New member Introduction: Ryan Brizendine

Vaidya Sundaram Vaidya_Sundaram at I2.COM
Wed Jul 26 19:11:13 CDT 2000

----- Forwarded by Vaidya Sundaram on 07/26/00 07:11 PM -----

                    Brizendine"      Re: Welcome and Request for More Info
                    <rlbrizendine at ho

                    07/25/00 12:46


My name is Ryan Brizendine.  I have been a serious student of Advaita
Vedanta, especially as taught by Sri Shankaracharya, for several years now.

As an undergraduate in college I pursued degrees in both philosophy and
English literature, but, while taking courses throughout the history of
Western philosophy to fulfill the conventional degree requirements, the
studies with which I was most deeply interested and involved were in the
religions and philosophies of the East.  My advisor and first intellectual
mentor--a preliminary guru, so to speak--lived in Taiwan for some time,
knows well both modern and classical Chinese, and taught courses on the Far
Eastern traditions of Daoism, Confucianism, and Mahayana Buddhism.  As one
who sees many of the errors and mistakes of modern Western "philosophy" and
saves the highest appreciation for the traditional doctrines and practices
of the classical civilizations, East and West, he had a profoundly
galvanizing, formative effect upon me--on my studies and, what ultimately
motivates them, on my spiritual quest for the truth.

I realized quickly upon my first encounter with it, however, that my
personal affinity and interest lies with the religious/philosophical
tradition of India.  From my perspective, every major, 'orthodox', world
religon is a manifestation of the same, supra-formal truth, but this truth,
which is ultimately one, is nowhere found more clearly, comprehensively,
intellectually purely stated than in the Advaita Vedanta.  It is in this
light that I study Vedantic teaching: it is, without comparison, the best
teaching by which the unity behind the diversity of religious expression
be seen, and by which the differences may be most usefully compared
compromising the crucial differences in favor of some hazy, 'universal

In the final analysis, then, this is to say that I am, and will always be,
profoundly devoted student to the Advaitic Vedantic teaching for the simple
reason that it is the purest expression of the truth--of the state of
reality and my place within it, of my nature and purpose as a human being
and how it is that I may fulfill that purpose--and in this sense it could
said that anyone who is blessed to encounter Vedantic teaching will,
naturally and necessarily, be from that point forward an eternally devoted
student of the tradition, as it is, again, nothing less than the clearest
description possible of the nature of every human being's innermost truth,
self, or reality.

As a junior undergraduate student in 1996 I spent five months on a study
abroad program in South India.  During this time I lived in Madurai, Tamil
Nadu, with a local family there and began learning about the
culture/civilization--began seeing the ways in which the
religious/philosophical teachings that I had been studying theoretically
were manifested outwardly, on every level and throughout each dimension of
daily life.  At this time I learned more about how to conform to and become
a part of the (in some ways still) traditional, South Indian
culture/environment than I did about Vedantic doctrine, per se, but in
retrospect I would say that, in continually working towards a better
understanding of Advaita Vedanta, this training in how to live in South
India and be respected within the local communities (as a foreigner) has
been the most helpful thing of all.

Back at school, I ended-up writing my "senior thesis" as a sort of
introduction to the metaphysical principles of Advaita Vedanta.

Then, after graduation, I returned to Madurai again last year, as a Program
Assistant for the same study abroad program on which I was a student
earlier.  This time I stayed for seven months, with a traditional Brahmin
family, and near the end of my stay spent several weeks at the "Arsha Vidya
Gurukulam" just outside of Coimbatore (Tamil Nadu), organized around the
instruction of Swami Dayananda Saraswati.  One of the greatest benefits of
my time spent there has been the forging of good relationships with a
handful of Swami Dayananda's sisyas who have themselves taken the sannyasi
vow and are now teachers at different locations in India (and the US).

In any case, it is in the Shankara Bhasya of Advaita Vedanta that I am most
interested.  There are many personal questions that I have and could, in
time, contribute to this discussion group, but I am also very happy, now
that I have found such a wonderful forum, to read/listen to the
conversations and insights of others, found here in the archives and in the
new messages posted daily.

Namaste / Vanakkam (for the Tamil speakers) --
Ryan Brizendine

bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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