Why Do I Criticize Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev?

(I am republishing an answer that I wrote on Quora. The question was asked by an anonymous user and here is the complete question in his own words: ” Why are there some opponents of Sadhguru who are dedicated to nitpick something wrong instead of learning or appreciating many correct things that he says?“)

I am pretty sure that I am one of the so called ‘opponents’ who seemingly has a dedication for criticizing him; I also think that the anonymous guy who asked this question is someone that I am aware of; a guy who feels angry and hurt after reading my criticism about Sadhguru.

So let me explain why I criticize him. I hope the poor guy understands why, instead of taking it too personal. I will also narrate the story that happened between this poor guy and me on Quora :). The poor guy is the hero of that story :).

Assume that the poor guy is the one who is in the front of everyone else, in the following image!

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This is a very important answer. So, I suggest you read it word by word without missing anything. Don’ be in a hurry to comment, read the complete answer…

This answer is going to be a long one..Because, I have to cover many things in this answer, to give you a perfect context. If you can’t read it now, just bookmark it and read it later.

Don’t wonder why I am taking my time to write all this. This is a multi-purpose answer. I will also be republishing this in my blog. I enjoy what I do and ideas simply flow like a stream once I sit down and write. So I absolutely have no difficulty in writing such answers…

First of all, I am not an opponent of Sadhguru. I don’t hate him and I am not against him personally.

I have praised Sadhguru many times. When it comes to the clarity in his speech, his wonderful voice, his humor sense, his involvement in life, his expertise in driving, his ability to be open to experience , his interest in architecture and many other things, he is excellent! You can read my review about him here: Shanmugam P’s answer to What is your review of Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev (Indian yogi)?

I don’t care much about legal allegations against him. I have rarely spoken about them, except some questions that were raised regarding his wife’s death. Another blogger explains those questions better than me, I will give you that link: The controversial death of Sadhguru’s wife Vijji . There are some questions which are not addressed by Sadhguru and they are very important.

But when it comes to other allegations, I have listened to both sides of stories and I don’t always cling to one possibility. Also, I know that when a leader is running a huge organization, the leader is usually seen responsible for the fault of some unknown follower.

I don’t want to speak about something that I am not certain about, just to defame someone. But sadly, some people think that it is what I am doing. No, it is not! Defaming him is not my intention…

My Criticism is only about one and one thing only!

There is one thing that I am certain about… And my main criticism about him is related to that one thing alone! It is spiritual enlightenment and it also includes some extraordinary claims made in the name of spiritual enlightenment.

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I know what it is.. But the hardest thing to talk about is that, people already have a lot of ideas about enlightenment.. Many people think that they know what it is, by going by the words of their own gurus, their own scriptures and their own imagination..

I have had my share of wrong assumptions about it too. But it all pretty much ended in 2014..( a few of those wrong assumptions were still remaining which I got clarified three years later). I went through something, a psychological death of the sense of self, an extinction of a limited self that made me realize that I was never separate from the existence and this whole idea of a separate self is an illusion. It ended all my self-referential thinking, all the self-induced suffering, all my seeking and longing and gave me a sense of absolute freedom..

I don’t call it enlightenment because I hate to associate my experience of reality with a word that has been misused from the time immemorial. And, saying ‘I am enlightened’ is actually incorrect because that statement is inherently dualistic.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that those who have declared it were not enlightened. But it is also true that they don’t really talk about it unless there is a compelling reason. Language itself is dualistic, it can neither capture the absolute truth nor can it convey the pure experience of reality. But language can be a useful device to point out where to look and to tell people how to do that. To understand more about spiritual enlightenment, read this answer: Shanmugam P’s answer to What is enlightenment?

I have tried to meditate all my life. I did my first meditation when I was just 7 years old. I thought meditation is just sitting in closed eyes and with crossed legs with no body movement. Later when I was about 10 years old, I learnt and tried to do various asanas, pranayamas etc. But I really didn’t understand what spirituality is all about. The general idea that I had in my mind was that spirituality is all about suppressing my desires, fighting with my own mind, reading all the spiritual books in the world and trying to show extreme devotion to a personal God. It never worked even though I read all the books I could. When I was in the verge of committing suicide, I came across a book which had talks of Osho. And all I could say was ‘wow!’..You can read the full story here: The Journey of a Seeker – My Story.

If you read my short bio in my blog, it will read like this:

I am a blogger and I was a spiritual seeker. I had a tremendous awakening experience in July 12, 2014 on a Gurupurnima day in the presence of Sadhguru but I wouldn’t call that as spiritual enlightenment. But it did free me from many things and changed many things

When people read this and also read my criticism against Sadhguru, their first response is “I kind of feel weird because you say you had an awakening in the presence of Sadhguru and yet you criticize him, lol”. I am pasting a reply that I gave to one person who said this:

Yes.. I have mentioned that it happened during Sadhguru’s satsang on a guru poorinima day because that is exactly what happened. But usually what people do is add their own explanations for it. Human beings have been doing it for ages. What people forget is that correlation is not causation. Probably there is a correlation between full moon days and spiritual awakenings. But when we create our own explanations for it, errors are bound to happen. If you read my bio again, I have never said that Sadhguru’s presence caused my spiritual awakening. I was already doing everything in a focused way during the two months prior to it and it reached a peak during that day. That is all I know!

If you read my blog post regarding my spiritual journey, you will understand the context of it. The only spiritual practice that I did on a regular basis was ‘witnessing’, a meditation suggested by Osho which can be practiced anytime, anywhere.

” My way of meditation is very simple. There are one hundred and twelve methods of meditation. Out of all of those I have chosen the most simple – the most easily done. I call it witnessing.

The moment you witness something you become separate from it, you are the witness, the thing becomes an object – the witnessed.

If you are walking on the road, and you are also witnessing that you are walking – not going along just like a robot, mechanical, everyday habit, the road is known, the legs know it, you can even walk with closed eyes. But walking with absolute alertness every step, every fall of a leaf, every ray of the sun, every bird flying in front of you, fully alert… slowly, slowly, you become aware that you are not the body that is walking, you are something inside which is witnessing.

Once you have witnessed your body, you have got the knack of the method.

Then you start witnessing your thoughts – sitting silently, just watching the rush of thoughts, not interfering, not saying, “This is good. This is bad.” Not justifying, not appreciating, no judgment… non-judgmental witnessing, just like the mirror. Anybody passes by, the mirror reflects it; that’s all, it makes no comment.

Strangely enough, when you stop making comments on the thoughts, they begin to stop; your comments keep them alive. Once you are simply a mirrorlike witness, thoughts disappear, and you become aware of a deeper layer, of emotions, moods, which are very subtle. You are not even aware many times that you are sad. You are often not aware of what your emotional state is – it is very deep, there is a thick layer of thoughts. When thoughts have stopped, then you become aware of a very subtle breeze – and there is a great joy to see it pass. The method remains the same – you remain a witness without judgment.

First body, second mind, third heart. And the fourth happens on its own.

I call my way the fourth way because after the third you cannot do anything.

Once your emotions and moods disappear, suddenly there is a quantum leap – the witness has nothing to witness anymore. It comes home. It witnesses itself. It becomes both the seer and the seen, the object and the subject, and for the first time you have unity. This experience of absolute organic unity of your consciousness has been called by different names – moksha, nirvana, liberation, enlightenment, illumination. Whatever word you choose makes no difference.

But this is the ultimate peak, this is the ultimate goal of human life.

So my method is very simple. You need not even sit to do it. You can do it anywhere – walking on the street, sitting in the bus, sitting in the plane, eating, even sleeping. When you are going to sleep you don’t fall asleep suddenly, it takes a few minutes; just watch how the sleep comes in. Slowly, slowly, you will see sleep coming in, and as your witnessing becomes deeper there comes a moment when you can see that the whole night you are asleep yet still alert.

I have tried almost all one hundred and twelve methods. That list is exhaustive, there is no possibility of adding a single method more. You can make a method of combinations, but those one hundred and twelve are exhaustive.

Out of them all I have chosen witnessing, because most of them are based on this in different ways. ”

– The Last Testament Volume 4: Chapter 15 by Osho

A guy who commented on my spiritual journey in my blog kept advising me to read Vigyan Bhairav Tantra. I told him that I already read that and I also gave him the above excerpt. Then I explained the following:

What Osho called as witnessing is exactly what I practiced. Witnessing, self-inquiry, mindfulness and nididhyasana are all essentially the same, even though described differently and approached differently. It is the most direct approach and extremely powerful.

That is exactly the reason why Ramana Maharshi advocated self-inquiry. It is a deep inquiry of every thought, experience, emotion and sensation that arise moment to moment and recognizing that none of these objects of consciousness is ‘me’ or ‘mine’.

It is negating everything that arises in your consciousness as ‘not me’, ‘not me’ by simple recognition; not by thinking or analyzing or verbalizing it but just noticing for what it is. It is also called as ‘neti-neti’ method, which literally means ‘not this, not this’…

After this transformation, my life was completely different. I forgot all about spirituality, all about future and past and I totally forgot to think about me.. But there were challenges that I faced during the first 3 years because there was a period of integration. There were a lot of old tendencies which had to lose their momentum over a period of these three years. I still had deep reverence for Sadhguru during these three years and I never had a doubt regarding his claims.

In December 2016 I had to change my job. While updating my resume, I was quite surprised… What am I going to say when the interviewer asks ‘Tell me about yourself’?.. I had not thought about myself, the image of me that was derived from my past for the last three years. It has been long since I thought about my strengths and weaknesses, my objectives and all that. So, I had to make some effort to recollect many things about me.

That is when I also started posting in my blog. I had spent about Rs. 22,000 to buy Linga Bhairavi Gudi and Rs.11,000 for Dhyanalinga Yantra because I thought that It will create an energy space in my home, something that may help my family. I spent about a month from September 2016 until the Navarathri festival that year in decorating Linga Bhairavi with flowers, offering sweets and fruits to her, singing, listening and playing the songs from ‘He Devi’, an album released by Sounds of Isha. I kind of created a forced duality to see myself separate from Linga Bhairavi that triggered a lot of forgotten memories and feelings. I used to be very devotional when I was a kid and usually such practicies trigger those memories. The nine days of Navarathri that year was a period of intimate devotion and a roller coaster ride of emotions. It all came to an end on the 10th day, the Dusserah festival which I spent in Kulasekarapattinam, a town famous for Dusserah celebration. I had a permanent tattoo of Linga in my right shoulder that day.

The poor guy who thinks I am an opponent of Sadhguru thinks that the purpose of my whole blog is to criticize and defame Sadhguru. No, it is not! The very first post that I made in my blog was a poem that I wrote about Linga Bhairavi and Dhyanalinga. Here it is: தியானலிங்கமும் லிங்க பைரவியும் – Kural Venba about Isha and Linga Bhairavi

My wife was pregnant and we were expecting a delivery in the month of December. I was expecting a female kid and I wanted to name her ‘Bhairavi’. But it turned out to be a boy and we named him Lingesh. He was born on December 11th, 2016. December 11 is also the birthday of Osho; what a coincidence!

Anyway, this was the time I was slowly regaining my faculty of logical thinking. I literally stepped out of my logical mind during the transformation that happened in 2014 and I had to slowly learn to think logically. I was like a kid for the first two and a half years and I slowly learnt to act like a grown up. This was really like a second birth for me.

And I never seriously considered what happened to me but I found that Sadhguru’s version of spiritual enlightenment was seriously contradicting with many things that happened to me. There was no way that I could match what happened to me with many things Sadhguru is talking about. But still, I could never think that Sadhguru could be wrong. One thing was clear though, my seeking had ended, there was absolutely nothing that was lacking, nothing to gain anymore and nothing to improve upon! There was no solid and consistent self to improve upon or to attain anything. My life was peaceful, fulfilled, joyful and there was absolutely nothing that was lacking. There has been a sense of tremendous freedom, the kind of freedom that I had never experienced in my life. It is only when people taste such a freedom, they could understand how bound and helpless they were before.

That is when I began to interact in an online forum where I had a discussion with a lady. She explained her understanding of spiritual enlightenment as follows and she was very confident in what she was saying:

You will still live a human existence, which has polarity and that includes mental pain, it’s suffering that ends, because you know that your true Self, awareness, is not in the least effected by it and that is your true identity.

Another words, let’s say your enlightened…your mother dies. You will still feel emotional pain and even cry. Being enlightened will put it in perspective, so you won’t suffer, but you will feel mental pain, even if temporary. If you don’t like your mother (lol), then insert in that sentence someone else or your animal. This is just one example of many.

I couldn’t agree with this! We started talking about many things about how the experience of life is after enlightenment. But strangely enough, I didn’t consider myself as enlightened and I also wasn’t seeking enlightenment. I just had no concrete idea of what had happened to me.

She then posted an excerpt of her western teacher called ‘Ted Schmidt’:

Question- Is an enlightened person totally immune and never experiences fear, negative emotions?

Ted: No, as I mentioned in my last response, the enlightened person experiences life just like an unenlightened person except for one fundamental difference: the enlightened person (i.e., the person who has assimilated self-knowledge and “attained” moksha by having apprehended the fact that his or her essential nature is already free) isn’t swept away by the pain and pleasure that he or she experiences. The enlightened person knows that these experiences come and go and don’t really have any effect on the essential nature of the self. Thus, while the pain and pleasure persist, the suffering that ensues from feeling like these experiences are actually enhancing or diminishing, helping or hurting, the self ceases.

I couldn’t agree with this either. In a sense this is kind of true but this is open to many interpretations. He is not speaking about the experiential aspect of enlightenment, a change that I myself had undergone which had changed the way I experienced the reality 24/7. So in my experience, there was and is no duality; I never experientially sense that I am separate from the existence. My way of functioning in the world seemed to be a mystery that doesn’t gel with neither Sadhguru’s version nor this western Guru’s version of enlightenment.

I finally discovered that Ted’s guru was James Swartz, an old American Vedanta teacher. When I went through his website I found that he is extremely critical of Osho and also labels Ramana Maharshi as not a qualified teacher.

Also, I continued my discussion with the American lady on the forum and she also criticized Osho. At this point, I noticed my need to defend Osho and her tendency to defend James Swartz. After exchanging lengthy discussions, I got curious about Traditional Advaita Vedanta expounded by Shankara. James Swartz is a student of Swami Chinmayananda and he was insistent in saying traditional Vedanta is the only way.

One of the main myths that got busted for me is the one that Sadhguru is insisting. He says that more than 90% of the people leave the body (die) during spiritual enlightenment. You can read my answer here to know more about it: Shanmugam P’s answer to How many enlightened persons has Isha Foundation produced through its methods? .

At this time, I also realized my bias towards Osho. I decided to put it aside and began to curiously explore Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta.

That is when I realized that Sadhguru has got this whole idea of ‘90% of people leaving at the time of enlightenment’ from Osho. But Osho himself contradicted this in another discourse. Sadhguru used to say a famous story from the life of Ramakrishna which was actually something Osho made up, to explain how enlightened people create conscious karma after enlightenment. Sadhguru repeats the same story in the same style..

According to Sadhguru, body’s prarabdha karma is over at the time of enlightenment and he has to consciously create karma to keep his body alive. .. This is neither true in my experience nor it is said by anyone else in the whole history… According to advaita, prarabhdha karma can be exhausted only by living the rest of the life. Buddhism also has a similar concept. This resonated with me completely. My own past intentions were driving my life even though I don’t have any sense about future or past (memories exists but the identification is completely broken). And karma is nothing but the web of past intentions. Adhi Shankara says the same in his commentaries and Ramana Maharshi insisted the same.

You can read more about it here: Shanmugam P’s answer to Why is it said that after enlightenment a person may die? If a person is likely to die after enlightenment, then why should I pursue it if I cannot carry it for long? How does one overcome the fear of death on a spiritual path?

But you need to remember that even though prarabhda karma is the one which still runs the activities of the body, we can’t say that the person is actually bound by that karma. Because, the liberated person is no longer identified with his body. He no longer considers the prarabhdha karma of the body as his own karma. It only belongs to the body and it exists as long as the body exists.

Ramana Maharshi explains this paradox very well:

Question: Bhagavan says that when one attains enlightenment all the three karmas [sanchita, prarabdha and agamya] cease to be. But in Kaivalya Navanitam it is stated that the jnani will experience only prarabdha karma [karma being worked out in this lifetime]. Why does it say this?”

Ramana: Prarabdha is the rule prior to the attainment of Self-realisation. As such, even after the attainment of Self-realisation, a jnani appears to be experiencing prarabdha in the sight of onlookers. There are several examples which are commonly used to explain this: an electric fan goes on spinning for some time even after it is switched off; a burnt rope looks like a rope but it cannot be used to tie anything; a tree that has been felled looks just like a living tree but it is no longer alive; peas which are roasted still look like peas but they cannot sprout .

I started asking questions about Vedanta in Quora and I also went through Upanishads, Shankara’s commentaries on Upanishads and Buddhist suttas of Pali Canon. When I read them, I could immediately recognize the truth in them and I could easily separate facts from myths. I didn’t read them to add anything to my knowledge but I read them to make sense of my own experience.

A great eye opener was Shankara’s commentary on Bhagwad Gita. I also read many awakening reports which talk about this integration period. Even Shankara advises a lot of solitude after self-realization to make sure that the realization is completely integrated without any interference from the external world. He advised self-realized people to live with the strength of the Self. When he says ‘living with the strength of Self alone’, I could immediately recognize it. I didn’t do analysis, mental masturbation or research with the scriptures; All that was happening when I read Buddhist and Vedantic scriptures was a simple recognition of what has happened to me.

Let me give you an example. If someone says “I saw a huge black animal yesterday which had large ears, two horn-like organs near its mouth and a long pipe-like organ extending from its nose”, wouldn’t you immediately recognize that he is talking about an elephant? It is the exact recognition which I had when I read Shankara’s commentaries and Buddhist suttas from Pali canon.

In the mean time, I wrote some posts criticizing the views of James Swartz and his way of understating enlightenment. I was verbally abused by one of the followers of James Swartz (just like how Sadhguru’s followers become abusive). I finally decided to start a debate with James Swartz himself. We exchanged a few emails. I told him that his way of understating the experiential side of enlightenment is misleading. Finally, I had to define what I meant by the word ‘experience’. I told him that I am not talking about a special experience or an altered state of consciousness but the natural experience of reality with no duality and with no sense of separate self. He agreed to this view but he still insisted that his talks and books are not misleading; He said that a few people might have misunderstood what he is saying and reminded me that he has thousands of other students who understands him perfectly.

As things settled down, I was able to understand everything that happened in me. Let me include parts of some replies that I posted to a commentator in my blog:

There is a point in seeking where seeking completely ends and the sense of a separate self completely dissolves.. After that there is no more personal journey.. Changes may still happen, the experience of reality may continue to deepen for lifetime, but it is no longer a journey of a person… Because there is no more urge to reach anything or to attain anything. After that, whatever actions that the person does is in complete synchronization with the existence itself. There is no sense of a doership at all.. The speech and action then become the expression of the existence itself. This is my reality now.

The word nirvikalpa means ‘without any distinctions’. It just means the complete absence of duality. If it happens along with the loss of body consciousness, people usually call it ‘nirvikalpa samadhi’… But if a person experiences reality as nirvikalpa without losing body consciousness, it is called as sahaja samadhi. Many people reach sahaja samadhi without going through nirvikalpa samadhi. In sahaja samadhi, the person simple engages in day to day activities just like anybody else. But the big difference is that the person doesn’t sense a separate self or a sense of individuality anymore.. There is a sense of boundlessness and complete fulfilment.. nothing is lacking anymore and there is nothing to seek further… There is nothing to lose and nothing to gain at the absolute level.

Let me state a metaphor. A ball of sugar jumps inside a pot of water and it takes on a journey to absorb as much water as it can. It becomes smaller and smaller as time goes by until it is fully dissolved one day… Once the ball has completely disappeared, is there anymore journey for that ball? The sugar molecules which were in the ball are still there in the water, they may still undergo changes. But do those changes belong to the original sugar ball? The sugar ball is the person you think you are and the water is the existence… In a way, the sugar ball has now become water. But to be more precise and exact, the sugar ball is not there anymore. There are no clear boundaries between the sugar ball and the water. Another way of saying this would be that sugar ball and the water is one and the same now.

It is only after all this, I turned my attention towards Sadhguru again and watched some of his videos again. The first thing that I found was that there is a pretension in him and he is simply parroting the words of Osho. When it comes to spiritual enlightenment, one thing that is destroyed completely is the sense of a separate self. This is not only my own experience but also in agreement with two greatest spiritual schools of the world which is Vedanta and Buddhism.

But Sadhguru doesn’t address this at all. Instead he goes on talking about stuff which reinforce the idea of a separate self and which distracts people from actually walking on the path. He doesn’t address the psychological tendencies or traps in the spiritual paths. On the contrary, he goes on talking about stuff that would actually trap people and stop them from making any progress.

When I was seeking, I couldn’t see this! Because, I was also reading other spiritual books from other gurus, like Ramana Maharshi etc and following the practices they suggested. I couldn’t distinguish between the clarity I got from Sadhguru and the clarity I got from other gurus.

My main practice has always been witnessing that was suggested by Osho. The only reason why I went to Sadhguru satsangs or Isha ashram was because I believed that being in ‘consecrated spaces’ will help me in the path by giving me additional support. I didn’t realize at this point that Sadhguru’s main business was selling consecrated spaces and selling his own energy (For eg, On Shivarathri festival, the seats close to him are extremely expensive because that supposedly gives a chance to feel the energy and vibration of Sadhguru)..

But I know this whole energy business is bullshit because I have Linga bhairavi gudi and Dhyanalinga yantra for the last three years and I know there is no difference between being in the presence of it vs being away from it. The transformation I went through has made me absolutely receptive and there is no resistance at all from my side which will cause me to be not receptive to anything. I feel completely synchronized with the existence.

But people claim that they feel tremendous energy or vibration from Sadhguru. But in reality, it has many reasons. One reason in placebo effect. It has a powerful effect when a person is already a seeker.

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A guy asked me a question regarding this in one of my answers:

Then how would you explain following things:

  1. How sadhguru pushes people into transcendence just by his presence?
  2. why do people go crazy during initiations like shoonya and bhuta shuddhi?
  3. Why does BSP works ?
  4. What is the source of Sadhguru’s crystal clear wisdom? I don’t find that same wisdom in osho’s or ramana’s books?
  5. Why do people experience HUGE benefits by doing shambhavi?

And here is my reply:

  1. How sadhguru pushes people into transcendence just by his presence? Mostly it is placebo. If you don’t know what it is, use Google search. And the placebo effect is hundred times better when a person has already been a seeker and has already progressed to a certain level (and expecting an experience in the presence of someone who claims enlightenment). Also, you can actually see people going crazy and ecstatic watching a Michael Jackson’s stage performance and during church gatherings…I am not sure if you read the complete answer. I am not saying this after knowing him or after being in the path for just 2–3 years. I have encountered many situations which helped me to learn a lot of things. So, I am not the usual kind of skeptic that you might have come across. I even came across a person who claimed enlightenment and who had a special interest in making me his disciple. He arranged a satsang and I felt something deep when he entered the room. But it was caused by my own expectations as well as the way my mind was prepared before the satsang. But after I had a lot of personal one on one interactions with him, I knew he was cheating (I am not talking about Sadhguru here but another self proclaimed Guru). This happened in 2007.
  2. The other questions that you asked boils down to one thing: How come Shambavi and Shoonya meditations work. They will work because they are based on already available techniques. They have the same effect no matter who offers those techniques. These techniques can have a lot of positive effect on your mental health, physical health and can even offer you spiritual experiences.. But you need to have someone who is enlightened to guide you to go beyond and actually get liberated. Sadhguru’s talks don’t offer that guidance at all because he never talks about things which are very important when it comes to spiritual enlightenment.
  3. If you find some clarity in him that you don’t find in Osho and Ramana, there are two reasons. One is purely subjective and depends on what topic you are interested in. Second is his talent. Sadhguru has a degree in English literature and he has also worked on his accent and pronunciation. His accent is neutral and his voice is very clear. But this has got nothing to do with enlightenment. My school principal also spoke more clearly than Ramana Maharshi. That doesn’t make her an enlightened person. Meher Baba didn’t speak at all, that doesn’t make him an unenlightened person.

Also, try to understand the question that is asked here and try to understand the answer I have written. The question is more specific about his claim regarding curing his fracture in an hour. And In my answer, I have explained about the fact that he doesn’t speak the truth all the time. I have found him as an expert in lying, there is no question about it. I have seen enough of him in the last 14 years and I KNOW that he is mostly lying when he talks about himself.

It is also at the same time I discovered and observed many other things. I have written about those things in detail in the following answers:

Shanmugam P’s answer to What do you think of Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev?

Shanmugam P’s answer to Is Sadhguru a hoax? How did he heal his asthma and ankle fracture in an hour (09:15)?

Shanmugam P’s answer to Is Sadghuru Jagi Vasudev another scam?

I am still willing to give him the benefit of doubt. But when I observed the behavior of his followers, I was completely shocked. They don’t really know what they are doing. Most of them are verbally abusive, completely biased and can’t even be open to healthy criticism. I understood that these people are completely misled and they are behaving like a parrot, just repeating Sadhguru’s words. They seem to be completely programmed. This is exactly what motivated me to write more about Sadhguru.

The perfect example is the poor guy, the hero of the story that I am going to narrate now, who might have also asked this question.

When I first wrote an answer saying that Sadhguru was simply repeating Osho, many people were not open to the idea and some people even rationalized it. Please understand, I am not complaining him of plagiarism. I am just questioning whether his enlightenment is authentic if he solely relies on borrowed words. A person who is talking from his own experience will absolutely have no need to imitate some one else’e words, terminology, examples and views. This shows a strong influence of one person over another. But when the person doesn’t mention him at all in public, that gives a sign of deliberately hiding it.

(Note, I am not talking about giving credit to Osho, this is how a lot of people misunderstand. He doesn’t even casually mention Osho’s name. But he has talked about all the other gurus. Even when someone sent him a question regarding this similarity, he just gave a clever answer, implying that it is just an imagination of the questioner. This signals a pretension. If you don’t see this obvious fact, then I am sorry; you have to google and read more about ‘Confirmation bias’ )

Since people were not open about it, I tried a different way. It is a psychological technique. I just conveyed the same message in a different way by showing Sadhguru in a positive light. I always try different approaches when it comes to writing answers and blog posts and convey the same message with different connotation. So I wrote an answer in a different style which you can read here:

Shanmugam P’s answer to Osho and Sadhguru should have some special connection. No other masters explicitly are so similar. They both are unidentical, but definitely very similar in a way with practical approach towards spirituality. What do their followers have to say?

I know that the blind followers of Sadhguru only care if a post shows Sadhguru in a positive light or not. They don’t seem to care about spiritual enlightenment but they only care about idealizing and defending Sadhguru. And after I wrote this answer, the poor guy immediately up-voted my answer and also wrote a comment saying that no one can deny what I said, because I have also explained the psychological reasons for why anyone would want to deny it.

But the same guy acted in a different way when I wrote another answer. I will tell you what he did shortly.. There was a question asked in Quora about why Nirmuktha site criticizes Sadhguru. For me the reason was obvious. Sadhguru voluntarily talked about Higgs Boson, which is completely out of his scope and ridiculed scientists. He implied that what science is discovering now has been discovered by our yogis and we knew the whole truth all along. This is completely unnecessary and is bound to invite criticism. How do you think a person who is passionate about science will react to such a comment? Is such a comment really necessary in the first place?

Only after seeing some comments in the Nirmuktha website, I realized that Sadhguru is creating prejudice against Science among his followers.

Science is not in competition to spirituality, it is only complementary. When both are bridged together, a lot can be accomplished. That is my whole effort and that is also the topic of my recent book (The Truth About Spiritual Enlightenment: Bridging Science, Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta). This book is the result of my whole life.

The answers to that question were also an attempt to provide some kind of justification to Sadhguru’s comments. For example, they asked questions like ‘Why do you expect Sadhguru to be correct on science’? … But that is not the point. The right question to ask is “why does he ridicule science and voluntarily talks about a scientific topic when he doesn’t know about it?’… Is saying ‘I don’t know’ very difficult for Sadhguru? Does he expect to not to face criticism after publicly ridiculing science?

Not knowing something is not a problem. Nobody knows everything in the world. But pretending to know something that one does not is the problem. Do you understand the difference?

But Sadhguru’s followers were reacting in a blind way. They were only reacting, desperately trying to justify him by saying totally unrelated things. Their comments were about how science is not good enough for certain things.

First of all, whether science is good enough or not is not even something that needs to be mentioned here, it is totally irrelevant. That doesn’t justify what Sadhguru said about Higgs Boson.

Seeing blind reactions, I was totally disappointed to see the kind of prejudice that Sadhguru has created. Have you ever thought that your left hand is in competition with your right hand? Then why the hell do you think science is in competition with spirituality? Why the hell do you have any need to prove that one is superior to other? I clearly see that authentic spirituality is not and cannot be in conflict with science at all!

This poor guy felt totally hurt after seeing the criticism. This is what he did: He immediately cancelled the upvote for my previous answer regarding Osho, deleted his comment and also wrote his own answer for the same question regarding Osho and Sadhguru, explaining that the resemblance between Osho and Sadhguru is merely a coincidence.. How can one of my answer regarding science and sadhguru change his opinion on a totally unrelated answer of mine? It is because he took the criticism personally. The poor guy doesn’t even understand what he is doing and doesn’t recognize this as blindness.

After some days, I wrote another answer: Shanmugam P’s answer to What are scientists’ opinions on Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev’s IIT Madras talk about water having memory and his abilities to manipulate its taste via telekinesis?

And I said something very valid, something that is not possible to deny, in that answer. I wrote it in a completely neutral way. Sadhguru claims that he was able to change the taste of water in a cup of glass to sweet by holding it in his hands for two minutes.

Let me paste a part of that answer here:

But I have also come across instances where Sadhguru voluntarily talks about science and claims that many things the science is discovered now has been already discovered by yogic methods. He may be probably doing this to create more appeal to yoga and spread it to more people with good intention.

But this is what creates a lot of arguments and questions among people. First, we don’t have any evidence for the fact that any kind of factual knowledge can be obtained through practices like meditation or yoga, even though we have been hearing such stories since ancient days. This claim and claims to do miracles have been misused by many fake spiritual leaders in our country which naturally makes people to be extra cautious and even harshly criticize all spiritual leaders. Until there is a solid evidence that such claims have any scientific basis, such criticism will even continue in the upcoming generations. This will actually make Yoga to become less appealing in the future. There is no way to stop it unless we do something about it in this generation especially when an influential public figure like Sadhguru, who claims to be able to do many things that a normal man cannot do, is alive. I can actually offer a simple solution for that.

As you see, I have first stated an obvious fact. If we don’t prove certain claims, this claims are bound to be rejected in the upcoming generations. So if your beloved leader is making an extraordinary claim, it is always good to ask for a proof.

Won’t a proof shut up the mouths of critics? Tell me yes or no.. Is it too much to ask for? Can you deny that if there is a solid evidence for even one extraordinary claim that Sadhguru has made, it will create a great appeal for yoga and also shut the mouth of critics regarding this once and for all? Touch your heart and tell me if this is true or not.. This is certainly, obviously, with no doubt, a win-win situation for everyone, with no exception.

Now, let me paste the last part of that answer:

Sadhguru has claimed many things which are extraordinary . He has done it indirectly by quoting incidents where he could do things like that. I will quote a claim mentioned in the same article that is given for this question, that can be very easily verified with an experiment.

So this lady in the house brought water for me and she’s like Kali suddenly, not just kathak, she’s like Kali. I looked at her – she’s a nice lady, today she’s in the Kali form – so I looked at her and she offered water to me and I said, ‘Amma, I don’t need this water. I don’t need to drink this water. You’re like Kali right now, I don’t need Kali’s prasadam right now, I’m fine.’ She said, ‘Why, will I poison it?’ I said, ‘No, you don’t have to poison it, it’s already done.’ Then I told her, ‘You take a sip from this glass.’ She took a sip from the glass, then I said, ‘Give me the glass to me.’ I held in my hands for two minutes and I just gave it to her, ‘You drink it now.’ She drank one sip and burst into tears and started crying, she said, ‘It’s sweet.’ I said, ‘That’s all the difference it is.’”

This is an extraordinary claim! But all he has to do is get a glass of plain water from you, hold it in his hands for two minutes and give it to you. If it tastes sweet, that is all there is to prove.

It can be verified with a scientific experiment very easily. Proving such a thing has many advantages too. Other then getting attention, Sadhguru and Isha foundation will gain more trust. It will stop people from turning way from Isha just because these claims are made. It will stop unnecessary hot criticisms filled with hatred and verbal abuses that we see all over internet. Sadhguru may win a nobel prize and Isha people will love that. He may earn millions of dollars which can be used for social welfare. Because we all know that Isha foundation already needs money for upcoming projects and currently have to rely on donations alone. In fact, many people who oppose him will start to trust that he is doing everything with a genuine interest for people’s well being and willing to donate even more. Tell me one reason why this is not a good idea!

If you understand this and are genuinely interested to make it happen, we can find a way to pass it on to Sadhguru. You can republish this answer anywhere, share this answer, upvote it or directly send an email to Isha. If each missed call can count, each upvote can count too.

Did I say anything wrong or something totally unacceptable?

But look at a comment that I got from someone:

I think, Mr. Dear Shanmugam, you are actually fooling yourself. Because Sadguru already told to everyone that to look inside and first establish in Yoga. This is what Lord Krishn said in Bhagava Geetha already. But Sadguru always insist everyone to look inside and find out yourself. Then only act! You do not know that who you are and you are talking and researching a SADGURU!! And even trying to help him or try to disaprove His Guruship even!! WHO ARE YOU??!! WHAT IS YOUR ELIGIBILITY??!! Ask yourself??!!! What a shame!!You are a shame for India. That you are trying to give Certificate for an Enlightetend Master. I live with another Enlightetend Master Sri Sri Yogananda Saraswathi and I know the full meaning of the word “Guru.” Then when it comes to the word Sadguru, He is more above than the so called Gurus and he can be the Guru of All Gurus. This is pure understanding. So don’t suspect a Sadgur’s words and you don’t have to make a research on what a Sadguru talks and do. Becuse Go and Read Shiva Samhitha and also Guru Charithra. Then you will realise that you are cimmiting a big SIN!! You may call that I a Sadguru supporter or lover! and I am sick !! But I challenge you, Go and read GURU CHARITHRA!!

I will challenge you that if you read three times GURU CHARITHRA all your life will be settled and your mind will change. You will be cured of your jealousy and suspicion!!! You have to read with love and devotion. That is first condition!! Not with Suspicion!! As Swami Vivekananda told “three things are necessary to make every nation great and every person great” I will here only give the first requirement. Other two you read in Swami Vivekananda’s works!! What he said the first important point to become great for anyone is “ Absence of Jealousy and suspicion”’

You have both!!! I feel pity on you and all those argues with a Guru! Can anyone argue with a Guru!! Only fools and egoists will argues with a Guru. But you can ask genuine questions to get genuine answers. When Sadguru answers such questions you have to understand. Remember a Guru can never till a lie. You and me may lie , but never a Guru.

First you have to go Isha and stay there for atleast three months and live a real Sadhaka life, if you want to understand Him. The after tayin ghtre and living with Him, if you still think that He is not a Guru at all, then I shall sayd that is your fte! and You are not fit for spiritual life! So that is why you live a life of a Fmily man and suffer all the prarabdha Karma outside. But there also you can understand a Guru or Sadguru, if you are a good man. But you are jealous and suspicious! You want to challenge a Sadguru and want to Help a Sadguru by giving a CErtificate for Him! My kind advice to you is that, Go and Read GURU CHARITHRA three times, so that your jealousy and suspicion will be cured!! I am sure and Guarantee. Forget about people who are tlking against Sadguru!! Eample is Sri Ramakrishna sadi when a an Elephant walks all dogs bark!! Why they are jealousy of the gaint walk of the elephant!! Same thing with others they are like the same dogs! it is not angry or abuse words! It their qualifiction, that they re only human body with a dogs mind!! Thiis is the answer for you.

Go and read GURU CHARITHRA three times! You will definitely will save your future life. After that talk!! May God save you from future misery!! After reading GURU CHARITHRA and when you understand who is a Guru, then you will feel like even praying to Sadguru Himself! That will be the change positive!! All the best!! Then I can say you life will be safe! Otheewise! Next birth you may become a dog or cat! Chances are there when you take the company of fools who bark at Sadguru!!

Do you see what this guy is saying? Isn’t this guy promoting pure blindness? Not only that, this is totally against what Sadhguru himself says.. Sadhguru says skeptics are the true seekers and I totally agree: Skeptics are True Seekers – The Isha Blog

He goes on to say that Sadhguru can never lie and we are supposed to blindly believe him. But does this random guy even know that Sadhguru himself says he lies whenever necessary?

Guess what, even though this comment is completely against what Sadhguru is saying, the poor guy, the hero of our story still has the guts to upvote that comment! He is simply upvoting the comment because now he gets some peace on seeing that I get personally attacked. But he doesn’t realize that no one can insult me… I can’t take offence from anyone, it is simple ignored. And I hope that he realizes his blindness one day…

Only a few days after that I realized that this guy is not alone. Every single person who comments on Youtube vidoes, blogs and Quora is extremely abusive, intolerant for any kind of criticism and can’t accept even a slight skepticism about Sadhguru. There are few exceptions but most of them are like this..

Just look at the nature of the comments of Sadhguru’s followers that is present in an Youtube video of Sadhguru’s speech:

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After I witnessed a lot of such comments, I am able to see that Sadhguru’s followers are unconsciously developing prejudice against science, westerners (mainly Americans), other religions (especially Christianity) and all skeptics in general. And you need to understand that prejudice is completely incompatible with spirituality.

So I decided to write this answer to make certain things clear to Sadhguru’s followers: Shanmugam P’s answer to What advice would you like to give to the followers of Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev?

Only after seeing all this cultish behaviour and blind followings, I really started much of my criticism. And I have already made it very clear in one of my answers that I won’t stop my criticism until this blindness stops.

It is good for you as well to change it right away, because otherwise people will start labeling Isha as cult. So, the criticism is not about defaming Sadhguru, I don’t have the intention to defame him. The only intention I have is to make people aware of their blindness and unconsciousness. My ultimate intention has always been bridging Science with spirituality. I have elaborated it in detail in my book.

Finally, I want to end with my comments on something that the poor guy said:

Remember that sitting in a comfort zone and writing answers upon quora, creating blogs, publishing ebooks either for or against the popular figure is very easy task just like an intellectual masturbation, but to yourself approach him for testing his unproven claims and then declaring your “objective findings” is a different thing. And the latter is always preferrable for a matured mind.

First, the poor guy needs to understand that walking in the spiritual path itself takes someone away from the comfort zone. Spiritual enlightenment is totally destroying the comfort zone called ‘sense of a separate self’.

Many people think that intelligence is the top most quality that is needed in spiritual path. No! Courage is the topmost quality that is needed. You need to risk something that is considered as the most valuable thing in your life, which is what you think as ‘yourself’.. Unless you are willing to go through a psychological death, there is no question of spiritual enlightenment…

But after 2014, I am always in a comfort zone no matter what I do. I cannot leave the comfort zone because liberation is the ultimate and the greatest comfort zone ever. The pain only lies in passing through the bridge between a petty comfort zone of your sense of a separate self and the ultimate comfort zone of liberation.

Second, I see many objections which say ‘why don’t you challenge Sadhguru publicly instead of being an armchair critic? ‘ ‘Why don’t you approach him for testing his claims?’ etc.

Is Sadhguru my next door neighbor to challenge him publicly? Or do you think that I am the CEO of Sun TV? I am just an ordinary guy living an ordinary life. If you are worried about such criticisms, you are the one who should take this to Sadhguru. This is exactly what I addressed in my answer regarding water memory. But I understand where this objection is coming from. Because, this is a very common rebuttal that is taught to Isha followers. So they are just following the herd.

Third, as I mentioned very clearly, I am not really desperate about spoiling the image of a public figure. The only reason I write such things is to create an awareness about various things. I know it makes a difference. I have seen the difference that it has made and changed the way that at least some people think. And I am sure that one day or the other day such questions and criticisms will reach Sadhguru’s attention.

Fourth, I don’t support pseudoskepticism . Pseudoskepticism is different from actual skepticism. One trait of pseudoskepticism is ‘The tendency to discredit rather than investigate’. This is what the poor guy is talking about. I agree with him. But the problem is, nobody who has the power and authority to investigate is trying to investigate. And I am confident that my criticisms will somehow raise a public awareness regarding this. The same theme is present in my answer regarding water memory.

Thank you for taking your time in reading this answer. Here are two more links that I recommend the followers of Sadhguru to read:

  1. Giving and Receiving Criticism
  2. The Sociology of Calling Other People Stupid
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What Is Spiritual Enlightenment?

(I am republishing an answer that I wrote in Quora)

The word ‘Enlightenment’ can be defined in many different ways. We have so many words in different traditions which are synonymous with the word ‘enlightenment’.

The list of words are endless and the definitions are endless too. Some people exaggerate it, some people understate it, some people say that there is no such thing called enlightenment while the majority of the world’s population haven’t even heard of it.

First, let me describe enlightenment in terms of what disappears. Deep down in people’s minds, there is an underlying dissatisfaction with the way things are. People want many things to be different from the way they actually are. There is a craving for becoming something that one is not and there is a resistance to the way things are. Everyone is moving towards a goal, a destination that is in the future. The hopes of arriving at that destination seem to give some solace and if those hopes and dreams are threatened, we tend to suffer. This burning uneasiness and dissatisfaction can be likened to a fire that is burning. The extinction of this fire is enlightenment. The word ‘Nirvana’ means extinction.

There are also two other words ‘moksha’ and ‘mukthi’, which literally mean ‘liberation’. These words refer to how enlightenment feels like.

A typical human being is bound by various things. He is bound by his own past intentions. He is bound by his beliefs. He is bound by the opinions of other people.

But deep inside the heart of every human being, there is a longing to become boundless and expansive. We try to accomplish this by accumulation; we accumulate knowledge, possession, and experiences hoping that these accumulations will make us boundless.

But these very accumulations cause further bondage. Now you have to protect them because losing them will essentially mean losing yourself; because you derive a sense of identity from these accumulations. A typical human being is actually in a self-made prison. But the saddest part is that majority of the population don’t realize that they are in such a prison.

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I have heard a quote by some anonymous person which goes like this:

“One of the greatest mental freedoms is truly not caring what anyone else thinks of you”..

Imagine the kind of freedom you will get when you no longer worry about what other people think about you. And, also imagine the kind of freedom you will get when you are no longer afraid of losing anything. Imagine the kind of freedom you will get when you no longer worry about future and past! What is usually called as enlightenment is the greatest freedom ever. It is not only a combination of all kinds of freedoms that I just talked about but it is also a freedom from the sense of a separate self. It is a permanent freedom from the story you have about you. Once a person is enlightened, he feels like a huge load has been taken off of his shoulders. There is a sense of an immense freedom which is priceless. It literally feels like escaping from a prison.

Once J. Krishnamurti asked his audience if they wanted to know what his secret was. Then he revealed his secret in just one sentence. He said, “I don’t care what happens”…

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Simply put, this is enlightenment. Nothing ultimately matters and the whole life becomes a play or a game.

When we play a game with our friends, we play it without any seriousness. Even though we make sure that the rules of the games are followed and that we do what we are supposed to do in the game, we don’t lose our sleep over it (unless we are playing in a tournament). Playing your role in life as if you are just playing a game is the greatest sense of freedom. Enlightenment naturally makes you to not to care about the end result of whatever you are doing. At the end of the day, nothing ever matters. That doesn’t mean you will be irresponsible. You will just enjoy what you are doing rather than being focused on results. Your actions will be driven by intrinsic motivation.

Whatever I have said so far, sounds quite logical. But I haven’t touched the core yet. The core and the essence of enlightenment is realizing that you as a separate person or entity is an illusion. You create a solid sense of self inside your mind and you define the boundaries of that self physically by your body and mentally by your story.

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But science and spirituality tell us that there is no such solid, consistent self. This doesn’t mean that your body and your mind doesn’t exist. But a sense of self that you derive from your body and mind is just a deep-rooted belief. Since you have this belief for such a long time, you don’t even recognize that it is a belief. This may even sound absurd or unacceptable to you simply because you have lived with this belief so long. We have built layer upon layer on this belief which makes us very difficult to see through this belief.

Someone asked a question in Quora before. The question was “Can an atheist believe in spiritual enlightenment? “. The word ‘believe’ here is a bit odd.But this question comes from an assumption that spiritual enlightenment is somehow related or tied to religious beliefs. But in reality, an enlightened person is an upgraded atheist.

Let me elaborate. The only thing that an atheist doesn’t believe in is the existence of a personal deity, a creator God who answers your prayers. But an atheist may still believe that his next door neighbor is a jerk and his boss is an a**h**e.

An enlightened person, on the other hand, doesn’t believe in anything. He doesn’t even believe that he is separate from the existence. Once the sense of a separate-self dissolves, you realize that you are existence itself. All the boundaries between you and the world simply disappear. You cease to exist as a person but you continue to exist as the existence.Realizing that you are not an entity separate from existence is enlightenment. It is not just realizing this as a fact but realizing it in your actual moment to moment experience.

This is not to say that enlightenment is a special experience or an altered state of consciousness. When you are living a life as a liberated person, you simply experience the reality without any duality. The reality is felt in its purity without any distortions. Your life then becomes free-flowing, conflict-less, guilt-free, fearless, peaceful and fulfilled. Nothing is lacking anymore at the absolute level. There is a sense of innocence and genuineness in your moment to moment experience. It is quite ordinary then how enlightenment is described or thought of.

So, what causes this illusion of separate self or duality? Left-brain interpreter is the culprit.

The left brain interpreter refers to the construction of explanations by the left brain in order to make sense of the world by reconciling new information with what was known before. The left brain interpreter attempts to rationalize, reason and generalize new information it receives in order to relate the past to the present. The concept was first introduced by Michael Gazzaniga while he performed research on split-brain patients during the early 1970s with Roger Sperry at the California Institute of Technology.] Sperry eventually received the 1981 Nobel Prize in Medicine for his contributions to split-brain research

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If you just look at the above picture, one thing is clear. You left brain engages in things which require categorization. Your right brain specializes in helping you to see everything as a whole.

Dr. Chris Niebauer, a neuroscientist writes in his book ‘The Neurotic’s Guide to Avoiding Enlightenment: How the Left-brain Plays Unending Games of Self-improvement’ about the left brain interpreter.

Let me quote a few lines from his book:

“The left-brain interpreter is categorical, it creates division outwardly and inwardly, so let it do its job, let it do its thing. “

“Again, there is the interpreter created category of “me as I am” vs. “me as I want to be” which are both just thoughts bouncing around in the skull. So, ironically, if you are trying to improve yourself, you can’t. The notion that your self needs improving is an interpretation and we are going around interpretations. There is an irony in most bookstores called the “self help” section. I might suggest renaming this as “Books that reinforce the illusion that the left-brain interpreter can be what it isn’t free of itself.”

“The interpreter also creates and sustains our collection of categorical thoughts called our beliefs.”

It is this left brain interpreter which also creates the duality. It categories your body and your story as a ‘me’ that is separate from the existence.

You can read more about it here: Shanmugam P’s answer to Is spiritual awakening a myth?

Spiritual enlightenment is going beyond all the dualities. It leads one to resolve all the internal conflicts and to feel one with everything. It removes the idea that there is a separate entity inside which has to enhance itself for fulfillment. The left brain may still continue to categorize things, but they are not solidified in our consciousness and we are not urged to protect those solidified entities.

The Difference between Buddhist Enlightenment and Advaita Enlightenment

(I am republishing an answer that I wrote in Quora for the question ‘What is the difference between Buddhist enlightenment and Advaita enlightenment?’)

If you are in a prison and want to escape from the prison, you can do it in many ways:

1)You can break the walls and escape.

2) You can climb the wall and escape from it.

3) You can attack a guard in the prison, put on his dress, deceive others and somehow try to escape from the prison.

Once you have come out of the prison, you feel liberated. Is there any difference in the feeling of liberation based on how you escaped from the prison?

If you fall in love with someone, you would say to that person, ‘I love you’. A Frenchman would say ‘je t’aime’; A German would say ‘ich liebe dich’. A Spanish guy would say ‘te amo’. Is there any difference in the love based on the way it is said?

What they call as Nirvana in Buddhism and what they call as Moksha in Vedanta are one and the same. The methodology, the approach and the terminology used may be different. But the liberation is the same.

Enlightenment is nothing but liberating yourself from the prison of clinging to the mind and the body and deriving your identity from it. As long as you are just body and mind, you are limited. Once that identification is completely destroyed, you are boundless. Then you are beyond all dualities.

I have written two blog posts explaining why Buddhism and Vedanta are one and the same:

Buddhism and Vedanta are the Same – A Detailed Comparison

Which Philosophy Personally Appeals More to You, Buddhism or Advaita Vedanta?

I recently wrote a book titled ‘The Truth About Spiritual Enlightenment: Bridging Science, Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta’ in which I have put together the essence of the ancient teachings, how they evolved historically and what psychology says about certain principles that are exactly the same as what these traditions say.

Enlightenment is the destruction of the distinction between the observer and the observed. But the first step lies in clearly understanding the distinction between the two. In the process of understanding it, you would intentionally, clearly and correctly discriminate between the observer and the observed. The final step is the merger of the two. When the observer, the observed and the act of observing all become one, the duality disappears. This is enlightenment. And, this is the same regardless of where the guidance comes from and how you are guided.

My Views on the Debate between Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev and Javed Akhtar : ‘Faith, Reason and Inner Engineering’

I am republishing the Quora answer that I wrote. You can read my answer in Quora here.

 

First of all, I see a small problem in the crux of the whole debate. The debate is titled Faith, Reason and Inner Engineering’. Also, moderator Shoma Chaudhury when introducing and concluding the debate makes it clear that the debate is about faith and reason. She also seem to understand Sadhguru as a man of faith and Javed Akhtar as a man of reason. (You can hear Sadhguru’s voice in the background correcting her statement when she concluded the debate)

But actually, by going by their own words, both Sadhguru and Javed Akhtar are men of reason and are against faith. Both are in agreement towards how belief implies not accepting that one doesn’t know. Then what are they really debating about?

The debate would make more sense when it is about whether spirituality is necessary or not. I think that is how this debate should have been titled and introduced. Because, that is exactly where Javed disagrees with Sadhguru. There is no doubt that Javed Akhtar is an intelligent man and a great lyricist. But he doesn’t seem to agree with the fact that there is a way to get liberated from human suffering.

Javed Akhtar’s views on spirituality

Here is what Javed Akhtar said about spirituality in another talk:

Plato in his dialogues has said many a wise thing, and one of them is – before starting any discussion decide on the meanings of words. Let us try to decide on the meaning of this word spirituality. Does it mean love for mankind that transcends all religion, caste, creed, race? Is that so? Then I have no problem. Except that I call it humanity. Does it mean love of plants, trees, mountains, oceans, rivers, animals? The non-human world? If that is so, again I have no problem at all. Except that I call it environmental consciousness. Does spirituality mean heartfelt regard for social institutions like marriage, parenthood, fine arts, judiciary, freedom of expression. I have no problem again sir, how can I disagree here? I call it civil responsibility. Does spirituality mean going into your own world trying to understand the meaning of your own life? Who can object on that? I call it self-introspection, self assessment. Does spirituality mean Yoga? Thanks to Patanjali, who has given us the details of Yoga, Yam, Yatam, aasan, pranayam…We may do it under any name, but if we are doing pranayam, wonderful. I call it healthcare. Physical fitness.

Now is it a matter of only semantics. If all this is spirituality, then what is the discussion. All these words that I have used are extremely respectable and totally acceptable words. There is nothing abstract or intangible about them. So why stick to this word spirituality? What is there in spirituality that has not been covered by all these words? Is there something? If that is so then what is that?

Somebody in return can ask me what is my problem with this word. I am asking to change it, leave it, drop it, make it obsolete but why so? I will tell you what is my reservation. If spirituality means all this then there is no discussion. But there is something else which makes me uneasy. In a dictionary, the meaning of spirituality is rooted in a word called “spirit”. When mankind didn’t know whether this earth is round or flat, he had decided that human beings are actually the combination of two things. Body and spirit. Body is temporary, it dies. But the spirit is, shall I say, non-biodegradable. In your body you have a liver and heart and intestines and the brain, but since the brain is a part of the body, and mind lies within the brain, it is inferior because ultimately the brain too shall die with the body, but don’t worry, you are not going to die, because you are your spirit, and the spirit has the supreme consciousness that will remain, and whatever problem you have is because you listen to your mind. Stop listening to your mind. Listen to your spirit – the supreme consciousness that knows the cosmic truth. All right. It’s not surprising that in Pune there is an ashram and I used to go there. I loved the oratory. On the gate of the lecture hall there was a placard. Leave your shoes and minds here. There are other gurus who don’t mind if you carry your shoes. But minds?…sorry.

Now, let me address something very important before I talk more about the debate that happened. I have seen a lot of comments in that Youtube video (Faith, Reason and Inner Engineering) attacking Javed Akhtar and labeling him idiot and stupid. First of all, just because someone doesn’t understand what spirituality is, it doesn’t mean that he is idiot or stupid. There are too many factors into play, which makes a person to get frustrated with running on a hedonic treadmill and search for a way to get liberated.

A lot of Jaggi Vasudev’s own followers don’t understand what spirituality is. Before Osho died, he has said that only a very few people understood his message. I read somewhere that J.Krishnamurti said something like ‘Where did I go wrong, why didn’t these people understand me’.. Many people who think themselves as seekers actually start the journey with a curiosity or sometimes even with blind faith.Many people think that being religious is being spiritual. And all these people are not idiots..

A lot of you may have trouble explaining such things to your mom, dad, sister and friends.. Would you call all of them as stupids? If you consider for a moment that Javed Akhtar is also someone like your dad or granddad, you will not indulge in personally attacking him while sitting in your arm chair.

What is Spirituality?

When you talk to the skeptics, it is very important to not to talk about things which sound like woo woo or which are ambiguous. So, let me talk about what authentic gurus actually mean when they use the word spirituality. We can take two very popular words in our tradition to inquire into its actual meaning. One is ‘moksha’ which means ‘liberation’; the other is ‘nirvana’ which means ‘extinction’. Before I explain what exactly we mean by that, let me explain another concept.

Human beings are always running on hedonic treadmill. What is it?

Hedonic adaptation is a process or mechanism that reduces the affective impact of emotional events. Generally, hedonic adaptation involves a happiness “set point”, whereby humans generally maintain a constant level of happiness throughout their lives, despite events that occur in their environment. The process of hedonic adaptation is often conceptualized as a treadmill, since one must continually work to maintain a certain level of happiness.

For most of the people, living our lives is like running on a treadmill. You think you will be happy after getting a job. You feel happy for a while but then you run for something else.. You may think marrying the love of your life will make you happy. But the excitement of your marriage fades away and now you want to buy a car. Then you want to buy a house.. But you never get the ultimate satisfaction that you are aiming for. It is like a fire that is burning continuously; the extinction of this fire is nirvana. It is a prison that keeps you trapped. The liberation from this prison is moksha.

Why Javed Akhtar is not open to the idea that such a liberation is possible?

From this debate and from other talks of Javed Akhtar, I have understood one thing. He might have seen a lot of fake gurus. He might have noticed a lot of cultish behavior from their followers too. Sadhguru also mentioned in the video that just because one has seen some bad apples, that doesn’t mean all apples are bad.

But we also have to understand a reality. Most of the people today who are posing as Gurus are frauds or somehow fooling themselves that they are enlightened. Some of them may be intelligent , have good intentions and might have even had some spiritual experiences. But they might have taken up a guru role before the actual liberation has happened. Though there is no foolproof way to find out if someone is enlightened, there are lot of indications that show that someone is not, which will be obvious especially for people who are more advanced in the path. After seeing the way such gurus are, it is not surprising to me that Javed is not open to the fact that there is actually a way to get liberated and that it is quite possible.

Because of this hardwired concept he has about gurus in general, I don’t think he will be ever open to something that comes from anyone who is called as a guru. And a debate is certainly not a situation where such a thing can happen. He may be more open to someone like J.Krishnamurthi. Or a better option would be to gift him the book ‘Waking up – Spirituality without religion’ written by Sam Harris. 🙂 I have read testimonies by some people who said that they were skeptical about the truth of spiritual enlightenment but they became seekers after reading this book.

Some comments about the debate and the points discussed:

  1. I appreciate Javed for determining or mutually agreeing with the meaning of the words in the beginning. Because, this is very important since a lot of debates are semantic and happen because of each person using a word to mean something different from what the other person uses. A lot of confusion happens because of confusions in the terminology. So, it is important for both the parties to come to an agreement on what the words actually mean.
  2. Sadhguru says philosophy is just a fantastic explanation of aspects of life which can never be explained. He also says that he doesn’t have any philosophy. Thanks to him for mentioning what he means by the word philosophy. This is again an example of point 1, because he uses the word ‘philosophy’ the same way Osho used it. But coming up such fantastic explanation of aspects of life is only one aspect of Philosophy. Epistemology, a subject that deals with how knowledge should be acquired is philosophy. Scientific method that science uses is actually a philosophy. Logic is also a part of philosophy.
  3. Sadhguru says that there were no teachings in this country but only methods. And he says that there were no believers in this country but only seekers. This may sound good to hear but it is not true. There have been countless teachings, philosophies and even a lot of absurd ethics in this country. There has been contradictory metaphysical theories in each school. What is Manusmriti? It is not only a book of teachings but it had the most cruel ideas about the caste system. The whole vedanta and mimamsa schools are based on the belief that Vedas and Upanishads are eternal , infallible and revealed through divine revelation. I have talked more about it here: Shanmugam P’s answer to Which philosophy personally appeals more to you, Buddha’s Pratityasamutpada or Advaita Vedanta? . Also, there has been countless wars based on the beliefs. For example, wars between Shaivites and Vaishnavites, murders of countless jain monks by the believers of Shiva etc. I am mentioning this because many people who follow Sadhguru are so blind and they never accept that Sadhguru can also be wrong.
  4. After a few minutes have passed, you will notice personal attacks from both sides. But do you see who started it? After Javed talked about agreeing on terminology, Sadhguru ridiculed him for no reason and commented about his intelligence. There is no reason to do that. It doesn’t look good for a man like Sadhguru.
  5. Moderator asked a question to Sadhguru regarding the followers who engage in wars and ready to kill. She is actually talking about many people creating a ‘cult of personality’. I feel Sadhguru should have addressed this issue because this is actually becoming very ugly now. You can witness this in the comments of that youtube video itself. I have talked more about this here: Shanmugam P’s answer to What advice would you like to give to the followers of Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev?
  6. She also asked regarding charging money for the courses and if such courses are available for poor people. I don’t have any issue in charging money for the courses because it is difficult to conduct courses like this without money, especially in metro areas. But Sadhguru also mentioned that such courses are conducted in rural areas for free. I have been hearing this quite a lot, but has anyone questioned how true it is? How many such free programs are conducted on a regular basis and how many villages are covered? How often do they happen? Sadhguru himself says that if one wants to attend such courses for free he has to go to a village. But which village and when? No such information is available in the course schedule of the Isha website. I once sent an email inquiring the details but got no response. Once you make a commitment to provide free courses for poor people, there should be someway for those poor people to find out about those courses. Don’t you agree?
  7. In the middle of the debate, you will hear Javed saying the most anti-spiritual statement which is ‘you are your mind’.. 🙂 You can’t really convince him anymore in a debate. 🙂 But anyway, I think the way Buddha approached this issue might have worked in this scenario. Buddha didn’t say ‘You are not the mind, you are not the body’. He said, “There is no ‘you’ in the mind and there is no ‘you’ in the body. Buddha’s approach was empirical and he put it in a different way. And scientists and Buddha are in agreement here. He said:

“Bhikkhus, feeling is not-self…

“Bhikkhus, perception is not-self…

“Bhikkhus, determinations are not-self…

But he never said what is actually ‘You’.. He left that to people to find out. He was silent when people asked him metaphysical questions. He won’’t answer if anyone asks ‘What is the source of existence, why am i here”

There is a beautiful parable called ‘Parable of the poisoned arrow’ which is about what Buddha said when someone asked metaphysical questions:

It’s just as if a man were wounded with an arrow thickly smeared with poison. His friends & companions, kinsmen & relatives would provide him with a surgeon, and the man would say, ‘I won’t have this arrow removed until I know whether the man who wounded me was a noble warrior, a priest, a merchant, or a worker.’ He would say, ‘I won’t have this arrow removed until I know the given name & clan name of the man who wounded me… until I know whether he was tall, medium, or short… until I know whether he was dark, ruddy-brown, or golden-colored… until I know his home village, town, or city… until I know whether the bow with which I was wounded was a long bow or a crossbow… until I know whether the bowstring with which I was wounded was fiber, bamboo threads, sinew, hemp, or bark… until I know whether the shaft with which I was wounded was wild or cultivated… until I know whether the feathers of the shaft with which I was wounded were those of a vulture, a stork, a hawk, a peacock, or another bird… until I know whether the shaft with which I was wounded was bound with the sinew of an ox, a water buffalo, a langur, or a monkey.’ He would say, ‘I won’t have this arrow removed until I know whether the shaft with which I was wounded was that of a common arrow, a curved arrow, a barbed, a calf-toothed, or an oleander arrow.’ The man would die and those things would still remain unknown to him

Buddha was not interested in mystic musings. He was only interested in showing people the way to liberation. It is because of the empirical approach taken by Buddha, a lot of psychologists are interested in Buddhism more than any other tradition.

Anyway, overall the debate was very entertaining and fun to watch. Javed’s posture and reaction was very funny. He seemed to be restless too. Needless to say, Sadhguru made many insightful points in the debate.

Which Philosophy Personally Appeals More to You, Buddhism or Advaita Vedanta?

(This is a repost of the answer that I wrote in Quora for the same question)

Both point to the same truth!

I have noticed that many people don’t agree when it is said both are the same, because they are only looking at both of them in philosophical level. When it comes to ultimate reality, no matter what words we use, they can be always misleading.

I am talking from my own experience. Oneness with the rest of the existence is a living reality for me. But I will back up my statements by quoting both Vedantic and Buddhist scriptures.

The main source of suffering in our lives is caused by identification. We get identified with our mind, our body, our thoughts, our emotions etc. This identification of mistaking something that is not Self as Self is termed as Avidya or ignorance. Ignorance causes us to think that there is a separate individual self which needs to be protected and enhanced.

In other words, we feel experientially that we are separate from the rest of the world. This separation causes us to crave for fulfillment. That is why Buddha said craving is the root cause of suffering. It is Avidya, the ignorance which causes craving. Buddha is talking about the immediate cause and Vedanta is talking about the original cause.

Some people will object to this by saying that Buddhism doesn’t say that there is something eternal. First of all, when you realize that time itself is an illusion, you will also realize that eternity is only an idea. Buddha was more specific and straight forward, while Vedanta is little compassionate and gives you something that your mind can grasp.

When anyone asked Buddha any metaphysical questions such as ‘Is there anything eternal’, Buddha was silent. It is called Noble Silence .He talked about the impermanence of aggregates, but what we call in Vedanta as absolute reality is not one of the aggregates. It is not anything that is objective. It cannot be put into words. But both Vedanta and Buddhism has actually hinted about this absolute reality with striking similarity.

See the below examples:

Vedanta:

“It is this Akshara (the Imperishable), O Gargi, so the knowers of Brahman say. It is neither gross nor subtle, neither short nor long, not red, not viscid, not shadowy, not dark, not the air, not the ether, not adhesive, tasteless, odourless, without the sense of sight, without the sense of hearing, without the vital principle, mouthless, without measure, neither interior nor exterior,. It eats nothing, nobody eats it.”

– Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 3-8-8.

Buddhism:

“There is that dimension, monks, where there is neither earth, nor water, nor fire, nor wind; neither dimension of the infinitude of space, nor dimension of the infinitude of consciousness, nor dimension of nothingness, nor dimension of neither perception nor non-perception; neither this world, nor the next world, nor sun, nor moon. And there, I say, there is neither coming, nor going, nor staying; neither passing away nor arising: unestablished, unevolving, without support [mental object]. This, just this, is the end of stress.”

– Buddha (in Nibbāna Sutta: Unbinding (1))

Buddha directly talks about something that is eternal too, but he uses the word ‘unborn’:

There is, monks, an unborn— unbecome — unmade — unfabricated. If there were not that unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated, there would not be the case that escape from the born — become — made — fabricated would be discerned. But precisely because there is an unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated, escape from the born — become — made — fabricated is discerned

– Buddha (in Nibbāna Sutta: Unbinding (3))

So, why did Buddha reject Vedas when Vedanta says that Vedas are the only authority?

We need to take Buddha’s time into account. Buddha lived sometime around 800 BC- 600 BC. It was during those times when many rishis were able to realize that there is something beyond the benefits that was got from mere rituals..Vedic rituals only focused on materialistic benefits that people could enjoy in three worlds. They were never about ultimate reality. That is when two great upanishads, Brihadaranyaka upanishad and Chandgoya upanishads were compiled. It must have taken a century or two; Buddha started talking to people at the same time period. So, we can safely conclude that when Buddha was alive, upanishads were not a part of Vedas.

This will raise many objections. Because, many people believe that Vedas are eternal and infallible. Even Shankara believed so. But, consider the following verses from Brihadaranyaka upanishad and the commentary from Shankara:

From chapter 6, section 4:

Verse 6: If man sees his reflection in water, he
should recite the following Mantra : ‘ (May the
gods grant) me lustre, manhood, reputation,
wealth and merits.’ She (his wife) is indeed the
goddess of beauty among women. Therefore he
should approach this handsome woman and
speak to her.

Shankara’s commentary:

If perchance he sees his reflection in water, he
should recite the following Mantra : ‘(May the gods
grant) me lustre,’ etc. She is indeed the goddess of
beauty among women. Therefore he should approach
this handsome woman and speak to her, when she has
taken a bath after three ‘nights.

Verse 7 : If she is not willing, he should buy her
over; and if she is still unyielding, he should
strike her with a stick or with the hand and
proceed, uttering the following Mantra, ‘I take
away your reputation,’ etc. She is then actually
discredited.

Shankara’s commentary:

If she is not willing, he should buy her over,
press his wishes through ornaments etc.; and if she is
still unyielding, he should strike her with a stick or
with the hand
, and announcing that he was going to
curse her and make her unfortunate, he should ·proceed,
uttering the following Mantra : ‘I take away your
reputation: etc. As a result of that curse, she comes
to be known as barren and unfortunate, and is then
actually discredited.

The above verses show how totally male dominative the society was those days.. Even though this doesn’t have anything to do with enlightenment, this example shows how one should not take everything just because it comes from a scripture or a person who is regarded as an authority.

And I don’t think that such infallible and eternal upanishads can advice someone to beat his wife if she doesn’t agree for sex.

You may say that these were later interpolations. But if that is the case, how could we trust Vedas in the first place?

But I know that Vedic verses such as Nasadiya Suktha and almost all upanishads have immense wisdom. We have to see them as collection of various poems composed by different people, instead of seeing them as infallible and eternal scriptures. I know that it is very difficult for many Indians to accept, because we are deeply blinded by pride and confirmation bias.

So, Why did Vedanta say that Vedas are only pramana (means of knowledge)?

Let us talk about three different methods of acquiring knowledge in general. (Vedanta uses six, but let us talk about three important ones here)

  1. Direct experience
  2. Inference
  3. Testimony from an authority.

In our daily life, we can get to know about many things through direct experience and inference. But we would never know the path to end the suffering unless someone tells us, simple!

So our ancient Indians selected the Upanishads as the only reliable authority to teach us the path towards liberation. It is just a standardization made by humans to avoid any conflict. And according to the social structure that prevailed those days, instead of relying any random person’s words as authority, it was reasonable to accept Upanishads as authority.

But we live in 21st century now. We are aware of things like confirmation bias and we are more keen towards human rights. While we do appreciate and show immense reverence to our ancient scriptures, it is nothing wrong in changing certain things to suit our modern society.

Also, Vedanta uses a certain teaching method called Adyaropa Apavada while Buddhism teaches directly and precisely. Vedanta is poetic where as Buddhism is empirical. Buddhism gives you the raw truth but Vedanta offers to you with added sweets and flavors. The only problem in Vedanta is that people may get stuck with the words and concepts.

You can find more details in my post here where I have included some additional points: Buddhism and Vedanta are the Same – A Detailed Comparison

If you are looking for a great spiritual authority to confirm the validity of Buddha’s message, then I will quote some of the words from Bhagwan Ramana Maharishi:

Disciple: Research on God has been going on from time immemorial. Has the final word been said?

Maharshi: (Keeps silence for some time.)

Disciple: (Puzzled) Should I consider Sri Bhagavan’s silence as the reply to my question?

Maharshi: Yes. Mouna is Isvara-svarupa.Hence the text: “The Truth of Supreme Brahman proclaimed through Silent Eloquence.”

Disciple: Buddha is said to have ignored such inquiries about God.

Maharshi: And for this reason was called a sunyavadin (nihilist). In fact Buddha concerned himself more with directing the seeker to realize Bliss here and now that with academic discussion about God, etc.

Buddhism and Vedanta are the Same – A Detailed Comparison

Buddhism and Vedanta are two big schools which have dominated the spiritual world till date.  Among many schools which have existed in the past, only these two have made a great influence all over the world and still continue to exist. But they seem to be contradictory to each other in many ways.

But based on my own experience and based on what I have read, these two schools only seem to differ because they use different conceptual languages. They also have different teaching methods. But the essence is the same.

When it comes to Vedanta, Prasthanathrayi, consisting of main Upanishads, Brahmasutras and Bhagwad gita is  the authority. In Buddhism, Tripitaka, consisting of Vinaya Pitaka, Sutra Pitaka and Abidharama Pitaka, is the source of all conceptual details. When you go through the scriptures with an open mind and with the support of your own spiritual realization, you will see that both are essentially the same.

Both schools talk about the cessation of suffering. The process of the cessation of suffering is called Moksha in Vedanta and Nirvana in Buddhism. Now let us see how these two schools define the nature of this liberation and the ultimate truth:

Vedanta

“It is this Akshara (the Imperishable), O Gargi, so the knowers of Brahman say. It is neither gross nor subtle, neither short nor long, not red, not viscid, not shadowy, not dark, not the air, not the ether, not adhesive, tasteless, odourless, without the sense of sight, without the sense of hearing, without the vital principle, mouthless, without measure, neither interior nor exterior,. It eats nothing, nobody eats it.”

– Brihadaranyaka Upanishad  3-8-8.

Buddhism

“There is that dimension, monks, where there is neither earth, nor water, nor fire, nor wind; neither dimension of the infinitude of space, nor dimension of the infinitude of consciousness, nor dimension of nothingness, nor dimension of neither perception nor non-perception; neither this world, nor the next world, nor sun, nor moon. And there, I say, there is neither coming, nor going, nor staying; neither passing away nor arising: unestablished, unevolving, without support [mental object]. This, just this, is the end of stress.”

– Buddha (in Nibbāna Sutta: Unbinding (1))
Do they sound similar? Yes, Because they talk about the same thing.

Now consider the following quotes:

There is, monks, an unborn— unbecome — unmade — unfabricated. If there were not that unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated, there would not be the case that escape from the born — become — made — fabricated would be discerned. But precisely because there is an unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated, escape from the born — become — made — fabricated is discerned

– Buddha (in Nibbāna Sutta: Unbinding (3))

………………………………………………..

Verily, that great unborn soul, undecaying, undying, immortal, fearless is Brahman

–        Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 4.4.25

 

This Sunyata or the ultimate truth doesn’t have any attributes. It is the conscious space in which everything takes place. It is the substratum of everything that is in the reality, like a movie screen that acts as a substratum to show the moving pictures on it.

This substratum itself is empty of anything that we can call as a ‘thing’, including abstract things. A ‘thought’ is a thing; a feeling is a thing’ a sense perception is a thing; and an experience is a thing too. All these are witnessed as the existing things or stuff that occupy the space of consciousness itself. This underlying consciousness is called shakshin ( witness), satchitananda (truth -consciousness -bliss), nurguna brahman, sunyata and so on.

 

Buddhism and Vedanta
Buddhism and Vedanta are the same!

Adyaropa Apavada – The Teaching method of Vedanta

 

So, when Buddhism calls it as sunyata, why does Vedanta defines the reality in positive terminology?  Because, Vedantins  use a different teaching method called ‘Adhyaropa apavada’. The teaching method intentionally superimposes some attributes to the ultimate reality first to distinguish it from everything that it is not. So, even though no concept can define something that lacks any kind of thing that is conceived by a concept, these intentional attributes are made in order to help the mind to grasp it  as a concept at the initial stage.

Then Vedantins negate everything that it is not. They reject the body as not it because body can be witnessed as a thing. They reject the mind as not it because mind can be witnessed as a thing too. You first understand that you are Brahman and then you negate everything that is not ‘You’ by closely monitoring the mental processes every moment, with the detached witness attitude.

Finally, even the intentional attributes are also rejected. This helps to drop the initial concepts that were formed to understand Brahman. Once you let go of all the concepts of reality and narrow down to the bare reality of yourself, people say that you have realized the truth.

Let us see some excerpts from Vedantic scriptures which support this:

“Who so knows the Self, thus described, as the fearless Absolute (brahman), himself becomes the Absolute, beyond fear. This is a brief statement of the meaning of the entire Upanishad.  And in order to convey this meaning rightly, the fanciful alternatives of production, maintenance and withdrawal, and the false notion of action, its factors and results, are deliberately attributed to the Self as a first step. And then later the final metaphysical truth is inculcated by negating these characteristics through a comprehensive denial of all particular superimpositions on the Absolute, expressed in the phrase ‘neither this nor that’. Just as a man, wishing to explain numbers from one to a hundred thousand billion (points to figures that he has drawn and) says, ‘This figure is one, this figure is ten, this figure is a hundred, this figure is a thousand’ , and all the time his only purpose is to explain numbers, and not to affirm that the figures are numbers; or just as one wishing to explain the sounds of speech as repre sented by the written letters of the alphabet resorts to a device in the form of a palm-leaf on which he makes incisions which he later fills with ink to form letters, and all the while, (even though he point to a letter and say “This is the sound “so and so”‘) his only purpose is to explain the nature of the sounds referred to by each letter, and not to affirm that the leaf, incisions and ink are sounds; in just the same way, the one real metaphysical principle, the Absolute, is taught by resort to many devices, such as attributing to it production (of the world) and other powers. And then after wards the nature of the Absolute is restated, through the concluding formula ‘neither this nor that’, so as to purify it of all particular notions accruing to it from the various devices used to explain its nature in the first place’.

– Brhadaranyaka  Bhasya IV.iv.25  – by Shankara

……………………………………………………………………………………….

“Nor can the Absolute be properly referred to by any such terms as Being or non-being. For all words are used to convey a meaning, and when heard by their hearers convey the meaning the speaker had in mind. But communicable meaning is restricted without exception to universal, action, attribute and relation….

The Absolute, however, does not belong to any universal (genus), so it cannot be expressed by a noun such as ‘Being’ or ‘non-being’. Being without attributes, it cannot be described by any adjective denoting an attribute. And being actionless, it cannot be expressed by any verb denoting activity.

For the Upanishad speaks of it as ‘Without parts, without activity, at rest’ (Svet .VI.19) . Nor has it any relation with anything. For it is ‘One’, ‘without a second’, ‘not an object’ and ‘the Self. Hence it cannot be expressed by any word. And the upanishadic texts themselves confirm this when they say ‘That from which words fall back’ (Taitt .ll.9) , and in other passages.”

– (Bhagwad Gita Bhasya XIII.12) – Shankara

……………………………………………………………………………………

And because the Absolute has no particular characteristics, the Veda indicates its nature by denying of it the forms of all other things, as is shown, for instance, in the following pa sages: ‘And so, therefore, the teaching is “neither this nor that”‘ (Brhad.II.iii.6) , ‘It is other than what is known, and above the unknown’ (Kena I.U), ‘That from which words fall back without obtaining access, together with the mind’ (Taitt .II.9)

And the Vedic texts also relate how when Badhva was questioned by Baskalin he gave his answer merely by not speaking. ‘Sir, teach me in words’, Ba§kalin said. But the Teacher remained silent. Finally, at the second or third time of asking, Badhva replied, ‘I am telling you, but you do not understand. This Self is utter silence’

– (Bramasutra Bhasya III.ii.17) – Shankara

………………………………………………..

(a) In order to disclose the nature of the self as Brahman in itself Srutis like the following negate all specific features superimposed on it by the unenlightened common mind :-

“It is this Akshara (the Imperishable), 0 Gargi, so the knowers of    Brahman say. It is neither gross nor subtle, neither short nor long, not     red, not viscid, not shadowy, not dark, not the air, not the ether, not    adhesive, tasteless, odourless, without the sense of sight, without the    sense of hearing, without the vital principle, mouthless, without measure,   neither interior nor exterior,. It eats nothing, nobody eats it.”    – Br.3-8-8.

(b) Lest, by this strict denial of all properties it may be taken to be absolute nothing (s’unya), it is taught by means of illusory attributes seemingly pertaining to it owing to Upadhis (apparently conditioning factors).

(c) At the close of the teaching the rescission of even the imputed attributes used as a device for purposes of teaching, lest it should be regarded as actually belonging to it.
Hence that Brahman cannot be denoted by the epithet ‘jnanam’ (knowledge) either. Nevertheless, it is indicated though not expressed, by the word ”jnanam’  denoting the semblance of consciousness which is really a modification of the mind. It is not directly denoted by that term because Brahman is devoid of genus and other specific features which alone are the occasion for the application of words to a thing. So is it with regard to the term ‘Satyam’ (truth). For Brahman is by its very nature devoid of all specific features. The term Satyam really refers to the genus ‘being’ inhering in external objects, and when Brahman is described as ‘Sat yam’ (Real), it is only indicated by that term. But Brahman is not actually expressed by the term ‘Satyam’.

Tai. Bh. 2-1, p. 285 – Shankara

 

Atman and Anatman – The difference

 

Whatever you  observe in our conscious field is not You.. Therefore they are not the Self (or Bhrahman).. That is what the word ‘Anatta’ (Anatman) means..  Atman is Self. Anatman is that which is not Self.

This Atman or Brahman or Self cannot be put into words. Any name that is given to it is actually misleading to some extent. Thats why Buddha only talked about Anatta- that which is not the Atman.

Read this excerpt, it will make sense:

“Objection : “Is not even Atman denoted by the word ‘Atman’ ?

Reply: No. for there are Srutis like ‘From which words fall back’, ‘That in which one sees nothing else’.

Question: How then do texts like ‘Atman alone is below … .’ and ‘It is Atman’ reveal Atman ?

Reply:  This is no fault. For, the word (Atman), primarily used in the world of differences to denote individual soul as distinct from the body it possesses, is extended to indicate the entity which remains after the rejection of body and other not-selfs as not deserving that appellation, and is used to reveal what is really inexpressible by words”.

– Shankara – Ch. Bh. 7-1-3, p. 542.

Neti -Neti in Buddhism

 

Now, let us read Atmashatkam, a vedantic short poetry attributed to Shankara and Anattalakhana sutta, a Buddhist Sutta that discusses the Buddhist teachings on Anatta – no self.  Once you read it carefully, you will realize that both say exactly the same.

AtmaShatkam

1) I am not mind, nor intellect, nor ego, nor the reflections of inner self (citta). I am not the five senses. I am beyond that. I am not the ether, nor the earth, nor the fire, nor the wind (the five elements). I am indeed, That eternal knowing and bliss, the auspicious (Śivam), love and pure consciousness.

2) Neither can I be termed as energy (prāṇa), nor five types of breath (vāyus), nor the seven material essences, nor the five sheaths(pañca-kośa). Neither am I the organ of Speech, nor the organs for Holding ( Hand ), Movement ( Feet ) or Excretion. I am indeed, That eternal knowing and bliss, the auspicious (Śivam), love and pure consciousness.

3) I have no hatred or dislike, nor affiliation or liking, nor greed, nor delusion, nor pride or haughtiness, nor feelings of envy or jealousy. I have no duty (dharma), nor any money, nor any desire (kāma), nor even liberation (mokṣa). I am indeed, That eternal knowing and bliss, the auspicious (Śivam), love and pure consciousness.

4) I have neither merit (virtue), nor demerit (vice). I do not commit sins or good deeds, nor have happiness or sorrow, pain or pleasure. I do not need mantras, holy places, scriptures (Vedas), rituals or sacrifices (yajñas). I am none of the triad of the observer or one who experiences, the process of observing or experiencing, or any object being observed or experienced. I am indeed, That eternal knowing and bliss, the auspicious (Śivam), love and pure consciousness.

5)  I do not have fear of death, as I do not have death. I have no separation from my true self, no doubt about my existence, nor have I discrimination on the basis of birth. I have no father or mother, nor did I have a birth. I am not the relative, nor the friend, nor the guru, nor the disciple. I am indeed, That eternal knowing and bliss, the auspicious (Śivam), love and pure consciousness.

6) I am all pervasive. I am without any attributes, and without any form. I have neither attachment to the world, nor to liberation (mukti). I have no wishes for anything because I am everything, everywhere, every time, always in equilibrium. I am indeed, That eternal knowing and bliss, the auspicious (Śivam), love and pure consciousness.

Anatta-lakkhana Sutta

“So, bhikkhus any kind of form whatever, whether past, future or presently arisen, whether gross or subtle, whether in oneself or external, whether inferior or superior, whether far or near, must with right understanding how it is, be regarded thus: ‘This is not mine, this is not I, this is not myself.’

“Any kind of feeling whatever…

“Any kind of perception whatever…

“Any kind of determination whatever…

“Any kind of consciousness whatever, whether past, future or presently arisen, whether gross or subtle, whether in oneself or external, whether inferior or superior, whether far or near must, with right understanding how it is, be regarded thus: ‘This is not mine, this is not I, this is not my self.'”

……………………………………………………………………………..

It is obvious.. Both say the samething. This is called Neti Neti method in Vedanta – rejecting whatever that is observed as not-self. Here, it is important to see the thoughts, emotions and feelings etc are different from you, as they arise and pass away. As you witness these thoughts, you see yourself as a witness instead of identifying with thoughts and mental processes.

 

Nididhyasana  and Mindfulness  are the same

 

I understood that  Nididhyasana which is prescribed in Vedanta and Mindfulness that is prescribed in Buddhism are exactly the same, when I read Swami Satchidanandendra Saraswati’s interpretation of Nididhyasana.

 

You can read the book ‘Adyatma Yoga’ of Swami Satchidanandendra Saraswati to know how he explains it. He was a Sanskrit scholar and vedantic monk. He dedicated his whole life in bringing out the kind of teaching method that was actually adopted by Shankara. He lived up to the age 94 and has written over 200 books. He has worked hard enough to bring out the true teachings of Shankara.

 

Conclusion

 

We can compare Buddhism and Vedanta to two languages that evolved from a parent prolanguage. They split into two when Buddha refused to accept the authority of Vedas.

As centuries passed and different things evolved in each school, they became like two mutually unintelligible languages which belong to the same parent.

 

Oldest Teaching Of Advaita – Excerpt from Chandogya Upanishad

Upanishads are the basis for Indian schools of thought.  Of this, Brihadaranyaka Upanishad and Chandogya upanishad are the oldest. These are the earliest available literature in India which teach non-duality. I have been reading these texts for the past few days and I came across this wonderful section, which is the 6th prapathaka of Chandogya Upanishad. I found it very impressive and it brought tears in my eyes as I read it. So, I am sure you will enjoy this as well.

It narrates the story, which is a conversation between sage Aruni and his son Svetaketu. It contains the famous mahavakya ‘Tat tvam asi’. It has some great pointers which are useful for the spiritual seekers. I am posting the entire 6th prapathaka here… (Translated by Swami Nikhilananda). You can find the entire text here: http://www.swamij.com/upanishad-chandogya.htm

Khanda I — The Non—Duality of the Self

  1. Om. There once lived Svetaketu the grandson of Aruna. To him his father said: “Svetaketu, lead the life of a brahmacharin; for there is none belonging to our family, my dear, who, not having studied the Vedas, is a brahmin only by birth.”

2—3. Svetaketu went to his teacher’s house when he was twelve years old and studied the Vedas till he was twenty—four. Then he returned to his father, serious, considering himself well read and arrogant. His father said to him: “Svetaketu, since you are now so serious, think yourself well read and are so arrogant, have you, my dear, ever asked for that instruction by which one hears what cannot be heard, by which one perceives what cannot be perceived, by which one knows what cannot be known?” Svetaketu asked: “What is that instruction, venerable Sir?”

4—6. “Just as, my dear, by one clod of clay all that is made of clay is known, the modification being only a name, arising from speech, while the truth is that all is clay; “Just as, my dear, by one nugget of gold all that is made of gold is known, the modification being only a name, arising from speech, while the truth is that all is gold; “And just as, my dear, by one pair of nail—scissors all that is made of iron is known, the modification being only a name, arising from speech, while the truth is that all is iron—even so, my dear, is that instruction.”

  1. “Surely those venerable men did not know that. For if they had known it, why should they not have told it to me? Therefore do you, venerable Sir, tell me about it.” “So be it, my dear,” said the father.

 

Khanda II — Brahman: the Cause of the Universe

 

  1. “In the beginning, my dear, this universe was Being (Sat) alone, one only without a second. Some say that in the beginning this was non—being (asat) alone, one only without a second; and from that non—being, being was born.”
  2. Aruni said: “But how, indeed, could it be thus, my dear? How could Being be born from non—being? No, my dear, it was Being alone that existed in the beginning, one only without a second.
  3. “It (Being, or Brahman) thought: ‘May I be many; may I grow forth.’ It created fire. That fire thought: ‘May I be many; may I grow forth.’ It created water. That is why, whenever a person is hot and perspires, water is produced from fire (heat) alone.
  4. “That water thought: ‘May I be many; may I grow forth.’ It created food (i.e. earth). That is why, whenever it rains anywhere, abundant food is produced. From water alone is edible food produced.

 

Khanda III — The Threefold Development

 

  1. “Of all these living beings, there are only three origins: those born from an egg, those born from a living being and those born from a sprout.
  2. “That Deity thought: ‘Let Me now enter into those three deities by means of this living self and let Me then develop names and forms.’
  3. “That Deity, having thought: ‘Let Me make each of these three tripartite,’ entered into these three deities by means of the living self and developed names and forms.
  4. “It made each of these tripartite; and how these three deities became, each of them, tripartite, that learn from me now, my dear.

 

Khanda IV — The Threefold Development further explained

 

  1. “The red colour of gross fire is the colour of the original fire; the white colour of gross fire is the colour of the original water; the black colour of gross fire is the colour of the original earth. Thus vanishes from fire what is commonly called fire, the modification being only a name, arising from speech, while the three colours (forms) alone are true.
  2. “The red colour of the sun is the colour of fire, the white the colour of water, the black the colour of earth. Thus vanishes from the sun what is commonly called the sun, the modification being only a name, arising from speech, while the three colours alone are true.
  3. “The red colour of the moon is the colour of fire, the white the colour of water, the black the colour of earth. Thus vanishes from the moon what is commonly called the moon, the modification being only a name, arising from speech, while the three colours alone are true.
  4. “The red colour of lightning is the colour of fire, the white the colour of water, the black the colour of earth. Thus vanishes from lightning what is commonly called lighting, the modification being only a name, arising from speech, while the three colours alone are true.
  5. “It was just through this knowledge that the great householders and great Vedic scholars of olden times declared: ‘No one can now mention to us anything which we have not heard, thought of, or known.’ They knew all from these three forms.

6—7. “Whatever, appeared red they knew to be the colour of fire; whatever appeared white they knew to be the colour of water; whatever appeared black they knew to be the colour of earth. “Whatever appeared to be unknown they knew to be the combination of these three deities (i.e. colours). Now learn from me, my dear, how these three deities, when they reach man, become each of them tripartite.

 

Khanda V — The Threefold Nature of Food

 

  1. “Food when eaten becomes threefold. What is coarsest in it becomes faeces, what is medium becomes flesh and what is subtlest becomes mind.
  2. “Water when drunk becomes threefold. What is coarsest in it becomes urine, what is medium becomes blood and what is subtlest becomes prana.
  3. “Fire when eaten becomes threefold. What is coarsest in it becomes bone, what is medium becomes marrow and what is subtlest becomes speech.
  4. “The mind, my dear, consists of food, the prana of water and speech of heat.” “Please, venerable Sir, instruct me further.” “So be it, my dear.”

 

Khanda VI — The Physical Nature of the Mind, the Prana and Speech

 

  1. “That, my dear, which is the subtlest part of curds rises, when they are churned and becomes butter.
  2. “In the same manner, my dear, that which is the subtlest part of the food that is eaten rises and becomes mind.
  3. “The subtlest part of the water that is drunk rises and becomes prana.
  4. “The subtlest part of the fire that is eaten rises and becomes speech.
  5. “Thus, my dear, the mind consists of food, the prana consists of water and speech consists of fire.” “Please, venerable Sir, instruct me further.” “So be it, my dear.”

 

Khanda VII — How the Mind consists of Food

 

  1. “A person, my dear, consists of sixteen parts. Do not eat any food for fifteen days, but drink as much water as you like. Since the prana consists of water, it will not be cut off if you drink water.”
  2. Svetaketu did not eat any food for fifteen days. Then he came to his father and said: “What, Sir, shall I recite?” His father said: “The Rik, Yagus and Saman verses.” He replied: “They do not occur to me, Sir.”
  3. His father said to him: “Just as, my dear, of a great blazing fire a single coal, the size of a firefly, may be left, which would not burn much more than that, even so, my dear, of your sixteen parts only one part is left; and therefore with that one part you do not remember the Vedas. Now go and eat and you will understand me.”
  4. Svetaketu ate and approached his father. Then whatever his father asked him, he showed that he knew it.

5—6. Then his father said to him: “Just as, my dear, of a great lighted fire a single coal the size of a firefly, if left, may be made to blaze up again by adding grass to it and will thus burn much more, “Even so, my dear; of your sixteen parts only one part was left and that, when strengthened by food, blazed up. With it you now remember the Vedas. Therefore, my dear, the mind consists of food, the prana consists of water and speech consists of fire.” After that he understood what his father said, yea, he understood it.

 

Khanda VIII — Concerning Sleep, Hunger, Thirst and Death

 

  1. Uddalaka the son of Aruna said to his son Svetaketu: “Learn from me, my dear, the true nature of sleep. When a person has entered into deep sleep, as it is called, then, my dear, he becomes united with Pure Being (Sat), he has gone to his own Self. That is why they say he is in deep sleep (svapiti); it is because he has gone (apita) to his own (svam).
  2. “Just as a bird tied by a string to the hand of the bird—catcher first flies in every direction and then finding no rest anywhere, settles down at the place where it is bound, so also the mind (i.e. the individual soul reflected in the mind), my dear, after flying in every direction and finding no rest anywhere, settles down in the Prana (i.e. Pure Being); for the mind (the individual soul) is fastened to the Prana (Pure Being).
  3. “Learn from me, my dear, what hunger and thirst are. When a man is hungry, as they say, it is water that has led (i.e. carried away) what was eaten. Therefore, just as they speak of a leader of cows, a leader of horses, a leader of men, so do they speak of water as the leader of food. So, my dear, know this offshoot (i.e. the body) to have sprung forth from a cause, for it cannot be without a root.
  4. “And where could its root be except in food (earth)? And in the same way, my dear, as food too is an offshoot, seek for water as its root. And as water too, my dear, is an offshoot, seek for fire as its root. And as fire too, my dear, is an offshoot, seek for Being (Sat) as its root. Yes, all these creatures, my dear, have their root in Being, they dwell in Being, they finally rest in Being.
  5. “When a man is said to be thirsty, it is fire that has led (i.e. carried away) what was drunk by him. Therefore as they speak of a leader of cows, a leader of horses, a leader of men, so do they speak of fire as the leader of water. So, my dear, know this offshoot (the body) to have sprung forth from a cause, for it cannot be without a root.
  6. “And where could its root be except in water? And in the same way, my dear, as water is an offshoot, seek for fire as its root. And as fire too, my dear, is an offshoot, seek for Being as its root. Yes, my dear, all these creatures have their root in Being, they dwell in Being, they finally rest in Being. “And how these three deities (fire, water and earth), on reaching a human being, become each of them tripartite has already been said. When a person departs hence, his speech merges in his mind, his mind in his prana, his prana in heat (fire) and the heat in the Highest Being.
  7. “Now, that which is the subtle essence—in it all that exists has its self. That is the True. That is the Self. That thou art, Svetaketu.” “Please, venerable Sir, give me further instruction,” said the son. “So be it, my dear,” the father replied.

 

Khanda IX — The Absence of Individuality in Deep Sleep

 

1—2. “As bees, my dear, make honey by collecting the juices of trees located at different places and reduce them to one form, “And as these juices have no discrimination so as to be able to say: ‘I am the juice of this tree,’ or ‘I am the juice of that tree’—even so, indeed, my dear, all these creatures, though they reach Pure Being, do not know that they have reached Pure Being.

  1. “Whatever these creatures are, here in this world—a tiger, a lion, a wolf, a boar, a worm, a fly, a gnat, or a mosquito—that they become again.
  2. “Now, that which is the subtle essence—in it all that exists has its self. That is the True. That is the Self. That thou art, Svetaketu.” “Please, venerable Sir, give me further instruction,” said the son. “So be it, my dear,” the father replied.

 

Khanda X — The Absence of Particularized Consciousness in Deep Sleep

 

1—2. “These rivers, my dear, flow—the eastern toward the east and the western toward the west. They arise from the sea and flow into the sea. Just as these rivers, while they are in the sea, do not know: ‘I am this river’ or ‘I am that river,’ “Even so, my dear, all these creatures, even though they have come from Pure Being, do not know that they have come from Pure Being. Whatever these creatures are, here in this world—a tiger, a lion, a wolf a boar, a worm, a fly, a gnat, or a mosquito, that they become again.

  1. “Now, that which is the subtle essence—in it all that exists has its self. That is the True. That is the Self. That thou art, Svetaketu.” “Please, venerable Sir, give me further instruction,” said the son. “So be it, my dear,” the father replied.

 

Khanda XI — The Indestructibility of the Jiva

 

  1. “If, my dear, someone were to strike at the root of this large tree here, it would bleed but live. If he were to strike at the middle, it would bleed but live. If he were to strike at the top, it would bleed but live. Pervaded by the living self, that tree stands firm, drinking in again and again its nourishment and rejoicing.
  2. “But if the life (i.e. living self) leaves one of its branches, that branch withers; if it leaves a second, that branch withers; if it leaves a third, that branch withers. If it leaves the whole tree, the whole three withers.
  3. “In exactly the same manner, my dear,” said he, “know this: This body dies, bereft of the living self; but the living self dies not. “Now, that which is the subtle essence—in it all that exists has its self. That is the True. That is the Self. That thou art, Svetaketu.” “Please, venerable Sir, give me further instruction,” said the son. “So be it, my dear,” the father replied.

 

Khanda XII — The Birth of the Gross from the Subtle

 

  1. “Bring me a fruit of that nyagrodha (banyan) tree.” “Here it is’ venerable Sir.” “Break it.” “It is broken, venerable Sir.” “What do you see there?” “These seeds, exceedingly small, “Break one of these, my son.” “It is broken, venerable Sir.” “What do you see there?” “Nothing at all, venerable Sir.”
  2. The father said: “That subtle essence, my dear, which you do not perceive there—from that very essence this great nyagrodha arises. Believe me, my dear.
  3. “Now, that which is the subtle essence—in it all that exists has its self. That is the True. That is the Self. That thou art, Svetaketu.” “Please, venerable Sir, give me further instruction,” said the son. “So be it, my dear,” the father replied.

 

Khanda XIII — The Invisibility of an Existent Object

 

  1. “Place this salt in water and then come to me in the morning.” The son did as he was told. The father said to him: “My son, bring me the salt which you placed in the water last night.” Looking for it, the son did not find it, for it was completely dissolved.
  2. The father said: “My son, take a sip of water from the surface. How is it?” “It is salt.” “Take a sip from the middle. How is it?” “It is salt.” “Take a sip from the bottom. How is it?” “It is salt.” “Throw it away and come to me.” The son did as he was told, saying: “The salt was there all the time.” Then the father said: “Here also, my dear, in this body you do not perceive Sat (Being); but It is indeed there.”
  3. “Now, that which is the subtle essence—in it all that exists has its self. That is the True. That is the Self That thou art, Svetaketu.” “Please, venerable Sir, give me further instruction,” said the son. “So be it, my dear,” the father replied.

 

Khanda XIV — The Means of Self—Knowledge

 

  1. “Just as someone, my dear, might lead a person, with his eyes covered, away from the country of the Gandharas and leave him in a place where there were no human beings; and just as that person would turn toward the east, or the north, or the south, or the west, shouting: ‘I have been brought here with my eyes covered, I have been left here with my eyes covered!’
  2. “And as thereupon someone might loosen the covering and say to him: ‘Gandhara is in that direction; go that way’; and as thereupon, having been informed and being capable of judgement, he would, by asking his way from one village to another, arrive at last at Gandhara—in exactly the same manner does a man who has found a teacher to instruct him obtain the true knowledge. For him there is delay only so long as he is not liberated from the body; then he reaches perfection.
  3. “Now, that which is the subtle essence—in it all that exists has its self. That is the True. That is the Self That thou art, Svetaketu.” “Please, venerable Sir, give me further instruction,” said the son. “So be it, my dear,” the father replied.

 

Khanda XV — Ultimate Liberation

 

  1. “Around a dying person afflicted with illness, my dear, his relatives gather and ask: ‘Do you know me? Do you know me?’ He knows them as long as his speech is not merged in his mind, his mind in his prana (breath), his prana in heat (fire) and the heat in the Highest Deity.
  2. “But when his speech is merged in his mind, his mind in his prana, his prana in heat and the heat in the Highest Deity, then he does not know them.
  3. “Now, that which is the subtle essence—in it all that exists has its self. That is the True. That is the Self. That thou art, Svetaketu.” “Please, venerable Sir, give me further instruction,” said the son “So be it, my dear;” the father replied.

 

Khanda XVI — Liberation for the Knower of Brahman

 

  1. “My dear, they (i.e. the police) bring a man whom they have seized by the hand and say: ‘He has taken something, he has committed a theft.’ When he denies it, they say: ‘Heat the axe for him.’ If he has committed the theft but denies it, then he makes himself a liar. Being false—minded, he covers himself with falsehood, grasps the heated axe and is burnt. Then he is killed.
  2. “But if he did not commit the theft, then he makes himself what he really is. Being true—minded, he covers himself with truth, grasps the heated axe and is not burnt. He is released.
  3. “As that truthful man is not burnt so also one who has known Sat is not born again. Thus in That (Sat) all that exists has its self. That is the True. That is the Self. That thou art, Svetaketu.”