Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

(From the) Foreword
Dr. Greg Goode

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Non-Traditional Advaita

The more recent Western spiritual phenomenon known as the Satsang movement is inspired by well known 20 th century Indian teachers such as Ramana Maharshi, Nisargadatta Maharaj, and Hariwansh Lal Poonja, also known as Poonjaji or Papaji. Since the early 1980’s scores of Western teachers have appeared in the U.S., U.K., Western Europe and other countries, having met these Indian teachers or having come into contact with their teachings.

Satsang teachers use no texts whatsoever. Instead, they speak from the basis of personal experience. Quite often they report this experience as a result of something that took place when they were with their own teacher, who also did not use texts. Satsang teachers sometimes refer to their teaching as a “gift” or “the truth.” In Satsang circles there is the frequent assumption that this gift will be passed on by association or proximity, from teacher to student.

As the Satsang movement gained popularity around the year 2000, observers began to notice differences emerge. Some teachers, mainly influenced by Ramana Maharshi and Papaji, encouraged their listeners to find the source of the I-thought, or to relax into a nonjudgmental openness so as to allow the Self to shine through without obscuration. Papaji in particular was known for telling listeners to stay quiet and to be vigilant.

A newer wave mainly inspired by Wei Wu Wei and Nisargadatta Maharaj sometimes claimed to be “more nondual” and more direct. These teachers avoided recommendations and advice, arguing that giving the seeker anything to do only serves to enhance the sense of a separate self. It encourages the sense of a willing, choosing, controlling entity, which they saw as the main problem in the first place. They saw their teaching as a descriptive pointer to the truth, and not as a prescription of something to do. Though this latter group of teachers continued to use the satsang structure for their meetings, their particular slant on the teachings came to be known as “neo-advaita.” Dennis discusses both these teachings.

Extracts from the Book
Summary and Endorsements
List of Contents
1. From 'Foreword' - NonTraditional advaita
2. From 'Purpose of the Book (and Disclaimers)'
3. From 'Self-Ignorance'
4. The 'Person'
5. From the 'Scriptures'
6. From 'What Enlightenment is Not'
Page last updated: 07-Jul-2012