Neo-Advaita/Pseudo Advaita and False Awakenings

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Neo-Advaita/Pseudo Advaita and False Awakenings

Post by James » Tue Apr 14, 2009 6:17 pm

Found some interesting comments that others might wish to discuss or comment on:

Advaita and Western Neo-Advaita
An article by Alan Jacobs
(Selected Excerpts)

The mark of the true Guru is that peace, Love and Silence are palpably felt in his presence. What Neo Advaita gives in fact boils down to the seductive formula that “there is nothing you can do or need to do, all you have to know is that there is no one there”. That the mind is a bundle of thoughts and that there is no entity called 'me' is ancient Upanishadic teaching, and not a new revelation as some purport. Paradoxically, and for a reason difficult to explain, all of the leading International Neo-Advaita teachers have themselves engaged in spiritual practices of one kind or another, sometimes over a long period, yet they deny this necessity to their pupils.

The suggestion by the Neo-Advaitins that effort builds up the Ego giving it a sense of pride in its ability to meditate, etc. is only true in number of eccentric cases. In fact the effort of developing one pointedness leading to Self Enquiry in order to discover the source of the 'phantom me', the root of all thoughts and feelings , actually undermines this recalcitrant 'egotistical ghost'. Effort can give some modicum of necessary mind control, and one pointed attention. By sidelining Self Enquiry and treating it as an idea rather than a practice along with Devotion and the support practices for Self Enquiry, the student is left in a comfortable conceptual mental zone where it is stated cosily that 'there is nothing to do and nowhere to go'. One can park in this space forever, coming once a month and paying for another satsang, hoping Grace will descend.

In effect Neo Advaita gives the ego licence, without attenuation, to live on under the justification of a seductive, hedonistic argument.

The Neo Advaitin often says somewhat wryly that Awakening is very ordinary and nothing special. Obviously it will appear 'grey' if vasanas are still active. How can living in Sahaja Samahdi and from Absolute Consciousness with unconditional love, great peace and dynamic silence abounding, be called 'ordinary'? For the Neo-Advaitin teacher there is a process of cleverly intellectually deconstructing the 'sense of doership' or the 'false sense of me' or 'phantom ego' which can, if performed intensively, lead to an experience, usually temporary, that there is 'nobody there' and even making the sense of doership temporarily dysfunctional. This is then termed as 'an awakening has happened' or some such hyperbole and the aspirant rests content and may even develop a desire to teach the same technique to others.

The subtle part of the ego believes itself to be 'enlightened' but the vasanas are still active, so the awakening is conceptual, and possibly imagined, rather like the 'born again' experience in evangelical Christianity. No Jnani ever claims to be Enlightened. It remains for others to recognise his qualities. To say 'I am enlightened' is a contradiction, as the I which would make such an assertion is the 'I' which has to be destroyed before Enlightenment can happen. The Neo Advaita teacher is still talking from the mind in reflected Consciousness not from the 'no mind'. To claim to have awakened others' prematurely in this tentative way then becomes further proof of a teacher's ability. This builds up a false sense of expectation in the mind of the naive and gullible adherents that they may become awakened too, if they are lucky.

This then becomes a vocation, and in many cases a very successful means of earning a livelihood. Pupils gravitate to the teacher with this kind of agenda which confirms what he or she wants to believe, that no effort is needed. The result is that the Teacher, still living from the ordinary mind, with vasanas active, can never go back on the promise that he is 'awakened' and therefore forfeit the right to teach. That the vasanas have been accumulated and consolidated in previous 'life dreams' is not examined, and if raised, the teachings about 'samsara', 'maya', jiva, karma and re-birth are often considered too metaphysical to explain or grasp. They are invariably dismissed as old superstitions. Teaching from the 'no mindstate' or 'silence of the Sage' can never happen while the powerful vasanas are active. They have to die down and become harmless, and this means self-enquiry and surrender, until the mind, through Grace, when the Real Self recognises the Jiva with a one pointed mind, has fully turned inwards. The nervous system has been prepared and The Self then draws the mind into the fully opened Heart. This is Self Realisation.


However, Neo-Advaita, no matter how faulty and incomplete, has a distinct advantage. It can serve as an introduction to the true Advaita Teaching. Flawed as Neo-Advaita may be, it undermines 'the phantom ego' intellectually at least, after several 'satsangs'. At its best it is a partial surrender, but without full devotional content and therefore cannot lead to total surrender when the mental occlusion is absorbed in the Heart.

Complete article:
http://www.advaita.org.uk/discourses/tr ... jacobs.htm
"Awareness is already present, already here, already now; before you try to be more.... In that recognition there's no effort, there's just acknowledgment"..."Awareness is not something you can understand, it's something you are."

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Re: Neo-Advaita/Pseudo Advaita and False Awakenings

Post by Sighclone » Tue Apr 14, 2009 8:36 pm

Dennis Waite's website and two books ("Back to the Truth" and "Enlightenment, The Path Through the Jungle") make careful attacks on the absolutist Neo-Advaitist perspecitve - this is one supporting writer's viewpoint - thanks, james.

And it is one with which I fully agree. Those regulars who read this forum will recall that I prefer John Welwood's take on awakening which includes a balanced understanding of samsara and nirvana and how they ultimately converge. The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, and his article "Double Vision" in The Sacred Mirror explore this further.

Namaste, Andy
A person is not a thing or a process, but an opening through which the universe manifests. - Martin Heidegger
There is not past, no future; everything flows in an eternal present. - James Joyce

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Re: Neo-Advaita/Pseudo Advaita and False Awakenings

Post by James » Wed Apr 15, 2009 12:40 am

Yes Andy thanks for mentioning those other authors. As we are seeing a proliferation of Neo-Advaita teachings and followers, we will likely hear more critiques as well. I found a number of them on internet sites using google, some are more balanced than others. Many individuals seem to have their own idea about what is the right way. Their way is the right way mentality.

For instance, Timothy Conway Phd, (enlightenedspirituality.org), met with Nisargadatta in the 1970's and overall seems to convey a balanced healthy approach; he adheres to the traditional Advaita method, but he is critical of anyone that charges money to teach, because he notes on his website, that is not how they used to do it in India. He received an email from Nirmala regarding his staunch view on the charging money. Conway had lumped anyone that charges money for satsang or sessions (including Nirmala) into the Neo-Advaita category. But to his credit, Conway was kind enough to post Nirmala's letter, on his site to offer balance.

We can see how beliefs and fixed positions can sneak in at any point. True, greed can lead to abuse or corruption, not just in Neo Advaita, but all religions and traditions. But to separate money from the totality is to see it as something different. As though there is a spiritual life and a material life, when actually there is just Life, expressing itself. It is all unified. Charging money is not the problem, is the attachment to it that causes problems. (Being bothered by other people charging money is a form of attachment too.)

A few caveats about the Alan Jacobs' article, I agree with much of it but not 100 percent. First, he mentions the role of meditation. It would seem to me that ego fixation or manipulation in meditation is more wide spread then he would suggest, although I don't know what meditation technique he is referring to. I spent years meditating in Christian Mysticism, which was prone to manipulation. Adyashanti's True Meditation addresses that issue by allowing everything to be as it is, and giving up the idea as the one who is meditating. It is really more of a surrendering.

Second, Jacobs uses the word "control" in regard to mind as though it is a useful thing. Perhaps it is a matter of semantics. I like to think of it as letting go of mind, so it finds its rightful place and balance.

Third, he mentions the idea of achieving enlightenment in the future, and that has always been a stumbling block for the seeker throughout history. This can create a goal, and a lifestyle of asceticism or suffering until there is liberation. Again in regards to awakening, Adya likes the phrase "always already is, and becoming at the same time". Tolle has a different way of saying the same thing. His message has been to awaken Now, yet grow in Presence over time, a deepening of experience. So this is another way of saying, honor the relative existence (living now), with a trajectory into the absolute, a movement towards greater unification and realization. Some sources actually consider Tolle and Adyashanti to be somewhat Advaita in their approach to truth. I guess a little, but I think of them as not being any particular tradition.

OK that's about the best I can do at the moment with words, (relative symbols), without getting too long winded. I don't make claim that my way of seeing or living, is the right way, or the only way. But for now it seems to be working harmoniously for me.

james
"Awareness is already present, already here, already now; before you try to be more.... In that recognition there's no effort, there's just acknowledgment"..."Awareness is not something you can understand, it's something you are."

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Re: Neo-Advaita/Pseudo Advaita and False Awakenings

Post by the key master » Wed Apr 15, 2009 2:33 am

Thanks for the article James. Interesting stuff.

I think kiki also stated that the meditation techniques he practiced actually hindered Self Realization. I suppose I'm lucky I never meditated prior to spiritual awakening :D.

To say there is nothing to do however depends on perspective. I'm quite sure Maharaj stated in several instances to "use mind to cleanse mind" or words to such effect. In this regard, there is something for mind to do, what's typically called inquiry. Hence it is said that life becomes a meditation, life becomes inquiry. The mind inquires, so seemingly there is some doing. Yet, mind is conditioned through experience. The tool of mind acts in accordance to the words of a Guru. This also is conditioning. So while there is an appearance of a doing, from a broader perspecive, there is no doer, as mind is simply "cleansing" itself as its been conditioned to do by certain words, images, and experiences. So throughout the inquiry process prior to Self Realization, the tool of mind is simply taking action based on information which conditioned it to do so. Hence, only the illusion of control or effort exists. But to tell someone identified with mind to do nothing is conditioning the mind to not inquire. While ultimately there is nothing for mind to do, there is some conditioning for mind which is necessary to "cleanse" mind. Seemingly, only when a spiritual seeker is more anchored in Being or Presence, which only comes after some inquiry takes place(at least for most of us) or at the very least getting a "foot in the door", does the image or conditioning of the words "there is nothing to do" assist in allowing mind to abide in what is.


Yet then we have Adyashanti's True Meditation, where the experience is one of letting go of the meditator, letting go of the one who experiences, the one who efforts, the story of separate self. This type of meditation reflects the experience of no-mind which takes place after the inquiry process outlined above, but in itself cannot replicate the experience of living Self-Realized, although the mind can certainly delude itself into thinking itself Self-Realized simply because the experience of no-mind no story occurred. Yet in this instance, mind still is not pure, regardless if its willing to shut the hell up for a while to allow the experience of no-self to occur. But to act from no-self, to live Self-Realized, the mind must see that its not the source of doership, and without purifying through inquiry this seems impossible except in rare cases.

My heads starting to spin.

jason

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Re: Neo-Advaita/Pseudo Advaita and False Awakenings

Post by James » Wed Apr 15, 2009 2:44 am

Well said Jason,
We could say there is an appearance of a doer, until the time when there no longer appears to be one. The relative merging with the absolute.

james
"Awareness is already present, already here, already now; before you try to be more.... In that recognition there's no effort, there's just acknowledgment"..."Awareness is not something you can understand, it's something you are."

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Re: Neo-Advaita/Pseudo Advaita and False Awakenings

Post by mmy » Wed Apr 15, 2009 4:48 am

I'm curious as to what is the difference between Neo-Advaita and Advaita teaching?

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Re: Neo-Advaita/Pseudo Advaita and False Awakenings

Post by Tony-S-Ma » Wed Apr 15, 2009 11:52 am

It seems that individual selves must have some connection with the Absolute in order to exist. Logically, the awakening of each individual is relative to its degree of merging with the Absolute. Some awakened individuals may not be very nice, and some are wonderful. Intuitively, most us would be more ready to embrace those awakened ones who are full of love and compassion. Very few would like to follow those who are nasty and eccentric .

U.G. Krishnamurti was nasty and eccentric, but he did not teach nor charge any money for those who wish to listen to him. Somehow his worldly living was took care of.

We can inquire whether Eckhart Tolle has higher degree of merging with the Absolute than U.G. Krishnamurti? The answer seems to be yes.

The next inquire can be whether Jesus has higher degree of merging with the Absolute than Eckhart Tolle?

True compassion seems to come when one recognizes the mistakes one has made are being made by others.

Of course, intuitively some of us know a person is making a mistake, but due to lack of personal experience on making that mistake, they can only tell that person that s/he is wrong.

Some of us can see three steps ahead, and others only one. The three steppers do not make the same mistake as one steppers. Perhaps, The Self will make the three steppers one steppers, and one steppers three steppers in other life times, so nobody will miss any experience :D

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Re: Neo-Advaita/Pseudo Advaita and False Awakenings

Post by Webwanderer » Wed Apr 15, 2009 2:18 pm

Thanks James, this thread is a breath of fresh aire. There is so much in life that is worth exploring, but the neo-advaita approach seems to make a casualty of curiosity and selective engagement, and thereby limits experience and growth. The constant refrain that there is no one to do anything confuses the recognition that the "me" self is an identification constuct, with the realization of a truer sense of individualized being ever living in a timeless now. Awakening from the constuct is not the end game, but rather the beginning of a more fruitful approach to life's experience.

The neo-advaita approach seems to lead to a life of denial. "There is no doer", "there is nothing to do", "things just happen", are common themes of this teaching. This seems to neuter volition and creativity, and gives license to negativity without review. Life is rich with opportunities, but without some perspective from an active living self, many possibilities for growth of consciousness go unfullfilled.

WW

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Re: Neo-Advaita/Pseudo Advaita and False Awakenings

Post by James » Wed Apr 15, 2009 2:21 pm

MMY wrote:
I'm curious as to what is the difference between Neo-Advaita and Advaita teaching?
We have some fine members here that express Advaita well, such as Kiki, HermitLoon, eputkonen. I think they are living examples of the awakened truth in it. Reading their older posts can be helpful.

Many suggest that it is best to go straight to sages like Ramana and Nisargadatta for the Advaita teaching, their work is found mostly in writings. I gave a link to a site above that has some articles on Neo-Advaita compared to Advaita, here is a list of articles on that subject at that same site: http://www.advaita.org.uk/discourses/tr ... ad_neo.htm
Timothy Conway's site has a lot on it too: http://www.enlightened-spirituality.org ... vaita.html although he is hypercritical of charging money for teachings, and is pretty hard on Papaji, who I think helped many. Papaji admits that he made some errors in discretion over the years. I think his human imperfections, is part of what makes him endearing. There are also some very good contemporary Advaita teachers in my opinion, like Mooji, Nirmala and others. Some might say they are Neo-Advaita, but that seems to be a broad generalization or sweeping brush stroke.

PS: Nice post from WW, always a beacon of light and wisdom here.

james
"Awareness is already present, already here, already now; before you try to be more.... In that recognition there's no effort, there's just acknowledgment"..."Awareness is not something you can understand, it's something you are."

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Re: Neo-Advaita/Pseudo Advaita and False Awakenings

Post by karmarider » Wed Apr 15, 2009 6:33 pm

I don't know anything about neo-advaita except the feeling that there is something wrong with the phrase itself. But if neo-advaitists have awakened, what's wrong with it?

I don't go for spirituality because I don't lean that way and it can lead to a long, futile chase of hierarchies and comparisons, accumulation of concepts, and measurements of "advancement." At the same time, I can see that spirituality has helped some awaken.

I don't meditate because it creates a division for me, of when I meditate and when I don't, and I would rather just remain aware all the time. On the other hand, I did meditate and it did help me develop one-pointedness and sensitivity in the body. Meditation may be exactly what someone needs; for others it can be an obstacle.

One spiritual path attacking another--well it just seems like there are a thousand things wrong with that. I don't know neo-advaitism, but there is nothing wrong with saying that awakening is simple and ordinary--this may exactly be the right thing to hear for those who are clinging to effort. On the other hand, to say that there is nothing one can do and it takes no effort can be misleading--for me it took great and painful effort until it was seen that effort was an obstacle. Advaita has solid, ancient moorings and as an Indian from a Hindu family, I find it very appealing; and yet I can see how it can be a solid obstacle for those who are chasing "beautiful" concepts. Who's to say who needs what at any particular time?

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Re: Neo-Advaita/Pseudo Advaita and False Awakenings

Post by Sighclone » Wed Apr 15, 2009 6:37 pm

Who's to say who needs what at any particular time?
Yup.

Andy
A person is not a thing or a process, but an opening through which the universe manifests. - Martin Heidegger
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Re: Neo-Advaita/Pseudo Advaita and False Awakenings

Post by lucy » Wed Apr 15, 2009 7:01 pm

karmarider wrote: Who's to say who needs what at any particular time?
:D Well said Karmarider, exclusion is never the answer.

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Re: Neo-Advaita/Pseudo Advaita and False Awakenings

Post by samadhi » Wed Apr 15, 2009 8:38 pm

I'm a bit confused. In the original post some of what was being classified as 'neo Advaita' sounded quite like Adyashanti's teachings. Does that make him 'neo-advaita'? Is the term 'neo-advaita' even that helpful, as it is ultimately just a label? And what is 'false awakening'?

Don't get me wrong, I think the whole discussion is interesting even though i'm not fully getting it. But, as I've noticed when these things are being discussed - particularly when it comes to 'this guru vs this guru' and the way they teach, etc - there's a tendency for mental flatulence to happen. And I don't like it when it gets stinky around here! I probably shouldn't even have chipped in here, but I started reading the thread and I started so I'll finish. Please don't bite me :)

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Re: Neo-Advaita/Pseudo Advaita and False Awakenings

Post by Fenn » Wed Apr 15, 2009 8:56 pm

The utterly conditioned body/mind will never successfully be free from vasanas, appetites, predispositions.

Nonduality is not about the organism's freedom from vasanas - though this might happen to some extent as a BYPRODUCT of this 'understanding'.

What YOU really are (Consciousness / Source) is already untouched by any appearance.

Nothing needs to change, nothing needs to be overcome... nothing is required to be who YOU are.


So far this might sound a bit like neo advaita.

But... if you are a serious Truth seeker, this is the nondual revelation that will be hard to avoid.

(It can be found in the Upanishads, in the work of Gaudapada, in the writings of Ramana... etc.)

So, what's missing?


Well....how do I benefit from this 'understanding'?

Here's the thing: Any benefit is strictly an appearance, a phenomenal side effect of the 'new orientation'.

With the deep sublation of identity from the organism to THAT in which the organism appears, the BYPRODUCT of ease, peace or spaciousness may arise - these are phenomenal attributes - a wonderful bonus for the apparent organism.

Meanwhile, predispositions and appetites will also still be at play to some degree in the conditioned body/mind.

Peace,

Fenn

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Re: Neo-Advaita/Pseudo Advaita and False Awakenings

Post by Tony-S-Ma » Wed Apr 15, 2009 9:03 pm

There is another perspective on this subject. Some Teachers use certain techniques to shock their students out of their mental grip. When a dialogue was recorded, the context of conversation could be fully recorded. As a result, dialogue and the Teacher's technique could be misinterpreted and misused. This is often a major pitfall in seeking enlightenment by oneself along. Without fully grasping the context, a seeker may falsely take the pointer as what being pointed at.

This can be rectified by being in the presence of a Teacher who had experienced the similar pitfalls. Being humble is not easy for some who have been awakened somewhat.

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