|Dr. Robert Puff|
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Articles on Traditional Advaita, Neo-Advaita, and the New Nonduality.
Traditional Advaita with Dennis Waite
Traditional Advaita versus Neo-Advaita... once more. Dennis Waite responds to questions...
Q. With reference to non-duality/Advaita, how do I handle a painful experience of a great financial fake (and also self-deception) some years ago? Since that time, there is an increasingly contempt for other people; I am also suffering from the great financial loss, which destroyed 90% of my reserves for my retirement years (I am 65). What would be your advice?
A. Im not quite sure what you are asking. Regret and resentment are futile emotions. The past is all deception and irredeemable as T. S. Eliot said. There is only, always NOW and that is where we have to start. If you have your health, and sufficient money to live, that is good! Total dissatisfaction with life is almost an essential requirement for the seeker, driving him to look for meaning elsewhere. The Self-knowledge that is gained from the teaching of traditional Advaita brings one to the realization that all is already, always perfect. So, as with many enquirers, all I can suggest if it is not possible to find a suitable teacher where you live is that you read some good books and/or join an Egroup such as Advaitin. Certainly, there are unscrupulous people out there who will defraud the unwary, given the opportunity.
Q. I wanted to express my dissatisfaction with the human condition (me inclusive of course), which especially came up after that great deception destroyed my reserves for old age. This resentment is tremendous and I have great problems in handling it. I know (and like) Tony Parsons very well, as I do Richard Sylvester and Karl Renz - for me, they are the 'best' Advaitins; unfortunately, I have missed the opportunity to meet Ramesh. Despite contact with them, the 'realization that all is already, always perfect' (what you are also saying) doesn't happen for this character. Your first book I have read (in German) and I am thinking about buying your latest one, which is so highly recommended.
teachers such as you mention merely tell you how it is
without giving you any way of reaching that understanding for
yourself. What I know of Karl suggests that he may be a little
better than this but even Ramesh seemed more interested in the
lack of free will than in presenting a logical, step-by-step
approach to enlightenment. Really, only traditional Advaita has
such a methodology. Outside of
Regarding my own books and where you seem to be, I would recommend that you wait for the second edition of Book of One, due in April. This is much revised from the first edition, with lots of new material. On the other hand, Was ist Advaita was an abridged version of the first edition. Enlightenment: The Path through the Jungle is really about the teaching of Advaita and explaining why people like Tony Parsons can rarely help seekers. The most comprehensive book is Back to the Truth, which covers most of the material in Advaita and has extracts from the work of many teachers, including those mentioned above.
Q. You may be right with your attitude concerning Tony and others in that they cannot show somebody 'the way'. But is there really a way to 'teach' at all? I will look for the second edition in April as you recommend but have you any other recommendation(s) - except for your Back to the Truth, which is available immediately in English or German?
A. Indeed there is a way to teach. It is called sampradAya teaching and it has been going on for at least the past 1500 years. It has been validated time and again throughout the generations and uses a proven methodology originating from the scriptures. The books that I recommend are listed at my website.
Q. Finally, can you help me with so-called sampradAya teaching that you mention. Is there an understandable book or paper available; the whole material is quite unclear.
A. sampradAya is the system of teaching whereby the methodology and understanding is passed on from guru to disciple in an unbroken chain. Shankara is regarded as the originator, though this was going on before his time anyway, stretching back to before the upaniShad-s were written down. I am only aware of one book specifically on this topic but it is very good. See also Wikipedia for general information about sampradAya.
Neo-Advaita with Richard Sylvester
Drink Tea, Eat Cake
When liberation is seen, life becomes less complicated. All the stories that have fuelled our life drop away and we are left with the simplicity of this. In that simplicity, the small and ordinary things in life may really be enjoyed at last. I am often asked for advice and I usually refuse to give it. But if I were to give advice, it would be to relax and enjoy whatever simple things you like doing, because until the everyday can be enjoyed, the miracle of this is being missed.
In Zen they say Before liberation, hew wood and draw water. After liberation, hew wood and draw water. I prefer Before liberation, drink tea and eat cake. After liberation, drink tea and eat cake. But they add up to the same. Ultimately it is seen that there is no difference. Before liberation and after liberation, being asleep and being awake, are the same thing.
In liberation it is seen that the individual that we think we are is simply an appearance. At our heart and at the heart of everything is undifferentiated Being from which all differences appear. There is no self, no individual, no person.
The most common misconception about liberation is that it is something an individual can gain. But liberation is a loss - the loss of the sense that there ever was a separate individual who could choose to do something to bring about liberation.
When it is seen that there is no separation, the sense of vulnerability and fear that attaches to the individual falls away and what is left is the wonder of life just happening. Instead of meaning there is a squirrel motionless on a grey tree trunk, legs splayed, head up, looking straight at you. Instead of purpose there is the astonishing texture of cat's fur or the incredible way an ant crawls over a twig.
When the sensation that I am in control of my life and must make it happen ends, then life i
Many teachers of non-duality suggest that there is someone who can do something to heal their sense of separation; in other words that there is a person who is able to discover that they are not a person. The absurdity of this idea is often camouflaged by highly complex and subtle thinking.
Teachings about non-duality frequently present the seductive idea that liberation can be realised through an evolutionary spiritual path. This has no actual connection with non-duality but it can offer us a convincing, although meaningless, story about it.
From this story
arise the many paths, doctrines, techniques, gurus, teachers,
mantra-salesmen, workshops and groups which make up the spiritual
Any way of searching may lead to a person being more comfortable. That is fine but it is all that you get - a person who is more comfortable in their prison. If you are in prison, its far better to be comfortable but that doesnt get the person out of the prison they perceive themselves to be in.
Nothing will get the person out of their prison because the person is the prison. When the person drops away, it is seen that there never was a prison in the first place.
Then it is seen that I and you are the light in which everything arises.
The New Nonduality: The Nonduality Movement
In these times, both traditional and neo-Advaita exist in the matrix known as the new nonduality and they spread throughout the matrix thus creating what I call The Nonduality Movement.
The New Nonduality is in fact The Nonduality Movement. It is a matrix made up of every field of human endeavor. What moves through it, thus creating it, is the teaching of nonduality (usually along with a form of the word nonduality).
The word "nonduality" or one of its forms -- nondual, nondualism, nondualistic, nondualist -- serves as a marker revealing the movement.
I was interviewed a few days ago by a woman who, in preparation for the interview, googled "nonduality." She told me that she thought there would very little about the topic and that it wouldn't be hard to prepare. However, she was overwhelmed by the choices. I told her it wasn't always like that. Had she done the search more than ten years ago, the pickings would have been too slim to prepare for such an interview.
Comparing the search engine results for the word nonduality now and yesterday, it is clear that the teaching of nonduality has "moved." It has diffused.
My eyes these days are on The Nonduality Movement in Western culture. We have seen the movement happen on the Internet. It began in its most direct form in the latter part of the 19th Century, which is when we find the first uses of the forms of the word nonduality. Prior to the Internet, there were many gurus and teachings that have advanced nondual teachings, yet one couldn't say for sure that there was ever a Nonduality Movement during those decades.
We are in the midst of The Nonduality Movement. It means that the teaching of nonduality, in one form or another, through its diffusion, propagation, circulation, is finding everyone who is open minded about human potential and about who they truly are and why they are alive. That audience consists of the spiritual mainstream and everyone else who questions what they're doing, how they're doing it, and what is behind what they are doing.
The Nonduality Movement is huge and significant. I'd appreciate any comments.
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