Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

(From) Purpose of the Book (and Disclaimers)

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Some of the statements in the book are likely to be contentious and may upset some readers. Accordingly, this section should be read carefully (at least once!) so that the intentions behind the book are clearly understood.


The purpose is specifically to address the concerns of seekers who are dissatisfied with the satsang or neo-advaitin approaches to the teaching of advaita and to answer related questions.


It attempts clearly to define the principal terms which are used when discussing these matters, especially such words as ‘enlightenment’, ‘person’, teacher’ etc.


It is not primarily a book about non-duality but about the teaching of non-duality. It discusses the guru and the seeker and the ways in which the former relate to the latter's attempts to become enlightened.


In particular, it compares and contrasts the traditional methods, passed down from teacher to student for over a thousand years with the far less formal methods adopted by modern satsang and neo-advaitin teachers.


The book makes no specific claims about relative ‘success rates’ of the different approaches. There are no statistics available upon which any such claims might be made and views might well differ even upon whether a given teacher is ‘enlightened’ or not. What it will do is to present, analyze and criticize the various issues and endeavor to persuade the reader that anything other than the traditional approach is unlikely to succeed.


I anticipate that the majority of readers of the book will be students of Western satsang-style teaching, possibly with an emphasis on neo-advaita. I aim to explain to these readers why they might be feeling dissatisfied with the teaching to which they are currently exposed and to suggest why traditional methods might prove more fruitful. My own position is that satsang on its own is deficient in many respects, while neo-advaita is most unlikely to be helpful to the majority of seekers.


I decided to write this book in note form. Initially, this was done from a practical point of view, the better to organize my thoughts and avoid repetition. It is also, of course, the ‘sutra’ form of traditional scriptures and their commentaries. I may also have been influenced by Wittgenstein's style of presentation, though make no claims for an equivalent level of intellectual rigor! Additionally, however, I realized that many readers, especially those committed to satsangs (and in particular the teachers themselves) are going to want to take issue with some of the statements. I thought it would make this easier if I numbered each of the key points.


I would like to emphasize that this book is not criticizing specific teachers nor suggesting that anyone is inept or unenlightened. I am criticizing satsang as a teaching method, when used on its own and attended only infrequently, as is typical in the West. Specific teachers are not usually quoted, since I did not want to imply that anyone was being singled out for disapprobation. Instead, I have endeavored to paraphrase actual quotations to make the points in a more general way. Those quotations which are present are included because they are particularly helpful and relevant to the point being made.


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