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.

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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.”

 

An Invitation to Debate: Swami Satchidanandendra Saraswati vs Modern Vedanta teachers

This article is an invitation for a healthy debate with modern Vedanta teachers like James Swartz who claim that their teachings are in line with traditional Vedanta. I think James Swartz, in particular, wouldn’t mind in clarifying some of the concerns raised in this article, as he himself considers that criticism is a healthy aspect of Vedanta. Also, since he has said in a Dharma combat that he enjoys such debates, I hope he doesn’t consider this as something unimportant or offensive.

First of all, I am not in any way stating my own opinions here and I am well aware that with my age and qualifications, I am not the right candidate to present such arguments. However, whatever I write here is only from scriptures including mukya Upanishads cited by Shankaracharya, Brahmasutras, Gita and the commentaries of Shankara on these texts. Since independent works such as Vivekachudamani are not considered as authentic works of Shankara by many, those texts are not quoted.

Swami_Satchidanandendra_Saraswati

Also, these concepts are directly from the book ‘Method of Vedanta’ written by Swami Satchidanandendra Saraswati, who 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. And, the whole Vedanta community is indebted for his extraordinary work. So, this debate is indeed between Satchidanandendra Saraswati and any other Vedanta teachers who would like to participate. I hope this debate will help to clarify much confusion that give raise to innumerous arguments among many sincere disciples of Vedanta.

 

A Brief Summary of the points discussed

 

  • Experience and Moksha

According to James Swartz, the teaching method in Vedanta that is taught to qualified students results in ‘self-realization’, which is an experience of self. But the knowledge has to be assimilated for years to attain Moksha, translated by him as ‘enlightenment’. Also, according to the highly revered Swami Dayananda Saraswati, there is no such thing as experience at all, which happens as the result of the teaching.

But according to Shankara, teachings lead to direct experience of self, which is same as Jnana or enlightenment. This knowledge gained through direct experience of self doesn’t have to be strengthened by any further practice. He doesn’t seem to make such a distinction between self-realization and enlightenment at all. The objection that is raised against this is usually called as Prashankyana vada.

In Brahma Sutra Bhasya, Shankara gives a lot of details on this on his commentary for the verse 1.4.7. Since his discussion on this is quite long, I wouldn’t be able to provide the entire section here. However, in the citations that I have included below, you can see some of the verses cited by Swami Satchidanandendra Saraswathi, to show how teaching results in the direct experience of self.

 

  • Nididhyasana

This has been defined in many ways by modern teachers.

For example, Ted Schmidt, a student of James Swartz defines it as following in his site:

Nididhyasana is the practice of continuously meditating upon the teachings of Vedanta. This type of meditation is not to be confused with formal seated meditation.”

James Swartz defines it a little differently in his site, which doesn’t sound like the practice but the result of the practice itself:

“It is the complete assimilation of the knowledge that destroys the network of ignorance-based desires and one’s sense of doership. It has a dramatic experiential impact in so far as one’s life becomes free and peaceful and completely fulfilled.”

He also says ‘nididhyasana never ends for the jiva’ in his Facebook page.

However, Satchidanandendra Saraswathi defines it as a sustained meditation on self. Please refer his explanations and citations given by him below, in the citations section.

I think it is really important for students to know what Nididhyasana exactly is. So, I hope this debate will clarify the confusion on this.

 

  • The Teaching model of Vedanta – Adhyaropa apavada

This is regarding a significant contribution by Satchidanandendra Saraswati, who revived the true structure of the ancient teaching taught by Upanishads and Shankara. I didn’t find any modern teachers writing or talking about the third step, which also negates the intentionally superimposed attributes on Self, which were superimposed on it solely as teaching devices in the first place. (Please refer the citations section for details).

 

  • Enlightenment, bliss and cessation of desires

This is something that I myself noticed in Shankara’s bhasya on Brihadaranyaka Upanishad on verse 4.3.33, which talks about cessation of desires and bliss of self..

However, James Swartz says that enlightenment doesn’t result in eternal bliss. So, was the verse just an exaggeration and did Shankara fail to mention it so? I have noticed Shankara’s commentaries and how precise they are in explaining everything; so I doubt if the latter was true.

Also, James Swartz says “This idea is another negative formulation of enlightenment. Nirvana is a desireless state of mind. This view is based on the idea that desire is suffering, which it is. To say that you want something means that you are not happy with what you have. This teaching is unworkable because a desireless mind is a contradiction in terms. When, except during sleep, do you not want something?”

Both of the above views of James are explained here in his page. And, needless to say, many teachers of Vedanta in this century share his view as well.

But doesn’t this contradict with the scriptures and Shankara? Please explain how to resolve this contradiction.

The following passages are the citations for the four points that I have mentioned.

 

Experience and Moksha

 

Known technically as ‘the Absolute’ (brahman), it is of the nature of immediate experience, void of all the attributes of transmigratory life. This is the meaning of the word ‘that’ (in the phrase ‘That thou art’), familiar to the experts in the Upanishads.

– Shankara (B.S.Bh.IV.i .2)

In the case of enquiry into the Vedic ritual, the Vedic and other traditional texts alone are the criterion. But this is not so in the case of the enquiry into the Absolute. Here it is the same texts that are the authority, but with immediate experience (and firm remembrance, etc.) added in the case of the purely metaphysical texts . For knowledge of the Absolute requires to culminate in immediate experience (anubhava), and (unlike the part of the Veda dealing with commands and prohibitions) has an already-existent reality for its object.

– Shankara (B.S. Bh.I.i.2)

Repeated resort to the appropriate means of knowledge is indeed useless in the case of the person who can attain immediate experience of the fact that his true Self is the Absolute merely from hearing the text ‘That thou art’ spoken once. But for him who is not able to do so, repetition is the proper means.

– Shankara in (B.S.Bh.IV.i .2)

True, it has been said that the Veda itself proclaims that reason must be respected, as it enjoins pondering as well as hearing. But this should not be used as a pretext for allowing empty hypothetical reasoning to gain entry. For in the present context only those arguments that are sanctioned by the Veda may be resorted to, and that only as an auxiliary to the attainment of direct experience.

– Shankara in  (B.S.Bh. II. i. 6)

 

Nididhyasana

 

Swami Satchidanandendra saraswathi explains what is nididhyasana and also quotes verses from Shankara, Gaudapa Karika and Gita which give instructions on how to practice nididhyasana.. And this differs from what is being taught by other teachers. By Nididhyasana, he means actual meditation.

Here is Swami’s explanation:

“The aim of the one practicing sustained meditation (nididhyasana) is different. He tries to attain direct vision of reality (here in this very world) by turning his mind away from all else. And there is the difference — as against upasana — that after the rise of knowledge nothing further remains to be done.

It is this sustained meditation that is referred to at Katha Upanishad I.ii.13 by the name ‘Adhyatma Yoga‘. In the Gita it is sometimes called ‘Dhyana Yoga‘ (e.g. XVIII. 52). In the Mandukya Karikas it is called ‘restraint of the mind’ (G.K.III.41, etc.). Its nature is described there in that latter work.

Everywhere its result is described in the same way as right metaphysical knowledge, and from this comes immediate liberation.

And here are the citations provided

  1. The wise man comes to know God through mastering Adhyatma Yoga, and gives up joy and sorrow. (Katha I.ii.12)

Sankara’s Commentary:

Mastering Adhyatma Yoga: Adhyatma Yoga means withdrawing the mind from objects and concentrating it on the Self. Having meditated on the deity, the Self, through attainment of Adhyatma Yoga, the wise man gives up joy and sorrow because there are no gradations of value in the Self.

  1.  ‘He is seen by those of subtle vision through their subtle minds’ says the Veda (Katha I.iii.12), pointing out that the highest state of Vi§nu is difficult to attain. Then the same text goes on to teach yoga as the means to attain it, in the words ‘The wise man should dissolve the senses into the mind and should dissolve the mind into the intellect. He should dissolve the soul into the great self and he should dissolve that into the Self that is pure peace’ (Katha I.iii. 13).

That is, he should first give up the use of speech and the other organs of action and perception and should remain identified with the lower aspect of the mind alone. He should then note that the lower aspect of the mind, too, has defects such as an inclination towards the sense objects and unsteadiness in its decisions, and he should dissolve it into that higher aspect of mind (buddhi) which has fixed determination for its nature and is sometimes known by the technical term ‘intellect’ (vijnana). He should refine the intellect and resolve it into ‘the great self, the experiencer or apex of the intellect. The ‘great self, however, must be dissolved in the ‘Self that is pure peace’, the supreme Spirit that is the subject of the section, the summit of human experience.

– Shankara (Brahma Sutra Bhasya I.iv.l  (the whole second point above is Shankara’s commentary on Brahma sutras)

  1. Resorting to dispassion, always intent on the Yoga of Meditation (Dhyana Yoga). (Bh.G. XVIII. 52)

Sankara’s Commentary:

Meditation means dwelling on the true nature of the Self. Yoga means one-pointed concentration on the Self. He who is intent on ‘Dhyana’ and ‘Yoga’ thus defined is the one ‘intent on the Yoga of Meditation’. The use of the word ‘always’ is to show that he has no other duties, such as daily repetition of the Vedic verses.

  1. That yoga should certainly be practiced with resolute mind. Giving up without exception all desires that come from individual will, restraining the sense-organs on every side through the mind, one should gradually withdraw from all activity, with will and intellect firmly controlled; keeping the mind fixed on the Self, one should not think of anything.

Wherever the fickle mind wanders , one should bring it back and fix it on the Self alone, under firm control. Supreme joy comes to such a yogi, whose mind is at perfect peace, whose lusts have subsided, who is sinless and who has become the Ab solute. Such a yogi, free from all sin, always controlling his mind in this way, easily attains the supreme joy of con tact with the Absolute. With his mind controlled through yoga, he sees himself in all beings and all beings in his own Self, seeing the same everywhere.  (Bh.G. VI. 23-9)

Sankara’ s Commentary: ‘

Seeing the same everywhere’ is said of one who has the same undifferentiated vision or knowledge of unity and identity with the Absolute and the Self in regard to all things of different grades, from Brahma to the beings of the vegetable and mineral realms. (Bh.G.Bh.VI.29)

  1. The mind must be restrained tirelessly, as if one were emptying the sea with the tip of a blade of grass. One must resort to special means to restrain the mind when it is dispersed amid desires and enjoyments. The mind must also be awakened and held in restraint even when it is perfectly calm in the dissolution of dreamless sleep. Mere dissolution in dreamless sleep is no better than desire (since it is also the seed of future worldly experience).

One restrains the mind from desires and enjoyments by remembering ‘All is pain’. When one remembers ‘All is the Unborn (the Absolute)’, one does not even see what is born. When the mind is drowsy in its practice of yoga one should arouse it, and when it is distracted one should again calm it down. One should know that the mind is soiled with latent impressions, and should not allow it to move when it has attained the state of equilibrium, free from the tendency either to dissolution or distraction.

Even there, one should not savour the joy. One should acquire non-attachment through the discriminative wisdom that sees all joy as born of Ignorance. When the mind, although at first motionless, moves out once more, one should again carefully bring it back to unity. When the mind no longer either undergoes dissolution in dreamless sleep or distraction amidst desires and enjoyments, and it is motionless and without manifestation, then it has reached its state of perfection. It (has reached the state of ‘no-mind’, G.K.III. 32, and) is the Absolute. (G.K.III. 1-6)

 

Adyaropa Apavada – The Teaching Method in Vedanta

 

This teaching method ‘Adhyaropa apavada‘ is not properly followed by many modern teachers who teach Vedanta today. That is why I think people get stuck in all kinds of concepts..

 Here is how he describes in short, in one of his books:

(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.

(Many modern teachers stop with (a) and (b) )

Citations provided by Swami:

1.”The Absolute is that in which there is no particularity. There is no name, no form, no action, no distinction, no universal, no attribute. It is through these determinations alone that speech proceeds, and not one of them belongs to the Absolute. So the latter cannot be taught by sentences of the pattern ‘This is so-and-so’.

In such upanishadic phrases and words as “The Absolute is Consciousness-Bliss’ (Brhad.III.ix.28.7) . ‘A mere mass of Consciousness’ (Brhad.II.iv.12) , ‘Brahman’, ‘Atman’, the Absolute is artificially referred to with the help of superimposed name, form and action, and spoken of exactly in the way we refer to objects of perception, as when we say ‘That white cow with horns is twitching’.

But if the desire is to express the true nature of the Absolute, void of all conditioning adjuncts and particularity, then it cannot be described by any positive means whatever. The only ‘ possible method then is to refer to it through a comprehensive denial of whatever positive characteristics have been attributed to it in previous teachings, and to say ‘neither this nor that’.

– (Brhad.Bh.II.iii.6) – Shankara

 

  1. “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.”

– (Bh.G.Bh.XIII.12) – Shankara

 

  1. 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’

– (B.S.Bh.III.ii.17) – Shankara

  1. “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 represented 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’.

– Brhad. Bh.IV.iv.25 by Shankara

  1. 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’.

–  Shankara – Tai. Bh. 2-1, p. 285.

  1. “Objection : “Is not even Atmandenoted 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.

 

Moksha, Bliss and Cessation of desires

 

Many teachers of Vedanta these days say that an enlightened person still goes through suffering and enlightenment is not a state of constant bliss. They also claim that enlightenment is not cessation of desires. (For e.g James Swartz in Shiningworld.com lists cessation of desires as one of the myths of enlightenment, in his 1 year course published in the website.)

I also found the following from Brihadaranyaka Upanishad Chapter 4, Section 3, verse 33 which contradicts this modern view.

“4.3.33   He who is perfect of body and prosperous among men. the ruler of others, and most lavishly supplied with all human enjoyments, represents the greatest joy among men. This human joy multiplied a hundred times makes one unit of joy for the Manes who have won that world of theirs. The joy of these Manes who have won that world multiplied a hundred times makes one unit of joy in the world of the celestial minstrels. This joy in the world of the celestial minstrels multiplied a hundred times makes one unit of joy for the gods by action those who attain their godhead by their actions. This joy of the gods by action multiplied a hundred times makes one unit of joy for the gods by birth, as well as of one who is versed in the Vedas, sinless and free from desire. This joy of the gods by birth multiplied a hundred times makes one unit of joy in the world of Prajapati (Viraj), as well as of one who is versed in the Vedas, sinless and free from desire. This joy in the world of Prajapati multiplied a hundred times makes one unit of joy in the world of Brahman (Hiranyagarbha), as well as of one who is versed in the Vedas, sinless and free from desire. This indeed is the supreme bliss. This is the state of Brahman, O Emperor, said ‘Yajnavalkya. I give you a thousand (cows), sir. Please instruct me further about liberation itself.’ At this Yajnavalkya was afraid that the intelligent Emperor was constraining him to finish with all his conclusions.”

Shankara also acknowledges this verse in his commentary on this Upanishad and further cites a verse from Mahabharata in his commentary:

“Vedavyasa also says, ‘The sense pleasures of this world and the great joys of heaven are not worth one-sixteenth part of the bliss that comes of the cessation of desire’ (Mbh. XII. clxxiii. 47).”

But many modern day Vedanta teachers today teach that bliss is not an attribute of truth at all. They even say that ‘Ananda’ from ‘Sat-chit-Ananda’ doesn’t translate to bliss (which is weird because the same word ananda is used in Tamil also, the language I speak, which means happiness)

Conclusion

I would like to thank you for your precious time spent reading this entire article. I would appreciate your thoughts on this so that it will clarify many questions raised by people who are sincere students of Vedanta.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clarifying Confusions in James Swartz’s Vedanta Teachings

This article aims at removing some of the confusions and correcting some of the wrong information found in the teachings of James Swartz’s Vedanta teachings. He deserves an applause though, just for his efforts to spread traditional Vedanta in the west.  However, as a person born and brought up in India, I can clearly see that he is misinformed on a lot of things. I am not going to argue whether he is enlightened or not; he may be or may not be. I have no way of knowing that.  But to be honest, I have doubted his enlightenment sometimes and wondered if he is on some kind of ego trip in thinking that he is one of the very few ‘qualified’ teachers of Vedanta. When he said that Ramana Maharshi was not a qualified teacher, my doubts became even strong.

A little about myself

Before I start, let me give a short introduction of my own spiritual journey. I had no physical guru, but I was a very sincere seeker. I had tried yoga and Vedanta when I was a boy, but couldn’t understand it much. 15 years ago, I learnt basics of vedanta, zen and mindfulness and I had a glimpse of my own nature that changed my life. I continued mindfulness and self-inquiry for the next 12 years. Mindfulness and self-inquiry was not like two different practices to me, because both have the same procedure of inquiring into each arising thought and experience.

Three years ago (in 2014), a complete shift occurred that completely removed the psychological boundaries between me and the world. Since  then, I never had a distinct feeling of a separate ‘me’ and an ‘other’. The seeker of enlightenment had died and there was no doer anymore. In the next three years, things got settled down . But I still have thoughts and vasanas, even though they don’t affect me. Now, according to James Swartz’s definition, I am already enlightened. Because, now I have an irreversible hard and fast knowledge that I am the non-dual, limitless awareness and not the contents of my consciousness. It is not just intellectual, but my actual reality every moment. But, I don’t want to claim any enlightenment yet. First, claiming enlightenment is not going to make any difference in me. Second, according to Ramana Maharshi, this is not enlightenment. There seems to be a need to wait until all the vasanas are removed (not merely rendering them unbinding) and the thoughts created by all vasanas are removed.

If you ask James, he would say that one doesn’t have to remove the vasanas but just have to render them unbinding by liberation. Again, I am not going to argue whether Ramana’s definition was correct or James’s definition was correct. But Ramana’s life and his words themselves  indicate  that he might have actually removed all the vasanas and involuntary thought movements. He himself said that he usually didn’t have thoughts running in his mind; also, the way he lived his life shows that he probably was completely vasana free. So, that gives me every reason to believe that Ramana was right. But I am no longer a believer of things. I choose to remain open minded on this and say ‘I don’t know yet’ at this point.

Having said that, I am completely sure about some of the wrong information that James is preaching. I know they are wrong. So, I am just going to make some corrections here. This is not intended to offend James or his students. I just feel that wrong information should be corrected. So, let us get started.

Was Ramana a qualified teacher?

If James Swartz reads what I have said above, the first thing he is going to say is ‘Ramana was not a qualified teacher’. According to James, a qualified teacher is someone who systematically unfolds the teachings of traditional vedanta. By this definition, Buddha, Bodhidharma , many enlightened Zen masters and Tao masters are not qualified teachers. When someone even utters the name of Ramana Maharshi, James Swartz’s first response is always ‘Ramana Maharshi was not a qualified teacher’.

Sri_Ramana_Maharshi_-_Portrait_-_G._G_Welling_-_1948

First of all, what we call as traditional Vedanta is solely based on Shankara’s works and his commentaries on Brahma Sutras, Gita and Upanishads. There is a claim that Vedanta assumes Gita, Brahma Sutras and Upanishads as authority, but the actual truth is, the school (Advaita) was developed by basing Shankara as the authority. We need to remember here that Shankara was just one human being who had a certain teaching and certain way of life. It is not necessary that every enlightened person in the world should completely teach according to Shankara’s teaching model. Long before Shankara, words like Vedanta, Yoga and Samkhya were just words to represent different aspects of one essential teaching. For example, In Bhagavad Gita, chapter 3, verse 3, Krishna says that Samkhya is called as Jnana Yoga; And we all know that Jnana Yoga is another term for Vedanta. So, Shankara just revived the ancient teachings and presented according to the time he was living. (James Swartz himself has written commentaries of Bhagavad Gita, but the words Samkhya and Jnana Yoga is in the original Sanskrit verse which is translated to path of knowledge in English).

Second, Ramana taught mostly in Tamil. What a westerner would read is an English version of talks which was translated by a translator guy in Ramana’s ashram.  So, when the translator interprets Ramana’s Tamil words and translates to English, a part of the original teaching is lost; when that is further interpreted by the Western guy who wrote them down, another part of the teaching is most likely lost. And, the teachings given to westerners was only a very small percentage of what Ramana taught in his entire life. Because, he was talking to thousands of Tamil seekers all his life and taught them in Tamil. Ramana also wrote a lot of poems in Tamil which have his essential teaching. There are hundreds of books written in Tamil by people who were taught by Ramana and who lived with him in the ashram.

Third, most of the seekers who met Ramana were very advanced. We can see that in the conversations themselves. There was no need to teach them about three gunas, five koshas, creation theories or qualifications needed for spiritual practice. In India, especially in Ramana’s time, knowledge on these subjects was abundant. With long term residents of Ashram like Annamalai Swami and others , Ramana talked about everything, probably more than what James has taught to his students. He also met visitors who just stayed in the ashram for a day or two and to them, he just answered their questions according to the level of their seeking.

I also heard another reason from James for calling him not a perfect teacher. James says that Ramana’s devotees are confused by experiences and knowledge of Atman because Ramana didn’t make a clear distinction. He is completely wrong. Ramana is very clear in the essential teaching about self-realization.  If Ramana’s devotees are confused with anything at all, it is  just because Ramana is no longer alive to clarify their doubts.

Ramana was a perfect teacher in every way. He talked and walked the talk. Being a simple guy in an Ashram, he attracted attention from people all over the world. Vedanta would be half dead by now without Ramana.

Is path of Yoga all about chasing blissful experiences?

I read James Swartz opinion about Yoga in many of his articles and talks. He says that Yoga is just about getting some blissful experiences and not a complete path to realization. He says that Yoga is only helpful in preparing the mind and will not help in liberation at all.

That is completely wrong. The goal of Yoga is Nirvikalpa Samadhi, which is not a dualistic experience. In Nirvikalpa samadhi, experiencer and experience merge into one. However, Ramana used to say that Nirvikalpa samadhi should become Sahaja samadhi so that the yogi can lead a normal life and guide others. Also, Ramana always insisted that self-inquiry is the best path of all but he never said that Yoga doesn’t lead to enlightenment. He only said that all the other paths are indirect ways.

Yoga may be a long and difficult path, but perfect for people who can’t surrender the ego;  but saying that Yoga only leads to experiences and not to realization is completely wrong.James might have probably met some wrong yogis or wrong teachers of Yoga and came to this wrong conclusion.

(Update – 26th July 2017 : However, I understand that there is a disagreement in Vedantic community itself regarding this. I recently read some of the Shankara’s commentaries where  he himself says that yoga is not a means of liberation. But then we have to dismiss all those yogis who prescribe yoga as a means to liberation as unenlightened. These things cannot be really known for sure without empirical research. That is why I have stressed the importance of bridging science and spirituality in my previous posts)

Is enlightenment experience or knowledge?

This is a very complicated question.

First of all, let me make a distinction between truth and enlightenment.

Truth is Brahman, which is the absolute witness of everything that is observed. Truth cannot be an experience because experience can be witnessed. Also, experience generally implies a dualistic experience, which constitutes an experiencer and experience; But in truth, there is no duality. This also applies for knowledge, because in truth the knower and knowledge merge together.

Enlightenment on the other hand, refers to the event of realizing the truth. We have heard that for some people it is gradual and for some people it is a sudden event. Any event is always accompanied by some kind of experience; it may be dual or non dual but the aspect of the experience still exists when the experience and experiencer merge together. In that sense, there is nothing wrong in calling a sudden enlightenment as an experience as long as it is clarified with a proper context.  Because, not talking about the experiential aspect of it may mislead people to believe that just intellectual understanding is enough to call it as enlightenment.

But both experience and knowledge are poor word choices, we unfortunately have no other words in English. The English word experience can be misleading because a person may believe that truth is some kind of special experience that he is going to experience for the rest of his life. The word knowledge can be equally misleading because a person may believe that enlightenment just involves committing some information to memory after understanding it intellectually.

In Sanskrit, we have different words.  Experience, which just represents an affective state is called Vedana. Vedana can be positive, negative or neutral. (This word is rarely used, but found in many buddhist texts). The experiential aspect of enlightenment is known as either anubhava or anubhuti, which is actually a pramana (means of knowledge); The word actually means experiential knowledge. The word Anubhava in Tamil (my first language) is exactly that but just with one additional letter: ‘anubhavam’.

Also, we have two words for knowledge as well. Knowledge that refers to mere information is called Vidya or veda. The knowledge gained by enlightenment is called Jnana.

Instead of providing such a detailed clarification, James seems to be obsessed with giving a lecture stating ‘enlightenment is not experience’ whenever he hears someone talking about some experience. He gives detailed reasons for why enlightenment is not an experience which is not at all necessary. Because, people who may have already read English translations of Indian texts may often use the word ‘experience’ to mean the valid experiential knowledge, Anubhuti. If James reacts the same way to these people, it is actually like giving them wrong information because of some linguistic confusion. Also, arguing why enlightenment is not an experience by providing arguments for why truth is not an experience is a huge fallacy.

To wrap up, a sudden enlightenment similar to what happened to Buddha can be actually an experience (vedana, the affective state). The enlightenment itself is anubhuti (experiential knowledge) which is translated to English as ‘experience’.

Is Self-realization and Enlightenment different?

James Swartz adds another big confusion. He uses the word ‘Self-realization’ for a glimpse of truth, an awakening experience and he uses the word ‘enlightenment’ for Moksha, the liberation. But this will mislead a lot of people. Because self-realization and enlightenment are generally understood as synonymous. In Ramana Maharshi’s translated talks, you will only find the word ‘self-realization’ for final enlightenment. Why change the meaning of a word instead of using it in the conventional way? Why not just call the glimpse of truth as awakening, as it is usually called?

This is not a big problem in itself, but big enough to cause a lot of confusion.

Is criticism a part of Vedanta?

James criticizes a lot of teachers. He would name each and every teacher he thinks as not qualified and just thrash them like anything. I agree with some of the criticism, especially on neo-vedanta. Although I agree that neo-advaita  seems to be lacking a practical method for enlightenment, obsessively criticising the teachers and naming them is unnecessary. (Here is the weird part. James claims he knows a lot of enlightened people.. If you ask him to name them, he would say ‘No, I won’t name people’… When he names all the imperfect teachers, why not name the enlightened ones? ).

Anyway, that’s not the point. To justify all this, James often says that criticism is a main aspect of Vedanta. That is not true. He probably got this idea from Sankara’s debates with Buddhists. But those are debates! He met people face to face and debated with them. Debate is not same as criticism.Even if  Shankara  criticized people, it would not be right to say that criticism is a main aspect of vedanta itself. This is like saying smoking  is an essential part of psychology, just because Sigmund Freud smoked a lot.

Does Buddhism have an issue in understanding the reality?

I came across a Satsang article in James’s website. There was a discussion regarding Buddhism between a seeker and James Swartz. Here is what James says:

“I am not surprised that they don’t know the self. That is our issue with Buddhism since time immemorial. I have yet to meet a Buddhist that understands it. There is a video on my website of a Buddhist – the only one I ever came across who seems to know what it is and that he is it – that seems to indicate that self-knowledge is alive somewhere in the Buddhist world, but it is very rare. They are doer-oriented, experience-oriented, particularly the jhana guys.”

Really? First of all, any Buddhist you meet will tell you there is no self. But it is not contradictory to Vedanta. Buddha used different terminology. He didn’t define reality in  positive terminology so that nobody will form a concept about truth in their mind. So, he simply called it as sunyata (similar to nirguna Brahman) which literally means ‘emptiness’. So, no matter how many enlightened Buddhists you meet, you are never going to find someone who says ‘I am the self, the limitless non-dual awareness’.

Also, Buddhism is not just about Jhanas. Jhanas are just concentration practices. The stress is actually on Vipassana, getting insight into the true nature of things. It is similar but more powerful than self-inquiry in my experience. In fact, understanding the theory and practicing mindfulness helps to do self-inquiry better.

James Swartz seems to be obsessed with words. He would only agree with Advaita terminology. He fails to understand that the path of truth can be expressed with different words, which is exactly why we have so many traditions.But such an obsession with words and concepts would only make people suspect if his enlightenment was purely intellectual.

If someone claims that He, his wife, his students who were authorized to teach, his guru and some swamis he knows are the only qualified teachers on the planet, there is every reason to doubt that something is wrong.

 

 

 

The Journey of a Seeker – My Story

In this post, I am going to talk about my spiritual journey and the two most influential people in my life, Osho and Sadhguru. I am going to walk you through the journey of my life and give you accurate description of the changes that I went through in my sadhana. Then I will provide an honest unbiased review of both Sadhguru and Osho. Finally, I will put the concept of spiritual enlightenment in a scientific perspective and try to explain it using the terminology of academic psychology.

My Spiritual Journey – Me to Me

Early years

I grew up in a Hindu family which required me to believe in a personal God and his family of Gods. My grandparents taught me that God had a family with children who had God relatives. I was asked to pray to them to have my wishes granted and threatened to be punished by God if I was morally wrong. My early childhood days were spent in listening to stories of mythology and singing devotional songs. I showed more devotion than any of the other children of my age in my neighborhood. Eventually, I began to fall in love with all these heavenly beings and had a deep desire to see them with my physical eyes. I was told that it was possible if I prayed enough.

In those early days, I have watched movies in which devotees performed Tapas (penance) to get a vision of God and to get their boons granted. They were shown to be sitting or standing with closed eyes in various positions for years with no food and water so that they can have such visions. Seeing those people in movies, I too tried to imitate them. I used to sit with closed eyes for fifteen to thirty minutes every day when I was seven years old. Unknowingly, I had tried to do my first meditation this way.

I had learnt to read very early in my life. When I was seven years old, I could read and understand stories in children’s magazines written in Tamil. This was going to help to me to learn some advanced topics in the years to come. The same year, I was also taught in school about Buddha. I was taught that Buddha attained enlightenment under a bodhi tree and I had no idea what it meant.

Introduction to Ramakrishna

When I was about nine years old, I happened to read the book ‘Gospel Of Ramakrishna’. Ramakrishna Paramhamsa was the guru of Swami Vivekananda. He was considered to be enlightened but was not as famous as Vivekananda. I was fascinated about the trances that Ramakrishna used to go through, a state in which he was immersed in divine bliss with no consciousness of the outside world. The trances are called Samadhis. I also read about the unbelievable stories of how he used to have visions of Goddess Kali and talk with her. His words were filled with pearls of wisdom. One thing he insisted was to stay away from women and gold. He considered the desires for women and gold to be the common obstacles to spiritual enlightenment. The Indian word for spiritual enlightenment is Moksha, the event which frees an individual from the cycle of birth and death and makes him to be directly united with God. This concept is same as salvation or the union with God in Christianity.

Reading this book increased my desire to see God in a physical form. Ramakrishna used to say that if somebody shed tears in the desire to see God, then he would definitely see God in this lifetime and attain liberation (enlightenment).Reading this, I immediately shed tears after shutting myself in the pooja (worship) room.

I was also impressed about the fact that Ramakrishna followed Christianity and Islam to see if they also led to the same goal of Samadhi. He was able to get the same results by doing sadhana in Christian and Sufi paths.

Exposure to Yoga and other concepts

After a year, I started reading a book about Yoga and came to know about Ashtanga yoga, the eight limbs of Yoga in the path of attaining Samadhi. Samadhi is the highest goal of Yoga but it required years and years of practising meditation, doing asanas and pranayamas (exercises manipulating the breath). I tried to do meditation often but ended up fighting with my thoughts and had no success in concentration. After seeing continuous failures in getting my mind to focus on a single object, I finally gave up the confidence that I could do it.

Then I started reading Bhagwad Gita and Periya Purnam (A collection of stories of 63 enlightened devotees of Lord Shiva). I had also read a few mythological books including Skanda Purana and Shiva Purana. I also read texts about Vedanta and self-inquiry but I could not understand them. Finally, I started to believe that God is one, formless but can show himself to devotees in the form they worship.

When I read more about science, I understood that many of the things which are in the religious domain are not accepted by science. One day I thought, ‘May be I should do something to create a bridge between science and religion’. I always dreamed of becoming a scientist when I was a child. I believed that if religion is approached in a scientific way, we can discover many things.

Teenage Years

During my teenage years, I developed depression and inferiority complex. I had trouble in forming friendships and I saw myself as unworthy. But I had a lot of ambitions. I had mastered the art of writing poetry in Tamil in classical metres like venba, asiriyappa, virtutham etc. I was known as a good poet and orator in my school, by the time I was 14 years old. Even though I had inferiority complex, I had absolutely no stage fear. But my depression deepened in the coming months and I began to show some abnormal behaviour in school. I used to shut myself in a classroom and cry without any reason. I also developed a crush on a girl and started convincing myself that it is love. I lived far away from reality and had developed a fantasy prone and neurotic personality. I clearly showed the traits of bipolar disorder. I used to be known as the most brilliant student in my class. But the depressive phases and my so called ‘love’ had made me to seek more time in solitude.  After recovering from depression to some extent and finishing my tenth grade, I wrote hundreds of poems about love, life and God during the summer vacation. By this time, I had also formed an image of an ideal self, a self that I wanted to be. Everybody has an actual self and an ideal self. The less they overlap with each other, the more anxiety they feel. My actual self and ideal self didn’t seem to even touch each other.

First, I wanted to be seen as normal by people and conform to the standards of society. I wanted to develop my social skills and interact with people with confidence. Then I wanted to be known as an accomplished poet or an author in the future. Finally, I wanted to marry the girl I loved and live happily ever after. Before I die, I wanted to make sure that my name is registered in the history. That was my ideal self. I realized I had to work really hard to achieve my goals.

Also, when I looked back on what I read about Yoga and attaining Samadhi, I realized that was not going to be possible. How can I ever stop my desire for money, women and other things? After all, everyone is striving for well being. If I stop going for things that will increase my well being, then what else I would do to bring myself lasting happiness? I realized that spirituality is not for me.

College years

I lived away from my parents when I was studying in a polytechnic college in Chennai. I initially stayed in a hostel but due to pathological ragging that was done by seniors in the hostel, I moved to a room shared with other students. I faced a lot of issues during those times but I have just made the long story short. I had chosen to study chemical technology but unfortunately in a few months I realized that it was not the subject I wanted to study. So, for the first year and a half, I did not score well in the exams.

In the fourth semester I took a decision. I decided to dedicate myself to studies, accomplishing my goals and showing ultimate devotion to God to earn his grace. I also tried to be morally perfect in every aspect. If God chooses to show his grace to people who are moral and devotional, then it should happen to me. So, I pushed myself to the extreme. The life for the 6 months was very intense and I gave my 100% in everything, in every moment of life.

During mid December of that year, I started to walk 2 kilometres in the morning at 4 am everyday to a nearby temple and pray for about an hour. Then I would walk back to my room. I did the same thing in the evening and I continued this for a month.

Here is the gist of my prayers: “Dear God.. you know me very well and you are aware of what I can do and what I cannot do. I am trying all I could do to change myself, work hard and also be a good person. But I have difficulty in controlling my impulses and exercising self-control. Why did you create me like this, with this kind of genetics? Please show me the way.. I don’t know what else to do. I have what you have given me as my available resources.. You gave me this body, you gave me these tendencies.. How can I alone be responsible to correct those tendencies and be a good, kind, hardworking person? You gave me the environment and genetic factors that made me neurotic, selfish and irresponsible. I tried my best and I am not able to change that. Is it fair if you punish me for something that I don’t have full control over? Please be kind and help me”..

I literally used to have a mental conversation with God everyday in the temple. In the mean time, I started analyzing my thoughts and behaviors seriously. Every time I behaved in a negative way, I sat and analyzed what went wrong. I made my thought process conscious and engaged in a deep contemplation every day.

In the mean time I started to wonder how much control an individual has over one’s behavior. Consider the following facts:

  • People with low levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter produced by the nervous system, are predisposed to show impulsive activity and emotional aggression.
  • People who have high levels of testosterone are more likely to show aggressive behavior.
  • A brain tumor caused an individual to be sexually abusive towards girls. Once the tumor was removed, he became normal.

These psychological findings show that a person’s behaviour is highly influenced by hereditary factors, hormonal levels, other biological factors and the environment. They can even affect self control. So, somebody’s moral behaviour is not completely under his or her control.

“So, If God created me like this, is it fair for the God to punish me for the behaviour that is simply the result of my biology? Also, what kind of God he is if he chooses to favour the people who prays to him? I am willing to change and trying my best, so what is stopping from God to help me?”

I used to put these questions to God when I prayed. I reasoned with him a lot and I told him I really had no idea what to do more than what I was doing then. Whatever the problem was, I asked God to fix it. If it seemed impossible for any reason, I asked him to take my life and give me eternal peace.

When it came to studies, I made sure I dedicated a few hours each day. I pushed myself too hard and started to bite off more than I could chew, in all aspects. I remained alert about my thought patterns and behaviors and constantly monitored myself. I could manage all this until the end of the semester. After that, there was no way I could continue doing what I was doing. The grip that I had over myself began to loosen and I started losing my self control.

I did really well in the exams that semester. I had got the third highest score among my peers. But I had expected to come first. I did all I could do for this. I obviously worked harder than others but I still couldn’t reach my goal. My ideal self appeared to be so far away. I felt restless, anxious and unhappy.

In the next 6 months, I experienced a tremendous fear of loss. I started to get thoughts like, ‘what if I lost everything I have, What if I become a beggar?’…. I didn’t resist those thoughts, instead I waited to see what those thoughts are up to. Whatever bad situation that I imagined, I made myself mentally strong to face it. I told myself ‘I can face anything in my life!’… One of my favorite proverbs those days was ‘Hope for the best but prepare for the worst’..

I gradually started questioning everything in my life.. What is the purpose of this life after all? Why should I continue to live? Everything seemed to be meaningless. My rational mind started to question the existence of God. When I dug deeper into my mind, it seemed as if nothing had any purpose. There seemed to be no way to fulfill the expectations of mind. I thought I would rather die instead of having to suffer with my immature, neurotic and unpredictable personality.

Then I thought, ‘If I have decided to end this life now, then I have a freedom of doing anything I like… I can die at any minute when it seems to be impossible to live any longer.’… The idea that death is an open choice all the time gave me a sudden sense of freedom and peace. ‘Let me let this life going and see what happens’ I thought.

Introduction to the books of Osho

I got a membership in a nearby library later that year, in my fifth semester. That is where I saw a book by Osho. I had heard about him before but had no idea who he was and what he taught. So, I borrowed that book and began to read.

The first thing that caught my attention was what he said about meditation. He said that trying to concentrate and fighting with thoughts generate more and more thoughts as a result. He made very clear that meditation was not concentration. He suggested a new technique for meditation which was to witness my thoughts non-judgmentally, as an observer. He taught to observe my thoughts as if I had nothing to do with them. I was kind of already doing this and I felt it very easy and doable.

Next, he said that God is not a person. There is no personal God. ‘That is what I thought’, I said to myself. He told that there is Godliness, which is the very essence of life, which is the very essence of who I am.

Third, He made very clear what ego is. One of the things that both shocked me and sounded true was the fact that even trying to be humble can be a subtle way for ego to show superiority over others. We tend to think we are more humble than others and that kind of gives us a humble ego. He made me aware that ego tries to find meaning in everything and attaches itself to it. It makes me to define myself with concepts and always makes me in a constant pursuit of enhancing itself. It maintains a story, the story of ‘me’ and makes us constantly to be identified with it and protect it all the time. He also revealed that cutting of the identification with this self-concept created by ego is enlightenment. It is just realizing our own nature which is hidden behind the veil of ego. That is what Buddha realized under Bodhi tree. That is what Ramakrishna found in Samadhi. That is what every individual is searching for. That true nature of yours is what people actually call God. God is not somebody who is sitting in the heaven, watching you and granting your true nature. Everybody has a potential to realize their true nature.

I realized that a new door was opened for me. A new possibility of attaining complete fulfilment in my life has been just revealed to me. I found it to be refreshing, exciting and illuminating. I continued to read many books of Osho and became addicted to it. In one of his books, he revealed his own story of enlightenment and how it happened to him.

(I will explain my own criticisms about Osho later in this post. I am listing whatever happened in a chronological order)…

Here is a list of facts and teachings revealed by Osho, a gist of what I understood from many books I read after that:

  • As you start witnessing your thoughts and be alert each and every moment, you will start noticing gaps between thoughts. The gaps will get bigger and you will soon be able to witness your unconscious patterns, emotions, moods and subtle sensations. Gradually your thoughts will reduce and you will come to a point where there is absolute stillness. Then suddenly, when you are least expecting anything to happen, enlightenment happens.
  • Then you realize you are what you have been searching for. Your true nature which is beyond space and time is revealed to you which leaves you absolutely blissful and content.
  • If you try to become a morally good person, it leads to suppressing your desires. Then you will become hypocrite. You will be a good person at the periphery, but in the center all those tendencies that cause immoral behavior will exist and erupt at anytime. But once you are enlightened, you will naturally be a good person.
  • The presence of an enlightened person radiates peace and love, and has the ability to quieten your mind. If you get to live near an enlightened person, your spiritual progress will naturally accelerate.
  • Love is another path to enlightenment. You can either start with witnessing or love.
  • If you pay attention to what you are doing and witness everything that happens inside you, than anything that you do is a meditation. Simple things like walking, eating will become a meditation if you are mindful, alert and witness every thought, sensation and activity that happens. It is important to have a non judgemental attitude.
  • When you live moment to moment like this, you will simply do what is required at the given moment. Preoccupation with past and future disappears. There will not be even necessary to make plans for the future. You will be absolutely satisfied with whatever the present moment brings to you.
  • He gave a controversial discourse series called ‘From Sex to superconciousness’ in which he said being mindful during sex can be a good meditation and become a doorway for enlightenment.
  • He insisted that there is no need to renounce the world to be spiritually enlightened. One can become enlightened by living a normal life as a householder.
  • Phrases like ‘achieving enlightenment’ or ‘becoming enlightened’ are actually wrong because we are already what we are looking for. We just have to realize or uncover that. He made very clear that words can be misleading and they are just like a finger pointing to the moon.

There are many other strange facts that he revealed in different discourses. He has given many examples of enlightened people who can leave their body at will. If they want to die, they will just shed their body like shedding their clothes. In one discourse he said that an enlightened person has an aura of 24 miles radius and anybody who is sensitive within that 24 miles radius will feel the effect of his presence.

He has talked about his past lives. In many of his early talks, he talked about various things regarding reincarnation, the time it takes for a soul to take a new womb, karma etc. He said that dreams during sleep will completely disappear after enlightenment.

He also mentioned in a couple of discourses that most of the time, enlightenment and death happen at the same time. Many people, when they get enlightened, immediately leave their body due to the extreme shock that they go through in their body.

I noticed a style in Osho. Osho had a tendency to exaggerate things. When he narrated an event that happened in the life of somebody who was enlightened, he often made his own screenplay and dialogues and made the story very dramatic. So, If somebody copies and rephrases what he said, it will be very obvious to people who have read many books of Osho’s discourses.

Also, he said many times that what he talks in his discourses is not at all important. His discourse is simply a device to silence our minds and make us receptive to his presence. Once we are receptive and available to his presence, then it can directly work on the seekers to progress in the path. He insisted more on a silent transmission than the content of his talks.

He also insisted that enlightenment should not be seen as a goal. That is a subtle way of ego entering through the backdoor. Enlightenment is not an achievement; it is simply uncovering our true nature. Everybody has the potential for it. But a desire for enlightenment can also be a hindrance in getting it.

He has contradicted himself many times and has openly admitted it. Life is full of contradictions. So, there is no way to explain about reality in a completely logical way. Sometimes it is natural for his statements to seem like contradictions. But whenever somebody asked about a contradiction, he often explained it to prove that in fact there was no contradiction.

Osho was very creative in his way of talking. His talks were filled with anecdotes, jokes, harsh criticisms against many popular people, repetitive statements and sometimes pointless gossip. He gave commentaries on Upanishads, Bhagwad Gita, Buddhist texts, Zen, Sikhism, Christian mysticism, Sufism and many more. He made very clear that all these paths lead to the same goal and explained the true essence of these paths.

Witnessing – Phase 1

As soon as I started reading Osho, I have also begun to put his witnessing meditation into practise. His witnessing meditation is an age old technique which is called Sakshi Bhav in Vedanta, Shikantaza in Zen and Sati (Mindfulness) in Buddhism. In the recent years, science has found substantial evidence for the role of mindfulness meditation in decreasing stress and increasing well being.

Soon, I went to my native place for my semester holidays and I got enough solitude to practice witnessing. A month earlier, I was practicing his other meditations like dynamic meditation, gibberish meditation and more. I created my own therapy based on his various meditation techniques and I do believe that it resolved a lot of unconscious issues.

As I progressed in my witnessing meditation, I started feeling calmer and peaceful. The thought process gradually slowed down. I continued to do it every day with great involvement. One day, when I was staring at the ceiling witnessing my thoughts, there was a brief moment of stillness with no thoughts. There was an absolute clarity and peace of mind that I had never encountered before. For the first time, I realized that I can exist without thoughts. It gave me a clear and firm knowledge that thoughts are not me.

This was like a Eureka moment. An immediate excitement followed that gave me a new strength and peace which continued for the next six months. I went back to college for the final semester, which is the happiest period that I had in the entire three years. This momentary realization was a confirmation that there is something indestructible. I interpreted it as a glimpse of my essential nature. Osho used to call this Satori.

After this, I was able to concentrate on a single task for hours and be immersed in it. Recently, as I began to learn psychology, I realized that there is a name for this. It is called ‘flow’. Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does. These states were very common and occurring everyday when I was immersed in a task. During those states, there was no feeling of my individual existence. It was as if I had disappeared.. There was just pure awareness, focus and a sense of being alive.

I felt that the complete flowering of enlightenment is very near. But I also remembered Osho saying that there will be many beautiful moments that you will pass through. Don’t make any of those moments your home. Just keep going. You may feel that you have arrived but it is not necessarily so.

I talked to one of my close friends regarding this and I started to explain him about the beauty of meditation. I also told him that I felt like I might be enlightened soon. But I was wrong. After about six months, the initial excitement of this Eureka moment faded. But the feeling that there is something indestructible and everyday occurrence of flow continued and never stopped.

As I continued to read Osho’s books, I felt very unfortunate that there was no enlightened master like Osho at present time that I could meet and ask my questions. I felt that if there was someone like him around, then he could guide me on my spiritual path.

Encounter the enlightened – The First Satsang With Sadhguru

In January 2003, I saw a wall post regarding a satsang at Marina beach, Chennai. It was titled ‘Encounter the enlightened’ in Tamil with the photograph of a man with a long beard. He looked like Osho. I saw the name ‘Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev’ printed in the wall post. It was to be held on January 22, 2003. As soon as I saw it, I made up my mind to go there.

It was a beautiful evening at Marina beach with thousands of people gathered. Sadhguru spoke about many things which were similar to what Osho had said about enlightenment. He spoke in Tamil flavored with Kannada accent, sounding like the dialect of actor Rajinikanth. Most of his views were matching with the views of Osho. When he gave us instructions for a guided meditation, he asked everyone to focus in the middle of one’s eyebrows. I remember him saying ‘Just keep a slight focus in between your eyebrows, but don’t concentrate’. This instantly reminded me of Osho. ‘So, there is someone here who is enlightened’, I told myself. But it seemed almost impossible to approach him as he was already quite popular.

He spoke about his foundation called Isha Foundation based in Coimbatore which conducts Yoga programs all over the state. At the end of the satsang, his book ‘Encounter the enlightened’ in Tamil was on sale. But I had no money to buy it. I returned home with mixed feelings; A happiness on having seen another modern day enlightened Guru and a disappointment for not being able to buy that book.

After finishing my course in Polytechnic, I noticed a weekly article in Anantha Vikatan authored by Sadhguru, with a title in Tamil that translates to ‘Desire for everything!’.. This again reminded me of Osho’s advice saying that we should not repress our desires. At the same time, another clean shaved guy with the name Nithyananda showed up with his own article in Kumudham which introduced him as another enlightened modern day Guru! But for some reason, he didn’t quite appear enlightened to me, may be because he didn’t have any beard J..

My Career in BPO and My First Isha Yoga program

After spending a few months at home reading books by Osho and searching for a job, I started working. After working in two different companies in various profiles, I finally got a job with good salary in a call center in Chennai. I started earning money, made new friendships, faced a lot of ups and downs and changed four different companies in about 5 years time. I had stopped reading spiritual books and went ahead with life. Finally, I saw an announcement for Isha Yoga program which was to be conducted in Anna University for two weeks. (or one week, I don’t remember). I enrolled in the program with my friend.

I had a good time over the whole program. We were given detailed information about Isha and its activities for social welfare. I also came to know more about Dhyanalinga, which is said to give you the same effect that you will get in the presence of an enlightened guru. They said that if one sat in front of Dhyanalinga and closed his eyes, he would automatically become meditative. According to Sadhguru, the Dhyanalinga has all the seven chakras that a human being has. It has been consecrated in such a way that the energy and peace that radiates from Dhyanalinga is the same as the energy and peace radiated in the presence of someone who is enlightened. We were taught a kriya called shambhavi mahamudra, which had to be practiced twice a day. At the end of the Isha Yoga program, I immediately enrolled for the upcoming next level program called Bhava Spandana. It was a three day residential program in Isha Yoga centre, Coimbatore.

I arrived in Isha Yoga centre in the evening on the first day of Bhava Spandana. We were asked to submit our mobile phones, bags and money as there will not be any contact with the outside world for three days. I went to the dome of Dhyanalinga for the first time and meditated for fifteen minutes. To be honest, I just felt a normal relaxed state and stillness and nothing much in the presence of Dhyanalinga. The atmosphere was definitely conducive for meditation but I felt nothing more than how I would usually feel when I meditated in my home or room. May be I was not receptive enough or maybe the effects of the linga are overrated…  But usually, according to Sadhguru and Osho, trying to figure out such things with our rational mind is not going to work. Their usual argument is, our logic cannot figure out something that is beyond logic. But I had an immense trust on Sadhguru. So, I was confident that I was on the right way.

I felt very insecure on the first night of Bhava Spandana. I felt like I had been disconnected from the outside world. But the next morning, the insecurity disappeared. I participated in all the meditations in BSP with 100% intensity. Some of the meditations involved action and were similar to the concept of dynamic meditation by Osho. The feelings of oneness and peace I felt there was not new to me since I had already experienced that with my witnessing meditation. But the three days were very beautiful and the overall experience was good.

After the BSP program, I came back to Chennai and my regular routine started again. A lot of things happened in my life then which gave me extreme suffering. I used to become emotionally dependent on certain people that I liked a lot; If the people I liked didn’t give me the same attention to me, it made me to suffer and become anxious. That was exactly what was happening in those days. It took a few months for me to become alright again.

Exploring Spirituality further

I had bought two books by Sadhguru, ‘Encounter the enlightened’ and ‘Mystic’s musings’. The book Mytic’s Musings was about many things that any rational person would never want to believe in. But I had no problem with that because of the trust I had in Sadhguru. I always remembered what Sadhguru said, ‘Don’t believe me or disbelieve me! Don’t come to a conclusion about anything by yourself. Be ready to say I don’t know and be a seeker’… Osho has said the same thing many times. It has always been my own approach to life too.  I finished reading those two books and watched a lot of videos of Sadhguru’s talks.

I continued my meditations and I had many peak experiences. Peak experiences were described by psychologist Abraham Moslow as “rare, exciting, oceanic, deeply moving, exhilarating, elevating experiences that generate an advanced form of perceiving reality, and are even mystic and magical in their effect upon the experimenter”. In the mean time, I read the teachings of Ramana Mahirishi. I also came to know about Eckhart tolle and his awakening experience. I read three of his books, ‘The Power of now’, ‘A New Earth’ and ‘The Stillness speaks’.

I came across the teachings of another Indian guru named Poonjaji. Soon I discovered that there are many people who claim to be enlightened, especially in the west. Some of them I read about were Gangaji, Andrew Cohen, Ramesh Balsekar, Mooji, Joan Tollifson etc. I read their testimonies about the awakening experiences. Are each of one of them really enlightened or they just had some peak experiences and glimpses of their reality? There seemed to be no way to find out. Can we really draw a single line called ‘Enlightenment’ in someone’s life which is the ultimate line after which there is no progress further? Is everyone who claims to enlightened talk about that same line? I emailed a couple of these people and got answers too. They said that their enlightenment was a gradual process and not something that occurred in the single moment as Osho described. They also didn’t have a totally thoughtless mind, ability to leave the body at will or memories of previous incarnation. Did Osho exaggerate the effects of enlightenment by saying that there would be no thoughts or did these people just conclude that they were enlightened with no basis to support their claim? I had no answers to these questions.

I had already integrated Karma Yoga, Gnana Yoga and Bhakthi yoga in my life and made my life itself a sadhana. Every moment was an opportunity for me to explore the depths of unconsciousness and clear out the clouds which were hiding my own reality. The concepts of Advaita taught me ‘acceptance’. I learnt to accept the life as it is.

My Marriage and the life after

I got married in December 2008. The first two years of my marriage were spent in a lot of conflicts and quarrels between me and my wife. I became addicted to alcohol and started drinking twice or thrice a week. I started learning about PHP programming, chess tactics, astronomy, photoshop and many other things. Photography became my new hobby. Nothing much happened in my life those days. I used to go to Ramana Mahirishi’s ashram in Tiruvannamalai with my wife whenever I got a chance and spend time in meditation.

Two years later, I moved to my own native place, Tirunelveli and got a job there. I spent my time in learning, writing articles and trying out new things on the internet. New interests always popped up and got me going. The moments of flow helped me to stay on focus.

After another two years, I moved to Coimbatore. I started exploring places nearby. I climbed mountains and hills on weekends and took pictures. I enjoyed trekking in various places of Nilgiris. I had stopped drinking alcohol and started experimenting with cannabis. It seemed to be a magic herb. It enhanced my creativity, focus and compassion. We had no kids and there were no big responsibilities. I used to visit Isha Yoga centre occasionally but wasn’t thinking much about enlightenment or spirituality. I didn’t think anything about the future or the past. Living in the present moment was quite satisfying but there was still something incomplete in me which was yearning for fulfillment.

On May 5, 2014, I climbed the Velliangiri mountains. It is a holy mountain near Coimbatore. Isha Yoga centre is right at the foot of the mountains. Sadhguru himself had spent time there and he had said that many enlightened people left their bodies there and their energy can be still felt in the mountains. There was no one to accompany me to trek the mountain so I went all by myself. I started walking uphills at about 7:30 AM and reached the summit by 1:30. The mountain is very steep and difficult to climb. The view from the top is amazing. I had the darshan of the linga in the summit, took rest for about 30 minutes and started walking downhill. I took many photographs and finally reached the bottom at about 7:30 PM. The experience was wonderful.

The Major ‘Change’ – Is it Enlightenment?

The trip to Velliangiri mountains triggered the seeker in me and I decided to go deep in meditation as much as I could. I started paying attention to every moment, every thought and every sensation. I made very clear to me that whatever I observe, perceive, think, experience and know is not me. I witnessed all the passing emotions and moods as a passive observer.

I went to Isha yoga centre every week, took bath in Theerthakund and meditated for an hour. I spent almost half of the day there. In the office, my nature of job was to talk to the customers over the phone during the whole night and answer their questions. I became deeply involved in the present moment and enjoyed my work. I soon stopped thinking about many things in the external world. I noticed my thoughts slowing down leaving a peaceful, clear stillness in the large gaps between each thought. Very soon, I started feeling intense euphoria at times which lasted for hours. The quality of my work increased, the clarity in my voice and speech increased and I started to feel waves of bliss in my head. It was like a cool breeze flowing in my head.

Soon, I stopped my interactions with other people. It was not my conscious decision but happened automatically. I couldn’t believe that all these things were happening to me. I didn’t feel any intense negative emotion or anxiety but almost the whole day at my work was filled with bliss and peace. Soon, the psychological boundaries between me and the world started to disappear. I started getting a lot of attention and I was pretty sure that something tremendous was happening.

I went to attend Sadhguru’s darshan that happened in the Isha ashram on June 18th and 19th, 2014. I felt one with the whole universe during the entire satsang. The feeling of oneness with the world was then continuous. Whatever I did seemed to happen without much of my conscious will. Everything I did was spontaneous like a river flowing down the hills. The doer in me seemed to have completely disappeared and everything seemed to be happening out of cosmic will instead of my own will.

It was a huge blessing. Every day at work, I felt tremendously happy and satisfied. For the first time in my life, I felt complete and fulfilled. I wondered, ‘Is it really possible for me to suffer ever again?’… I felt like the king of the whole world.

I went to another satsang that was held on July 12, 2014 (Guru Purnima day). I remember getting on the bus feeling so light as if I had no weight on the body. Everything seemed to be so transparent. During the entire satsang, I was immersed in my Self. That night while I was lying on my bed, there was a sudden clarity. It seemed that my search was over. There was nothing else to achieve and nothing more to do to make me complete.

The days after the change

The excitement and the wave of bliss were gradually reduced in the days to come. Though I no longer felt the waves and breeze of bliss in my head, being peaceful and complete has been the normal state of my mind from those days of transformation to till date.

Though I had no doubt that the journey as a human being in my life was over and it wouldn’t matter if I die at any moment, the transformation didn’t exactly fit into the description of enlightenment as implied by Osho and Sadhguru. When I thought about it later after the next two years, I noted down my observation of the changes it had made in my thinking, well being and my way of life:

  • Self image is no longer important to me.
  • My past no longer plays a role in giving me a mental identity in my mind.
  • I cannot think about future the same way I did before. In a sense, I seemed to have lost the sense of time. I don’t and can’t rely on an event in the future for satisfaction.
  • I stopped feeling that there is an ‘other’. The psychological boundaries between me and the world disappeared. A lot of concepts in Psychology doesn’t seem to apply to me or relevant to me. For example, I no longer felt the psychological self-consciousness and cognitive dissonance.
  • Emotions like sadness and fear seems to have disappeared. But I continue to show the sign of a sudden fear in my facial expression and bodily movements. (For example, if a moving vehicle suddenly comes close to me enough to hit me, I respond to it in the usual way. But it doesn’t have the same impact on my mind as it did before. May be it is so subtle but I don’t usually feel fear or sadness)
  • I continue to feel angry when I am disturbed by others. As a person, I always used to be high in neuroticism and easily angered ever since I was a child. It seemed to a genetic factor. It makes sense to assume that meditation or an awakening experience doesn’t mysteriously change a person’s genetics. But the factors that will make me angry were reduced completely. I could easily change my mood from being angry to being normal.
  • It is not like feeling continuous bliss and being drugged all the time. But there is always a peace and fulfillment and there is no longer a feeling that something is incomplete.
  • The thoughts have not completely disappeared but they have been tremendously reduced. My thinking is usually not about the past or the present. For example, at any moment I may be thinking ‘May be there is life on one of the moons on Saturn’, or ‘How come humming birds are really too small? They are cute’… I hardly think about me.
  • There is absolutely nothing paranormal. I don’t have any memories of past life and have never seen a damn aura in my life.
  • Biological drives like food and sex motivates my behavior as usual. But motivation theories like expectancy theory or goal setting theory doesn’t seem to apply for me much. I am not driven to do something because I will get something as a result in three months time. I have to remember to consciously involve myself to do it. But I will do something to get a bottle of brandy to drink this evening. These days I have developed a conscious practice of planning ahead and thinking about doing things which are necessary for the future. The drawback with that is, I may completely forget to do it.

Also, while some changes obviously occurred as an immediate result of the transformation, some changes are gradual and still occurring within me. It took a long time to learn to live with this transformed personality and there were challenges that I faced. It is hard to put it in language, because in one way or the other, it will be misleading.

I continue to learn by my experience with this new phenomenon (in fact, people will say that it is not a new thing, it is just a person’s real essence which was and will be always present. That is true… But it is still gives a new outlook. The way it affects our behavior and our experiences is new).

I went through a great deal of suffering after this transformation when I lost my job in the next two years.  That is long story and I don’t want to go into that in detail now. I had to find a new job, had no money and depended on my parents for a couple of months. During those days, I actually missed my old job and the people. Then I realized that I had a subtle attachment with that environment which was not obvious. It took a while for things to settle down. But it was only temporary and soon it became like nothing actually happened. I have written more about what happened in the next three years after awakening in this post: Spiritual Enlightenment – Is it a Myth or Real?

 

   Osho and Sadhguru – What I noticed about them

Osho – A second look

So if this transformation is not enlightenment, then there must be another shift which is going to happen. But is that really true or enlightenment has been simply exaggerated and over rated than it really is?… Many stories of enlightenment from the west are same as my transformation. So, according to them, I am enlightened but according to Sadhguru and Osho, I am not.

This is something to figure out to prevent people from being misled. Scientific research about enlightenment is the only way to go about it. It is interesting to note that, Osho himself was completely not free of ego. To be exact, his need to feel superior seemed to be still there after enlightenment.

Let me give you some obvious examples:

  1. In the initial years, Osho regarded Nostradamus as simply a crazy man. This is what he said about his predictions:

“Nostradamus can be interpreted in any way you want. The sentences are not clear, the grammar is not correct. The words are such that you can fit them into any context you want”.

But just read what he said about the same man later, when it seemed like Nostrademus predictions about a great future teacher fit with Osho:

“Just a few days ago, I was seeing one of the most significant books to be published in this century, ‘Millenium’. It is a deep research into Nostradamus and his predictions. Eighty thousand copies were published – which is very rare – and they were sold within weeks. Now a second publication, a second edition, is happening in America, another is happening in England, and the book is being translated into many other languages – Dutch, German….

Nostradamus was a great mystic with an insight into the future. And you will be surprised to know that in his predictions, I am included. Describing the teacher of the last days of the twentieth century, he gives eight indications. Krishnamurti fulfills five, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi fulfills three, Da Free John fulfills four – and I was amazed that I fulfill all eight.

In this book ‘Millenium’, they have made a chart of the teacher about whom Nostradamus is predicting – that his people will wear red clothes, that he will come from the East, that he will be arrested, that his commune will be destroyed, that flying birds will be his symbol, that his name will mean moon…. Three hundred years ago that man was seeing something that fits perfectly with me – my name means “the moon.” And in their chart they have declared me the teacher of the last part of the twentieth century.”

Obviously, when Osho found this as boosting his superiority, he regarded the same man as mystic.

  1. Initially Osho didn’t criticize S.N Goenka and even asked his disciples to attend a Vipassana retreat by Goenka. But once Osho heard that Goenka in an interview had said that Osho was his student before, Osho started criticizing S.N Goenka so harshly.
  2. Osho always considered J.Krishnamurti as enlightened. When he heard that J.K had criticized him recently, Osho immediately reacted to it in his next discourse. He said that J.K was just in the border of enlightenment and is not enlightened yet. He also made the same statement in his last book Zen Manifesto.

Also, you will find a significant difference between what Osho has said in his early talks in India and the talks he gave in America. Even though Osho had his own rationalizations on that, anyone who carefully observes this difference can notice many things which clearly indicate that a lot of what Osho said about enlightenment could be just his opinions and exaggerations but may not be facts.

Osho had a really nasty habit of labeling people he criticized as stupids and idiots. His natural defense mechanism would usually come into play when he tried to rationalize things like this as “It is a device. I am just trying to shock you people”. But I don’t agree that many of the things that he calls as device were really consciously devised by Osho to help people towards their spiritual progress. It is pure rationalizing, one of the defense mechanisms of ego that you can observe in any human being. But I did believe that those were genuine devices when I was reading those hundreds of books of Osho. Some of them could be, but not all of them.

Many people who know Osho are probably aware that nitrous oxide was used during dental sessions with Osho. He dictated three books under the influence of Nitrous oxide. If you read those books, you will certainly notice that nitrous oxide did influence his clarity and thought process. But Osho has said that a drug will not impact an enlightened person’s alertness and consciousness in anyway. Also, it is more likely that Osho became addicted to Nitrous Oxide even though he denied it. That affected his thinking process a lot. When you read the books of his talks in the US, you will notice that those talks were just repetitive and pointless ramblings.

My assumption is that behavior, personality and opinions greatly vary between enlightened people because they still retain their genetics and even old habits. A person who was a jerk before enlightenment can retain some of those tendencies after enlightenment and a person who was like a sage before enlightenment may look like an absolute and perfect sage after enlightenment.

But they are just my assumptions. If you ask me ten years later, I may have a different answer. I am more inclined now to approach enlightenment in scientific way. For science, both skepticism and open-mindedness are necessary and important.

Osho’s Influence in the world

Osho definitely made a great contribution to the world. He brought spiritual enlightenment from the heights of great sages to the valley that most of the people in the world live in. He created awareness about enlightenment and showed to people that there is really a way to reduce a great deal of unnecessary suffering in the daily life.

Osho influenced many people who we believe today as enlightened. I can smell that influence in many books written by gurus who are alive today.

sadh

Image credit: https://twitter.com/DerekBaconART

How Osho influenced Sadhguru

Sadhguru has never endorsed Osho, even though he has talked about a lot of other mystics. In Mystic Musings, he claimed that most of what he knows came as a direct transmission from his guru. But it is certain that a lot of what he knows also came from Osho.

Enlightened people certainly share the same knowledge and experience of reality. So, in those aspects they can certainly rely on their own experience even though it may appear that one person might have copied the ideas of another person. But it doesn’t apply to everything. A lot of what Sadhguru knows seems to have come from the books by Osho. But I wonder why he never gives him credit.

Here are a few examples..

  1. Here is an anecdote given by Sadhguru:

“When you sit in front of a living Guru, you have many problems, judgments, likes and dislikes, because invariably you end up looking at his personality. People have left their Gurus for all kinds of frivolous things. This happened with J. Krishnamurti, a realized being and very wonderful man. There was a certain lady who was very close to him and deeply involved with his work. She was always around him and traveled to many places with him. Once when he was in Amsterdam, Holland, he went into a shop to buy a tie for himself. He was so meticulous about choosing a tie, because he was very conscious about everything and also what he wore. He could throw the tie away if he wanted to, but when he wears it, he wants it to be in a certain way. So he went into the shop and spent nearly four hours picking out one tie. He pulled out every tie in the shop, looked at it, put it on, and then said, “No.” It took him four hours to select just one tie. This woman watched and watched and watched, and as minutes passed, in her mind his enlightenment receded. She thought a man who could be so concerned about what kind of tie he wears couldn’t be enlightened, and she left him. Many such stupid things are done because of your judgments.”

Source: http://www.dhyanalinga.org/difference_qa.htm

How did Sadhguru came to know about this incidence? There is absolutely only one way he could have known this. You cannot find this information anywhere except in Osho’s talks. Osho knew this because the lady herself told Osho about this incident. You can find this anecdote from the book ‘The Book of Wisdom’ by Osho.

Here is a link to that excerpt:

http://oshosearch.net/Convert/Articles_Osho/The_Book_of_Wisdom/Osho-The-Book-of-Wisdom-00000012.html

  1. Sadhguru once told a story that supposedly happened when Aristotle met Heraclitus. Heraclitus was trying to empty the ocean with a spoon. You can read the whole story here:

    http://isha.sadhguru.org/blog/li…

    But Aristotle lived between 384–322 BC and Heraclitus lived between c. 535 – c. 475 BC. There is no way that this meeting took place.. Obviously, it seems there is some mistake…

    How did Sadhguru know about this anecdote?

Obviously, you cannot find the story of Aristotle meeting Heraclitus, except in a book of Osho. The story is from the book ‘Hidden Harmony’ – Chapter 5, by Osho.

Here is the link: http://www.osho.com/iosho/library/read-book/online-library-look-aristotle-flower-51daeb6a-147?p=5ae86f113210d477f5542e2c5aa6a6e5

So, did Osho make up this story? No… The story actually happened in St. Augustine’s life. Osho simply mismatched the names because memory doesn’t work perfectly all the time.

  1. In the same link, you can find Sadhguru criticizing the statement “I think, therefore I am” made by Rene Descartes.

But as far as I know, the first person who ever criticized this statement in the context of spiritual enlightenment was Osho. And, Osho actually made a mistake in interpreting Rene’s statement.

Just by reading that statement, anyone can misinterpret that as “Thought is the basis of existence, you cannot exist if you don’t have thoughts’….

But that is not what Rene Descartes intended to say. He said that you can doubt any belief or concept but you cannot deny your own existence. The doubt implies that there is a doubter. A doubter has to exist to doubt. If you don’t exist, you cannot doubt, and you cannot think. So, if you think, that actually means you exist. That is what he meant by saying ‘I think, therefore I am’.

Here is more clear interpretation of the statement that I found in a forum:

“I think, therefore I am” is a crude mistranslation of Descartes’s proposition. It misrepresents the essence of Descartes’s philosophy because most philosophers now regard the process of thinking as a kind of invisible mechanical action (i.e. stimulus-response).

Historians, philosophers and many scientists have repeated this mistranslated phrase for more than three hundred years. But Descartes’s meant something entirely different, as can be seen when “cogito ergo sum” is read in context.

The Latin word, cogito can mean “I think”, “I know” or “I am aware”; ergo always means “therefore” in any context. However, sum can mean “I am” or “I exist”. To suggest that, “I know, therefore I am” would be wrong as it’s possible to accept wrong knowledge as correct.

If you read Descartes’s Philosophical Writings in context, it becomes obvious that he was concerned with awareness rather than with thinking or knowing and with existence rather than being.

Properly translated, Descartes’s phrase should therefore read: “I am aware, therefore I exist” – a subjective rather than a mechanistic generalization. No machine can be self- or globally aware, no matter how many sensors are attached to it.

In fact, the philosopher Spinoza translated cogito ergo sum as “I am conscious, therefore I exist”. Even that’s wrong, although it’s closer to the truth than the usual lazy mistranslation which has unfairly earned Descartes’s the reputation of being a crude reductionist.

It’s true that he stated the obvious: that physiological functions are pseudo-mechanical. But he also insisted that man was much more than a machine because of his subjective awareness of the self and of the universe.”

How will a teacher find out if a student has copied another student? If both made the exact same mistake, then one person must have copied another.

Sadhguru simply used Osho’s example without realizing that Osho himself has interpreted it in the wrong way.

  1. Sadhguru once said that seventy percent illness are created by the mind..

http://isha.sadhguru.org/blog/video/the-symptoms-of-an-ill-mind/

Is it a fact? How did he come up with 70%.. Why not 72%? Why not 80%…

Because, Osho also said the exact same thing: http://www.osho.com/read/featured-articles/body-dharma/the-mind-and-disease-hypnosis-and-health

  1. Read the following excerpt from Sadhguru:

“So, this is…this whole idea of right and wrong, good and bad is all human nonsense. Existence is not human centric. They have always told you… many religions of the world have been going about telling people “You are made in God’s own image” and once you are in God’s own image naturally the place that you live They believed this for a long time, isn’t it? Even now they are insisting. You’ve heard of this guy Copernicus? Copernicus was one of the first guys who came and said, “Earth is not the center of the universe; not only not the center of the universe, it is not even the center of the solar system.” And he promptly died. That’s not bad thing; it’s a good thing because the next man after him, when he uttered the same thing the local church decided to skin him alive. They wanted to peal his skin off and the skin would not cooperate. So, they decided to burn him alive. The next significant man who has uttered the same thing was Galileo; he said the same thing. Then they got ready with the skin peelers. Then he said, “No, no, no, no; earth is the center of the universe and the cosmos. What is my problem? (Laughter) As you say earth is not only the center of the solar system and not only the center of the universe; it is the very center of the cosmos. Anyway I do not know what is the center of the cosmos, you want to assume. I want to save my skin. That much I know.” (Laughs)

So, today science has proved to you that definitely earth is not the center of the solar system, in the universe you are just a miniscule. Tomorrow morning if you and your planet disappears, if it evaporates nobody is going to miss it. Hmm? The whole solar system evaporates tomorrow morning it will be just a small vacant place that nobody is going to miss in the existence, nothing is going to happen. Yes? God won’t come rescuing you. It’ll just pooff it will go. This is a good thing. This whole idea that I am made in the image of God has left man so crude and he has been walking upon this planet so wantonly without any concern for any other life on this planet, simply because he believes he is in the image of God. If you knew that your life is as significant or as insignificant as that of an ant – it is actually.”

–  From http://isha.sadhguru.org/blog/video/are-you-looking-for-solace-or-a-solution/

Now read this excerpt from Osho and you will find that the above excerpt is the exact rephrase of what Osho said. It sounds almost like Sadhguru had just read this before coming to the discourse:

“Human beings have thought of God in human terms. It is natural. We have said that God created man in His own image. If horses could think they would deny this: they would say that God created horses in His own image. Because man has created the philosophy, he has made himself the center.

Even God must be in our image. He must have created us in His own image. Man’s ego has asserted these things. This is not knowledge, this is not knowing – this is simply an anthropocentric feeling.

Man feels himself to be the center. We have thought that the earth is the center of the universe and man is the center of creation. These conceptions are false imaginations, dreams of the human ego. God has not created anybody in His own image because the whole is His image. The trees, the earth, the stars; the animals, men, women – everything that exists is His image, not just man.

Then too, we have divided the world into good and evil. The world is not so divided: good and evil are our evaluations. If man did not exist on the earth there would be neither good nor bad. Things would exist, things would be there, but there would be no evaluation. The evaluation is man’s: it is our imposition, it is our projection.”

–  From ‘The Eternal Quest’ by Osho

  1. Both men surprisingly had the same views about nations:

“Someday, we must overcome the idea of a nation. Such a silly idea – someone draws a line and that becomes so immensely important. These boundaries have become meaningful only because there is such inequity in the world. If there was no inequity, if for example, Mexico and the United States both had the same level of economic prosperity and wellbeing, would one side be guarding the borders with guns, barbed wires and all that, and would the other side be digging tunnels to get here? No. Whoever wants to go in either direction could do so – no one would care. But in our lifetime, we may not see the abolishment of national borders. Europe has done reasonably well, but it looks like they are beginning to step back from the European Union because those who have, do not want to share with those who do not have.”

By Sadhguru – From http://isha.sadhguru.org/blog/lifestyle/does-it-matter-where-you-live/

Osho said the same thing:

“NATIONS HAVE BECOME out of date – but they go on existing and they are the greatest problem. Looking at the world with a bird’s eye view, a strange feeling arises that we have everything – just we need one humanity.

For example, in Ethiopia people were dying – one thousand people per day – and in Europe they were drowning billions of dollars worth of food in the ocean.

Anybody looking from the outside will think humanity is insane. Thousands of people are dying and mountains of butter and other foodstuff is being drowned in the ocean. But Ethiopia is not the concern of the Western world. Their concern is to save their economies and their status quo. And to protect their economic structures, they are willing to destroy food which could have saved the lives of thousands of people.

Problems are worldwide – solutions have also to be worldwide.

And my understanding is absolutely clear, that there are things somewhere where they are not needed, and somewhere else the very life depends on them. A world government means looking at the whole situation of this globe and shifting things where they are needed.

It is one humanity. And once we think of one world, then there is only one economy.”

  • From ‘Hari Om Tat Sat’ by Osho

http://oshosearch.net/Convert/Articles_Osho/Hari_Om_Tat_Sat/Osho-Hari-Om-Tat-Sat-00000005.html

  1. Here are a couple of comparisons as well:

Sarada giving the knife to vivekananda:

http://oshosearch.net/Convert/Articles_Osho/Early_Talks/Osho-Early-Talks-00000010.html

http://isha.sadhguru.org/blog/sadhguru/masters-words/stories-swami-vivekananda-life-inspired/

Alexander and immortality:

Osho https://oshostories.wordpress.com/2012/05/09/alexander-and-immortality/

Sadhguru http://isha.sadhguru.org/blog/yoga-meditation/history-of-yoga/when-alexander-chased-immortality/

  1. Have you heard about a story told by Sadhguru about Ramakrishna’s obsession over food to keep his body alive? Try as much as you can to find out the source of the story and you can only find this story in Osho’s talks. I have read in many places Ramakrishna liked certain fruits and sweets. But the conversation between Sarada and Ramakrishna regarding the obsession over food and Ramakrishna saying that it is necessary to keep his body alive seems to be just an imaginary incident created by Osho. Even if it was true, it is highly unlikely that both Osho and Sadhguru somehow independently got access to this information which is not found in any other sources.

I have all three volumes of ‘Gospel of Ramakrishna’ which is the most honest account of Ramakrishna’s life incidents. When you read the book, you will feel like watching a movie. Everything that happened was exactly recorded by the author and there is not even a single place where it is mentioned that he had an obsession over food and he was often checking the kitchen to find out what is cooking. But Ramakrishna always used to ask for a glass of water which was necessary for him to come out of Samadhi.

9. Sadhguru narrates a story of Svetaketu in a podcast:

Svetaketu and the Cows

But you can’t find this story of Svetaketu as narrated by Sadhguru in Upanishads… Because it seems that the story is a mixture of two different stories from Chandogya Upanishad, one story is of Svetaketu (His father questions him if he has known that which cannot be known) and the other is the story of Satyakama (the one who is sent to forest with 400 animals)..

So, how did Sadhguru come up with this story? You guessed it. Osho made this mistake of mixing up the two stories:

http://www.osho.com/iosho/library/read-book/online-library-supreme-svetaketu-taught-78d59dde-9b0?p=867d5652b07d80469abc69481a91e28f

10. Sadhguru says in a discourse that there are two paths :

“Fundamentally, on any Spiritual path, there are only two types of spiritual processes in the world – the path of Samadhi and the path of Pragna”

This is actually a Buddhist distinction, but usually the terms Samatha and Vipassana are used, instead of pragna and samadhi, respectively. Osho was the one who used these terms when talking about this distinction. Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev also used the same terminology and even gave the same examples given by Osho.

Check my post here: https://nellaishanmugam.wordpress.com/2017/02/24/path-of-samadhi-and-pragna-talks-by-sadhguru-and-osho/

So, It is very obvious that Sadhguru has read books of Osho and greatly influenced by him. I respect Sadhguru a lot for all the phenomenal work that he is doing for this world. But while he is taking a lot of effort to give credit to Adiyogi, why did he fail to give credit to Osho? He hasn’t even talked about him in his discourses.

                                             Spiritual enlightenment and Science

We think we are rational human beings. But unfortunately it is not so. Every human being’s thinking is naturally biased, which is a nature’s way of helping human survival. We must consider all the cognitive biases that can happen when people interpret their own enlightenment. Cognitive bias can influence our logical thinking in various ways. No matter how intelligent a person is, he is not free of cognitive bias. I used to believe that enlightenment destroys the bias, but if you observe the enlightened people and their talks, you will find out it is not true.

Many reports of spiritual enlightenment are self-reports. The individuals who go through a spiritual experience and shift their centre from self-concept to their being, they often try to conform to the believed standards of enlightenment. It is natural, because a human being as a social animal wants to conform to the standards of society. Conformity is studied by social psychologists.

Only a few people have revolted against the conventional standards and proposed some new standards. Osho is an example. But still, they don’t completely ignore all the standards as they cannot completely avoid conformity, which is a human tendency when it comes to social behaviour.

For example, almost all enlightened people agree with existence of Karma.. Sure, we all know that natural laws exist. But Karma is not explained as a natural law all the time. They imply that something from an individual continues to another new born individual and affects him. But did they really come to that conclusion with some knowledge that they gained out of their own experience and interpreted that knowledge in unbiased way or are they simply repeating what has been said? Is the role of collective unconsciousness (Carl Jung) understood falsely as the role of karma?

Some people report that they remember their previous reincarnation. But you also need to know that there is something called ‘False memory’ which is a psychological phenomenon wherein a person recalls something that did not occur.

Interestingly, when scientists did research about reincarnation, they analyzed reports of past life memories from various people and found that most of the people who report such memories come from the eastern part of the world. The obvious reason is the fact that reincarnation is a belief which mostly comes from the East. So, obviously when they have false memories, they associate it with reincarnation. While false memories are not intentional, some people are also likely to intentionally make up such stories.

How about seeing auras? Can it be Synesthesia? (a neurological phenomenon that causes cross wiring of senses)..

I am not saying that all these claims of seeing auras or remembering past lives cannot be real.. It could be. I am just suggesting all the possibilities. When it comes to science, you have to be both open minded and skeptic. But people are usually inclined more towards believing or completely denying.

But I assume that there is certainly a link between enlightenment and neural plasticity. Scientists now believe that mindfulness meditation can rewire the brain. An enlightened brain could be a completely rewired brain that inhibits the activity of sympathetic nervous system when there is no need. SNS is supposed to be activated when an animal feels that there is a threat for life. If a lion is chasing the deer, then SNS of the deer activates its fear and makes it to run fast. But as human beings evolved from being an animal to human, the SNS gets activated even for trivial issues and makes human beings to suffer. Rewiring the brain through meditation or self-inquiry may be the way to get rid of this human suffering.

The most reasonable way to study enlightenment is to study the brains of enlightened people. Scientists can observe many things from techniques like fMRI and PET scans. They have been already studying the brains of mediators but only a couple of so called enlightened people have volunteered to have their brains studied.