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Neo-Advaita versus Buddhism

KeromeKerome Lovingness is the wayThe Continent Veteran

I don’t have a lot of experience with neo-Advaita, but a TV programme on Andrew Cohen led to me coming into contact with a book by H. W. L. Poonja, also known as Papaji, a well-known but now-deceased Guru of the neo-Advaita movement. I thought it was really interesting, there were definite traces of cross-pollination with Buddhism such as references to desirelessness leading to enlightenment.

The book can be downloaded here: The Truth Is

Perhaps other people can explain it more fully, but I believe it basically said “you are Truth-Consciousness-Bliss” and this is something you can realise in a short time. As opposed to Buddhism’s long path of multiple lifetimes of accumulating merit, doing daily meditations and practices and so on, it’s quite a different perspective.

Perhaps an interesting departure point for a discussion.

adamcrossleyShim

Comments

  • KeromeKerome Lovingness is the way The Continent Veteran

    I think a lot of it comes down to what you find resonant. Neo-Advaita puts some emphasis on following a guru, but then says that ultimately this is existence talking to itself, since both persons are incarnations of existence. It’s just that the guru has already realised this.

    Guru’s are not unknown in Buddhism, for example in the Tibetan traditions. I remember reading that it is a key feature of some schools of Vajrayāna. But for some westerners I think it causes a problem, because they have difficulty with guru worship and the levels of respect these people are shown.

  • ShimShim Veteran

    I find Neo-Advaita really interesting but also when looking into it I've found a lot of criticism towards the approach (usually something along the lines of being over simplified, vague, whitewashed or "new age"), as well as controversies about Neo-Advaita gurus. But of course, it's a fairly recent and successful movement that offers a simpler and less institutional path than more well-established religions so that can also play into it.

    Personally I do like the simplified, vague language and concepts that many Neo-Advaitans use but also I'm having a hard time trusting any of the gurus anymore. I can't help wondering whether I find it alluring just because of the feelgood language that people seem to criticize.

    However, I often see there being an overlap between modern Buddhism and Neo-advaita. A lot of people seem to enjoy both, but also maybe it's just about them both being in this Eastern spirituality bundle. Go figure.

    lobsterKeromeSuraShine
  • Omar067Omar067 Veteran

    This is similar to Zen Buddhism.

  • KeromeKerome Lovingness is the way The Continent Veteran

    @Shim said:
    I find Neo-Advaita really interesting but also when looking into it I've found a lot of criticism towards the approach (usually something along the lines of being over simplified, vague, whitewashed or "new age"), as well as controversies about Neo-Advaita gurus.

    Yeah, I’ve heard similar things. It’s possibly even less amenable to individual internet learning than buddhism. I’ve looked a little into (non-Neo) Advaita Vedanta as well and that seems more text based and more culturally Hindu.

    But of course, it's a fairly recent and successful movement that offers a simpler and less institutional path than more well-established religions so that can also play into it.

    I think this certainly matters, a lot of the New Age people are very much free spirits and a simpler path taught by guru’s probably appeals to them a lot.

    Personally I do like the simplified, vague language and concepts that many Neo-Advaitans use but also I'm having a hard time trusting any of the gurus anymore. I can't help wondering whether I find it alluring just because of the feelgood language that people seem to criticize.

    However, I often see there being an overlap between modern Buddhism and Neo-advaita. A lot of people seem to enjoy both, but also maybe it's just about them both being in this Eastern spirituality bundle. Go figure.

    Yes, Buddhism can sometimes feel mechanical and recipe-like because of the way it is described. Compared to that, Neo-Advaita can seem very fresh.

    Thanks for your views @shim.

  • KeromeKerome Lovingness is the way The Continent Veteran

    “Remove the confusion and concepts from your mind that you will win peace from anyone else. You will definitely lose anything you are given, so have no dependence. When you do not depend on anything, it will reveal itself without any method. Don’t depend on gurus.”

    — Papaji

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran

    I enjoy listening to Mooji and Gangaji

  • VimalajātiVimalajāti Whitby, Ontario Veteran
    edited June 2020

    @Kerome said:
    Perhaps other people can explain it more fully, but I believe it basically said “you are Truth-Consciousness-Bliss” and this is something you can realise in a short time. As opposed to Buddhism’s long path of multiple lifetimes of accumulating merit, doing daily meditations and practices and so on, it’s quite a different perspective.

    Perhaps an interesting departure point for a discussion.

    Long path vs short path? Gradualism vs subitism?

    Supposedly, it takes three mahākalpas to walk the bodhisatva path. A mahākalpa is described as the amount of time it takes a vulture carrying a silk sheet to wear down Sumeru -- just by brushing the sheet against the tip of Sumaru as he passes every few thousand years. That is just one enumeration of the length of a mahākalpa, and it is from the Buddhāvataṁsakasūtra.

    With regards to "It takes three mahākalpas to walk the bodhisatva path," one might wonder,

    "Who said this?"
    "Surely the Buddha in X or Y Mahāyāna sūtra?"
    "Maybe even in a Pāli sutta?"
    "The Mahāyānists maybe took it out of context!"

    No. It's from Abhidharma: the scholastic theories of the disciples. Sometimes they are right. Sometimes they are wrong. Basically, a bunch of smarty-pants, whether they were actually smart or not, theorized this as a suitably crazy-long length of time.

    The idea is to make us in awe of the Buddhas and marvel at them. "Siddhārtha" means "who has found the meaning." That is why Aśvaghoṣa chose that to be the Buddha's name in his Buddhacarita. Another more loose translation of "Siddhārtha" is "who has achieved the goal." Impressive, no?

    "Apparently, it took all of three aeons." Impressive, no? "Apparently, it took less than the fingers' snap." Impressive, no?

    IMO subitist traditions focus on the moment. "The moment of awakening took just a moment, and that is all." Gradualist traditions focus on the accumulation. "Look at the great effort that went into this work! We ourselves should work hard and be diligent."

    Insert parable of the blind men describing the elephant here.

    lobsterhowKeromeDavid
  • KeromeKerome Lovingness is the way The Continent Veteran

    @Vimalajāti said:
    No. It's from Abhidharma: the scholastic theories of the disciples. Sometimes they are right. Sometimes they are wrong. Basically, a bunch of smarty-pants, whether they were actually smart or not, theorized this as a suitably crazy-long length of time.

    The idea is to make us in awe of the Buddhas and marvel at them. "Siddhārtha" means "who has found the meaning." That is why Aśvaghoṣa chose that to be the Buddha's name in his Buddhacarita. Another more loose translation of "Siddhārtha" is "who has achieved the goal." Impressive, no?

    Well observed. I am not a fan of advertising for a religion in the texts, it tends to obscure the real purposes of the lessons. I can understand that impressing the lay people and gaining followers was of key importance but when it’s at the price of the teachings that’s a problem.

    IMO subitist traditions focus on the moment. "The moment of awakening took just a moment, and that is all." Gradualist traditions focus on the accumulation. "Look at the great effort that went into this work! We ourselves should work hard and be diligent."

    Yes that’s right. Papaji tends to say one moment of real insight is all it takes. However if you read his own story that was the accumulation of a lifetime’s effort and devotion. While it also took the Buddha six years.

    In the end I don’t think you can see the seeker loose from his path.

  • KeromeKerome Lovingness is the way The Continent Veteran

    But even in Neo-Advaita there is a lot of Buddhist thinking. I was looking through the Satsangs in Papaji’s book, and there was a question where a woman was asking whether she should stay, given her relationship with her husband had terminated in divorce and her daughter was now living with him. Papaji advised her to look into the attachments that were part of her relationships, and said that if she could come to a new Freedom that this was also something she could take back to them.

    This focus on attachments, on the things that cause you to be not free, are in fact places where you suffer. Yes it is true that Papaji says not to bother meditating, that if you can just focus your desire on being free it will “consume all your other desires like a raging fire”, and then one spark of meeting a guru can release you. He also says don’t regularly do self-inquiry. He says that if you do it once and do it properly, that is enough.

    Suffice it to say I’m finding it an interesting book.

  • KeromeKerome Lovingness is the way The Continent Veteran
    edited June 2020

    There is this strong emphasis on a desire for freedom. It seems to be a key point, where a desire for freedom drives letting go, drives renunciation, drives the search for a guru.

    Q: Why are so few people free? Why are there so few Buddha’s?
    A: Because very few people want to be free from bondage strongly enough.

    It is an interesting question, what drives our inquiry into Buddhism, Advaita, all these other traditions. There must be a root cause, a desire of some sort that lies at the bottom of these areas. I woke up in the middle of the night with this question in my mind, why do I read these texts?

    Q: What is freedom?
    A: Freedom is when there is no worry, no doubt, no unhappiness and no fear.

    And ...

    What I am telling you you won’t hear in any of the ashrams because they have all become commercial. When two people meet there is some business, some commercialisation. I have never seen people meeting there for satsang, they only meet for commerce, for money. Even with husbands and wives there is some interest. Where is the person who will speak without interest in the world. Here in satsang we are all one family and have no interest in exploiting eachother.

    Papaji... interesting guy

  • コチシカコチシカ Veteran
    edited June 2020

    Interesting post, I still find hard the idea of having to bow to the figure of a guru, but I do not see as something bizarre. Highly qualified and mindful people should be respected, and if we could learn something from them, even better!

  • KeromeKerome Lovingness is the way The Continent Veteran
    edited June 2020

    @コチシカ said:
    Interesting post, I still find hard the idea of having to bow to the figure of a guru, but I do not see as something bizarre. Highly qualified and mindful people should be respected, and if we could learn something from them, even better!

    You could see a guru as a more-advanced spiritual friend, and some of them actually say this while others put more emphasis on the master-disciple relationship. It puts me in mind of this sutra:

    I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was living among the Sakyans. Now there is a Sakyan town named Sakkara. There Ven. Ananda went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to the Blessed One, sat to one side. As he was sitting there, Ven. Ananda said to the Blessed One, "This is half of the holy life, lord: admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie."

    "Don't say that, Ananda. Don't say that. Admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie is actually the whole of the holy life. When a monk has admirable people as friends, companions, & comrades, he can be expected to develop & pursue the noble eightfold path.

    (Upaddha Sutra, SN 45.2)

    But even the master-disciple relationship is not strange to Buddhism, you often come across it in stories, such as where Milarepa was trying to convince Marpa to teach him the dhamma. It is culturally not strictly speaking an Indian thing.

    adamcrossley
  • KeromeKerome Lovingness is the way The Continent Veteran
    edited June 2020

    These whole records of satsang are an interesting read. They are short questions, with short answers, often just a paragraph or two, and often pointing back in a variety of ways to the same basic experience, in this case Quiet and Silence. But you can understand from the text when someone gets it, that in a way their question has been answered.

    Q: I feel such a deep peace with you now. I don’t know what more to ask of you, but I would be happy to hear any advice you have for me, or just to sit in silence with you.
    A: When you are here just sit quiet. You don’t have to ask any question. If a question does arise, find out immediately where it arises from. Then you will be able to sit quietly, because where the question comes from there is Stillness, Quietness and Peace.

    Sometimes there are pieces of a kind of poetry, or just stanza’s of prose, which I really like.

    Q: How do I look inside and go back inside to the source. Is there a technique?
    A: The technique to return to your source is very simple.

    The outside attachments do not allow sitting and meditating.
    Therefore for a time avoid all outside attachments
    Like you do when you sleep and have a very peaceful night.
    Practice this in the daytime.

    The instant in which you forget all your outside attachments
    Will be the taste of tremendous love and happiness.
    Then slowly you will stop looking outside
    Until outside and inside are the same
    And both cease to exist.

    The whole concept of inner techniques is not something I have found often in Buddhism, it seems to be more something of the Vedas and Upanishads. But you could say that this particular practice is akin to going on a meditation retreat, which a lot of Buddhists do.

    howコチシカ
  • KeromeKerome Lovingness is the way The Continent Veteran
    edited June 2020

    What you mention is making effort, but you are requested not to make any effort and keep quiet. If you ask me how to keep Quiet I will suggest you not to think. If you ask me how not to think, I will suggest you find where the thought arises from. Turn your face towards That. Do not look at the object of mind, but look towards where the mind rises from. There is no difference between mind and thought.

    It’s interesting because when you look at certain Buddhist streams of thought you come across similar statements.

    Non-inquiry is samsara, it is being awake to the objects [of the senses] and asleep to the Self. Inquiry is being awake to the Self and asleep to the senses. Inquiry is Freedom.

    What he says here is interesting for anyone who has experimented with self-inquiry, it is that self-inquiry involves a turning-away from the senses, and a certain observing of the inward.

    Don’t make any effort and don’t even think
    and you will know who you are!
    Don’t think of the past or the future,
    and within this you will find what you never found before.
    But few people do this and instead waste their lives
    in practice which only expands their ego,
    boasting of all the ways in which they please the Divine.

    I thought it was interesting how often he comes back to not making any effort, I find that I habitually do things within my mind even when I’m not hearing any thoughts. The process of relaxing and falling still, not making any effort not even the effort to relax, is curious.

    I find this method of inquiry fascinating and very restful, it feels akin to meditation.

  • @Kerome said:

    You could see a guru as a more-advanced spiritual friend, and some of them actually say this while others put more emphasis on the master-disciple relationship. It puts me in mind of this sutra:

    Hi @Kerome

    Regarding this, I'm not so familiar with how this works in different sects / groups of Buddhism. I'm only family with the vajrayana teachings of Trungpa Rinpoche through the Shambhala lineage. He indicates in his books that there is a moment in which the student must "surrender" and "trust" his guru to develop. However, quite unfortunately, all I heard, apart from the marvellous experiences and the "tantric" practices, are a lot of abuse cases which reminded me from what exactly happened in the many Hindu ashrams with their respective gurus.

    How can you know when to draw the line? Also, some people come to spirituality from realising the painful reality of Samsara, making them quite vulnerable to these kind of predatory behaviours. The other side of the coin is... some people have spoken in defense of certain abuse scandals (and undergoing investigations, not saying anyone is guilty here!) that people from outside do not understand what a vajrayana guru is...

    This makes me a bit confused and uneasy.

    KeromeDavid
  • KeromeKerome Lovingness is the way The Continent Veteran
    edited June 2020

    @コチシカ said:
    How can you know when to draw the line? Also, some people come to spirituality from realising the painful reality of Samsara, making them quite vulnerable to these kind of predatory behaviours. The other side of the coin is... some people have spoken in defense of certain abuse scandals (and undergoing investigations, not saying anyone is guilty here!) that people from outside do not understand what a vajrayana guru is...

    It’s difficult, and I don’t have that much experience in these areas. But I’ll happily pass on a few thoughts.

    The relationship between a master and a disciple can be quite a beautiful one if entered in trust and with mutual respect for the process. The master is responsible for the student’s development and wellbeing, the disciple owes his master obedience and respect. It can evolve into a love-based relationship (which is entirely platonic). As far as what can look like abuse is concerned, some masters ask a lot from their disciples, but often these requests have some teaching value. This can go so far as hitting the disciple with a stick to wake them up.

    I have never encountered real abuse, though I have heard of it. Real abuse — repeated physical abuse, sexual misconduct, continued verbal abuse — should make the disciple question whether this teacher actually has something to teach them. If these are his methods, what is it that he tries to impart. If the teaching is not worthwhile then by all means the disciple should leave and seek another master (and maybe file charges!).

    But I have heard that really seeking a teacher is something that should be done with care and caution. The initial getting-to-know-you stage is something you should take advantage of to get all your questions answered. Teaching style and personal style can vary a lot, many Western teachers do not have experience with this.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited June 2020

    This makes me a bit confused and uneasy.

    Excellent. B)

    You will be less likely to fall for snake oil dharma, our-guru-knows-all scams and dangerous neo-cunts ... eh sorry cults 🤗

    Use common sense. Read non propaganda assessments for example:
    https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/out-the-darkness/201904/the-guru-syndrome

    I am familiar with shamballa, they offer a free meditation sessions based on walking and sitting. This is similar to zen meditation and very effective, useful and a good grounding.
    The more 'advanced teachings' are not worth engaging in ...

    Too harsh? Perhaps ... perhaps not ...

    Alex
  • @Kerome

    Thank you for your brilliant definition. I agree with your definition of how this relationship should be. The problem is when the victim has no power to speak up. I have seen this happening to many women in Hindu ashrams or in Shambhala itself. They are now quickly being labelled as hysterics from the MeToo movement or foolish because they do not understand what a Vajrayana master is. Is sex an accepted practice for Vajrayana masters? I have even heard, "Vajrayana masters are also human, they are not Gods." / "It is common in Tibet that women seek to have sex with a lama to impregnate themselves with their wisdom". Wisdom here an awful euphemism for sperm... They can make mistakes, of course, I understand that, but their position is one of power. They are aware of this and therefore, by abusing it they are not ensuring the well-being of their student.

    Also! @lobster I have already passed that phase when I visited my local ISKCON temple for almost one year, nurturing my mind in learning Sanskrit, reading the Bhagavad Gita and -drumroll- bow to a wax statue of Srila Prabhupada. I'm not saying that was wrong per se, but what drove me away from it was how -this is mentioned in the article you sent btw!- they were completely submissive to their deceased master. Very strict devotion. I even heard this from an Indian man's mouth who even made the following joke...

    "I worship Lord Shiva, but inside this temple I keep him hidden. You should be careful, they are very strict and will probably say "No prasadam (free blessed food) for you!" laughs"

    This is why I like Buddhism, this skeptical and experimental foundation which then is strikingly the opposite of what I heard from Vajrayana and their "unbreakable commitment" to the guru. It reminded me of ISKCON a bit and their weird devotion. Once I asked the local spiritual master:

    "May I ask why are onions not sattvic?"
    "angrily looking at me Because they are not."

    facepalm

    Finally, I would like to know why you consider the advanced teachings not worth engaging ! I'm curious. And perhaps...perhaps not...you would like to share your views!

    KeromeAlexlobster
  • KeromeKerome Lovingness is the way The Continent Veteran

    @コチシカ said:
    Finally, I would like to know why you consider the advanced teachings not worth engaging ! I'm curious. And perhaps...perhaps not...you would like to share your views!

    Well, a lot of advanced teachings are now freely available on the internet, and my impression is that most people would not find them useful. In Theravada things are different, it is almost all based on the Pali Canon which is freely available, but if you take a teaching like the Satipatthana Sutra, the four foundations of mindfulness, most people do not make it past the early stages.

    You could certainly take an advanced sutra-based teaching like that and see how you get on with it. Perhaps you’ll rush through it and find advanced teachings are a thing for you.

    Alex
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Finally, I would like to know why you consider the advanced teachings not worth engaging ! I'm curious. And perhaps...perhaps not...you would like to share your views!

    I have attended ISKCON/Hari Krishna temples, including George Harrisons former house ... Good food. Great book in Bhagavad Gita, very advanced teaching which can be summed up as que cera cera. Cue Lama Doris Day ... The gurus/teachers were not up to much ... and this is the problem.

    If you practice/meditate and study great teachings such as Bhagavad Gita or [insert treatise/sutra/scripture of choice] you will be opening a wisdom portal to your understanding ...

    This is why we have to develop

    • discernment
    • observation
    • experience
    • awareness

    etc.

    This is both basic and essential. It does not matter too much how you obtain these. Without them you may mistake techniques for wisdom/advanced teaching, information provision for mastership and twitter and facebook or similar for objective information ...
    https://vividness.live/2013/11/28/tantric-theravada-and-modern-vajrayana/

    Warning following contains advanced seated yoga techniques suitable for ... anyone ...

    Alexコチシカ
  • KeromeKerome Lovingness is the way The Continent Veteran

    A little more Papaji...

    Who is the teacher who does not add any load to your head. They all say, “read this book”, or “do this practice”, and so they add to the burden on your mind. Don’t accept a teacher who gives you any weight, any thought, any practice. A teacher doesn’t add any weight, only a preacher adds weight.

    I thought this was interesting. Certainly a lot of seekers will have accumulated a lot of teachings, and sometimes it is good to let some of that burden go. Papaji’s teachings are very direct, very much in the trend of do-this-now-and-observe, he doesn’t go for practices or books.

    Q: I always ask “who am I” but then I am left facing a blank wall and no answer comes.
    A: No answer will come! Who are you asking this question from? From whom do you expect an answer and what form should this answer take? Are you expecting a fax? This is a question that you ask of your own Self and you will not get a reply because you do not need one. It is not a question that needs answering, it is Being.

    “who am I?” Is answered in being.
    I am my own Self, that is all.

    You have made a decision to solve this question. You will be successful if you don’t give up wherever you go. It won’t take long.

    Of course Papaji references the atman, the great hindu concept of the communal soul. But I thought it was an interesting answer to the path of self inquiry.

  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran
    edited June 2020

    @コチシカ said:

    @Kerome said:

    You could see a guru as a more-advanced spiritual friend, and some of them actually say this while others put more emphasis on the master-disciple relationship. It puts me in mind of this sutra:

    Hi @Kerome

    Regarding this, I'm not so familiar with how this works in different sects / groups of Buddhism. I'm only family with the vajrayana teachings of Trungpa Rinpoche through the Shambhala lineage. He indicates in his books that there is a moment in which the student must "surrender" and "trust" his guru to develop. However, quite unfortunately, all I heard, apart from the marvellous experiences and the "tantric" practices, are a lot of abuse cases which reminded me from what exactly happened in the many Hindu ashrams with their respective gurus.

    How can you know when to draw the line? Also, some people come to spirituality from realising the painful reality of Samsara, making them quite vulnerable to these kind of predatory behaviours. The other side of the coin is... some people have spoken in defense of certain abuse scandals (and undergoing investigations, not saying anyone is guilty here!) that people from outside do not understand what a vajrayana guru is...

    This makes me a bit confused and uneasy.

    The Sakyong was the closest thing to a guru I ever contemplated taking on. And then yeah.
    Shambhala is a wonderful lineage that should never have had a figurehead imo. If any were suited to follow Chogyam Trungpa it was Pema Chodron imo.

    That's ok. We take the lessons in whatever form.

    And then continue down the path.

    Keromeコチシカadamcrossley
  • KeromeKerome Lovingness is the way The Continent Veteran
    edited June 2020

    Papaji had a reputation for inducing glimpses in people, he was very good at giving people a path to the here and now. But he also said things like, if you lose it, then you never really got it to begin with. He says that the enlightened self is always there, and that once you discover it you can never lose it again because it is you.

    I thought it was really good to read the section on what it means to lose things. When you lose something it shows that that was not really you, and you are better off without it. This feels true to me, and in a way quite similar to the path of uncovering which a Dzogchen friend once described to me.

    He also says that there is only one hindrance to seeing the Self and Bliss, and that is attachment to the past. A lot of it is quite buddhistic, such as reminders to stop chasing that which appears and disappears, but with slightly different emphasis.

  • @Kerome

    Any writings / videos you recommend of Papaji? Thanks!

  • KeromeKerome Lovingness is the way The Continent Veteran
    edited June 2020

    The book i linked to in the original post is the one I am still reading, and I’m quite enjoying it. It’s freely downloadable from holybooks.com as a pdf. I’ve looked at some videos on YouTube but I find him a little difficult to understand, the book is clearer.

    Of course as a guru it makes it easier that he is dead, not quite so uncomfortable as being confronted by a living guru. But you can still catch some of his workings through the text, if you read it and just absorb it without thinking too much.

    コチシカ
  • howhow Veteran Veteran

    Neo-Advaita versus Buddhism

    I have no experience with this, save this thread reminds me a bit of a friend who rides astride both Vedantic and Buddhist paths and is very adept at explaining away Buddhist views of no soul or a creator god as simply mistaken views that are subject to interpretation.

    How does Neo-Advaita approach no soul or God?

    SuraShineコチシカ
  • KeromeKerome Lovingness is the way The Continent Veteran

    Well, neo-advaita is definitely in the camp that there is a soul. It’s derived from the Hindu doctrine of atman / Brahman, from what I have read in Papaji’s book. It seems to be much in the same case as you don’t notice you have a liver, you have no control over your liver but it sits there and it does perform an essential function for the body and it is “your” liver.

    As far as god is concerned I’ve not yet seen him discussed. Will get back to you when I find out...

  • KeromeKerome Lovingness is the way The Continent Veteran

    I came across an article yesterday which said that neo-advaita had kind of gotten a bad name, that people were grouping all kinds of advaita-like beliefs under it in a pejorative way. It seems Papaji was in the habit of appointing many people as ambassadors, people who had gotten a glimpse and whom he was encouraging to share this experience with their friends, except that quite a few of them took this as license to teach and set themselves up as western teachers.

    So a lot of these people had identified themselves as being “of the lineage of Ramana Maharshi”, because he was a well-known, uncontroversial figure and was Papaji’s guru. But very few people now advertise themselves as neo-advaitins even though the term could definitely be said to apply to Ramana Maharshi, Nisargadatta Maharaj, Poonja (Papaji), Balsekar and a few others.

  • KeromeKerome Lovingness is the way The Continent Veteran
    edited June 2020

    This morning I was reading about Papaji on Bhakti, the devotional path. It was quite beautiful, he said that with a devotee, God was always following on behind them and giving them things even when they didn’t want them. He told a story as an example, about an old man who had been walking through places he didn’t know and was about to step into a well when a young man touched him on the arm and said “Baba, don’t go there, you will fall into the well”. Thus god moves people.

    So there are some stories of God but they are usually not in the vein of the almighty. They carry an impression of a more everyday kind of god, who is everywhere.

  • @Kerome , you probably know this talk, but I thought I might share it just in case. Quite insightful. Treats consciousness, ageing, and "other planes".

  • KeromeKerome Lovingness is the way The Continent Veteran

    Ram Dass yes, we’ve talked about him on the forum, I like him a lot. I was not familiar with this talk though, thanks for that, I will listen when I have the time to spare.

    コチシカDavid
  • "Basically I say Death is a mystery. How would I like to meet a mystery? Well, I would like to meet a mystery with a sense of adventure...with as much clarity of mind as I can muster...free from a lot of forces that are pulling me back to the form I'm leaving, like pain, and people."

    A small nibble ;)

    adamcrossleyDavid
  • FinnTheHumanFinnTheHuman England Explorer
    edited July 2020

    My 'spiritual journey' or whatever you want to call it began with becoming interested in and reading about Advaita Vedanta. I had had experiences, and then read the Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita and was kind of given a framework by which to understand. In its most simple and basic form I see it as this. There is Brahman- ultimate reality (here is where the notion of God would come in, but its more like Meister Eckhart's 'God beyond God'), impersonal, beyond form and language, the ground of everything which there is- and our true self, beyond ego, individuality and form is Atman which is one with Brahman- they are not different. Our ego and individuality, the world and form is maya. Which may be deemed as illusion, but really it just refers to that which is measurable. It is illusion in the sense that it is not ultimately real, but it is given temporary reality in its appearance. And we get lost in maya, when we take it to be ultimately real, and not see it as it is- an appearance. But we have the ability to realise and come to our true selves, which is one with ultimate reality. To know ourselves as Atman, as the witness of all changing forms. The central thing of Advaita which distinguishes it I think from other traditions within the branch of traditions which is Hinduism, is that it emphasises the need to go beyond any forms or Gods. For instance, doesn't focus on Shiva or Krishna. It is not about worshipping a God, but in realising oneself as one with the Godhead (although obviously they would say it in terms of Brahman, but I like to speak in terms of Christian mysticism)

    Now I think this is the same in all traditions, at least the heart of traditions which is the drive towards union with ultimate reality. I'm a big subscriber to the idea of a perennial philosophy. The heart of all traditions is this mystical aspect- Sufism, Christian mysticism etc. But I think Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism. Specifically Zen for me. Kind of rids all the concepts which can trip one up. It says, just from the off, you're it. This person you think you are- all the limitations which come with it- thats not the real you. You can realise yourself as it. You can realise you're true self, as the Atman, which is none other than Brahman. You can realise your Buddha nature. Like Buddhism and Advaita don't worship, they make no pretence as to worship. Of course, there is the language which can still trip people up, but the very point of it is not to worship, but to transcend and realise the true self.
    Now of course here is the key issue- that notion of a true self. Of course Advaita holds Atman, and Buddhism hold Anatman. Now, for me, of course this is open to disagreement, but they relate to the same thing. Atman refers to the true self, which is beyond all form, all individuality, all ego. Impersonal. And Anatman refers to the absence of a permanent self. That there is no permanent continuous self, no ego, no individuality, no form. So the Atman is simply a way of speaking about the fact that one is beyond all form, individuality etc. In the same way that anatman is a way of saying that the self is not all that stuff. In Advaita all that stuff is illusory in the same sense as it is in Buddhism.
    When in Advaita they speak of the self as eternal etc., it is certainly not in any individual sense, but it is in the sense that the true self is one with being which is eternal and timeless. It is simply one with Being.

    As to the issue regarding Gurus. I have to say I think never place ultimate trust in any person. I think unless you're extremely lucky, you're gonna be let down. The guru is one's self. Of course there are teachers and stuff, but that is what they are. They are not to be worshipped.

    @Omar067 said:
    This is similar to Zen Buddhism.

    I think Advaita and Zen are extremely similar (just using different language) And these I am most drawn to. And these philosophies are present in each mystical tradition. And this is what I see as the perennial philosophy which highlights Being itself as being beyond any language or concepts. We see it with, as mentioned, Sufism, Christian Mysticism and so on. If people were to look at the works of the Kyoto School of Philosophy- thinkers such as Keji Nishitani and Ueda Shizuteru have highlighted how Meister Eckhart is very close to Zen philosophy. Here's a link to Shizuteru's article on Meister Eckhart and Nothingness- http://www.worldwisdom.com/public/viewpdf/default.aspx?article-title=“Nothingness”+in+Meister+Eckhart+and+Zen+Buddhism.pdf
    (Just a note- I am doing my PhD in Existentialism and Christian Mysticism)

    @コチシカ said:

    Also! @lobster I have already passed that phase when I visited my local ISKCON temple for almost one year, nurturing my mind in learning Sanskrit, reading the Bhagavad Gita and -drumroll- bow to a wax statue of Srila Prabhupada. I'm not saying that was wrong per se, but what drove me away from it was how -this is mentioned in the article you sent btw!- they were completely submissive to their deceased master. Very strict devotion. I even heard this from an Indian man's mouth who even made the following joke...

    I have been to the ISKCON temple in Manchester a couple of times. And I love it there, and I really like the kirtan and the talks (and the food). But I have discussions with people and often it gets abit tense. Like, I mean I guess from where I'm talking I see Krishna, like Jesus, as a symbol of the possibility of becoming our true selves. But they are so like devout to Krishna and Srila Prabhupada. Even though in their talks they speak about the many forms of the Godhead. They still see Krishna as being the ultimate. I'm listening at the moment to a podcast with Radhanath Swami and the question posed to him is whether he sees for spiritual progress one has to become a devotee of Krishna. And he basically answered no, all spiritual traditons lead to the same place. But that is not the feeling you get (I get ) when you go into an ISKCON temple. Its either their way or no way. It doesn't seem very inclusive when you're there, you are kind of expected to be a part of it completely. Actually, no it not fair to say that they are really nice, but you are kind of expected to eventually be a devotee. I guess thats the case with alot of places of worship, but I think I just thought it might be abit more inclusive there. I think I thought there was an understanding that Krishna is a symbol, but obviously not. In the same way that alot of Christians don't see Christ as a symbol of the possibility for mystical union. So when I speak from an Advaitan or Buddhistic perspective there, its like they won't even listen to it. I mean I'm not trying to convert, because for me there's nothing to convert to, its just kind of an understanding of the formless and imageless nature of reality. But for them its like- no there is a form of the absolute and it is Krishna. Like I just have discussions but one time I thought I was actually gonna get punched.

    Anyway, I don't know if anyone's made it through that rambling.
    But for more proper discussion on Advaita and Buddhism, there is actually a video of a discussion between Robert Thurman and Deepak Chopra discussing this very topic.

    SuraShineコチシカ
  • Hello @FinnTheHuman !

    First of all, I'm happy to read "I'm a big subscriber to the idea of a perennial philosophy." I sincerely believe that in our age, with such chaos and interconnectivity, one of the benefits is this possibility of examining so many different paths and perspectives. It can be overwhelming and not fructiferous -without the necessary practice required..- but I find it overall more positive than negative.

    As long as you are not able to keep up for a day or two without lying, thinking ill about someone, losing patience, temper...then you shouldn't worry too much about the path. Concentrate on what the path means to you, why you are doing this, why is it relevant.

    This is my view of course. Some might stress the necessity of finding a specific path and following it until the end, and here is where I find myself at a point of unclarity. It like goes against what I sincerely perceive as the path.

    Naja... I could be wrong of course.

    Good day to you all :)

    lobsterFinnTheHuman
  • KeromeKerome Lovingness is the way The Continent Veteran

    Ive been reading a satsang book by a guy called Robert Adams, very interesting.

  • KeromeKerome Lovingness is the way The Continent Veteran

    So is the awakening of an Advaita teacher the same as the enlightenment of the Buddha? They certainly seem to have a few different characteristics.

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