Vedanta

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Re: Vedanta

Postby arel » Fri Nov 09, 2012 10:40 pm

How can one KNOW, with utter certainty, that non-dual awareness (Brahman) is real, rather than just a beautiful fairy tale?

How do you know that you are Rick and this world is real? You believe it based on what you think. There is absolutely no evidence that you are a ‘Rick’ nor is there any way for anybody to determine what the word Rick refers to apart from consciousness and a particular body, which is nothing but meat matter. It is clear that you are not the body because the body is an object known to you so that only leaves consciousness. That you are consciousness is self evident. If you weren’t the meat tube would be six feet under.

Minus an epiphany it is true that you need faith in Vedanta’s contention that you are limitless ever-free awareness. But that should not be hard because the idea that you are Rick is purely a belief too. Why should you dismiss one belief in your identity in favour of another? The only reason you persist in the Rick belief is because your desires and fears have generated actions that produce experiences that seem to reinforce the belief that you are Rick. You think that what happens to that body/mind is Ricks life. But there is another explanations for that life that is much more convincing.

The belief that you are whole and complete non-dual actionless awareness, is only a blind belief, like the belief in God or Rick, without a way to prove that it is a fact. So Vedanta provides a method of discrimination based on the unexamined logic of your own experience, that reveals the belief to be a fact. If you practice it properly you will notice your fears and desires dry up and a sense of uncaused happiness gradually arise, and you will start to notice that reality confirms the belief in your completeness. As this process unfolds the belief in your Rickness will slowly abate. You will see that Rick is just an idea that somehow you picked up from outside without hard and fast evidence.

You cannot expect an epiphany to change your identity because discrete experiences do not change thinking patterns which are as deeply embedded in your consciousness as the idea that you are a specific so and so, an experiencing meat tube. So you have to do inquiry, meaning apply the proven teachings of Vedanta over and over again to remove the effects of the ignorance that makes you think you are Rick.

Short of a methodology to actualize the statement that you are whole and complete awareness you are left high and dry. Eckhart and the Neos tell you, based on his experience, that you are awareness but he gives no method, so his ‘teachings’ are nothing but beliefs. Yes, his statements coincide with the truth, but what good is it? This is why Neo Advaita is unsatisfying. It wakes you up but promptly lets you fall back to sleep, left only with the tantalizing memory of your true identity. In fact Eckhart gives a method…that is just absurd…without a way to actualize it. He says you need to ‘be in the now.’ But this is impossible because you are the now. Even if you can’t understand it and if time exists, which it doesn’t apart a way to measure the interval between discrete experiences which is totally subjective, and there is a now as opposed to a future and a past, you are already ‘in’ it, assuming you are a Rick.

So inquiry based on a proven methodology is necessary and Vedanta is such a method. It is the application of self knowledge. But before you apply it you need to know what self knowledge is and what ignorance is. If you think you are a Rick and you think that you can figure it out on your own, you will not succeed because you are not a Rick, an experiencing entity. And because the Rick entity is not actually conscious as Rick. It is just a reflection of awareness in the Subtle Body. To get the knowledge you need to be taught. Even reading books on Vedanta will not set you free, unless you are highly qualified because, assuming they are actually Vedanta and not some guru’s or intellectuals interpretation of Vedanta…which most of them are…does not work because your ignorance will cause you to misunderstand.

The short answer to your question is that you have no doubt that you exist, do you? What you call Brahman is just you, your existence. All that is left to determine, therefore, is the nature of your existence. At present you think that it is limited but Vedanta says that it is limitless and proves it…if you are qualified to understand.

I hope this is helpful.

Love,

James


This is great, would be interesting to see if Tolle would have a response to what James Swartz said about his teaching.

What Swartz is saying it seems to me is that Vedanta provides a way to achieve "knowledge of what one is" as a self-realization experience, or what is referred to as "awakening" experience. But then I think he says it provides practices (?) to establish this knowledge in the mind to be as unshakable as most people's current knowledge to be the body with a name such as "Rick". (Samadhi, if you are reading this could you talk if there are practices in Vedanta?)

In defense of Tolle, his practice of "being in the now", "being present", is coupled with him mentioning quite a bit that "what we are is the present moment", "awareness", "presence". So I think we can draw parallels between Tolle's teaching and Vedanta, there is practice and knowledge, to facilitate any experience/understanding one might have.

Nice thing about Tolle is that his language is more accessible to the Westerners and he might avoid the problems of translating Vedanta into English that Swartz mentions. I think his command of English is on the level of being his native language, not sure...
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Re: Vedanta

Postby runstrails » Fri Nov 09, 2012 11:52 pm

Thanks rM and James. Both James Swartz and Eckhart have it right. I've found that 'knowledge' can help consolidate 'epiphanies' (direct experiences like Eckhart's) and conversely 'epiphanies' can help lay the foundation for 'knowledge'.
I've never found any contradiction between what Eckhart says and Vedanta. Just two different paths to the same realization/knowledge.
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Re: Vedanta

Postby rachMiel » Sat Nov 10, 2012 3:03 am

Here are the two parts of James Swartz's posting that most interest me:

James Swartz wrote:Minus an epiphany it is true that you need faith in Vedanta’s contention that you are limitless ever-free awareness.

It's helpful for me to have this spelled out so clearly and unequivocally. Unless you've "seen the light," you need to trust that Vedanta got it right. (Especially when starting out, I'd guess.) You need to have faith, to believe.

Since I have not (yet) seen the light, I would need to have faith in Vedanta's rightness to put my full heart into studying it. That's a toughie for me! Close to a personal taboo: Anything that requires belief/faith is not something I'm happily willing to dive into. But just because it's a personal no-no doesn't mean I can't challenge that and give it a try. I'm gonna have to play it by ear.

James wrote:To get the knowledge you need to be taught. Even reading books on Vedanta will not set you free, unless you are highly qualified because, assuming they are actually Vedanta and not some guru’s or intellectuals interpretation of Vedanta…which most of them are…does not work because your ignorance will cause you to misunderstand.

This seems to say you need a living teacher who is a true master of Vedanta. That – no matter how good the books you read, the intentions you have, your intelligence/intuition – you will misunderstand, and this misunderstanding will prevent you from realizing the truth that Vedanta offers.
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Re: Vedanta

Postby the key master » Sat Nov 10, 2012 12:17 pm

james shwasrtz said,
Short of a methodology to actualize the statement that you are whole and complete awareness you are left high and dry. Eckhart and the Neos tell you, based on his experience, that you are awareness but he gives no method, so his ‘teachings’ are nothing but beliefs. Yes, his statements coincide with the truth, but what good is it? This is why Neo Advaita is unsatisfying. It wakes you up but promptly lets you fall back to sleep, left only with the tantalizing memory of your true identity. In fact Eckhart gives a method…that is just absurd…without a way to actualize it.



I'm hard on Eckhart from time to time, but James might wanna take a look in the mirror. Firstly, Eckhart's teachings aren't 'nothing but beliefs', they're thoughts from a free floating mind which inevitably end up getting turned into something they aren't by delusion people interested in staying deluded while pretending they're doing something they aren't, seeking truth. Anyone performing some methodology is doing the same nonsense.

He says you need to ‘be in the now.’ But this is impossible because you are the now.


James is saying you need to perform a method, but this is impossible because you aren't an entity between points in time which could do something.

The movement of mind creates the illusion of separation. Believing in that illusion creates a "delusional mind state", which creates the potential to transcend that state. A mind in that state isn't going to do anything to get out of it, because there was never actually anyone in it to begin with.

So inquiry based on a proven methodology is necessary and Vedanta is such a method.


Proven by who or what? What about the unconscious projection all over Eckhart? Does he got a method to weed that out? Nothing's necessary, there are no facts, and all beliefs are shit. :shock:
Last edited by the key master on Sat Nov 10, 2012 5:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Vedanta

Postby the key master » Sat Nov 10, 2012 12:29 pm

runstrails wrote:Thanks rM and James. Both James Swartz and Eckhart have it right. I've found that 'knowledge' can help consolidate 'epiphanies' (direct experiences like Eckhart's) and conversely 'epiphanies' can help lay the foundation for 'knowledge'.
I've never found any contradiction between what Eckhart says and Vedanta. Just two different paths to the same realization/knowledge.


I would say knowledge turns epiphanies into something they aren't, something which can be grasped and understood. This grasping, understanding, movement, is a result of the conditioned tendency to think, while what is being realized, is that you couldn't possibly be that which is thinking. This isn't to say conceptualizing realization, timelessness, reality,is a bad thing, particularly as belief in a dream world held together by nothing but mind's uncontrollable bifurcations forms the boundaries 'around' that which is incapable of 'realizing' anything. I would actually say quite the contrary, as this new enlightened conceptualization process implicitly opens mind up to testing any prefabricated beliefs being harbored within the contours of the psychological structure which challenge this new, uninvited, and spontaneous movement. A thinker doesn't realize it isn't a thinker, it deludes itself into thinking its something that could realize something else, which isn't true either. The 'work' is seeing through the nonsense you yourself are dishing out, unless you don't feel like doing that anymore, meaning, you lost earnestness and are comfy with nonsense. Hey, those big poofy recliner chair are really cozy, and once i get one I'm done 'noticing' anything about myself from there on out :mrgreen: . That's a fact jack!

All mind can work with is experience. All experience is dualistic. No one's having personal oneness experiences. Seeing the nature of experience for what it is doesn't turn it into something it isn't. Its quite a thang I spose, huh?
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Re: Vedanta

Postby tod » Sat Nov 10, 2012 10:53 pm

samadhi wrote:And so glad you and others are reading the book. I recommend downloading the free audio files from his website and starting with the 'Self inquiry Berlin seminars' which explain the book in a kind of chronological order. He's a great speaker and doesn't hesitate to kick a$$ haha. Some might find his bluntness offputting but I find it refreshing. Enjoy :)


Thank you for pointing this out Samadhi. I have now listened to the Berlin seminars and found them very helpful. For me, they appeared somewhat 'long winded' and repetitive at times and it required some patience to get through those spots - ie to be the awareness of my own impatience. I now see this as part of the teaching :). Overall I found them fascinating and am very pleased I listened to them. Thanks again.
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Re: Vedanta

Postby samadhi » Sun Nov 11, 2012 1:01 am

arel wrote:This is great, would be interesting to see if Tolle would have a response to what James Swartz said about his teaching.

What Swartz is saying it seems to me is that Vedanta provides a way to achieve "knowledge of what one is" as a self-realization experience, or what is referred to as "awakening" experience. But then I think he says it provides practices (?) to establish this knowledge in the mind to be as unshakable as most people's current knowledge to be the body with a name such as "Rick". (Samadhi, if you are reading this could you talk if there are practices in Vedanta?)
.


Loved James' response, I felt it cut right to the very heart of the matter like a blade. It all begins with questioning the current assumptions we have about who and what we are. We're brought up to believe that we're a body and a name and a mind, but essentially they're just objects and ideas that arise in us, in awareness, and will eventually subside in us.

Yeah it's maybe a little unfortunate he laid into Eckhart, even though he raises potentially valid issues. It would be unfortunate however if, this being an Eckhart forum, it descended into Apple vs Android or Lady gaga vs Madonna territory haha.Nah I think everyone here is too mature for that :) I'm not sure if James is intimately familiar with Eckhart's work, so he maybe doesn't see the depth to it. For better or worse, a LOT of people have the misconception that Eckhart's teaching is simply 'if you can be in the present moment you'll be enlightened', which clearly isn't be true.

To answer your question Arel, the 'practises' in vedanta are all to purify the mind and ease up the vasanas that keep us hooked into our illusory little sense of self. This then lays the groundwork for what they call Jnana yoga, the yoga of Self-knowledge. (Don't get turned off by the word yoga, it has a far broader meaning than I first realised).

Karma yoga is a powerful prerequisite and is essentially an attitude we adopt toward life. In short: we have the right to act (and all of us have to perform actions in order to exist here, from brushing our teeth to paying the mortgage and cutting the grass), but the results of the actions are not up to us. I mean they're not, are they? So basically we do what is in accordance with the dharma of the situation and cede the results of our actions to the Self/awareness/Brahman/the totality of the field/whatever. We accept whatever comes our way and so lessen our attachment to results. This gradually wears down excess vasanas and attachments and erodes the sense of 'doership'/ego which is at the core of our false identity. Our mind gradually becomes less disturbed and agitated and fit to fully assimilate the knowledge that I am simply pure Awareness and not any of the objects that appear in awareness (this is self inquiry). We need to carry this attitude with us in daily life, and it also makes meditation easier as it steadies the mind and makes it far easier to process and integrate our experiences in life, both worldly and spiritual.

Vedanta also often recommends a devotional mindset bhakti yoga, as another means of purifying the mind in order to facilitate self inquiry. The 'practises' as such are really more about shifting our attitude to life, and gradually work on loosening the hold of this notion that we're the 'doer'. only in a stable and balanced mind can we begin to integrate the knowledge that I am the Self (or whatever you want to call pure nondual awareness). There's also something called triguna yoga, which is worthy of its own topic and relates to recognising, balancing and managing our states of mental/physical/emotional energy.

Really it's just about preparing the mind. The practises themselves do not bring about enlightenment - after all, how can a limited action produce a limitless result? Besides, we're already the Self, we just don't know it (and I mean REALLY know it)...so we're just essentially clearing the decks. This is a necessary prerequisite and perhaps the reason so few spiritual seekers ever become finders because most people want to skip right to the main course, or the dessert.

The neo advaita teachings are useless to most people because they just hit you with the knowledge "you are the Self" (or worse "you don't exist" which can be misinterpreted so badly). They talk about the absolute level but don't acknowledge the existence of the relative. It's useless telling someone they are the Absolute when they have no way of understanding, realising or assimilating that knowledge. They might get a temporary high or even experience an epiphany or two, but the old core programming will almost always be in place and reassert itself, because the individual has not been given any means to clean through their accumulated layers of ignorance, vasanas and programming.

Telling someone that the ego is an illusion and doesn't exist is useless. It does have an existence - it's not Real, but it does have an apparent existence and it's the locus of that person's awareness and identity. In most people's cases this misplaced self-identification won't disappear overnight (and the ego won't disappear either, it's needed to function in this world and is an integral component of the subtle body. We just cease to mistake it as 'us'). Neo advaita -- which is really just Westerners cherry-picking bits and pieces from an ancient and integrated system -- provides absolutely no methodology for dealing with this. Traditional vedanta does. Sadly it's not trendy in the spiritual world. We like to think of ourselves as spiritual rebels and bohemians who are way beyond following any 'system' or 'methodology' cos we want to be free and spontaneous and reach enlightenment on our own. I have those tendencies too. Like screw the system, man! I came to realise it wasn't getting me anywhere though. Maybe it will in rare cases, but it generally doesn't. That was a very humbling realisation.

We generally don't Realise the absolute by trying to ignore and deny the existence of the relative. We have to start where we are and work through that, or else the old programming will always keep pulling us back with its gravity - and it does have such tremendous gravity. This accounts for the fact there are so so many 'fallen gurus'. Denying the existence of the relative/ego/duality is a recipe for disaster. It's not ultimately Real, but it does have an apparent existence ...otherwise it wouldn't be experienceable. We really do need a means of taming the mind and consciousness and all these contradictory desires and aversions, or else we'll forever be bound by them. Even Ramana, who realised the Self in a fairly spontaneous 'instant enlightenment', spent the next 20 years of his life living in a cave, apparently working to eliminate the old vestiges of the ego mind and fully orient and ground himself in Self knowledge.

Most Western spiritual seekers want their instant gratification; they're repelled by the notion that enlightenment takes 'work'. But it does...not maybe work is not the right work, but it requires vigilance and the constant application of Self knowledge. Ignorance is hard-wired into us -- in any moment we might be identifying with the body (I'm hungry), the emotions (I'm sad), the intellect ('I believe/don't believe this')...so rarely do we identify with that which is above, beyond and prior to all those objects; awareness. The mind has tremendous momentum and the old stuff is going to keep coming up until we reach that tipping point when the Knowledge of what we are/and aren't remains steady and abiding.

Sorry for such a long answer. This is more a vedanta essay :P I tend to overwrite things. It also helps me clarify things in my understanding and also keep questioning and reconciling. I hope it sheds some light on it though. The whole topic is immense. I know it's cooler to just say 'sit in the silence and allow'. That's great too and I love silence...but the silence is not opposed to our ignorance and erroneous views regarding what we are, for the silence allows everything. It sees no reason why being Self-realisation is any better than Self-ignorance. So when it comes to this, words can be helpful and analysis can be essential :)
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Re: Vedanta

Postby samadhi » Sun Nov 11, 2012 1:25 am

rachMiel wrote:Since I have not (yet) seen the light, I would need to have faith in Vedanta's rightness to put my full heart into studying it. That's a toughie for me! Close to a personal taboo: Anything that requires belief/faith is not something I'm happily willing to dive into. But just because it's a personal no-no doesn't mean I can't challenge that and give it a try. I'm gonna have to play it by ear.


We're each different :) It depends on so many variables. You'll know whether it's currently for you or not. Do read the book before making any firm decisions. It'll click for you or it won't.

Speaking for myself, I'd just got to a point where I realised.... my GOD, I've been 'doing' this spiritual shit since I was 16 and I'm 32...it's like a merry-go-round. Every path I'd explored and studied and devoted myself came to some kind of dead-end. It took me a little of the way, but something seemed to be lacking, like jigsaws missing the final pieces. Didn't matter what books I read or what techniques, nothing quite hit the spot. They were all pointing to the same thing and I felt and knew from a young age there was more to 'me' than just this lump of flesh and the river of thoughts spilling through my mind. I knew that 'Self Realisation'/enlightenment was real, but I just wasn't getting it. I mean I 'got' it -- I'd learned so much from so many teachers including Eckhart, Adya, Nisargadatta, etc -- but I still wasn't GETTING it. I was driven by some inner fire... "give me liberty or give me death".

I guess I was ready. I was ready to jettison everything I'd ever learned or believed or thought I knew and admit I knew nothing. Then Swartz's 'How to attain enlightenment' book fell into my hands. It's a naff title, designed to be provocative, but don't let that put you off. It ended my search. I had to read it at least twice and listen to the audio and videos and read his email Q&A's for the teaching to fully unfold. I'm so glad I did. He pushed me way beyond my comfort zone. He's very outspoken and seemingly opinionated but I came to love his badass attitude because he's basically telling the truth. And the work has transformed me...well no, the work didn't -- it simply facilitated and is facilitating a shift in my locus of awareness...out of identification with the objects appearing in awareness and into awareness. This is nothing extraordinary or earth-shattering, it's just a very natural and ordinary reorientation. "I'm" not enlightened, nor can I ever make that claim. I'm simply abiding more and more in a realisation that I'm this space of awareness. Things generally don't bother me much in life anymore and I experience random, spontaneous happiness and joy very often now. No reason. I guess just because I'm losing the heaviness associated with being a grasping little self. I don't feel the need to convert anyone by writing this, I don't mind one way or another. I've just developed a great love for what I found to be the clearest science of consciousness and enlightenment. This is just me giving something back. It's written from the heart :)


This seems to say you need a living teacher who is a true master of Vedanta. That – no matter how good the books you read, the intentions you have, your intelligence/intuition – you will misunderstand, and this misunderstanding will prevent you from realizing the truth that Vedanta offers.
[/quote]

Yup a teacher is important to unfold the knowledge, clarify doubts, resolve apparent contradictions, etc. "If we could do this on our own we'd have done it long ago". It's not very cool having a spiritual teacher these days, we all want to go our own way. We all want to have our "own truth" like that new age idea of "my truth and your truth". I don't think it works. We just tend to stay in our own little pockets of ignorance and comfort zones. It's hard finding a qualified teacher though...if not impossible depending on where one is. I spend a lot of time warning people away from the Neo Advaita people because I've seen them do a lot more harm than good. Having an epiphany or ten does not qualify one to teach. Good thing is J Swartz, if one can take to his style and rather blunt approach, is as good as having a local teacher. His book is the best on the subject I've ever read, his website offers hundreds of ours of free audio and downloads, thousands of pages of Q&As and he is available to answer questions etc.

But it won't be for everyone and there's nowt wrong with that. You'll know if it's right for you. See how you get on with the book.
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Re: Vedanta

Postby samadhi » Sun Nov 11, 2012 2:21 am

the key master wrote:I'm hard on Eckhart from time to time, but James might wanna take a look in the mirror. Firstly, Eckhart's teachings aren't 'nothing but beliefs', they're thoughts from a free floating mind which inevitably end up getting turned into something they aren't by delusion people interested in staying deluded while pretending they're doing something they aren't, seeking truth. Anyone performing some methodology is doing the same nonsense.


Hey KM!
Yeah as I said, his criticisms of Eckhart weren't that well explained in the answer. I love Eckhart but one of the issues I've felt is that as Eckhart awoke instantly he didn't really have to do anything consciously to achieve that and yet he's made a career out of trying to guide people to enlightenment. For the most part he seems to take qualities he now experiences - being fully present, not thinking much, feeling the energy in his body, being v aware of sense perceptions etc - and advising people to do that, almost as though emulating the enlightened state will
produce enlightenment. I don't know how many people have attained liberation from Eckhart's teachings, I imagine a number of v spiritually-ripe people have. For the rest, I'm not sure if it's sufficient. So there are issues I share with his teachings. I am not complaining or criticising though as I still think Eckhart's work lays excellent foundations.

James is saying you need to perform a method, but this is impossible because you aren't an entity between points in time which could do something.

The movement of mind creates the illusion of separation. Believing in that illusion creates a "delusional mind state", which creates the potential to transcend that state. A mind in that state isn't going to do anything to get out of it, because there was never actually anyone in it to begin with.


James isn't saying you need to perform a method to be enlightened. Not saying that at all.

I guess I can understand how you got that impression based on what's been written here. You'd really need to read the book to have these misunderstandings clarified. Limited actions cannot produce limitless results. As you know (and you do really seem to know this stuff) we're already the Self and there's nothing we can 'add' to that which we already are.

All vedanta says is that if we want this knowledge to stick (the knowledge that I am awareness and not the body/mind/ego/doer) then we need a reasonably pure, still, focused mind and we need a way of attaining that and clearing out all the old conditioning, vasanas, habits and ignorance. Muddy water will not reflect the light and neither will choppy water. Any practises and methods are aimed at purifying the mind and creating the right state in which the truth can take hold.

For those rare and lucky people blessed with a light vasana load and a clear, abiding, tranquil mind this is not necessary and they can just listen to a spiritual teaching and BAM! -- the truth instantly reorients and shifts one's orientation from self to Self. Any methods spoken of are not to add anything to ourselves, nor to attain enlightenment, but simply to prepare the mind to assimilate truth. Go out onto the street (or even into most spiritual groups, let's face it) and tell them about their true nature and it'll be utterly meaningless to them because their mind simply has no way to process, understand or assimilate that knowledge. That's what vedanta is offering when we speak of "methodology", that and self inquiry and self knowledge for those that are ready.

Saying that there's no entity that can do anything is both true and untrue. That's very much the neo-advaita idea. On an absolute level it's true, there's only awareness and the little 'doer' is just a substanceless shadow thinking that it's running the show. However to say it doesn't exist and therefore no action is necessary is untrue. It's not ultimately Real and it's certainly not what we are (it just thinks it is!) but it does have an apparent, limited existence. It has limited choice. Vedanta teaches that we don't try to destroy or annihilate it for as long as we're in a body we need it to function -- and we can't destroy it anyway, it's just a component of the functioning of consciousness in form. So we get it on side. Instead of telling ourselves it doesn't exist and there's no one here and nothing happening (as the neo gurus often do) and acting out whatever desires and conditioning is still there, no matter how destructive (all those sex-scandal gurus and pedophile gurus - rationalising it away as 'there's no one here!' 'nothing exists therefore nothing matters'), we can use it productively to take action toward our true goal. Which for most people reading this, is probably liberation, or at least peace/balance/happiness.

Proven by who or what? What about the unconscious projection all over Eckhart? Does he got a method to weed that out? Nothing's necessary, there are no facts, and all beliefs are shit. :shock:


Just to clarify this is not Swartz's teaching, he hasn't added to or embellished it in any way. It's pure vedanta. Vedanta is a proven methodology because it's worked for thousands of years. No one can tell how many people it has set free over the millennia - tens of thousands, or more? Unlike virtually every other spiritual tradition it remains remarkably pure -- true, traditional vedanta that is. It's not the result of a single mind, or a specific group of people or a school of philosophy. It's a body of knowledge that has built up and developed and refined over an inordinate amount of time, a bit like the way science developed, or the invention of the aeroplane. No one person can take credit, it unfolded bit by bit and with the most rigorous vetting.
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Re: Vedanta

Postby samadhi » Sun Nov 11, 2012 2:28 am

tod wrote:
samadhi wrote:And so glad you and others are reading the book. I recommend downloading the free audio files from his website and starting with the 'Self inquiry Berlin seminars' which explain the book in a kind of chronological order. He's a great speaker and doesn't hesitate to kick a$$ haha. Some might find his bluntness offputting but I find it refreshing. Enjoy :)


Thank you for pointing this out Samadhi. I have now listened to the Berlin seminars and found them very helpful. For me, they appeared somewhat 'long winded' and repetitive at times and it required some patience to get through those spots - ie to be the awareness of my own impatience. I now see this as part of the teaching :). Overall I found them fascinating and am very pleased I listened to them. Thanks again.


Hey, glad you enjoyed and found them helpful. Yeah I think the repetition is necessary in this teaching, it can take a while to really grasp this, especially when it comes to the more subtle areas. I can't say I really noticed or found it an issue, I think he's a very dynamic and captivating teacher with a great method of presentation, so clear. There are hundreds of hours of talks available to download :)
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Re: Vedanta

Postby rachMiel » Sun Nov 11, 2012 2:50 am

samadhi wrote:
rachMiel wrote:This seems to say you need a living teacher who is a true master of Vedanta. That – no matter how good the books you read, the intentions you have, your intelligence/intuition – you will misunderstand, and this misunderstanding will prevent you from realizing the truth that Vedanta offers.

Yup a teacher is important to unfold the knowledge, clarify doubts, resolve apparent contradictions, etc. "If we could do this on our own we'd have done it long ago". It's not very cool having a spiritual teacher these days, we all want to go our own way. We all want to have our "own truth" like that new age idea of "my truth and your truth". I don't think it works. We just tend to stay in our own little pockets of ignorance and comfort zones. It's hard finding a qualified teacher though...if not impossible depending on where one is. I spend a lot of time warning people away from the Neo Advaita people because I've seen them do a lot more harm than good. Having an epiphany or ten does not qualify one to teach. Good thing is J Swartz, if one can take to his style and rather blunt approach, is as good as having a local teacher. His book is the best on the subject I've ever read, his website offers hundreds of ours of free audio and downloads, thousands of pages of Q&As and he is available to answer questions etc.

But it won't be for everyone and there's nowt wrong with that. You'll know if it's right for you. See how you get on with the book.

I've emailed a couple of times with James and he's been very welcoming, told me I sounded ripe for learning (which is true), and gave me some tips about where to start. He even offered to skype with me, which is pretty cool.

Yes, I'm reading the book now. More like: skimming. If it "catches" I'll go back and pore over it. It is my way. ;-)
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...
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Re: Vedanta

Postby rachMiel » Sun Nov 11, 2012 2:55 am

For a while now I've been feeling that I'm not getting IT.

Now, since my contact with Vedanta, I see a different possibility:

I (already) AM It.

It's just that I don't know this ... really know it, in my bones. And Vedanta can help me "attain" (wrong word?) that knowing.

Sound close?
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Re: Vedanta

Postby the key master » Sun Nov 11, 2012 5:37 am

samadhi sai,
Hey KM!
Yeah as I said, his criticisms of Eckhart weren't that well explained in the answer. I love Eckhart but one of the issues I've felt is that as Eckhart awoke instantly he didn't really have to do anything consciously to achieve that and yet he's made a career out of trying to guide people to enlightenment. For the most part he seems to take qualities he now experiences - being fully present, not thinking much, feeling the energy in his body, being v aware of sense perceptions etc - and advising people to do that, almost as though emulating the enlightened state will
produce enlightenment. I don't know how many people have attained liberation from Eckhart's teachings, I imagine a number of v spiritually-ripe people have. For the rest, I'm not sure if it's sufficient. So there are issues I share with his teachings. I am not complaining or criticising though as I still think Eckhart's work lays excellent foundations.


YO mang! Yea those are pretty much the reasons why I'm rough on Eckhart sometimes. I'm grateful to the man for his teachings, no less.

James isn't saying you need to perform a method to be enlightened. Not saying that at all.


James said,
So inquiry based on a proven methodology is necessary and Vedanta is such a method.


James doesn't sound like a total nitwit and from what you guys say he must be a pretty decent teacher. He also sounds like a goddam vedanta salesman in that message and some of his characterizations of Eckhart seemed not only over the top, but motivated by self interest. So I threw some back at him, hehe.

All vedanta says is that if we want this knowledge to stick (the knowledge that I am awareness and not the body/mind/ego/doer) then we need a reasonably pure, still, focused mind and we need a way of attaining that and clearing out all the old conditioning, vasanas, habits and ignorance.


Welp, the word need doesn't really vibe with me, but I do think it can be helpful in noticing what the heck's going on.

Any practises and methods are aimed at purifying the mind and creating the right state in which the truth can take hold.


I understand that minds are drawn to practices and doing stuff, and I'm certainly not telling people to not do anything. I do find myself pointing out the futility of practicing anything as a means of waking up because of how it reinforces the mind identification and often splits the mind in half. This doesn't mean don't practice, meditate, shift attention, what have you. It just means somethings going on, and we're looking at what that is.

For those rare and lucky people blessed with a light vasana load and a clear, abiding, tranquil mind this is not necessary and they can just listen to a spiritual teaching and BAM! -- the truth instantly reorients and shifts one's orientation from self to Self. Any methods spoken of are not to add anything to ourselves, nor to attain enlightenment, but simply to prepare the mind to assimilate truth. Go out onto the street (or even into most spiritual groups, let's face it) and tell them about their true nature and it'll be utterly meaningless to them because their mind simply has no way to process, understand or assimilate that knowledge. That's what vedanta is offering when we speak of "methodology", that and self inquiry and self knowledge for those that are ready.


Yah, well things can only be noticed when mind is ready to notice them, and if inquiry and meditation play a role in getting mind to that state then those mechanical functions played an implicit role in whatever get's noticed, but there are lots forces out there which compel mind to do and avoid certain things, and none of them are being chosen. On the other hand, I wouldn't say any of these mechanical thangs lead to truth realization or self knowledge or whatever, because its the absence of belief in the untrue idea that one is limited to what one appears as which is being washed away, the one who does stuff. This is why I talk a lot about delusion and split minds and stuff, because noticing, and yes, inquiring into that stuff is something mind can do which can lead to the absence of that stuff. I also understand that some folks don't have the same conceptual understanding of what the term delusion and split mind means to me from over here and my perspective, which leads to a lot of what I write falling on deaf ears. I do enjoy re-wording things and seeing what works for the peeps and what doesn't. Putting things into words is very cool part of being human, and we all put our own unique spin on the truth we fail at expressing.

Saying that there's no entity that can do anything is both true and untrue. That's very much the neo-advaita idea. On an absolute level it's true, there's only awareness and the little 'doer' is just a substanceless shadow thinking that it's running the show. However to say it doesn't exist and therefore no action is necessary is untrue. It's not ultimately Real and it's certainly not what we are (it just thinks it is!) but it does have an apparent, limited existence. It has limited choice. Vedanta teaches that we don't try to destroy or annihilate it for as long as we're in a body we need it to function -- and we can't destroy it anyway, it's just a component of the functioning of consciousness in form. So we get it on side. Instead of telling ourselves it doesn't exist and there's no one here and nothing happening (as the neo gurus often do) and acting out whatever desires and conditioning is still there, no matter how destructive (all those sex-scandal gurus and pedophile gurus - rationalising it away as 'there's no one here!' 'nothing exists therefore nothing matters'), we can use it productively to take action toward our true goal. Which for most people reading this, is probably liberation, or at least peace/balance/happiness.


Well, if I didn't say so, neo advaita can eat a fat one, all lineages can as far as I'm concerned, contextually speaking. The 'nothing matters' mentality is one that gets under my skin, even though ultimately, nothing does, hehe. I don't like putting gurus on a pedestal and find that every human being who has ever existed is capable of harboring unconsciousness in one form or another. There do seem to be enlightened peeps out there who don't seem to be at war with themselves internally, but when they sell that as a product of something they did or the bastion of enlightened who came before who handed down the teachings through the ages from infinity and beyond, I get the wash cloth out. I enjoy the old dead teachers, I love the Tao, and Rumi, and a lot of the expression in Advaita, for the record.
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Re: Vedanta

Postby the key master » Sun Nov 11, 2012 5:42 am

rachMiel wrote:For a while now I've been feeling that I'm not getting IT.

Now, since my contact with Vedanta, I see a different possibility:

I (already) AM It.

It's just that I don't know this ... really know it, in my bones. And Vedanta can help me "attain" (wrong word?) that knowing.

Sound close?



Mind seeking the 'knowing' sounds like mind seeking belief. That's just painting the prison walls. A good spiritual teaching will take what you have away from you, not the other way around. Good in my opinion meaning :mrgreen:
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Re: Vedanta

Postby tod » Mon Nov 12, 2012 10:30 pm

rachMiel wrote:For a while now I've been feeling that I'm not getting IT.

Now, since my contact with Vedanta, I see a different possibility:

I (already) AM It.

It's just that I don't know this ... really know it, in my bones. And Vedanta can help me "attain" (wrong word?) that knowing.

Sound close?


In my short experience of Vedanta, yes.
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