The Perennial Philosophy: An Interpretation of the Great Mystics, East and West by Aldous Huxley

An inspired gathering of religious writings that reveals the “divine reality” common to all faiths, collected by Aldous Huxley

“The Perennial Philosophy,” Aldous Huxley writes, “may be found among the traditional lore of peoples in every region of the world, and in its fully developed forms it has a place in every one of the higher religions.”

With great wit and stunning intellect—drawing on a diverse array of faiths, including Zen Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Christian mysticism, and Islam—Huxley examines the spiritual beliefs of various religious traditions and explains how they are united by a common human yearning to experience the divine. The Perennial Philosophy includes selections from Meister Eckhart, Rumi, and Lao Tzu, as well as the Bhagavad Gita, Tibetan Book of the Dead, Diamond Sutra, and Upanishads, among many others.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) is the author of the classic novels Brave New World, Island, Eyeless in Gaza, and The Genius and the Goddess, as well as such critically acclaimed nonfiction works as The Devils of Loudun, The Doors of Perception, and The Perennial Philosophy. Born in Surrey, England, and educated at Oxford,he died in Los Angeles, California.

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Aldous Huxley – The Dancing Shiva

Published on Mar 8, 2013

Aldous Huxley beautifully describes the ‘The Dancing Shiva’ symbol (Nataraja, Nataraj, nət̪əˈraːdʒ) of the Hindu spiritual tradition. Aldous Huxley was the author of many excellent books and essays including; Brave New World, Island, The Perennial Philosophy and The Doors of Perception.

This audio clip is taken from an interview which took place in London, England in 1961 entitled ‘Aldous Huxley – Speaking Personally’.

Images found on Google. Compiled by ☤ RevolutionLoveEvolve ☤

aldous huxley – darkness and light


Eternal Way to Bliss: Kesari’s Quest for Answers, Solutions and Meaning ~ Vinita Dubey Pande

Published Date Aug 16, 2013

A simple yet comprehensive insight on wisdom that is universal and eternal for transforming self in three stages into ultimate bliss.

Eternal Way to Bliss is about Kesari’s soul stirring journey, an ordinary girl who wants to be free. It’s her quest to seek truth, happiness, and solutions for life’s challenges. This is about her entrapment in the world, the grand design of her mind, and her journey towards freedom.

Like each one of us, she is earnestly seeking guidance for making life evolutionary, transforming from feeling incomplete to being complete…whole. As she seeks and explores, an ancient wisdom tradition becomes her guiding light. Starting from her distress and disillusionment with the world, she articulates her search for answers, meaning, solutions; and for consciousness and bliss. The theme rhymes with the Bhagavad Gita and summarizes its teachings. Having faith in this time-tested path for liberation, she unravels the discoveries made.

Being a householder with a family and a career in the Silicon Valley, Kesari’s quest becomes real and achievable. As a Hindu of Indian origin living in America she presents a global, modern perspective. She brings this deep and complex wisdom to us in a simple, practical, concise yet authentic way.
The problem is that her journey is not yet complete…
Welcome to her world, the truthful tale of an imperfect human.

Vinita was born in Kanpur, India, and has lived in and traveled to several cities around the world. Her family lived in Zambia (Africa) for many years. She went to boarding school at St. Mary’s, Nainital, India and then college in the US. Although her daytime job is in the IT industry her first passion is spirituality and well-being which she has been studying for the last 25 years.

She is a certified teacher of the Art of Living Foundation and conducts classes on yoga, meditation, and spirituality. She has also given several talks and lead workshops at public events, organizations, community centers, libraries, colleges, and companies for over 15 years. Vinita is also enthusiastic about volunteering and has been involved in several service projects for non-profit organizations. She lives in the Silicon Valley with her husband and two sons.

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Shiva Stories and Teachings from the Shiva Mahapurana By Vanamali

The traditional understanding of Shiva told through stories and teachings from the Shiva Mahapurana

• Explains Shiva’s contradictory forms, such as destroyer or benefactor, and how his form depends on the needs of the devotee

• Reveals how Shiva’s teachings allow one to see through the illusions at the root of all grief and alienation in human life

• Explores Shiva’s relationships with Durga, Shakti, Sati, and Parvati and with his sons Ganesha and Kartikeya

Shiva, the most ancient and complex deity of the Hindu pantheon, has been portrayed in many contrasting lights: destroyer and benefactor, ascetic and householder, wild demon slayer and calm yogi atop Mount Kailash. Drawing from the Hindu sacred text the Shiva Mahapurana–said to be written by Shiva himself–Vanamali selects the essential stories of Shiva, both those from his dark wild side and those from his benevolent peaceful side.

Vanamali discusses Shiva’s many avatars such as Shambunatha and Bhola, as well as Dakshinamurti who taught the shastras and tantras to the rishis. She explores Shiva’s relationships with Durga, Shakti, Sati, and Parvati and with his sons Ganesha and Kartikeya. Examining Shiva’s acceptance of outsiders, Vanamali explains why ghosts and ghouls are his attendants and why his greatest devotees are demon kings, like Ravana. She includes famous Shiva stories such as the Descent of the River Ganga and Churning the Milky Ocean as well as those that reveal the origin of the festival of lights, Diwali; his creation of the cosmic couple, or hierogamos; and how Shiva and Parvati taught the world the secrets of Kundalini Shakti. The author also draws upon Shaivite teachings to illustrate the differences between Western science and Vedic science and their explanations for the origins of consciousness.

Integrating Shiva’s two sides, the fierce and the peaceful, Vanamali reveals that Shiva’s form depends on the needs of the devotee. Understanding his teachings allows one to see through the illusions at the root of all grief and alienation in human life, for Shiva is the wielder of maya who does not fall under its spell. While Ganesha is known as the remover of obstacles, Shiva is the remover of tears.

Mataji Devi Vanamali has written 7 books on the gods of the Hindu pantheon, including Shakti, Hanuman, and The Complete Life of Krishna, as well as translating the Bhagavad Gita. She is the founder and president of Vanamali Gita Yoga Ashram Trust, dedicated to sharing the wisdom of Sanatana Dharma and charitable service to children. She lives at the Vanamali ashram in Rishikesh, northern India.

Mataji Devi Vanamali

7 Secrets Of Shiva by Devdutt Pattanaik

In 7 Secrets Of Shiva, Devdutt Pattanaik attempts to dissociate the symbolic form of Lord Shiva from his physical form, by providing a detailed analysis of the subjective and metaphysical aspects rather than the objective aspects.

Summary Of The Book

In 7 Secrets Of Shiva, Pattanaik begins his analysis of Hindu mythology by looking at the conflict between Western methodology and Hindu devotees. He states that when Western scholars and academicians examine Hindu mythological symbols such as the Shiva Linga, they are more concerned about the objective representation. Objectively it is a phallus, but subjectively it represents a mind that is unstirred and happy. Hindu devotees are more concerned with the latter explanation and therefore ignore the former during their worship.

In a similar style of analysis, Pattanaik goes on to decipher the seven forms of Lord Shiva. In the first chapter titled Lingeshwara, the author goes beyond the meaning of a phallic symbol. Instead, the Lingeshwara represents mental stimulation, happiness, and a focused mind. In the second chapter titled Bhairava, Lord Shiva’s form rids fear and predation. With the banishment of fear, the mind is able to continue on the path to inner happiness. In the third and fourth chapters titled Shankara and Bholenath, Shiva is portrayed as a householder and as the counterpart of the goddess Shakti.

Their union symbolises the propagation of the species. It also explains how the goddess attempts to get Shiva to participate in the material world. The fifth and sixth chapters are concerned with Shiva’s sons, Ganesha and Kartikeya. It explains how Ganesha removes scarcity, and promotes a good life, prosperity, and knowledge. Kartikeya wards off evil doers and predation. The final chapter is titled Nataraja, and it represents the universe’s movement. When Lord Shiva performed the Tandava, he was destroying the Universe. Apart from deciphering the symbolism behind Hindu mythology, Pattanaik has included illustrations, photographs, poster art, and blurbs to give readers a visual dimension to the explanation.

Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik is an author, entrepreneur, and Chief Belief Officer at the Future Group. He has authored over twenty books dealing with Hindu mythology. Some of these titles are 99 Thoughts of Ganesha, Hanuman-An Introduction, The Pregnant King, Indra Finds Happiness, Kama v/s Yama, The Goddess Of India, Jaya, The Book Of Kali, and Myth = Mithya.

Apart from writing, he has over fifteen years of experience as a medical doctor, working for companies such as Sanofi Aventis and Apollo Health Street. He has also worked with Ernst and Young as a Business Advisor. Pattanaik is currently an inspirational speaker and leadership coach at many organizations. Business Sutra and Shastrarth are TV shows that were hosted by him on CNBC TV-18 and CNBC Awaaz respectively. Pattanaik has written more than 25 books.

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The Dance of Shiva – Devdutt Pattanaik on The Nataraja

Cinematix presents a series of three short videos by well-known mythologist Devdutt Pattanaik on Shiva as Nataraja – the Lord of Dance.

This video talks about the symbolism in the idol of the Nataraja.

The Dance of Shiva – Devdutt Pattanaik on Impermanence & Dance

Shiva Speaks: Conversations with Maha Avatar Babaji ~ Rashmi Khilnani

Babaji, the ageless avatar who taught Jesus and Moses, and who, as Shiva, is the Lord of the Universe, speaks to us through his devotee, the Indian mystic Rashmi, who shares with us both her journey with this supreme master and his wisdom teachings for the modern age.

His teachings are simple and powerful and revolve around the energy of truth, love, and simplicity. They help us bridge the seeming diversity of the world to reside in the unity consciousness at its core, from which we can resolve many of today’s pressing problems.
He encourages us to embrace our own truth and be courageous in its defense, to become spiritual warriors and take up the sword of light to cut through our own darkness . . . to be ordinary in our extraordinariness and extraordinary within the simple ordinariness of our being. His Maha Avataric energy imbues every word of these teachings here with grace, courage, and truth and has the capacity within one’s free will to give the reader an experience of Babaji’s world of love and its transformative power to raise our consciousness from ego-based, shadow living; to follow our intuition and the voice of our soul; to join Shiva’s dance of ecstasy and vital beingness; and to choose heaven on earth by our Satya Yuga frequency.
Babaji tells us that only those with total purity and simplicity of heart will be able to go through the eye of the needle of coming earth-birth changes to live lives of pure beingness, supreme bliss, and ecstasy.

Rashmi Khilnani is the author of “The Divine Mother Speaks: The Healing of the Human Heart” and “Budhha Speaks: To the Buddha Nature Within.” She has facilitated the healing and transformation of many thousands through the different streams of “Reiki Energy Mastery.” She is a global metaphysical teacher, author, urban shaman, international lecturer, artist, seminar leader, and TV personality. She has been channeling the Ascended Masters for the last fifteen years, and making these teachings simple and accessible to people at all levels.

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Listen to a radio talk HERE

Rashmi Khilnani – The Divine Mother Speaks / Buddha Speaks to the Buddha Nature Within

For the last 15 years, Rashmi Khilnani has studied and taught with world-renowned gurus and teachers and has become a specialist in Energy Medicine. She is on the forefront of bringing the ancient mystery school teachings of India, Tibet, China, Egypt and the Teachings of the Essenes into current time and making these teachings simple and accessible to people of all levels of soul journeying.
Rashmi is a visionary and a mystic. She is a pioneer in translating the ancient wisdom teachings into simple comprehensible manuals for bridging the spiritual with the mundane. These sacred wisdom transmissions assist in day-to-day problem solving in current time.
Rashmi teaches and practices several healing modalities and has taught Reiki Masters, doctors, scientists and people from many walks of life, the secrets of the Mystery School teachings. She has facilitated the healing and transformation of hundreds of lives through the many streams of ‘Reiki energy Mastery’ teaching and healing. She is a global metaphysical teacher, urban shaman, international lecturer, artist, seminar leader and TV personality.

She utilizes her celestial gifts of psychic intuitive channeling, sound, light, breath and vibration to help shift and heal individuals and groups and conducts ceremonies for morphogenic, global, heart healing. She seeks to serve the Ascended Masters in bringing a spiritualization and heartfeltness of unconditional love and Unity Consciousness to people of all walks of life. She also works and trains her Reiki Master Students in the Healing and Rebalancing of the Sacred Elements and Mother Earth Herself.
Rashmi is the author of the “Divine Mother Speaks, the Healing of the Human Heart” and “The Buddha speaks to the Buddha Nature Within”. She is currently working on co-producing a documentary film on God.

The Oracle of Rama by David Frawley

The Oracle of Rama, is perhaps the greatest Oracle of India, as well as one of the simplest and easiest to use. Like the I Ching, it consists of various verses that one can get to answer one’s questions. While the I Ching uses the symbolism of the world of Nature for providing its forecasts, 7he Oracle of Rama uses the symbolism of Lord Rama, a Divine incarnation, and the Yoga of Devotion (Bhakti Yoga) that developed around him. It condenses the great universal laws of karma into the story of Rama and his noble deeds.

The book is divided into seven chapters, seven sections and seven verses, affording the reader 343 different lines that can be chosen for ones queries While the book is particularly useful as a guide to the spiritual quest, it can be used in all practical matters of life as well from health to relationship and career issues. It also reflects planetary symbolism and can be used along with Vedic astrology as a method of horary astrology, for determining the movement of current events in ones life.

The importance of The Oracle of Rama is that Rama, its central presiding symbol, is a figure of heroic proportions – a perfect human being. His life is an example of perfect action under every difficulty and misfortune, overcoming all the forces of evil and ignorance. As such, his Oracle is very safe and reliable, and provides the most wholesome and trustworthy guidance.

Rama’s story, the Ramayana, is one of the great classics of world literature and the most popular story in South Asia from India to Indonesia to the present day. Tulsidas was a sixteenth century Hindu saint who wrote the Hindi Ramayana, also called the Ramacharita Manasa, which remains the most popular book in North India today. Tulsidas was a self-realized yogi and has been held in great esteem by the great modern teachers of India as well.

The Oracle of Rama is based upon a shorter work of Tulsidas, Rama Ajna Prashna, written specifically as an oracle. Dr. David Frawley, Vamadeva Shastri, adds a new commentary and modern adaptation of this great classic. Devotees of Lord Rama have already hailed the book as one of the most important modern additions to their literature. For anyone interested in oracles and wanting to know the use of oracles in India, this book provides a great adventure.

The answers are inspiring and helpful. They take one on the spiritual journey of life. The oracle consists of a poem written by the greatest Hindu poet Tulasidas. It is based on the Ramayana, the story of the Hindu divine hero Rama. With every verse Frawley gives a brief comment which helps interpret the verse as an oracular answer.

The book has an introductory section where the story of the Ramayana is briefly summarised and the characters in the story are introduced. Also the introduction explains a number of ways in which the oracle can be consulted. One way involves dividing 108 seeds into three piles, and then counting the seeds. Using this method, one cannot get certain answer from the oracle, because of the mathematical relation of the three piles.


The Oracle of Rama uses the insights of Tulsidas, one of the greatest seers of the Vedic tradition, to unlock the secrets of the realm of unmanifest intelligence and open up for us all the creative potentials of the universe. The Oracle shows us how we can make karmically appropriate choices so that we can live a life of joy and fulfillment on all levels of our being. Dr. Frawley offers us a beautiful English version of this classic for our everyday use.” – Deepak Chopra MD, author of The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success

David Frawley (or Pandit Vāmadeva Śāstrī वामदेव शास्त्री) is a Vedic teacher and educator with numerous books in several Vedic and Yogic fields published worldwide over the past thirty years. He is the founder and director of the American Institute of Vedic Studies in Santa Fe, New Mexico (, which offers courses and publications on Ayurvedic medicine, Yoga and meditation, and Vedic astrology. He is also involved in important research into ancient Vedic texts and is a well known modern exponent of Hinduism and Sanatana Dharma. His work is high respected in traditional circles in India, where he has received many awards, as well as influential in the West, where he is involved in many Vedic and Yogic schools, ashrams and associations.

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Teachings of the Hindu Mystics – Andrew Harvey (Editor)

This anthology offers the lyrical, passionate writings of the Hindu tradition. Andrew Harvey, an esteemed scholar and editor, has selected excerpts from ancient and contemporary sources, including the Bhagavad Gita, the Upanishads, and other key texts; the words of such venerable spiritual teachersas Ramakrishna and Ramana Maharshi; and the devotional poetry of Mirabai, Ramprasad, and many others. The scope of this anthology makes it a marvelous introduction to Hindu mystical traditions, while the power and beauty of the language will inspire those already familiar with Hinduism and its literature.

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Rig Veda Full Purusha Suktam Devanagari Sanskrit English translations.wmv

This meditatively soft authentic rendering is by the Omkar Vedic Sadhana Center and is from the album Vedic Hindu Chants. It contains entire hymn slokas in Devanagari Sanskrit lyrics with English translations.

About Purusha Suktam:
This Suktam is found in Rig Veda (10.90) and is considered most commonly as a Rig Vedic Hymn.

But this Suktam in exact same verses is also contained in the Taittiriya Aranyaka (Krishna Yajur Veda, Taittiriya Samhita: Aranyaka Shakha, Third Prashna — 3.12 and 3.13) as used for this video.

This audio rendition is as per the Krishna Yajur Veda svaras (musical intonations).

The Purusha Suktam exact same Hymn also is contained in the Atharvaveda (19.6), Samaveda (6.4) and Yajurveda (VS 31.1-6). The Purusha Suktam has been commented upon in the Shatapatha Brahmana, the Taittiriya Brahmana, the Shvetashvatara Upanishad, Mudgala Upanishad and the Vajasaneyi Samhita (31.1-6). Among Puranic texts, the Sukta has been elaborated upon in the Bhagavata Purana (2.5.35 to 2.6.1-29) and in the Mahabharata (Mokshadharma Parva 351 and 352).

The Purusha Suktam is one of the few Rig Vedic hymns still in current daily usage in contemporary Hinduism like the Gayatri mantra.

The Purusha Suktam is considered by the Sri Vaishnava Sampradaya (tradition) as one of the Pancha (five key) Suktams. The other four are the Narayana Suktam (all verses uploaded in another video – also containing Devanagari Sanskrit text with English translations), Sri Suktam (also uploaded), Bhu Suktam (uploaded) and the Nila Suktam.

A Theological Reflection on Shiva on the Occasion of Mahashivaratri ~ Dr. Anantanand Rambachan

On March 10, Hindus around the world will celebrate Shivaratri (The Night of Shiva). I share these theological reflections on the occasion of this sacred festival.

For centuries, Hindus have worshiped and described God through the name and form of Shiva. The name Shiva connotes kindness, benevolence and grace. Shiva is also commonly known as Shankara, meaning one who acts unceasingly for the good of all. The many names and forms of God available in the Hindu tradition are not just expressions of India’s religious and cultural diversity. These also express profound insights about the nature of God and human existence that enrich our theological understanding. I want to suggest four ways in which the name and form of Shiva speak relevantly to us about divinity and the meaning of human life.

The first insight arises from the contrast between the iconic representations of Shiva and those of God as Vishnu. Although, both may be seen as forms of the one God, there are unmistakable differences. Icons of Vishnu typically represent him in the symbols of royalty, power and affluence. He wears a crown on his head, jewels around his neck, golden earning on both ears, and resplendent robes. Shiva, on the other hand, wears nothing but a loincloth; his only “jewels,” are snakes and rosaries. The icon of Shiva attracts us by its stark simplicity, asceticism and lack of adornment. The eyes of Vishnu are open, looking out to the world; the eyes of Shiva are half-closed in meditation.

The representation of Vishnu with the symbols of kingship and splendor properly emphasizes the nature of God as the omnipotent source, lord and sustainer of creation. The icon of Shiva, empty of all trappings of power and wealth, reminds us that the meaning of human life is be found in who we are and not in what we own. Although wealth and power are important for human wellbeing, these are impermanent, unpredictable and ultimately fail to satisfy the thoughtful person. Our human worth is an intrinsic one that has its source in the divine that exists at the heart of everyone. Shiva’s half-closed eyes point to the condition of being awake to this divine reality.

The second insight about Shiva arises from his association with time and change. As a form of God, Vishnu is associated with preservation and stability, the familiar and the predictable that afford us constancy and continuity. Shiva reminds us that even as we value and seek stability, change is inevitable. On his flowing hair, Shiva wears the crescent moon, the symbol of time, reminding us that there is no creation without movement and motion and that there can be no peace without our acceptance of impermanence. Shiva invites us to see the positive possibilities in change. Without change, our sons and daughters will not grow into beautiful young men and women, the seeds that we plant will not blossom into plants and winter will not come to an end.

The third insight about Shiva is a challenge to our own expectations of where and in what forms we may discover divinity. The city of Varanasi (Banaras) is one of the most sacred locations in Hindu geography. It is famous for its cremation grounds. Elderly and terminally ill Hindus travel to Varanasi in the hope of dying within its sacred precincts. Traditionally, death is an event of in-auspiciousness and ritual impurity; cremation grounds are avoided, as well as contact with a deceased body. Varanasi, however, is the holy city of Shiva and the location of one of the most famous Shiva temples. Shiva is described as frequenting the cremation grounds, dressed in beggarly attire and smearing himself with the ash of the cremation sites. The point seems to be that we must be careful not to associate God only with beautiful temples and richly adorned icons. Although we teach God’s omnipresence, we are more reluctant to discern God in places associated with death and suffering. Shiva reminds us not to place limits on divine reality. Our boundaries, our notions of purity and impurity, are not Shiva’s own. His association with the place of death dramatically states this fact.

The fourth insight about Shiva is concerned with our consciousness of our environment and our need to be good stewards of the earth and its resources. The most popular representation of God as Shiva depicts him as residing in a Himalayan abode in the midst of lush and verdant vegetation. The bull, Nandi, sitting happily next to Shiva and the snakes playfully adorning his neck and arms present us with a portrait of natural harmony. The Ganges River is shown as flowing from and through Shiva’s luxuriant hair, suggesting that nature’s bounties are divine gifts. We are more likely to abuse nature when we disconnect the natural world from its divine origin and strip it of sanctity. The icon of Shiva, placed firmly in the midst of nature speaks, of our interdependence with and our inseparability from the natural world.

One of the compelling forms of Shiva represents him as Dakshinamurti, the teacher of wisdom. He is seated under a banyan tree, surrounded by eager students, As a teacher, Shiva is eternally young, suggesting that his teaching is a continuous process for those of us who are open to learning. As we worship Shiva on Shivaratri, let Shiva also become our teacher. May we learn from him the value of detachment, the positive possibilities in change, the ability to see divinity where we least expect, and a renewed value for nature as a sacred gift.

Dr. Anantanand Rambachan is Professor of Religion at Saint Olaf College, Minnesota, USA, where he has been teaching since 1985.

Prof. Rambachan is the author of several books including, “Accomplishing the Accomplished,” “The Limits of Scripture,” “The Advaita Worldview: God, World and Humanity,” and “Not-Two: A Hindu Theology of Liberation” (forthcoming). The British Broadcasting Corporation transmitted a series of 25 lectures by Prof. Rambachan around the world.

Prof. Rambachan has been involved in the field of interreligious relations and dialogue for over twenty-five years, as a Hindu participant and analyst. In April 2008, Professor Rambachan, at the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury delivered the distinguished Lambeth Lecture at Lambeth Palace, London.

Gauri Shankar Rudraksha – Lord Shiva Parvati Mantra For Family

The 108 Names of Lord Shiva or Shiv.

Sure Ways to Self Realisation ~ Swami Satyananda Saraswati

Sure Ways to Self-Realization is a practical and informative text on systems of meditation from cultures all over the world. To assist today’s seekers to find a suitable path back to the source, the real self, and to find stability of mind in a rapidly changing world, Sri Swami Satyananda Saraswati describes the path of meditation, the obstacles confronting the practitioner and the means to overcome them.

Both theory and practical instructions for a vast range of age-old meditation practices are presented, including yogic techniques such as antar mouna, yoga nidra and ajapa japa, as well as meditations from ancient Egypt and Greece, the Celtic and Taoist traditions, Tibetan and Zen Buddhism, Sufism and alchemy. Moving meditations as well as meditation techniques for children and for the dying are included.

Sure Ways to Self-Realization is suitable for all levels from beginners to advanced and is an ideal reference book for yoga teachers.

Satyananda Saraswati

Swami Satyananda Saraswati was a sannyasin, yoga teacher and guru in both his native India and the West. He founded the International Yoga Fellowship in 1956 and the Bihar School of Yoga in 1963. He has authored over 80 books, including the well-known Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha, recognised internationally as one of the most systematic yoga manuals today. Since its first publication by the Bihar School of yoga in 1969 it has been reprinted seventeen times and translated into many languages.

Evolution of consciousness part-1 By Swami Satyananda Saraswati

Excerpts from Evolution of consciousness lecture given by Swami Swami Satyananda Saraswati during his tours in Australia during 1983-84

DENNIS WAITE: Interview with non-duality magazine

Dennis Waite

NDM: When and how did you first become aware of “neo advaita” and can you please tell me what your immediate impression was?

Dennis Waite: I think my first exposure to those teachings (which I did not come to know as ‘neo-advaita’ until much later) was through the Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK around 1999 – 2000. They used to have a regular newsletter, in which they advertized forthcoming satsangs (without necessarily endorsing the teachers) and a quarterly journal of essays, satsang and book extracts etc. Around that time the names of Tony Parsons and Nathan Gill began to appear and, later, there were some intriguing extracts. Initially, I found their material fresh and exciting. It spoke of the ‘here and now’ and seemed immediately relevant. I bought Tony’s book ‘The Open Secret’ and Nathan’s booklet ‘Clarity’ after reading the essays.

NDM: What exactly happened when you read Tony Parson’s book, “The Open Secret”? How did it go from it being fresh and exciting to something other than this? Was there a particular moment, a sentence or a paragraph when you began seeing red flags?

Dennis Waite: I can’t remember much about what I read yesterday, so there is no chance of remembering from 10 years ago! What I have done for the past 5+ years, however, is to mark up (in 3B pencil) any passages in books I read that trigger comment or seem particularly useful. And I know that, for example, by the time I came to read books such as Nathan Gill’s ‘Already Awake’, I was scribbling quite a few comments, not always complimentary! I guess that it was simply the case that, as I read more in general and came to understand Advaita more and more, I became more critical. Probably because of my scientific education, I have always insisted that any teaching that I encounter is totally amenable to reason. There is a proviso here that I am prepared to take something new ‘on trust’ temporarily if I am sufficiently familiar with previous books or teaching of that author/teacher and therefore know that they are ‘trustworthy’. (This is effectively a practical definition for the Sanskrit term ‘shraddhA’.)

NDM: Do you know who first coined the term “neo advaita”?

Dennis Waite: I don’t know who first coined the term. I know that Greg Goode has attributed it to me but I don’t think this is strictly accurate. Probably someone else casually used it in an email and I then started referring to it regularly through my website and then later took it for granted in my books. Certainly it is an obvious term, when the proponents claim to be speaking of non-duality but reject the traditional teaching, so I don’t think any kudos should be attached to its inventor!

NDM: Do you see that this would also apply to other traditions such as Zen, Sufism, Kaballah, Taoism, Gnosticism and so on? Does it apply to anything that deviates from traditions? Or does this just apply to Vedanta?

Dennis Waite: I don’t know anything about other non-dual traditions but since the final message is presumably the same, I guess there might be people trying to teach those and bypass the related methodology. In fact, I suppose that it is only because of a particular teacher’s background, or the background of their attendees, that one can identify a ‘neo-teaching’ as related to Advaita rather than another tradition.

NDM: What are the criteria for being labeled a neo advaita teacher? Is it simply someone who teaches Advaita, but without the traditional methods of meditation, self-enquiry, study of the scripture, use of the Sanskrit terminology and so on?

Or is it someone who has not been initiated by a Guru, but deemed qualified by the sampradAya system, through a succession of linage? As Wright and Wright put it, ‘If one cannot prove natal legitimacy, one may be cast out as a bastard. The same social standard applies to religious organizations. If a religious group cannot prove its descent from one of the recognized traditions, it risks being dismissed as illegitimate”.

Dennis Waite: A neo-advaita teacher typically claims that the world and the person are unreal. Consequently, there is no one searching for the truth and no one who can help them to find it (i.e. neither seeker nor teacher). There is therefore no point in wasting time and effort looking for the truth; the scriptures are of no value and so on. So no, you cannot say that ‘they teach advaita but without the traditional methods’ because the traditional methods are really what constitute advaita. Advaita is a proven methodology for helping seekers to remove the ignorance that is preventing them from realizing the already-existing truth, namely that there is only Brahman (or whatever you want to call the non-dual reality). Neo-advaita makes the same claim but offers nothing at all to help the seeker remove the ignorance.

Given that there is only Brahman, we are obviously already That. But clearly we do not know this to be true. Simply saying that it is true is of little help, but this is effectively all that the neo-advaitins do.

NDM: When Nisagadatta was asked about this by a questioner who wished to join the Navnath Sampradāya, he said, “The Navnath SampradAya is only a tradition, a way of teaching and practice. It does not denote a level of consciousness. If you accept a Navnath SampradAya teacher as your Guru, you join his SampradAya… Your belonging is a matter of your own feeling and conviction. After all it is all verbal and formal. In reality there is neither Guru nor disciple, neither theory nor practice, neither ignorance nor realization. It all depends upon what you take yourself to be. Know yourself correctly. There is no substitute for self-knowledge”.

Question: How does one become a Navnath; By initiation or by succession?

Maharaj: Neither. the Nine Masters’ tradition (Navnath Parampara) is like a river – it flows into the ocean of reality and whoever enters it is carried along.

Question: Or is it simply acceptance by a living master belonging to the same tradition?

Maharaj: Those who practice the sādhana of focusing their minds on “I am” may feel related to others who have followed the same sādhana and succeeded. They may decide to verbalize their sense of kinship by calling themselves Navnaths, It gives them the pleasure of belonging to an established lineage.

So if this is the case, could anyone who has realized the “I Am” call himself or herself a Navnath (As Nisargadatta stated here)?

Or would that still not make them legitimate enough to teach advaita?

Dennis Waite:
The usage of the term ‘sampradAya’ is not in accord with the tradition as it comes down through Shankara. The key point about teachers in a sampradAya is that they are qualified to pass on the teaching of that sampradAya. And the key point about such teaching is that it has been proven time and again to work. Thus, in order genuinely to ‘belong’ to a sampradAya, one has to have studied with a teacher of that sampradAya for however long it takes fully to understand all of the aspects (i.e. many years). (In the past, this would have meant learning scriptures by heart, in the original Sanskrit, and knowing how to explain their meaning to a seeker.) And in order to become a teacher oneself, one should also have the appropriate skills of a good teacher. Ideally, one should be enlightened, too, but Shankara himself pointed out somewhere that this is actually of lesser importance.

NDM: What about the sampradAya roots of these often followed teachers: Sri Ramana and Papaji. Which sampradAya system did Sri Ramana belong to? Which sampradAya system did Papaji belong to?

Dennis Waite : Ramana did not belong to any sampradAya. He is someone who is acknowledged to have attained enlightenment without any of the usual prior teaching and is therefore held up as proof by many modern teachers that prolonged studies with a qualified guru are not necessary. Unfortunately a single example does not disprove the general rule, and history shows that most do need prolonged formal teaching. Papaji is generally regarded as having been a disciple of Ramana. He did not belong to any recognized sampradAya either. As far as I am aware, neither formally recognized anyone as their ‘successors’ either, although numerous teachers now claim that they were ‘authorized’ to teach by Papaji.

NDM: There are a number of teachers in the United States who advertise and claim lineage from both of these teachers. Such as this one see here:

Would this lineage claim be considered legitimate or rather an illegitimate lineage according to the sampradAya teaching system?

Dennis Waite:
The term sampradAya (for Advaita) implies a lineage effectively stretching back to Shankara and Gaudapada in a continuous guru-disciple chain. So, the answer to this question is that no one claiming to be a follower of Ramana and/or Papaji belongs to a sampradAya.

NDM: So in effect this chain (please see here) is an offshoot? There are about 75 well known teachers here from all across the world who give satsang, write books, give seminars, retreats and so on.

Since none of these can prove natal legitimacy to the sampradAya dating back to Shankara and Gaudapada, should they all be cast out as a “bastards” so to speak? Or to put it in polite terms, considered neo Advaita?

Dennis Waite: You will see the note at the top of the Ramana ‘lineage’: “(Note that a solid line represents a direct teacher-disciple link (‘in the flesh’) and a dotted line an ‘influence’ only. All entries are to the best of my knowledge and may be mistaken.) N.B. Strictly speaking, Ramana Maharshi never authorized anyone to teach in his name. This is therefore not a formal lineage.”

I derived pretty much all of the information for these charts by looking at the websites of the teachers mentioned. So, in many cases, a teacher has been added simply because his or her website states that they were influenced by Ramana – i.e. I trust what they say.

You seem to be making much of this sampradAya issue. Not formally belonging to a sampradAya does not mean that a teacher is ipso facto not worthy of reading/listening to. What it means is that they are much less likely to have a complete grasp of all of the teaching methods and aids, stories, metaphors and so on that would automatically be handed down, learned and totally understood within a sampradAya. But they may still be a good teacher by virtue of their own reading, understanding etc. and because whoever taught them had a good grasp. The point is that the probabilities are imponderable outside of the sampradAya. It is unfortunately the case that there are many self-claimed teachers who are simply in the business of making money (a sampradAya teacher would never ask for money), and who are neither good teachers nor enlightened.

NDM: I don’t see Mooji on the list by the way. Shouldn’t he also be on this list since his Guru was Papaji?

Dennis Waite: The ‘home page’ of the lineage information has the following statement:

“In the charts, I have listed teachers as accurately as possible, given the limited information I have available – i.e. primarily the Internet. I have not contacted every living teacher to ask them where they consider they should be placed. Also, there will no doubt be many teachers who do not have an ‘Internet presence’ so that I will be unaware of them.

Finally, my judgment as to whether a given teacher is a teacher of Advaita is often dependent upon a quick appraisal of the content of their website. Some indicate other traditions as being specially influential (e.g. Zen or Dzogchen) but nevertheless write articles that ‘read’ as if they were Advaita – I have given these the ‘benefit of the doubt’ in some cases. Others may have been excluded because there is simply no material on their website by which to make an assessment. Some teachers may appear on more than one chart. Accordingly, I am asking for help from all visitors to correct errors, suggest additions (or deletions) etc.”

Despite this, I think only about 3 or 4 people have ever contacted me to tell me about errors or omissions. So thank you! I have now added Mooji to the Ramana chart – and my apologies to him if he reads this.

NDM: So what about Nisargadatta and his line? How does this differ since according to your chart, his line only seems to go back to the 13th century and not to the 8th century and Shankara? / However, doesn’t his line go all the way back to Dattatreya?

Dennis Waite:
As before, I have only been able to take whatever information I could find on the Internet. I am not setting myself up as any sort of authority.

You also have to accept that, in the past, Indians had no real interest in documenting any personal history. In advaita, after all, the person is not a real entity. Even in the case of Shankara, academics still argue about when he lived, with conclusions being anything from several centuries BC to around the 8th century AD. (Most agree that it was probably the latter.) The only probably valid historical records of lineage are in the Shankara mathas.

NDM: Can you give me the names of any western teachers today who belong to the lineages dating back as far as Shankara?

Dennis Waite
: Westerners probably only began to learn about this teaching with the advent of people like Ramana and Nisargadatta and we have already spoken about these. Teachers such as Swamis Chinmayananda and Dayananda are associated with Swami Sivananda and the former now have Western disciples who are teaching. For example James Swartz was a disciple of Chinmayananda and Michael Comans of Swami Dayananda. But I don’t know if Sivananda and Tapovanam can be traced back to Shankara. John Lehmann, of the Advaita Meditation Center in Massachusetts receives guidance from Shri Bharati Tirtha Swamigal, who is the present Shankaracharya of Sringeri Sharada Peetham; so maybe he is the only Westerner I am aware of who can trace back to Shankara. But then he has not been formally accepted into the lineage as far as I am aware so that reduces the number to zero!

NDM: Why do you think that no westerner has been accepted up to this point? What are they missing? Is it their skills or something else? Wouldn’t His Holiness Shri Bharati Tirtha Swamigal make this decision, being the pontiff of Advaita Vedanta?

Dennis Waite: The formality of the lineage is part of the Hindu tradition. I understand that only saMnyAsI-s are given the title of ‘Swami’ and a new name, and I don’t think that lifestyle appeals to most Westerners! Also, as I said earlier, Advaita did not really come to the attention of Westerners until very recently, relatively speaking. But I think this is another red herring; it doesn’t say anything about ability or worthiness. Certainly a number of Westerners have studied with Swami Dayananda and become excellent teachers in their own right. Michael Comans is now ‘Sri Vasudevacharya’.

I think the other point about the tradition is that, as implied by the name, procedures are long-established. I don’t think any individual, Shankaracharya or not, could unilaterally decide to do things differently.

But all this discussion is really outside of my field of expertise. If you want to ask Indian cultural-type questions, you need to ask someone else.

NDM: Can you please take a look at this question and answer below with Suzanne Foxton and tell me how morality is understood according to traditional Advaita Vedanta?

Where does morality (right and wrong) play into this equation?

Suzanne Foxton: There is no right or wrong. There is what is. Including many differing ideas about what is right and what is wrong. However, compassion often seems preferable; yet if every apparent individual were consistently compassionate without exception…gag, barf! How dull would THAT be? AND there’d probably be a loved-up population explosion.

We live in Utopia. We are Utopia. We are the perfect, dualistic playground with every possibility shining, weaving, tearing, growing, destroying, creating NOW.

Dennis Waite: Hindu dharma is a vast subject with many entire books written about it. And I am certainly no expert! Very simplistically (according to my understanding), the key point is similar to Kant’s ‘moral imperative’: behave towards others as you would wish them to behave to yourself. You try not to hurt others, either physically or emotionally, just as you would not want others to hurt you. You allow others to believe what they like as long as, by doing so, it does not cause you any harm.

NDM: Do you believe that some neo advaita teachings are violating Hindu Dharma by misleading others about the nature of reality and truth?

Dennis Waite: As I said, I know very little about Hindu dharma but I think that is a red herring here, anyway. In the context of spiritual seeking, the function of a teacher is to help the disciple to realize the truth. The seeker usually has a lifetime of misconceptions and erroneous convictions about this and the process of resolving these is necessarily a gradual one, requiring skill and patience on the part of the teacher. It is ludicrous to expect that one or two satsang attendances, probably with different teachers who know nothing about the seeker’s personal level of understanding, can bring about enlightenment. A qualified teacher will know this and acknowledge that any implication to the contrary is both misleading and effectively immoral.

Having said this, most neo-advaitins deny that they are teaching anyway so one might argue that they avoid this contradiction and escape any possible charge of deception or dishonesty. But then they do advertize their satsangs and residential courses and they do charge seekers to attend them. So, at the very least, it is a somewhat ambiguous situation.

NDM: Can you please tell me about your awakening? When was it and how did it happen?

Dennis Waite:
As I mentioned in a previous answer, it is impossible to know whether or not someone else is enlightened so the answer to this question is irrelevant to anyone else. What do you conclude if someone tells you that they are enlightened? It smacks of egoism, hubris or superiority, none of which are traits one would associate with enlightenment. In addition, there is the very significant problem that most do not have a proper understanding of what is meant by the term. Accordingly, if you answer ‘yes’, they can only interpret this in connection with that misunderstanding. So, suffice to say that I do not have any specific ‘enlightenment experience’ to communicate. (Experiences, in any case, have a beginning and an end in time so have nothing to do with the ever-present freedom of mokSha.)

NDM: Can you tell me more about this mokSha? What is this freedom like? Is it like a state of constant bliss? What does this do to your vAsanA-s? Do you still have any dislikes or likes, aversions or desires?

Dennis Waite: You are still mistaking the terms, here. Enlightenment = Self-knowledge, which means that you know that ‘brahman is the truth; the world is mithyA; the individual is not other than brahman’. You no longer have any doubts about this. What you appear to be talking about here is jIvanmukti – the peace, detachment; lack of worries; indifference to results and so on. This is the condition which results either a) on attaining enlightenment, when sAdhana chatuShTaya sampatti had been fully satisfied beforehand or b) following enlightenment, after further nididhyAsana for as long as necessary.

Everyone is already ‘free’, irrespective of whether or not they are enlightened. Also, the jIvanmukta will still have desires etc, albeit to a lesser degree, but the point is that there is no elation if they are fulfilled or disappointment if they are not. Everything is taken ‘as it comes’ with equanimity. (Or so I understand!)

NDM: Yes at an absolute level they are free, but what about on this empirical level. What if someone has self-knowledge, know that they are Brahman, yet still have an uncontrollable predilection for chasing after beautiful women or men, gambling, drinking and drugs? What kind of mokSha is that; being a slave to these unwholesome desires? How is that going to stop them from being reincarnated as a jackrabbit in the next life?

Dennis Waite: One who is enlightened still has a body-mind and vAsanA-s but also knows that ‘he’ does not act; and any action will not affect his Self-knowledge. Action is only at the level of the body and it is the mind that enjoys the result, albeit that both take place only by virtue of Consciousness. As an analogy, the petrol provides the motive power for the tank or the ambulance but is not affected by the motives of either. As explained elsewhere, the extent to which one gains the ‘fruits of enlightenment’ (jIvanmukti) is determined by how mentally prepared one was prior to enlightenment’. One who was just sufficiently prepared to be able to ‘take on board’ the Self-knowledge, will still retain the maximum (commensurate with enlightenment) of negative mental attributes. In order to be able to interact in the world at all, there has to be an ego and some degree of ‘identification’. The jIvanmukta has very little and consequently has virtually no desires/fears etc. The person who only just made it will still have a lot and it is this person who may be perceived to act in ways that we would deem to be inappropriate.

Another way of looking at it is that the j~nAnI (enlightened person) still has to use up the prArabdha karma that brought this body into manifestation in the first place. Thus he will (have to) experience certain desires and attachments and so on. When the prArabdha has been burnt up, the body falls and there is no rebirth for that ‘person’.

It is understandable that there should be strong feelings on this issue and these have no doubt been exacerbated by the behavior of some who had been acclaimed as enlightened but who presumably were not. But it is also unreliable for the unenlightened to make pronouncements on the basis of what they may perceive as inappropriate actions. An obvious example would be Nisargadatta’s apparent addiction to bidis, obviously knowing that they were bad for the health of his body. Yet most Western seekers today seem to accept that he was enlightened.

NDM: How do you know if someone has attained mokSha or is faking it? For example, some of these gurus have the mokSha shtick down pat. Some even quote from the scriptures, have Indian sounding names, smile all the time, have dots on their foreheads, wear beads, orange robes and so on?

Dennis Waite: You cannot know the mind of another. Unfortunately, all you can do is to listen to them teach (or if that is not possible) read their written material or transcripts of their talks. For as long as you continue to learn useful things from them (as determined by your intellectual discrimination), they are good teachers and therefore useful. If you are in their presence, and they say something with which you disagree, you can question them and maybe they will clarify the issue. If you are reading a book they can’t do this. If he or she is a very good teacher, then maybe you will eventually become enlightened also.

Regarding behavior, this is not necessarily indicative of their status as ‘enlightened’. There is ample evidence of accepted enlightened individuals displaying anger or pain or sadness etc. And someone who is not a jIvanmukta may also exhibit behavior that is popularly deemed to be inappropriate for someone who is enlightened. As long as you remember that enlightenment relates only to Self-knowledge, you should be able to answer any similar questions yourself.

NDM: Yes, Ken Wilber said something like “a schmuck before enlightenment, a schmuck after enlightenment” based on the old Zen quote. How does one know whom to trust with so many scandals breaking out?

Dennis Waite: If you do not have direct experience yourself, you will have to rely on the words of someone who does. And in order to be able to believe them, they must have proven themselves to be trustworthy. This is why you accept what you are told by a personal friend when you would question it if told by a stranger. Failing that, you must fall back upon what I said above regarding learning useful things.

NDM: So what about the sublation of Dennis, the moment in apparent time when this “apparent Dennis” put his head in the mouth of the tiger and this apparent Dennis was devoured by this tiger. He realized that he was not this physical form, mind, the five sheaths and so on, which he had been identifying with all his life. When this non-dual light of awareness entered into the picture, he knew for the first time that he was not the snake, but the stick. That he was Brahman.

Are you saying that “Dennis”, not the Self, Brahman, always knew this from his physical birth? That Dennis was always never ignorant about this, that he was enlightened on a relative level as well as an absolute level? That you were born an avatar of some kind like Krishna, Vishnu or Shiva?

Dennis Waite: You still seem to be hung up on the idea of a sudden transforming experience. It does not have to be like this.

I guess the first hint must have been when I was about 6 – 8 years old. My parents sent me to a Methodist Sunday School and I attended for maybe 6 – 9 months. I eventually stopped going and I recall telling my parents that it just did not make any sense – if there was a God, then he couldn’t be in heaven; he had to be everywhere.

But I didn’t actively begin seeking until my early twenties, by which time I was convinced that I was never going to gain any lasting satisfaction from worldly pursuits and decided that I had to look to philosophy for some explanations. I began attending the School of Economic Science in response to the ‘Course of Philosophy’ lectures that they advertized on the London Underground. And I stayed for a couple of years until they wanted me to part with a week’s salary to be initiated into TM. But at that time, they were still mainly influenced by Ouspensky and their teaching was a bit weird to say the least.

After a break to get married, have a child, get divorced and re-marry, I returned to SES in the mid eighties, by which time their teaching was much more influenced by Advaita. And I stayed until around 1998, by which time I had myself been tutoring for a number of years. I left because I had realized as a result of outside reading that the school’s advaita was corrupted by other philosophies such as Sankhya, Yoga and Grammarians. I also followed Francis Lucille for a while at this stage.

After being made redundant in 2000, I tried to set up my own computer consultancy for a couple of years and wrote a book on Earned Value metrics. When this didn’t work out, I started the website and began to write on Advaita full time. It was really this process – setting down all of the aspects of Advaita, asking questions, reading lots of books until any points that I did not understand were cleared up – that consolidated my understanding. Basically, I have been doing this every day, evenings and weekends included since 2002. And, over the period of say 2004 – 2008 for the sake of argument, I came to the realization that I had no further questions. I was totally convinced of the truth of the teaching and found, through the question and answer section of the website, that there was no question that I could not answer (to my own satisfaction!) (Note that this does not mean I can answer all questions to other’s satisfaction. A lot of this teaching is stepwise and you cannot leap to the top step without traversing the intermediate ones. Also, some seekers may require lots of quotations from scriptures to back up an answer, and I am not always able to provide these, one reason being that there are still lots of scriptures that I haven’t read!

And , of course, some seekers are so entrenched and committed to their existing mistaken beliefs that they cannot open up to any new ones. The parable of pouring more tea into a cup that is already full applies here.)

But, again, I am not sure that you appreciate the significance of all of this at the transactional level. Dennis still quite definitely exists. It is a mistaken belief that the person somehow disappears on enlightenment. The person continues until death of the body, driven by prArabdha karma (the arrow continuing to its target once the bow string has been released). And I am certainly not a jIvanmukta. As I point out in a Q &A just posted to the site, I am still prone to the usual human failings. One does not gain the mental/emotional benefits (j~nAna phalam) unless one is fully accomplished with respect to sAdhana chatuShTaya sampatti prior to enlightenment. And, unfortunately, I never became fully accomplished!

NDM: Was Francis Lucille of any help at this point in time with his pointers and satsangs?

Dennis Waite: Francis was very helpful. I emailed him a number of questions a year or two before meeting him and he answered them in detail (they appear in his book ‘Eternity Now’). And I was very impressed with the satsangs in general and the way that he answered questions. (This is not to say that I always agreed with what he said.)

NDM: When you say, “Dennis still quite definitely exists. It is a mistaken belief that the person somehow disappears on enlightenment.”

What about the identification with this “persona”, the mask of Dennis? Do you mean you still identify with this, or that you know that it’s mithyA (false, transient, not constant, not permanent) and so on like any other object?

Dennis Waite: Dennis still moves around in the world, doing all of the sorts of things he used to do and outwardly appearing as normal. I know that this body-mind is mithyA but still sometime behave as though I don’t. Note that this habit of not saying ‘I’, or referring to oneself in the third person, is really not something I approve of. It is an affectation really. Pedantically knowing that ‘I am not this person’ does not escape the fact that it is this person who is speaking as far as most hearers are concerned! So to use this method of speaking is tantamount to saying to the other person “Just remember that you are not speaking to another ‘ordinary’ person but to someone special!” And ‘I’ am not special – ‘who I really am’ is ‘who you really are’.

NDM: As far as not being a jIvanmukta; what kind of meditation, karma yoga, bhakti yoga, along with j~nAna yoga, had you done previous to your realization?

Dennis Waite: No bhakti; probably around 15 years of karma and meditation twice per day for 30 minutes.

NDM: Did you ever experience nirvikalpa samAdhi prior to this realization?

Dennis Waite: I’m going to cut short this line of questioning. Answers to questions such as these are really of no help to any other seeker. Each one’s path, glimpses of the truth, realization gradual or sudden etc will differ. Examining the minutiae of any one person’s experience really is pointless.

NDM: Yes, is that because it is also misleading and can send others barking up the wrong tree so to speak? Like if someone has a sudden enlightenment holding a bucket of water over their head while dancing the Macarena; will others think that by holding buckets of water over their heads while dancing the Macarena, that it will also bring them enlightenment?

Dennis Waite: That’s a good way of putting it, yes! The bottom line is that only Self-knowledge can give enlightenment because Self-knowledge is enlightenment. Whatever one might be doing, where one is or what is happening at the moment that final, full Self-knowledge dawns, is totally irrelevant.

NDM: What is evolutionary enlightenment? Does this have anything to do with Shankara’s interpretation of the Upanishads or Advaita Vedanta? Andrew Cohen, Papiji’s disciple was in India recently promoting his ideas about “evolutionary enlightenment”. He says he doesn’t believe the purpose of enlightenment is to attain freedom from incarnation. He says it’s to come back again and again and again and again to enjoy this physical world. He also states that he is challenging the ancient traditions with his new teaching. At 17minutes and 10 seconds into the video he talks about this.

Dennis Waite: I don’t have any direct experience of Andrew Cohen’s teaching. Comments that some trustworthy contacts have made about him did not inspire me to find out more. What he says above would seem fully to justify this decision.

NDM: In sutra number 18 of your book, Enlightenment, Path Through The Jungle you say that some Neo Advaita teachers may be helpful; particularly the ones who try to embody some methodology in their teaching. What kind of methodology were you referring to? Is there any teacher you can think of who is doing this?

Dennis Waite: I’m referring to the traditional prakriyA-s or systematic procedures that are given in the scriptures and ‘unfolded’ by a skilled teacher. These include such things as the three states of consciousness (avasthA traya), differentiation between seer and seen (dRRik dRRishya viveka), the five ‘sheaths’ (pa~ncha kosha); and the classical metaphors such as rope-snake, pot-space and pots, gold and rings/bangles etc. There are many of these and they are all demonstrably valuable for showing a seeker how to look at things in a new way and thereby overturn habitual patterns of thinking.

NDM: In sutra 22 you speak of the terminology to be used, such as Brahman and atman; what would you say is the difference with using the word awareness?

Dennis Waite: The problem with using English words that are used in everyday conversation is that they can lead to confusion or misunderstanding. Even seekers who are familiar with ‘spiritual discussions’ may not clearly understand what is meant, or may use a word in a way which is understood differently by the other person. The word ‘awareness’ is a common example, particularly because Nisargadatta uses the words ‘Consciousness’ and ‘Awareness’ differently from most other teachers. By using the correct Sanskrit term (and it is acknowledged that one has to learn what these mean before using them in conversation), this difficulty is avoided.

Enlightenment, Path Through The Jungle

NDM: Can you give me an example of bhAga tyAga lakShaNa?

Dennis Waite: Suppose that you and a friend, A, both went to school with a third person, X. Although you were not particularly friendly with X, you knew him quite well but, since leaving school you lost touch and have forgotten all about him. Today, you happen to be walking along with A and see Y, who is a famous film star, walking by on the other side of the street. You have seen films starring Y and admire him very much. A now makes some comment such as “Y has come a long way in the world since we knew him, hasn’t he?” You are mystified since you have never even spoken to Y as far as you know and you ask A to explain himself. A then makes the revelatory statement: “Y is that X whom we knew at school.”

All of the contradictory aspects, that X is an insignificant, scruffy, spotty oik that you once knew at school, while Y is a rich, famous and talented actor, are all cancelled out, leaving the bare equation that X and Y are the same person. Furthermore, the knowledge is aparokSha – immediate. We do not have to study the reasoning or meditate upon it for a long time.

NDM: In sutra 50, you talk about avidyA. This is also at the core of the Buddhist teachings. Do you see any difference in the way this is taught?

Dennis Waite: As answered in an earlier question, I do not really know anything about Buddhism. You will need to ask someone like Greg Goode.

NDM: In sutra 54, you say we do not have any organ for self knowledge; sudden insight through an epiphany?

Dennis Waite: That sutra is talking about pramANa-s – the ‘means for acquiring knowledge’. We have the sense organs – sight etc – for acquiring knowledge about external objects; but there is no organ for acquiring knowledge about the Self. Similarly, we cannot infer and have no reason to assume that the Self is the non-dual reality. Hence we need a trusted, external source to tell us and explain it. This is the function of the scriptures and guru. Although it cannot be stated categorically that enlightenment does not ‘suddenly come to one for no apparent reason’, this is not the normal route! Also, the traditional route is, throughout, totally amenable to reason whilst the ‘epiphany’ route is totally inaccessible to reason. Furthermore, if you sit around waiting for something to ‘happen’, you are likely to be waiting a very long time! If you commit to a traditional path for as long as it takes, the evidence is that you will get there eventually.

NDM: The Kena Upanishads say, “The eye does not go there, nor speech, nor mind, we do not know “That” (meaning Brahman). We do not know how to instruct one about it. It is distinct from the known and above the unknown”.

If this is the case, then how is this known and who or what knows this?

Dennis Waite: It is interesting that you should choose this verse because it is effectively an explanation of the need for sampradAya teaching. But you have omitted the last sentence, which says: “Thus we have heard from those who have gone before us, who told us about it.”

The point is that Brahman cannot be seen, or directly spoken of, or known (as an object) by the mind. And it is not saying that ‘we do not know how to teach it, period’, it is saying that ‘we do not know how to teach it other than by using such seemingly paradoxical statements as ‘the eye of the eye’, ‘the ear of the ear’ etc. It has to be taught in an elliptical fashion, undermining erroneous views and coming at it from behind, as it were, because Brahman is not an object of any sort but, on the contrary, the ultimate subject – infinite. When it says that we do not know how to teach it, it is referring to the usual means of knowledge – perception, inference etc. I can’t point to it or say ‘what’ it is. It is different from the known (i.e. cannot be known as an object) and yet it is different from the unknown, meaning that we nevertheless know it. How can this be? Simply because we already are it.

NDM: Do you think that the mental disposition, akhaNDAkAra vRRitti can be attained through nirvikalpa samAdhi?

Dennis Waite: No.

NDM: Ok, but what about after waking from this nirvikalpa samAdhi? After the fact, when nirvikalpa merges into and becomes Sahaja samAdhi while being awake and alert?

In the Ribhu Gita by Sri Ramana writes,

30. Remaining alertly aware and thought-free, with a still mind devoid of differentiation of Self and non-Self even while being engaged in the activities of worldly life, is called the state of Sahaja Nirvikalpa Samadhi (the natural state of abidance in the Self when all differentiation has ceased). This is called Akhandakara vritti, the ‘I’ of infinite perfection as contrasted with the ‘I am the body’ notion of those who have not realized the Self. (Ch.18, v.40)

What do you think he meant by this?

Dennis Waite: A temporarily thought-free mind is not a mind that has effectively ‘taken on the form of Brahman’. We have a ‘thought-free’ mind every night during deep sleep but nevertheless still wake up believing we are the body-mind. The akhaNDAkAra vRRitti is an instantaneous ‘dawning of knowledge’ in which the mind suddenly gels (as it were); when the full realization of non-difference from Brahman occurs as a result of the crystallization (as it were) of knowledge gained in the past. Nirvikalpa samAdhi is a state of mind that is temporarily object-free; conscious, but only of Self. Since it is empty of anything (‘nir’ vikalpa means ‘without’ difference or distinction), how could any sort of change or vRRitti (mental disposition) occur in it? In any case, as I pointed out earlier, samAdhi-s are experiences and only knowledge can remove ignorance.

Furthermore, I would say that it is not possible to ‘engage in the activities of worldly life’ with a thought-free mind.

So I am not sure what exactly is meant by this passage. I haven’t read and don’t have a copy of the Ribhu Gita. Maybe the earlier verses throw some light on this. As I said earlier (I think) Ramana was a brilliant teacher and unquestionably enlightened but he did not have sampradAya training and had not, I understand, even read much scripture prior to his enlightenment; so some of his statements may be suspect, especially when taken out of context. The Bhagavad Gita II.55 (to end of chapter 2) talks about the man of ‘steady wisdom’ as one who is ‘without desire’ but not ‘without thought’. sthitapraj~na means the ‘state’ of being in, Brahman, and arises as a result of the akhaNDAkAra vRRitti; it is not the same as it. But, unlike samAdhi, it is not really a state; it is rather that the Atman is now (known to be) Brahman.

NDM: A few days ago someone told me about a western Neo advaita teacher in India who pays impoverished young Indian boys to have sexual relations with him. In this case who is the doer/enjoyer? Is it this Neo Advaita teacher’s vAsanA-s, or is it Brahman doing this? Oneness, as some neos would say.

Dennis Waite: This sort of confusion arises because of failing to differentiate ‘levels’ of reality. All of this ‘doing’ – whether working, playing, seeking, becoming enlightened, giving time and money to charity or having sex with young boys – all takes place within vyavahAra, the transactional or worldly level. At this level, there is duality, people and objects; and all of the usual issues of society, morality and responsibility apply. Traditional advaita says that the position into which a given person is born is determined by their actions in past lives and they have to ‘work through’ the related karma. The desires they have are determined by their vAsanA-s, which again are determined by past actions and formation of habits and so on. It is said that when a given situation is presented, one may act, not act or act differently from the dictates of past habits. And this brings us onto the topic of free-will, which I don’t want to enter into or we will be here indefinitely!

From the standpoint of absolute reality, of course, there are no people or objects; no time, space or causation. But you have to be very careful not to mix up the levels. Most conceptual problems in advaita result from doing precisely this.

NDM: Who is responsible for this karma “oneness”, or this apparent man’s vAsanA-s?

Dennis Waite: Again, from the vantage point of the world, the individual person is responsible for his actions, which accumulate karma and eventually bring about the appropriate ‘fruit’ of puNya or pApa – good things or bad! In reality, there is no such thing as karma or reincarnation but then, there is no person either to worry about such things. You decide which aspect you are talking about and stick to it.

NDM: The neos say that there is no karma because there is no apparent man or vAsanA-s or saMskAra-s. They say there is just “oneness”. What are your thoughts on this?

Dennis Waite: This is what the neos mostly do. They try to make absolute pronouncements, as if from a pAramArthika (absolute) perspective. But at the same time they seem to expect these statements to be meaningful and helpful to a seeker who is suffering, trying to understand what is happening at the level of the world and looking for guidance to help them remove this suffering. Mostly it just causes frustration and often increases the suffering because such a view does not accord with the seeker’s experience. The seeker is unable to rationalize what the neo tells him without both prior mental preparation and significant preliminary instruction.

NDM: In a dialogue that you had with Jeff Foster, Jeff said, “This message is about the simple and obvious appearance of life, now, now and now. That this moment – right now – is all there is. And everything, our whole lives, our pasts and futures, are just stories appearing now. And yes, of course, THAT is a story too! And so this can never really be expressed in words. It’s the attempt to put into words what could never be put into words.”……This is about the possibility of absolute freedom, absolute “happiness” as you put it, right here, right now. This is about seeing that the miracle that we are searching for is always fully present, that enlightenment is already the case, but the “search” implied that it wasn’t.”

What he is saying here sounds like the teachings of Eckhart Tolle, being in the now.

Do you think that he is missing the obvious here? That you can be in the now all day long and still not be enlightened?

Is it possible that he still has not realized the Self? It’s like he has only climbed half way up the mountain and mistaken this plateau for the top?

I say this because this brings to mind the Zen koan, does a dog have Buddha nature? A cat or a dog also does not have a sense of self nor is it attached to a personal identity. It comes when its name is called. It eats when it’s given food; it urinates, defecates, fornicates and so on, but it does not know that it is non-dual awareness.

Dennis Waite: It is impossible to know whether or not another person is enlightened. The best that we can do to assess this is to compare what the person says with what has been said in the scriptures (or perhaps, for most of us, with how the scriptures have been interpreted by those whom we believe to have been enlightened). But this has to be tempered with the fact that it is possible for people to learn pat answers without really understanding them.

Living ‘in the now’ and recognizing that there is *only* the present moment is part of the mental preparation for enlightenment. I suppose that it is an aspect of nitya-anitya vastu viveka – discriminating between the real and unreal, the transient and eternal. But, in itself, it is not enlightenment. And, you are right – you could be ‘in the present’ all the time and still not be enlightened. Enlightenment is Self-knowledge and has nothing to do with experience. (I may say this more than once in answers to these questions but repetition of this fact is very worthwhile for most people!)

NDM: If I came to you asking you to help me become enlightened, the way I asked these neo teachers, would you tell me I’m enlightened already, no need to do anything and so on? That I’m already perfect just the way I am?

The problem is this hasn’t changed a thing. I’m still the same miserable jerk as before. Each time I go to one of their satsangs it costs me 30 bucks. This enlightenment business is getting very expensive. Especially if I buy their DVDs and books, photos of them as well. This all adds up. Then they tell me there is no hope, or meaning. I’m getting depressed and confused by all this neo babble and feel like I’m at the end of my rope.

What would you say to me? Would you be able to help me do this without having to learn a new language and to study Vedanta like you did for 25 years? Is there a short cut? A direct path I could take, so I don’t go broke or old waiting for this to happen?

Dennis Waite: This is a good example of the way that neo teachers mistakenly present the message of advaita. It is true that who-you-really-are is already free, perfect and complete. The problem is that you think you are this body-mind, and the mind definitely does not think it is perfect and free. The mistaken views have to be undermined and then rejected or corrected. Only when this has been done, will you be ‘enlightened’. But there is simply no point in telling you this. You have to go through the process of examining your experiences and beliefs and, with the help of a qualified teacher, acknowledge that what he or she tells you is true. In this, you will have to utilize the means of knowledge available to you (mainly perception, inference and scriptures) and your faculties of reason and discrimination, possibly with a little bit of faith to begin with.

Ideally, then, you will find a suitable teacher and commit to studying with them for as long as it takes. Unfortunately there are not many of these around as we have already discussed. This need not be an insurmountable problem. One of the main qualities for a seeker is mumukShutva – the desire to achieve enlightenment, to the exclusion of all other desires. Accordingly, if this is really what you want, you can ‘simply’ move to somewhere where there is a qualified teacher. You will overcome all the obstacles in order to do this.

Realistically, most seekers do not have this all-consuming passion. For them, the best that they can do is to read as much and as widely as possible (but perhaps taking guidance from someone who knows more about all this). And join an internet discussion group such as Advaitin, where you can ask all of the questions that will arise and have them answered by a number of very experienced and knowledgeable people, some of whom are acknowledged academic experts or established traditional teachers. All of this will cost much less than attending satsangs!

But the process will take as long as it takes. (There is a story in the scriptures of someone being ecstatic when told it would only take as many lifetimes as there were leaves on the tree under which he was sitting!) You certainly don’t have to learn Sanskrit either. You do have to learn a number of Sanskrit terms, simply because there are no equivalent words in the English language. But this is really not a great hardship.

Regarding short-cuts, I would say not really. There is the Direct Path teaching of Atmananda Krishna Menon, currently being taught by people such as Greg Goode and Rupert Spira. It is certainly worth investigating this but it does not appeal to, nor is it suitable for, everyone. It is really for a particular sort of mind – very sharp, logical, perceptive and intellectual; ever-ready to drop a prior conception if reason or experience dictates that it was wrong. Traditional teaching, on the other hand, can cater for all levels of mind, with slow or fast-track techniques according to ability.

NDM: What would you say is the difference with Brahman and Shunyata?

Dennis Waite: I know very little about any spiritual path other than Advaita. shunya means ‘empty’, or ‘void’ and I understand the belief of some branches of Buddhism to be that there is literally ‘nothing’. This would seem to be diametrically opposite to Brahman, which is all (everything). On the face of it, It would seem to be nonsensical to claim that there is nothing – who would there be to claim this? It is also our experience that we and the world exist. How could this (something) world have originated from nothing?

NDM: What if someone recognizes himself or herself as Shunyata; is this considered being enlightened, realizing absolute truth according to the Shankara and the Vedanta school or is this also a form of heresy or Neo Advaita?

Dennis Waite:
In the Brahma Sutra and bhAShya, Vyasa and Shankara refute all of the other philosophies that were prevalent at the time. This includes Buddhism. Obviously people can believe and claim whatever they want but they cannot legitimately claim to be Advaitins unless their teaching corresponds with that of Advaita.

NDM: When the Buddha came across some Brahmins, they were discussing about the nature of Brahman, and the Buddha asked, “Have you seen Brahma?”

“No,” said the Brahmin”;

“Or your father, has he seen him?” asked the Buddha

“No, neither has he,”

“Or your grandfather, has he seen him?”

“I don’t think even he saw Him.” Answered the Brahmin.

Buddha replied. “My friend how can you discuss about a person whom your father and grandfather never saw?

According to Shankara you don’t have to be enlightened to teach about it.

Using the logic of the Buddha, how can a doctor perform brain surgery if he doesn’t even know what a brain looks like?

Denis Waite: Brahman is not an object and cannot be objectified in any way. If it could be objectified, there would have to be a subject treating it as an object and that would be duality. But, in order to know Brahman, you do not need to objectify it – you are Brahman.

NDM: Can you please tell me the difference between Neo Vedanta inspired by the Vivekananda and the Ramakrishna Mission and Neo Advaita?

On book learning, Vivekananda said: This quickening impulse, which comes from outside, cannot be received from books; the soul can receive impulse from another soul, and nothing else. We may study books all our lives, we may become very intellectual, but in the end we find that we have not developed at all spiritually… In studying books, we sometimes are deluded into thinking that we are being spiritually helped; but if we analyze ourselves we find that only our intellect is being helped, and not the spirit. That is why almost every one of us can speak most wonderfully on spiritual subjects, but when the time of action comes, we find ourselves so woefully deficient. It is because books cannot give us that impulse from outside. To quicken the spirit, that impulse must come from another soul. That soul from which this impulse comes is called the Guru, the teacher…. From “The Teacher of Spirituality.” Selections, pp. 51-51.

Dennis Waite; Neo-advaita, as I think we have already discussed, is the attempt to convey the truth through simple, absolute statements without any supporting rationale or mental preparation, denying the existence of seeker, teacher or of any path that might be followed.

Neo-vedAnta may initially seem to be identical to traditional advaita. However, there are subtle differences which only become apparent when your understanding of the teaching is quite advanced. I have not made a study of these differences so cannot say a great deal about them. Principally, I think that neo-vedAnta is ‘corrupted’ as it were by confusion with aspects of Yoga philosophy. In particular, they claim that Enlightenment is a spiritual experience rather than a vRRitti (disposition) of the mind. They therefore place great emphasis on samAdhi, and equate nirvikalpa samAdhi with realization. Advaita, on the other hand, states that this is simply another (albeit very profound) experience, with a beginning and an end in time.

But it should be noted that many of the books by swamis of the Ramakrishna Missions etc are excellent. They translate and comment on Upanishads etc, including Shankara’s commentaries and these are often brilliant. It is likely that you will not even notice the minor discrepancies. I only discovered the problems myself when I began write my own books on Advaita and began to encounter statements in their writing which contradicted my understanding.

NDM; What are your thoughts on this, “All these talks, and reasonings, and philosophies, and dualisms, and monisms, and even the Vedas themselves, are but preparations, secondary things…. The Vedas, Grammar, Astronomy, etc., all these are secondary. The supreme knowledge is that which makes us realize the Unchangeable One. From “The Sages of India.”? Selections, p. 237.

Dennis Waite; It is true that all scriptures, commentaries, teachings are mithyA. It is never possible to ‘describe’ reality in any way. So, in a sense, for the enlightened person, they all become redundant.

NDM: In your book, you talk a lot about knowing through the aid of scripture, but seem to relegate intuition. How do you think the first sages who spoke these scriptures, secret forest teachings, Upanishads, Vedas, got to know this when there weren’t any books or teachers at the time? Was it not through direct intuition?

Do you feel that book knowledge and scripture are superior to intuition? Isn’t intuition the internal Sat guru as well?

Vivekananda also said:

You must keep in mind that religion does not consist in talk, or doctrines, or books, but in realisation; it is not learning but being. No amount of doctrines or philosophies or ethical books that you have stuffed into your brain will matter much, only what you are, and what you have realised. From “The Need of Symbols.” Selections, p. 64-65.

The whole world reads scriptures, Bibles, Vedas, Korans, and others, but they are only words… the dry bones of religion…. Those who deal too much in words, and let the mind run always in the forest of words, lose the spirit…. “The Teacher of Spirituality.” Selections, pp. 54-55.

The network of words is like a huge forest in which the human mind loses itself and finds no way out…. To be religious, you have to first throw all books overboard. The less you read of books, the better for you…. It is a tendency in Western countries to make a hotch-potch of the brain…. In many cases it becomes a kind of disease but it is not religion. From “The Need of Symbols.” Selections, pp. 64-65.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you think these old scriptures should be thrown overboard in order to realize this truth intuitively; through gnosis?

For example, how did Buddha realize the truth? Did he read books all day long, listen to a guru giving satsang or did he sit out in the forest alone until this realization came to him intuitively? In a flash, like the first sages of the Vedas.

Dennis Waite: Intuition is fine – but where do you go to get this? What can you do to increase the likelihood of getting it? In a sense, the final realization might be called ‘intuition’. You have been hearing ‘You are That’, ‘Everything is Brahman’ etc. time and again but nothing has happened. And then, suddenly, there is the overwhelming certainty: ‘Ah! Now I see – everything is Brahman! How could I not have appreciated that before?’ But, for the vast majority, this only comes as the culmination of prolonged study with a qualified teacher.

And, as I said in respect of the sampradAya, the process is one of guru teaching disciple, who then becomes the next guru and so on. And this process is said to stretch back to the beginning. Long before scriptures were written down, they were learned by heart in the sampradAya-s. OK, you may not want to accept that there never actually was a human author, but we are talking about scriptures that are thousands of years old.

So, if you want to sit around on the off-chance that some intuition will suddenly come along – fine! But don’t hold your breath…

Regarding the quote from Vivekananda, all scriptures, gurus, seekers and the world itself are mithyA. Only the Self is satyam. So, yes, once you are enlightened, by all means throw all of the books away if you like. But I would make two points: firstly (if I may repeat), for the vast majority, it is gurus and scriptures that will have brought you to this point; secondly, the scriptures and their unfoldment by a teacher such as Swami Dayananda are beautiful – the most profound truths embodied in simple verses and metaphor, explained with crystal-clear logic. The enlightened person still lives on in the world for the remainder of that embodiment; so why throw away such beautiful things? Read and enjoy!

I think you are still caught up in the idea that there are very, very few enlightened people in the world; that maybe most of the ones who were enlightened are now dead; and that most of these reached enlightenment by chance or sudden ‘intuition’. This is a false picture. I suggest that there are actually quite a lot of enlightened people, most of whom have become so as a result of following a traditional path. You don’t get to hear about them because they do not have ‘teacher vAsanA-s’. Ones like Buddha and Ramana are the exception rather than the rule.

NDM: Yes what about this one?

The Ashtavakra Gita says: My son, you may recite or listen to countless scriptures, but you will not be established within until you can forget everything. 16.1

“If even Shiva, Vishnu or the lotus-born Brahma were your instructor, until you have forgotten everything you cannot be established within.”

How do you interpret this?

When one goes to dinner, does one eat the paper menu or the dinner? What do words made out of ink and paper taste like?

Dennis Waite: The words alone will never bring about enlightenment, no matter how many times they are repeated, even if learned by heart. As I said earlier they, like the rest of the world, are mithyA, not satyam (the menu, not the meal if you like that metaphor). The mind of the seeker has to be suitably prepared and there must be the intense desire for enlightenment above all worldly pursuits. And of course the words themselves are not the reality – they point towards it and need to be understood. Hence the need for a qualified teacher to explain their meaning. Your quote about Shiva etc is really emphasizing the need for nitya-anitya vastu viveka – the ability to differentiate satyam from mithyA. You have to ‘forget’ the unreal world before you can realize the real Self.

NDM: You ask, “Intuition is fine, but where do you go to get this? What can you do to increase the likelihood of getting it?

Well according to the Buddhist tradition, you don’t sit around holding your breath, even though this is a PrANayAmna method, (kevala kumbhaka) or waiting for it to fall out of the sky. Some would say through the discipline of meditation.

Mindfulness (sati) i.e. to be aware and mindful in all activities and movements both physical and mental
Investigation (dhamma vicaya) into the nature of dhamma
Concentration (samAdhi) a calm, one-pointed state of concentration of mind
This leading to the ninth jhana

According to the Christian Gnostic traditions, some would say through prayer, reciting and studying the scripture, contemplation, meditation and ascetic fasting and devoting ones life to God, Heart, mind and soul, with all ones strength.

According to Patanjali, he prescribes adherence to eight “limbs” The eight “limbs” or steps are: Yama, Niyama, Asana, PrANayAma, PratyAhAra, DhAraNA, DhyAna and Samadhi. Leading to nirvikalpa samAdhi, which can result in sahaja samAdhi. Or turIya, the fourth state, even though it’s not a state.

Others some would say bhakti yoga, karma yoga and all the other yogas would result in intuition. Clear vision. There is also a so-called fifth state, turIyatita, which happens when the witness disappears. At this point you become pure awareness. No identification with any objects at all. This is JIvanmukta in Vedanta or nirvana in Buddhism.

The Taoists would say through the practice of Wu-wei – usually translated as non-action, inaction or non-doing – is one of the most important Taoist concepts. When linked to the Tao – the creator and sustainer of everything in the Universe – non-doing means the actionless of Heaven,

Or through Tai Chi and Qi gung and doing so will open up all the meridians including ones “third eye”, the ajna (brow) chakra and the sharastara chakra. The third eye, being knowledge itself.

Others would say through grace, as well as studying the scripture as in your case with advaita Vedanta. There are so many ways and means to heighten ones intuition.

Dennis Waite: The reason why we do not already recognize that we are free, unlimited, ever-present, non-dual Consciousness is that we are ignorant of our true nature. The only thing that can remove ignorance is knowledge. Action of any kind can never remove ignorance because action is not opposed to ignorance. All of the things that you mention are great for preparing the mind and this has to be done before enlightenment can occur but, in themselves, they cannot bring enlightenment. Samadhi may be a beautiful experience of the oneness of all things but, in 99% of cases at least, it comes to an end and we are back in duality. Maybe the remaining 1% lead to sahaja sthiti; I don’t know. But I would think most would prefer to go the certain 99% route rather than the maybe 1%.

Incidentally, as I said, I have no knowledge of other traditions. You clearly have a much wider understanding than I do. But I don’t agree with your comments regarding turIyatIta or jIvanmukti in respect of Vedanta.

NDM: Sorry, I wasn’t being clear. What I meant by turIyatIta is not a state but it is non-dual awareness, or Brahman. Does not one become a jIvanmukta if one is permanently turIyatIta? I don’t mean as in some kind of samAdhi, or meditation, or an experience of some kind one has to go into.

I read this on your site by the way. Am I misreading or misunderstanding it. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

turIya (Atman): non-apprehension of duality;
praj~nA (deep sleep): non-apprehension of Reality and of duality;
taijasa (dream state): non-apprehension of and misapprehension of Reality;
vishva (waking state): non-apprehension of and misapprehension of Reality.

Dennis Waite:
The word turIyatIta is defined in the site dictionary as follows ( literally the “fourth” [state of consciousness]. It refers to the non-dual reality, the background against which the other states (waking, dream and deep sleep) arise. It is our true nature. The other three states are mithyA. (If defined merely as the highest “state” then Ramana Maharshi calls our true nature ‘turiyatita’ but this word is not encountered in the scriptures.)

Unfortunately the link to this page is missing from the menu! (Thanks for enabling me to discover this!)

turIya could be considered as a synonym for brahman. There is only ever this so that we are always this, whether or not we are enlightened. Enlightenment is, if you like, the realization in the mind that we are turIya. jIvanmukti, as I said before, refers to the person whose prior or post mental state means that he or she also has the ‘fruits of knowledge’, i.e. mental equanimity etc.

Regarding the definitions that you quote from the article, I wouldn’t have defined them likes this. I would prefer to say that:

. vishva is associated with ignorance and error

. taijasa is associated with ignorance and error

. prAj~na is associated with ignorance only

. turIya is associated with neither

‘Ignorance’ is ignorance of the fact that I am turIya. ‘Error’ is in thinking that I am the limited individual.

But I believe that the way this is put in the essay is actually saying the same thing, just in a different way.

NDM: You said, “I was totally convinced of the truth of the teaching and found, through the question and answer section of the website, that there was no question that I could not answer (to my own satisfaction!)

So, do you see yourself as a guru or a pundit?

Dennis Waite: I discovered during my work on defense communication systems that I had a particular skill for describing complex software functions in ways that newcomers could easily understand, provided of course that I had understood it myself to begin with! Accordingly, it seems natural to write books on Advaita, maintain the website and answer questions from seekers. It is a subject that is endlessly fascinating and ultimately the only one worth pursuing. I don’t teach formally, mainly because I don’t want to travel and there is insufficient interest in my area to begin a formal group. So… call me what you like.

NDM: Sailor Bob said, “Subject-object thinking seems to cover the natural state (awareness). But without awareness, thinking could not take place. Because thinking appears in awareness (like a cloud appears in the sky), realise that thinking in essence is awareness. Understanding this, thinking cannot obscure awareness”.

Do you see anything wrong with this statement?

Dennis Waite: First of all, Bob is using the term ‘awareness’, where most would use ‘Consciousness’. But this is OK because he is following Nisargadatta. It is not that what he says is wrong, it is that it implies that ignorance cannot obscure Self-knowledge, whereas it can and does. But then maybe he didn’t intend this connotation. Without the complete context in which the statement was made, it is not possible to say. If he did mean to imply this, one might as well say that, since everything is Brahman (or Consciousness), therefore there is nothing that can or should be done to attain enlightenment. And, of course, this is what the neo-advaitins say – but it is wrong.

NDM: What are your thoughts on James Swartz’ “Enlightenment sickness’?

He refers to this on pages 261 and 262 of his book “How to attain enlightenment”. He calls it pseudo enlightenment or enlightenment sickness.

He says “after realization, usually a strong sense of goodwill toward everyone arises at this time and you almost invariably feel that you should share what you know with others. But before you set out to do so, you better check you are not suffering from the disease of enlightenment. It is similar to enlightenment and is difficult for the sufferer to diagnose, although it is a well-known malady. It should be treated quirkily before it becomes a chronic condition.

One benign symptom of enlightenment sickness is transcendental boredom. It is an understandable and slightly negative feeling born out of you have accomplished everything that had to be accomplished in this life, the realization that what you do from now on will not fundamentally make any difference – ignorance is here to stay after all – and the crystal clarity about the basic emptiness of life. It is caused by the residual sense of doer ship and unpurified traces of rajas. You may long for a bit of excitement and confusion marked your life in ignorance but you know you cant go back.

If you interpret this nothingness of reality as a void and become vaguely disillusioned, know that you have enlightenment sickness, due to unpurified traces of tamas. Enlightenment is not the experience of the void. There is no void, only the pureness of awareness appearing as the void.

If you formulate your enlightenment as a grand happening and make it into a big story, you have enlightenment disease. If you hear yourself telling others you are awakened, or enlightened or “cooked” you have enlightenment sickness.

If you believe that your words are gospel and your deeds whether they correspond to common sense or not and with reason, or whether they are in harmony with dharma and tradition, are a teaching stratagem , you need help”. End of quote.

Dennis Waite: James Swartz is excellent! He may not be the best Western teacher in the world but he is almost certainly the best Western teacher for the typical satsang attendee. He doesn’t pull any punches, correcting all of the mistaken views out there regarding spiritual ‘seeking’. I’m glad you asked this question because I’ve been reading this book for the past 2 – 3 months but, because I always have so many books on the go at any one time, it takes me ages to get through any particular one. Having now read the last chapter, it prompts me to review the book on Amazon and hopefully get others reading it too. (It goes without saying that it merits 5* – more if they were available.) The one thing I would add to what he says is that I don’t think that all of those teachers exhibiting the symptoms actually have the disease. I fear that there may be a few who are knowingly taking advantage, deliberately adopting all of the expected traits and learning the key phrases off by heart so that they can simply earn an enjoyable and easy living at others’ expense – cynical this may be but I do fear it is true.
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Delhi Gang Rape: The Karma of Suffering and the Suffering of the Righteous ~ Deepak Sarma

A challenging question that many religious leaders and religious people often struggle to answer concerns the existence of suffering in the world. Whether this suffering is human or non-human, religions strive to provide answers for why such suffering occurs in the first place. If authoritative and authorized texts or spokespeople are not able to offer satisfying answers then epistemic, if not existential, confusion for practitioners is likely to follow. Religious practitioners may consequently abandon their religion in search of one that offers more convincing answers.

The horrific rape and murder of Jyoti Singh Pandey, a 23-year-old woman, in New Delhi on Dec. 16, 2012 has foregrounded these and related issues for many religious people, and especially for many Hindus. In a Hindu context the explanatory strategy that is typically employed to account for her ghastly and colossal suffering is dependent on the mechanism of karma. The degree to which human (and non-human) actors have agency or the degree to which their actions are determined or pre-determined, however, is not patently obvious and has resulted in volumes of esoteric commentary and philosophical/ theological literature, most of which is not available to the vast majority of practicing Hindus. Self-proclaimed authorities such as Asaram Bapu have placed responsibility, and, therefore, agency, on the victim and have, to some degree ignored the mechanism of karma. In so doing he has simultaneously offended religious and secular people. If, on the other hand, one were to take the opposite position, to embrace a kind of hard determinism, namely that all is determined by karma, then one would deny agency and even the perpetrators of this heinous crime would be absolved of immediate responsibility. This also is not desirable and surely is offensive. Karma may not offer a convincing explanation.

Justifications for the suffering of the righteous becomes even more muddled when theism is added to the mix. That is, if there is a God and that god is both omnipotent and omnibenevolent then one may wonder why such a god would permit suffering in general. The answer that is frequently given by religious spokespeople and practitioners is that “God works in mysterious ways.” This MWC, “mysterious ways clause,” however, is merely an acceptance of a profound ignorance combined with an optimistic belief that all suffering will be beneficial in the future (in the Hindu context, in the current life, or in future ones). Many, of course, are reassured when they employ the MWC to make sense of their suffering or the suffering of others.

There are, of course, other variants of these models and they are being articulated in India and throughout the world. Honoring, remembering, and memorializing Jyoti Singh Pandey is our collective karma.

My intention here is to invite readers to become aware of, and, perhaps, even question, their own presuppositions. My intention is not to create any more suffering or to ridicule readers or the victim of this (or any other) sickening tragedy. My intention is to foster insight through critical self-reflection.

Deepak Sarma

Dr. Deepak Sarma, professor of South Asian religions and philosophy at Case Western Reserve University, is the author of “Classical Indian Philosophy: A Reader” (2011), “Hinduism: A Reader” (2008), “Epistemologies and the Limitations of Philosophical Inquiry: Doctrine in Madhva Vedanta” (2005) and “An Introduction to Madhva Vedanta” (2003). He was a guest curator of Indian Kalighat Paintings, an exhibition at the Cleveland Museum of Art. After earning a BA in religion from Reed College, Sarma attended the University of Chicago Divinity School, where he received a PhD in the philosophy of religions. His current reflections concern cultural theory, racism, and post-colonialism.

The Metaphysical Intuition; Seeing God with Open Eyes – Commentaries on the Bhagavad Gita ~ Swami Siddheswarananda, Andre van der Brink (Translator)

These last writings of Swami Siddheswarananda, the former head of the French Ramakrishna Order, are the culmination of a lifetime of spiritual search. In his teachings, the Swami sought to convey an experience of an intuition beyond logic, outside the play of opposites, through which we will be better able to understand the nature of reality. To elucidate his meanings and to make them broadly accessible, the Swami draws on the writings of others, including Meister Eckhart, Ramana Maharshi, Shankara, Hubert Benoit, Ramakrishna, and Vivekananda.

Swami Siddheswarananda (1897–1957) was a monk of the Ramakrishna Order of India and, until his death, the spiritual head of the Centre Védantique Ramakrishna in Gretz, France.

The author discusses the Principe of Vedanta using selected verses from Gita, and Mandukya Upanishad. The commentary is well thought of and frequently supported by the commentary of Shankaracharya and also by the verses from other Upanishads. The discussion is extensive; the English translation could have been better, but the translator has done a reasonable job of writing this book using the notes (in French) of Swami Siddheswarananda. This book may be summarized as follows:

Bhagavadgita IV.18: Action & Inaction. One of the basics of Vedanta is that Truth can be expressed through comparison and contradiction. It is clear from this verse that ceasing to act is still an action. It is important to understand that Atman, our proper nature is free from all action, because it is unborn (Gita II.20). It is only nature, Prakriti, which acts; the sense of ego and external materials, the action and inaction reside only in Prakriti.

Bhagavadgita V.18: The equal vision of a sage. Shankaracharya, in his commentary on this verse observes that Brahmin represent Sattva, the cow rajas, and the elephant tamas; in all of them the sage sees only the One, immutable, the one that can not be affected by the qualities, not even by Sattva, nor by the tendencies born from these qualities, whether they can be sattvic, rajasic, or tamasic. At every moment of the life of a sage, he is integrated in an atemporal comprehension, seeing the same principle in all manifestation.

Bhagavadgita X.10 & VIII.57: Buddhi yoga, the awakening of the intelligence. In the pursuit of knowledge, the higher buddhi eliminates errors, and the ordinary buddhi leads us in the domain of reasoning (yukti) and logic (tarka). In several places Shankaracharya declares with intransigence, that philosophical systems of Nyaya and Samkhya cannot yield the ultimate knowledge. If one wants to know the true nature of Brahman, one should reject the notions of totality and part, of unity and fraction, of cause and effect. As long as the reality or concept remains outside of the buddhi, then the vision remains at the plane of duality. This will exercise lower buddhi, but with the higher knowledge, one sees the Absolute Truth and the knowledge of duality disappears. This Higher buddhi encompasses everything into One Reality; the knower of Brahman becomes the Brahman (Bhagavadgita XIII.30; Mundaka Upanishad III.2.9), the terms buddhi, Brahman, Absolute, Ultimate Truth, Reality and Akshara, all refer to the same entity.

Bhagavadgita VIII.18 & 20: The comprehension of the non-manifested. According this verse, the samkalpa and vikalpa (imagination and volition) are the apparent reality that veils the ultimate realty. It is only by transcending maya, the Brahman could be realized. This is illustrated by the example of a rope that can be mistaken for a snake, when we realize that it is rope, the supposed existence of snake disappears. In the same way the maya, the apparent reality is superimposed on Brahman, the ultimate reality. Human beings are attached to what they see and experience, the manifested forms. But when one becomes conscious of the true self, then they will see that atman is the sole reality.

Bhagavadgita XIII.2: The spectator and the spectacle. The Kshetragna, the knower of the field is present in all the kshetras or fields are without any conditioning (apadhi). When one gets rid of ego (tamas) and gains knowledge, then only one vision remains that of Kshethragna. The power of ignorance (avidya) employs our attention to keep it focused onto constantly changing names and forms, and the reality seems to be divided into infinite number of spectacles. The ordinary vision is like a circle that is fixed while its circumference represents the infinity of objects perceived. The vision of a sage does not have a center or the centers is everywhere and its circumference is nowhere.

Bhagavadgita II.16: A dialectic existence. The dialectic is not proposing to define the reality with the help of demonstrations and arguments. The realty is silence, and inaccessible to various thought processes. The objective of dialectics is to point out the invalidity of conceptual thinking. While establishing the true nature of Brahman, one should not describe the Brahman in totality or in parts, of unity or fractions, cause and effect. This is to eliminate all definite conception of the Brahman. Shankara says that cause itself is unreal, because it is not perceived independent of its own cause. Thus cause is an effect of another cause. So if we pursue the cause it turns out to be the effect and cause remains in mind only.

Bhagavadgita IX.4 & 5: Contradiction and certainty. Consciousness, which is ever present, never becomes unconsciousness. This consciousness may not be perceived readily, but it operates through sense of vision. The whole universe, “from Brahma down to a blade of grass” can not be separated from That. This is the supreme non-manifested (akshara) who never becomes an object of perception.

There is only one reality, and it is non-dual. Mandukya Upanishad teaches of no contact or no relations. The human experience is strongly chained to relations and rapport, and knowledge arises from such an interaction. Casualty is a principle that originates from relations to explain the effect. The theory of reason is inherent in such a logical evaluation of things.

On the lesser side of metaphysics, I am a little confused about the book cover that has warriors with rifles sitting on horses who look more like Islamic soldiers. Is this appropriate for a book on the philosophical discussion of Gita?

Review By Rama Rao

Mahamantra Yoga: Chanting to Anchor the Mind and Access the Divine [With CD (Audio)] by Richard Whitehurst

A guide to mantra recitation for ecstatic states, spiritual liberation, and higher consciousness

• Ideal for those looking to deepen the spirituality of their physical yoga practice

• Offers detailed instruction on the practice of mahamantra yoga and exercises to improve one’s practice and move beyond rote chanting

• Includes a CD of mahamantra yoga chants

Based on a rich and ancient tradition revived more than five hundred years ago by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in India, mahamantra yoga involves repeated recitation of a sacred phrase, such as the name of a deity, to anchor the mind and access ecstatic states, higher consciousness, and, ultimately, as you vibrate the holy names, the Divine presence in sound. Part of the bhakti devotional tradition, mahamantra yoga is considered the best path to self-realization in the current age, offering a doorway into the hidden recesses of our innermost being–the internal forest of the heart.

Citing ancient Vedic texts and the insights of perfected mahamantra yogis, Richard Whitehurst reveals the methods of mahamantra yoga and his own profound experiences based on more than 20 years of intense practice. Using the core principles of this ancient tradition, he offers mental and physical exercises–such as how to coordinate the breath, vocal cords, and mouth–to move beyond rote chanting and pursue the practice consciously and joyfully. He explains how to overcome common obstacles to successful chanting as well as purification practices to intensify your efforts. Including a CD of mahamantra yoga chants, this book is the perfect guide for those looking to deepen the spirituality of their physical yoga practice and attain the goals of spiritual life in the midst of the modern world.
Click Here To Preview

Richard Whitehurst
Richard Whitehurst (Sridhara Das) is an initiated disciple of Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. He began his practice of mahamantra yoga in 1970 while a student of psychology at the University of Florida. For 10 years he lived as a wandering monk and traveled extensively throughout the Indian subcontinent. He has lectured about the tradition of bhakti yoga and mahamantra yoga at colleges and universities in India, England, the United States, and Australia and has appeared on radio and TV. An accomplished facilitator of kirtan and bhajan, he lives in New Farm, Queensland, Australia.

By God’s Grace: The Life And Teachings of Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati by Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso The Dalai Lama (Foreword by), Rabbi David Rosen (Preface by)


In this absorbing portrait, American-born author Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati weaves a breathtaking tapestry of exotic journeys, meetings with remarkable people, and practical wisdom from the extraordinary life of a renowned Indian spiritual leader, Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati.

The prodigal variety of stories ranges from evocations in a glass of milk to impossible constructions at the mountainous summit of the world, from cacophonous urban battlefields to silent forest retreats—an impassioned life, a one-man civilization drawn in bold strokes and bright colors. Here is a journey of the enlightened life to be cherished again and again.

Practical wisdom, a connection to the Divine, and global action—these are the traits of Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati that have made him one of India’s most renowned and beloved spiritual teachers. This commemorative volume celebrates his sixty years of devotional service to humanity, the environment, and the Supreme.

The book traces Pujya Swami’s journey from childhood in the jungles of India to the company of world leaders, from Himalayan villages to the podiums of the United Nations, the World Economic Forum, and other venues of global change. His projects are unprecedented, including a cleanup of the 1,560-mile-long Ganges River and a six-million-word encyclopedia of Hinduism. Swamiji’s teachings are profoundly simple, frequently wrapped in humor and applicable to all. Elaborately illustrated, this is a fascinating portrait of the life, achievements, and teachings of an acclaimed spiritual pioneer.

Meet the Author

American-born Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, PhD, moved to India in 1996. She was officially ordained by Pujya Swamiji into the tradition of sanyas and lives at Parmarth Niketan in Rishikesh, where she serves Pujya Swamiji’s humanitarian projects, teaches meditation, gives discourses, and counsels individuals and families. She lives in Rishikesh, India.

His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso, the Dalai Lama, was born on July 6, 1935, in the small village of Taktser in northeastern Tibet. By age two he was recognized as the fourteenth incarnation of the Dalai Lama. He is the spiritual leader of Tibet, a Buddhist monk, and a prolific scholar. He is respected internationally as an environmentalist and as an advocate of compassion and universal responsibility. He inspires people worldwide with his grace, compassion, and ability to embrace the integrity of other faith traditions. He is the most traveled Dalai Lama in history and in 1989 was awarded the Nobel Prize for peace. He lives in Dharamshala, India.

Rabbi David Rosen is international director of interreligious affairs of the American Jewish Committee, former chief rabbi of Ireland, and copresident of the World Conference of Religions for Peace. He lives in New York City.

A Light In The Day- Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati Muni Ji 1.mp4

The Journey Home: Autobiography of an American Swami by Radhanath Swami

Within this extraordinary memoir, Radhanath Swami weaves a colorful tapestry of adventure, mysticism, and love. Readers follow Richard Slavin from the suburbs of Chicago to the caves of the Himalayas as he transforms from young seeker to renowned spiritual guide.

The Journey Home is an intimate account of the steps to self awareness and a penetrating glimpse into the heart of mystic traditions and the challenges that all souls must face on the road to inner harmony and a union with the Divine. Through near-death encounters, apprenticeships with advanced yogis, and years of travel along the pilgrim’s path, Radhanath Swami eventually reaches the inner sanctum of India’s mystic culture and finds the love he has been seeking. It is a tale told with rare candor, immersing the reader in a journey that is at once engaging, humorous, and heartwarming.

H.H. Radhanath Swami has been a source of inspiration for several projects both in India and outside of it. Radhanath Swami is also a great source of inspiration for several thousands of people aspiring to seek spiritual enlightenment in the line of bhakti yoga. His efforts to help people in this field have been delivering positive results. Radhanath Swami’s students come from various walks of life, age groups, castes, races, and nationalities

The Journey Home by HH Radhanath Swami

At the age of 19, in 1970, Radhanath Swami started his journey of spiritual quest. After meeting several people and studying various paths of spiritual enlightenment along the way, he finally reached India. Radhanath Swami’s experiences through the journey enabled him to understand the truth from all cultural perspectives. The deep realizations that he gained in the process reflect in his teachings today.

The sufferings and exploitations he had to endure on this path made Radhanath Swami more determined and focused, it increased his faith and humility. Radhanath Swami’s uncompromising determination to find a guru who can provide answers for his questions made him reach the holy land of Vrndavan, India, the holy place of Radha and Krsna. Radhanath Swami

Radhanath Swami learned from many but accepted one guru. Radhanath Swami’s surrender and service to his spiritual master is a great source of inspiration to all his followers. Radhanath Swami’s lectures, kirtans, and yatras sustain the spiritual lives of many. Radhanath Swami’s explanation of complex topics of scriptures and the insight that he provides into apparently confusing philosophical topics is amazing.

H.H. Radhanath Swamy is an extremely rare personality that anyone would meet during the journey of his or her lifetime.
Stories From Journey Home-1 Book by HH Radhanath Swami

Stories From Journey Home Book – A Lecture by HH Radhanath Swami given at Anand Prakash Yoga Ashram in Hrishikesh in the year 2012.

Jesus In the Lotus: The Mystical Christianity and Yogic Spirituality – Russill Paul

Drawing on a deep knowledge of Christian scripture as well as Hindu philosophy, musician and teacher Russill Paul reveals that the mystical core of religion offers us much more than the simple solace of unthinking dogma. By demonstrating that these two seemingly separate and irreconcilable religions can actually unite in one person’s spiritual practice at the center of his life — as they did in his — he offers an alternative to religious intolerance and strife, as well as hope for personal liberation.

Russill Paul, a musician, teacher, Yogi and author of “The Yoga of Sound” and “Jesus in the Lotus: The Mystical Doorway between Christianity and Yogic Spirituality“, speaks with Miriam Knight about his views on the role of spirituality and mysticism in everyday life.

The Transcendent Spirituality of Russill Paul

Dwarka, India – 12,000 Year Old City of Lord Krishna Found – *Full*

Graham Hancock – Underworld: Flooded Kingdoms Of The Ice Age
Lost city ‘could rewrite history’

Samsara and Nirvana – Peter Russell

Samsara means “to wander on endlessly”. Peter Russell discusses how we wandering on through life seeking one transient satisfaction after another, not realizing that that which we seek is our true nature. Nirvana means “to extinguish” as in blowing out a flame. Knowing our true nature blows out the flame of desire that drives the endless wandering on.

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