James Swartz

runstrails
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James Swartz

Post by runstrails » Thu Nov 24, 2011 6:46 pm

Thanks to forum member samadhi for his recommendation of James Swartz. I went to his website: http://www.shiningworld.com/

He has a very clear, no-nonsense style of teaching Vedanta. He de-mystifies 'enlightenment' perfectly and describes its inherent simplicity (i.e., the knowledge that you are the Self (i.e., limitless, actionless, ordinary awareness). I thought his discussion of the difference between Self realization and enlightenment (Self knowledge) was good. Self realization is that of a 'doer' who realizes his/her true self or has experiences of true self--but in this case, the notion of the 'doer' returns in samscaric life. (many of us can relate to this). Enlightenement is simply the confident knowledge that "I am the Self" and that's all there is. This knowledge is constant and therefore, life is lived from the perspective of the Self. He gives a nice analogy of a spider and his web. The self is like the spider and maya is the web (that comes forth from the spider). The web (i.e., experiences) are dependent on the Spider(self) but the spider (self)is not dependent on the web (maya). That is, you are not dependent on experience, rather experience is dependent on you!

He also discusses why 'experiences' of Self realization (including all samadhis and satori's) are not the same as Self knowledge and these experiences are limited in time and can actually keep one seeking since one wants to recreate them over and over again. That made perfect sense to me. He describes nicely how Self knowledge is not intellectual knowledge per se but knowledge is that which cannot be negated. You know for certain that "you are" (or I AM) and this really cannot ever be negated.

On the website there is a very nice interview in which he discusses in detail the teachings of Ramana. He even has an enlightenment quiz on the website! There is a nice section on question and answers (Satsangs) and I really enjoyed the satsang section called Self Realized People-Testimonials. He does rant on about the shortcomings of neo-adviata but for good reason, in my opinion. Most of all, he really describes how simple all this is, how there is a time tested process of getting there and de-mystifies many of the paradoxes. All this and I haven't even read his book! He might not appeal to everyone, but I concur with member samadhi--very highly recommended.

note--self and Self are used interchangeably on his website. This might confuse some users of this forum

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Re: James Swartz

Post by snowheight » Fri Nov 25, 2011 4:43 pm

'trails,

you create an enticing invitation ... I'm reminded of this recent contribution by Ananda.
Stop talking. Hear every sound as background. Look straight ahead and focus. Take one deep breath. This is you. This is Now.

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Re: James Swartz

Post by samadhi » Wed Nov 30, 2011 12:48 am

Hi Runstrails,

Glad I could provide the recommendation :) He definitely deserves a thread on here, it's a wonder he isn't better known than he is. His website has a wealth of stuff on it, you could really spend hours on it, couldn't you. His approach is clear, concise and powerful and he has a blunt, no-nonsense attitude that reminds me ever so slightly of Nisargadatta. He cuts through the crap and isn't afraid to pull punches. But unlike some teachers/authors, such as Jed Mckenna who compelled me and repulsed me in equal measure, I believe Swartz is the real deal - his approach is extremely balanced and it's very difficult to refute what he's saying.

His book "How to Attain Enlightenment" is well worth the investment. I don't recommend books lightly - but I found immensely helpful. It's a naff title, but is nevertheless one of the best, clearest and most comprehensive books I've ever read on the subject (and I've read a lot). I'd go so far as to call it the only book on advaita anyone will ever need. I'm not sure if it's a book for complete novices, as it demands a fair bit of the reader, but I think anyone that's on this website will already be well 'primed' by the work of Eckhart and others.

Just last night I read this piece, "What is the Self?" http://www.shiningworld.com/top/index.p ... 2&Itemid=7 and found it incredibly clear and insightful.

Powerful stuff :)

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Re: James Swartz

Post by runstrails » Wed Nov 30, 2011 7:15 pm

Hi samadhi,
I agree it's more advanced stuff to be sure. But the notion of (Self) knowledge as being constant rather than chasing experiences was a real game changer for me. Is his new book very different from his first book which is on the website in pdf format. Thanks :D

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Re: James Swartz

Post by arel » Wed Nov 30, 2011 9:01 pm

James Swartz wrote: OK. Now, answer this question.

I'll try.

How far is your awareness from the tree?

How far?

Yes, is there a gap between your awareness and the tree appearing in it?

No. The experienced tree is awareness.

Very good! The awareness takes the form of the tree. Now let me ask you one more question.

OK.

How far are you from awareness?

....

It is the end of it but if you feel that it isn't then you need to make your self knowledge firm. You need to gain confidence in it.

How does that work?

The knowledge of who you are takes place in that part of awareness called the mind. Until now it has been habitually thinking of you as an incomplete and limited being. Yet now it has another idea: that you are limitless, whole and complete awareness. The mind is like a muscle. It has grown big and strong by thinking the same limiting self thought for your whole life. It is this idea that produces all the boredom, depression and frurstration. It is not going to easily accept this new self understanding. It has become accustomed to the old identity. So it needs to be retrained. It needs to learn to assert this new identity. Right now, as you are in the midst of this experience, it is clear to the mind who you are. But when the experience ends your self knowledge should not end. It should serve you no matter what state the mind is in.

...

Self knowledge concerns itself with how things are known. It is about who knows them. The 'who' that knows things is the same in everyone. It is not an individual. It is always present. It is the very self of everyone. It cannot be experienced because you are it. Or if you insist on experiential language it is pointless to say that it can be experienced because you are experiencing it all the time whether you like it or not. You can never not experience it. Therefore it is a waste of time to try to experience it.

And?

And therefore the problem is ignorance. The only solution to ignorance is knowledge. So these teachings re-awaken the Self knowledge that is in you. When you have assimliated them completely you always know that you are Awareness. This knowledge is a real life saver because it heals the split between what you are and what you think you are. It kills the lie that makes your life so limited. As long as you struggle to experience yourself you are saying that you are not yourself, you are saying that you are not free. This is a painful conflict because you can never be anything but what you are.
What I say is only my viewpoint.

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Re: James Swartz

Post by samadhi » Wed Nov 30, 2011 9:06 pm

Ahh that's a good question, I didn't even realise he had a free PDF book, so I haven't read it. Just skimmed through and it looks like it covers many of the same things, although the new book is longer by the look of it and expands upon things a lot more.

I won't type out the entire contents list (it's several pages) but here's some of the gist. The book spends a fair bit laying the necessary groundwork, the real meat begins about a quarter of the way through. Topics include;

Inquiry into object happiness
What is enlightenment (path of experience, path of knowledge, enlightenment myths)
The means of knowledge (what is self enquiry, importance of a teacher)
Qualifications for self-knowledge
The Self
Obstructions (extroversion of mind, causal & subtle body, ego, desire, inner conflict)
Inquiry into Karma and Dharma (there is no doer, the factors involved in action, karma and dharma, vasanas)
Inquiry into practise (karma yoga)
Love (relationships, devotion)
Assimilation of experience (the gunas, pure mind)
Lifestyle (food, sex, money, diet and lifestyle)
Knowledge yoga (self enquiry, subject-object, change and changelessness, the three states, the five sheaths)
Meditation
After and Beyond enlightenment
The teachings of Ramana Maharshi
Neo-advaita (and why, in the author's view, it sucks, lol)

Hope that helps. Def worth asking Santa for if you're interested ;)

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Re: James Swartz

Post by runstrails » Wed Nov 30, 2011 9:09 pm

Thanks. I'd love to get the new book. I'm just wondering how my husband will react when he sees me reading a book called "How to attain enlightenment" around the house :lol:.

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Re: James Swartz

Post by samadhi » Wed Nov 30, 2011 9:33 pm

LOL It'll probably raise a few eyebrows to be sure! :lol:

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Re: James Swartz

Post by dijmart » Wed Dec 16, 2015 11:56 pm

I'm bringing this thread back to life, because I want to thank Runtrails for mentioning this teacher and/or his website on various threads. Somehow I came across another thread where she mentioned his website - shiningworld.com and since then, well, I've bought james swartz book (haven't read it all, yet), listened to about 10 hours of a retreat on youtube, have read tons of stuff under satsang on his website. It's like nothing I've ever come across before. It's traditional Vedanta for westerners! Finally something that makes total sense and answers questions, that the neo peeps never could.

Anyways, thanks Runtrails!!!! I know you don't post much, but maybe you'll see this!
Take what you like and leave the rest.

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Re: James Swartz

Post by smiileyjen101 » Thu Dec 17, 2015 12:24 am

Thanks for bringing it back up dij, some interesting stuff on there

I saw this topic - The Nature of Nondual Realtionship

The 'editor' in me saw the typo and wanted to fix it.

The awareness in me saw the beauty in it, and smiled.
(saying real-shun-ship, was a bit trickier, not sure if it will catch on :wink: )

Nice intro to a video though.
'Trails said: He even has an enlightenment quiz on the website!
and if you do really well you can be known as -
an aromatic plant whose greyish-green leaves are used as a culinary herb, native to southern Europe and the Mediterranean.
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Re: James Swartz

Post by dijmart » Thu Dec 17, 2015 1:44 am

Here's a link to the retreat I've been watching- https://youtu.be/x8UHESkSCFU

Yeah, soooo for shits and giggles I took the test on his website roughly 2 weeks ago. Apparently, I'm enlightened with a score of 90 points. :mrgreen: Who'da known! Hehe
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Re: James Swartz

Post by Onceler » Fri Dec 18, 2015 1:37 pm

Not only are you enlightened, you're a sage! I too took the quiz, got an instant headache, and am only provisionally enlightened.....just ain't Vedanta enough, I guess. Maybe another lifetime. Send me some resonance, yo.
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Re: James Swartz

Post by dijmart » Fri Dec 18, 2015 7:02 pm

Onceler wrote:Not only are you enlightened, you're a sage! I too took the quiz, got an instant headache, and am only provisionally enlightened.....just ain't Vedanta enough, I guess. Maybe another lifetime. Send me some resonance, yo.
Well, it's only a test. Perhaps I'm just good at taking tests or maybe I finally got clear on who I really am. Either way, I'm no better then anyone else, as all are enlightened anyways, we just have mistaken our identity to be this limited person. So, Vedanta combs out this ignorance (as they call it), so you can undoubtably know who you are. The person is not denied, nor is experience, it's just seen for what it is. An appearance, an apparent appearance within "you", awareness. Being able to discriminate between "you", awareness, and objects that appear (including your body-mind) within, you, awareness without getting confused between the two is paramount.
Take what you like and leave the rest.

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Re: James Swartz

Post by Onceler » Sat Dec 19, 2015 1:34 am

Relax, I know you're not making any claims, just a little teasing. I'm really good at test as well and I found this one confounding. I'm not well versed in non-duality and I'm currently interested in how quickly I'm losing interest in spirituality. There was a time I would have taken something like this über seriously, and not so long ago. Now I think it's a funny little test which some very serious people put a lot of thought into, but doesn't have much to do with me.
Be present, be pleasant.

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Re: James Swartz

Post by Enlightened2B » Sat Dec 19, 2015 8:20 am

RT was the one who introduced me to James Swartz as well. I like his "assistant" teacher Ted even more so as I've spoken to both of them through email and they're both awesome dudes, granted I really don't overly resonate with the Vedanta stuff anymore. But, I still find them far far better than any neo-advaita 'guru'. At least these guys have a thorough grasp at traditional Vedanta.

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