[Advaita-l] 'End' not 'Means'

Sanjay Srivastava sksrivastava68 at gmail.com
Thu Apr 13 19:50:19 CDT 2006


You have raised very valid points. I would like to share my understanding on
some of them.

> For me, as a European, I feel a bit a contradiction at this moment.
> Adwaita
> cannot be traditional for me, course I am no Hindu.

Advaita as taught by shankara is in fact disorienting to a majority of
hindus also. First, we have to keep in mind that shankara's intended
audience are not people like us who are engaged in worldly activities.
Shankara's audience is one who has voluntarily accepted a position of being
a non-competitor in society. To ensure that such a commitment is not taken
in a weak moment, he is supposed to undergo a formal renunciation from where
he cannot return back. It is a deep rooted idea in Indian tradition which
has got legal sanction also.  After taking sannyasa, one's property rights,
inheritence rights, funeral rights and a lot other social rights get
nullified. Similarly one's obligations to family and society also get
voided. Even his liability in a civil case pending in a court of law gets
seriously limited.

Teaching of shankara to householders is a serious compromise on eligibility
and one should not be surprised -- hindu or otherwise -- if one cannot
relate to shankara's teachings.

This situation has not gone unnoticed. Later saints and philosophers of
hinduism have developed very robust and competing philosophies with much
wider appeal.

Or do you mean that I should stick to questions about:
> "Who am I", from Sri Ramana Maharshi,
> a translation from sayings from Sri Shankara, from the "Ashtavakra
> Samhita",
> from "Advaita Bodha  Deepika",
> "Jnana Yoga" from Vivekananda,
> or your website about Vedanta?
> These are the texts on Vedanta I have.

 Advaita vedanta adopts a special methodology of superimposition - negation
for conveying the truth. A concept is first given to understand and then
negated at an appropriate time. This in turn builds the foundation for the
next superior concept which is further negated at an appropriate time. The
process has to continue till no concepts remain to negate. In this process,
the "appropriate time" would depend on a student's maturity and can be
judged only by a competent teacher. There is absolutely no point in trying
to tread the path through books or an electronic list. They can never judge
your maturity to use the methodology of superimposition -negation on you,
which is the core of advaita. Books and e-lists should not be relied upon
beyond giving an overview.

Or am I also allowed to write texts as the following, which are, as far as I
> think to understand this all, related to advaita:
> I once said to someone: "It 's impossible to think anything in the
> present."
> He started to laugh and responded a bit rough: "But I am answering you
> here
> and now, isn't it, you fool?"
> I replied: "And immediately, in no time, your answer is history. At the
> very
> same moment you say or think something clear enough, the thought is
> history
> already."
> He said nothing anymore for 10 minutes.
> The mind is a reflection between the past and the future, and the past and
> the future are a reflection within the mind, but the present is always
> empty. But this means no rejection of the mind. Without the mind I
> couldn't
> have had this talk with that person, and I couldn't write this mail. So
> the
> mind is a shadow over the truth, but also the possibility to realize the
> truth again, by carefully studying on itself and on everything that is
> appearing in it.

...You say "Your answer is history". I reply "There is "no one" here. So
"whose" answer is history?" You reply back " .. but there is "no one" here
looking for an answer either"...

Verbal games such as these can continue endlessly. They are not entirely
useless. Many of us get introduced to advaita vedanta through such verbal
games only. Some find them pointless after a time; some continue to find
them useful. Shankara is for the former who have been there, done that and
got tired of that. Shankara is precise and demanding. Many people find his
clinical precision and rigor unnecessary from spiritual point of view. Yet
others have claimed that it may actually be counterproductive. But there are
others who find his method deeply rewarding.

Those who are more comfortable with a mystical approach, need not despair.
There are plenty of teachers for them too. In fact the majority of teachers
who go by the name of "advaita teacher" belong to this group only. However,
if one is looking for precision, one will find them tiring very soon.

You have to judge for yourself what makes more sense to you. Everyone has to
carry his own cross.

Until now I found, as long as we talk about India in the modern times,
> Vivekananda, Krishnamurti and Mahatma Gandhi inspiring religious people,
> but
> only from Sri Ramana Maharshi I can believe that he became completely one
> with Brahman.

People may have high regards for advaita philosophy, that does not
necessarily make them teachers. Vivekananda and Mahatma Gandhi earned their
credentials as social revolutionaries who made enormous contribution to
hinduism. Vivekananda, in particular, established towering institutions that
are supporting vedanta even today. However, their respect is more due to
their social contribution than advaita teaching.

Krishnamurti did not associate himself with any particular creed. His
dialogues often give a strong flavor of advaita but leave lot of ambiguity,
make sloppy use of words and many times directly conflict with the teachings
of advaita. In shankara's tradition precise conveying of truth is given as
much importance as its realization and therefore K is not referred to at

Ramana is precise when he speaks. He takes for granted certain level of
maturity and a reasonably well understanding of upanishads in those who
approach him. However if one simply jumps into him without this basic
preparation, one can easily miss his point.

But I am a bit doubting. Perhaps I don't belong in this mail-ring. I cannot
> study the Vedanta like a Hindi-person. I don't mean this in a negative
> way,
> you are doing a good job together. Perhaps this contradiction has been a
> problem more often. You think in your own tradition, but only very
> untraditional thinking European people can become interested in advaita,
> and
> those kind of people have quite often a very active meaning by themselves.
> But, all those means don't have to be such a great problem, as long as we
> realize it are means and don't become angry. All those means together can
> also function as a kind of cooking pot for our illusions. We make each
> other
> unsure, and once we are unsure we become very alert and very active.

This is an entirely personal evaluation.  You and you alone can decide where
you belong to.

Hope my observations were of some use.


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