Advaita Vision

www.advaita.org.uk

Advaita for the 21st Century

Essays
by Dhanya

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Biography

Durga

Like many of her contemporaries, Dhanya developed an interest in Eastern philosophy and Hinduism in the early 1970s. In 1973, she travelled to India in search of a guru to guide her on the spiritual path. While there, she encountered disciples of Neem Karoli Baba and his teachings of bhakti and karma yoga, which influenced her life from then on. She studied Vipassana meditation for some time with S.N. Goenkaji beginning in 1974; and in 1991 she met HWL Poonja in Lucknow from whom she first heard the teachings of Advaita. In 2002, after spending years listening to various Advaita teachers, including Jean Klein and Sri Ranjit Maharaj, she met her current teacher, a traditional teacher of Advaita/Vedanta and a disciple of Swami Dayananda Saraswati. Now, after having finally found an authentic teacher and an effective teaching, which clearly elucidates the path of self-knowledge, Dhanya lives a quiet life in northern California.

Essays

Dhanya has contributed the following discourses:

  • The Knot of the Heart: In Sanskrit there is a phrase, hRRidaya-granthi, which means 'knot of the heart.' The 'knot of the heart' needs to be broken in order for Self-knowledge to take place. I have often wondered what the 'knot of the heart' is...

  • The Problem and the Solution: I am a student of traditional Advaita Vedanta, studying in a lineage which is reputed to stretch unbroken back to Shankara. My teacher, a westerner, says this: 'You are already That. How can you be more That than you already are? There is nowhere to travel, and nothing you can do to be more yourself than you already are...'

  • Self-Knowledge and the Mind: Q: When one says, 'knowing the true nature of the Self,' what is meant? A: It seems to me that the mind can perform various functions. And one of the functions the mind can perform is to differentiate itself from the Self. In fact, the mind's making this thorough and complete differentiation is what Self knowledge truly is...

  • The Karma Yoga Attitude: Any action I undertake I do so with a desired (or expected) objective in mind. For example, when I get a glass of water, I intend and expect that my thirst will be quenched. I get up from my chair and walk across the room and intend to get to the other side of the room. That's the result I expect from my action...

  • mithyA and pa~ncha kosha: Anything that changes, anything that comes and goes is part of mAyA. The only 'thing' which doesn't come and go or change is the Self, which you actually are. When you say 'I' that word actually labels the Self. The Self is also called 'Brahman'...

  • Personal God: If you cannot make sense of things without thinking of a personal god, then why try? My teacher's guru, Swami Dayananda, often says, 'Some religions say there is only one God. We say there is only God.' In other words everything is God. But sometimes it is difficult to relate in a personal way to the total manifest reality as God. Sometimes it is easier to pick one form or aspect of God and relate to that...

  • Reconciliation of duality and non-duality: Understanding the nature of brahman, understanding what self-knowledge is, understanding how Vedanta reconciles duality with nonduality is not very easy. It is at the heart of the teachings, and I cannot claim in any way to be an expert. But I know that discussing the teachings is useful for mananam, so with that in view I begin...

  • The End of Becoming: In the teachings of Vedanta we sometimes speak of 'the end of becoming.' What does the phrase, 'the end of becoming' mean? The thing is, one cannot become what one already is. And what one already is, is what one wants to become. (So that's the good news.) But one does not know that as yet. (The not so good news.) However, that 'not knowing' can end. (The very good news!)...

  • Not Knowing: It seems to me, as I read what is commonly accepted as true on nondual lists, and what I myself once paid lip service to, but only had some very vague notions about, that it is generally accepted in modern circles of nonduality that one cannot 'know' the truth. That the truth is something unknown and unknowable, and that the less one knows, some how the better that is...

  • An Overview of the Science and Nonduality Conference, San Rafael, October 2009: The Conference on Science and Nonduality held in San Rafael, CA in October 2009, was interesting. On the one hand, it brought together some very good teachers and exponents of the teachings of nonduality; on the other, I don't think it did much to clear up confusion on the subject matter...

  • The Tenth Man: In ancient times in India, young boys were often sent at the age of twelve to study with a guru, either at the guru's house if the guru was married, or in the guru's hermitage if the guru was a renunciate. The boy would stay with his guru for twelve years, studying the Vedas and the Upanishads, and at age 24 he would return home to be married...

  • 'A Tiny Drop of Water': 'Looking at the red flowers on my table with the / sun shining on them, I notice a tiny sparkling drop of water / at the end of each stamen in every flower...

  • pratibandhaka-s: I'm going to tell you a secret, which I don't think many modern day non-traditional advaita teachers would tell you. Self-knowledge and the fruits thereof take time...

  • Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism: In answer to a question regarding the relative merits of Advaita Vedanta compared to Buddhism, the concept of 'shraddha', meaning 'faith pending understanding' is examined...

  • Can the Truth ever be known?: Despite the feeling that 'All is One' is the truth, such a truth can never be known; knowledge would be akin to a scientific discovery, which would always be subject to further revision...

  • sraddha: As is said in the Bhagavad Gita, 'the one who has sraddha (faith pending understanding) is the one who gains self-knowledge'...

  • Happiness: Recently I was talking with some friends about happiness. What is happiness? What is its nature? Who are we in relationship to it? Here is an examination of the mechanics of happiness, and a description of what could be called, 'the happiness equation'...

  • Katha Upanishad as a means for Self-knowledge: There are many beautiful verses in the Katha Upanishad, and some of them are quoted in other texts as well, such as the Bhagavad Gita, but in order to fully comprehend what the verses mean, one needs a teacher to help one understand them...

  • Personal God and Nondual Awareness: Many of us, who were raised in the West, were raised within a culture whose values reflect Judeo/Christian beliefs and concepts. Even if our families practiced no religion at all, the thinking of the culture reflects those beliefs. And how is God seen in those cultures? How are we as individuals seen? Generally God is presented in a way that some might term as, 'God the Godfather.' God the Godfather who makes you an offer you can't refuse, 'Believe in me, or go to hell...'

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Page last updated: 10-Jul-2012