the scriptures as a pramANa along with everything else. This
aspect is the key to the essence of traditional teaching. Just as the
eyes are the means for acquiring knowledge of form and color, the
ears the means for acquiring knowledge of sounds and so on, so are
the scriptures (together with a teacher who understands the methods)
the means for obtaining Self-knowledge.
165. Neo-advaita is a belief-system without a system - i.e. no
structure, no method, no practice; the 'bottom line' without any
171. Neo-advaitin teaching states that reality is non-dual; that we
are already brahman and therefore there is no one to do anything and
nothing to realize.
This is effectively nihilism. Here is the definition of that term
from the New Oxford English Dictionary: "The rejection of all
religious and moral principles, often in the belief that life is
meaningless; (in Philosophy) the extreme skepticism maintaining that
nothing in the world has a real existence.
172. The inappropriateness of this can be illustrated by a metaphor.
Telling students that there is no creation, that there are no objects
and no separate person, without having unfolded this gradually and
logically, is like telling them that a lump of iron is mainly space.
It is true (at a certain level of teaching) that iron is a lattice of
iron atoms and that each atom consists of a central nucleus of
protons and neutrons surrounded, at a relatively vast distance, by
electrons of differing energy. Proportionately, the main 'content' of
the atom is space. So, says the student, there will be no adverse
effect if I hit you over the head with this lump of space!
207. Since the premise of the book is that satang teaching alone does
not bring about enlightenment, it is most important that the reader
is clear what this term means.
What Enlightenment is not
213. Enlightenment has nothing to do with 'merging with the Self' or
'becoming one with God'. In reality, we are already the Self so that
these expressions could have no meaning. Nor is it a 'feeling of
When a pot is broken, the 'pot space' does not merge with the 'total
space'; the 'total space' is entirely unaffected by the presence of
the container and remains the same before, during and after the
temporary appearance of the pot.
226. Those teachers (principally neoadvaitin ones) who claim that
there is no such thing as enlightenment are trying, as always, to
speak from the absolute reality standpoint. But this should be made
very clear. If they say that, for example, 'here and now, for the
seeker, there is no enlightenment', then they are wrong and are
deluding themselves, as well as the seeker.
259. Becoming enlightened does not mean that the world ceases to
The advaita theory of ajAtivAda means that there has never been any
creation, but the world as an appearance of name and form continues
as before; it is simply now known to be not other than our Self. This
is widely misunderstood.
What Enlightenment is
261. So, what is enlightenment? There are many descriptions and
definitions and those in New-Age type books should generally be
completely ignored. Epithets with capitalized letters or containing
familiar words with unfamiliar endings (usually '-ness') should
generally be avoided.
264. In truth, there is only the non-dual reality - call this the
Atman. Nevertheless, there is usually a firm belief that 'I am a
separate person'. The 'entity which has this thought' is called the
jIva in traditional advaita. You, the jIva, are clearly not
enlightened while the Atman is already free. Enlightenment occurs
when you, the jIva, realize that you are in fact the Atman (and
simultaneously cease to believe that you are a jIva).
In the metaphor, the snake does not have to become the rope - there
never was a snake. What is needed is knowledge of this.
286. Neo-advaitins repeatedly tell us that 'I' cannot become
enlightened since 'I' do not exist. But there is very good reason why
'I' am unable to accept this. The simple fact is that I know that I
do exist - it is the single thing about which there is no possible
doubt. The problem is that the mind is mistakenly identifying who I
really am with the body and mind - the 'person' - this is the
ignorance that needs to be corrected. When this occurs, it is not 'I'
who becomes enlightened, since I am already brahman; it is the mind
(buddhi) that realizes this truth. Enlightenment is the dissociation
of the truth of 'I' from the prior identification with mind and body.
(There is) No Doer
293. The neo-advaitin view only acknowledges the absolute, ultimate,
pAramArthika viewpoint, insisting that there is no person; only a
'story' about a person. This story may include following a spiritual
path and becoming enlightened or not - it makes no difference to
Needless to say, this position is not very helpful as far as the
seeker is concerned. She still feels that she very much exists and
wants to escape from her suffering etc. Furthermore, this is a very
misleading statement for the seeker. The truth of the situation is
that 'I am' or 'I exist' is the one thing about which I can be
absolutely certain. I may negate everything else but I could never
negate this, since 'I' would have to exist in order to do the
negating. Therefore, in order to understand such a statement, the
seeker must be able to differentiate between 'I' and 'me, the
person'. The neo-advaitins never provide the teaching that would
enable the seeker to do this, since such a distinction can only be
made in the context of vyavahAra.
(There is) Nothing to Do
315. The confusion arises because of the failure to differentiate
between being and knowing. We cannot do anything to be That which we
already are but we can do something to remove our ignorance of the
fact - namely seek selfknowledge.
Shankara says (commentary on Bhagavad Gita XVIII 50): "Therefore it
is not for the knowledge (of brahman or the Self) that any effort is
needed; it is needed only to prevent us from regarding the not-Self
as the Self." (Ref. 87)
324. If nothing is done, nothing will happen! The 'person' will
continue in his or her life of suffering. Of course this is
irrelevant at the level of reality - after all 'I am brahman' - but
to the ignorant jIva it makes all the difference. Simply hearing the
message repeated is not on its own sufficient, as many satsang
seekers will testify. If the basic understanding is not present, the
message will simply be unintelligible.
(There is) No Path
336. The ego of seeking is not an obstacle (in fact, it is a gift).
It will destroy itself when the time comes. Attempting to 'do
nothing' is a mental self-delusion ('doing' doing-nothing).
337. David Carse (who does not teach) gives the neo-advaitin view of
how seeking appears to be going somewhere but isn't really:
"Spiritual seeking is the art of walking in very small circles. This
does two things: it creates the illusion of motion, of getting
somewhere; and it prevents one from stopping, from becoming still,
which is where one would look around and see the futility of it all."
(Ref. 7) But, if direct self-knowledge is manifesting, the 'seeking'
that is bringing this about cannot be futile from the standpoint of
the seeker. And this self-knowledge is most unlikely to arise without
prompting from a qualified teacher.
Practice is of No Value
365. John Wheeler says that: "You do not need to practice to be what
you are." (Ref. 16) and goes on to say that: "Once the mind gets hold
of the notions of awakening or liberation, there is invariably an
attempt to turn this into some kind of goal, which the individual
hopes to attain."
Both statements can be accepted as true. The mistake is to link the
two. Practice in the traditional sense does not relate to the mind
trying to achieve enlightenment but to mental preparation.
Self-knowledge can only be gained in a mind which is relatively calm
and peaceful. When the selfknowledge occurs, there is no practice
involved; its happening is inevitable. There is not, in any case,
anything seriously wrong with the individual having the goal of
enlightenment. The misunderstanding associated with this is probably
inevitable and will naturally be resolved by a good teacher.
~ ~ ~
Enlightenment: The Path Through the Jungle: a criticism of non-traditional teaching methods in advaita, by Dennis Waite. Foreword by Greg Goode.
You may read more about this new and important work by visiting http://www.advaita.org.uk/discourses/enlightenment/enlightenment.htm. You will also find instructions for receiving your own copy of the 37 page attractively designed E-Book.
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