Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

Books and Essays
by James Swartz

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James Swartz

James Swartz was born in Butte, Montana in 1941. He grew up in Lewiston, Idaho; at 17, he left for a military prep school in Minnesota. He spent two years in a liberal arts college in Wisconscin, and then attended University of California at Berkeley in '63. Six months short of graduation he ran off to Hawaii to start a successful business. The principal influences on his teaching have been Swami Chinmayananda, Swami Abhedananda and Swami Dayananda.

Visit James' website,, for more information about his work.


James Swartz book

How to Attain Enlightenment: The Vision of Nonduality
(Sentient Publications, 2010)

'This complete guide to enlightenment presents the wisdom of the ancient science of Self-Inquiry, a time-tested means for achieving spiritual freedom. The author convincingly refutes the popular view that enlightenment is a unique state of consciousness and debunks a host of other myths. In his straightforward style he reveals proven methods for purifying the mind, and takes the reader from the beginning to the end of the spiritual path, patiently unfolding the logic of Self-Inquiry.'

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  • Short series of articles on the Mandukya Upanishad.
  • New series, being a translation and commentary on the Panchadasi...' presented as a week-long course in 2012. Unfortunately, this series has been indefinitely postponed after the first two parts. See here for announcement.

  • Interview at the Science and Nonduality Conference, California: 'Advaita means nondual. It's an adjective that describes consciousness. It is not the name of a particular school of Vedanta because if Vedanta is properly understood, it is not a philosophy that can be broken up into different schools. In fact Vedanta is a dualistic method that removes ignorance. The only thing that is nondual is consciousness...'

  • The Horse's Mouth: Human beings seem particularly vulnerable to the need for validation. Nowhere is this need more evident than in the modern spiritual world's obsession with status. Forty years ago, the word 'avatar' was barely known in the West. A few rare souls knew it through the Bhagavad Gita but it was definitely not a household word. These days the old words that served to indicate an exalted spiritual condition - guru, yogi, lama, sage, enlightened being, etc. - have been eclipsed by the word 'avatar'...

  • Neo-Advaita: Mystics have proclaimed the oneness of all things for thousands of years. The science of Self Inquiry that culminated in the teachings of Adi Shankara in the eighth century has had a profound effect on Eastern religion and spirituality. Although we see the idea of nonduality popping up in Western thought from the time of Christ until the present day, it did not develop into a systematic means of Self realization and has virtually no impact on Christianity, Islam and Judaism, unlike Self Inquiry which deeply conditioned Indian culture...

  • Qualifications: In our democratic era it seems unfair that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights focuses so narrowly on political freedom and ignores the right to enlightenment. Should not the Galactic Congress of Sages issue a proclamation declaring inner freedom an inalienable right, empower world governments to grant it to all citizens and establish a judiciary to seek redress when governments fail to deliver?...

  • The Assimilation of Experience: Experience requires two factors: a conscious subject and an object. Consciousness, of which our personal everyday Consciousness is a pale reflection, is radiant light. It is not physical light. Light, however, is a fitting symbol for Consciousness because it illumines physical objects just as Consciousness illumines physical light and subtle objects, the inner world of thoughts and feelings...

  • A Means of Self Knowledge: There is a world of difference between beliefs, assumptions, conclusions, evaluations, and judgments that arise from self ignorance and the discernment that arises from the faculty of discrimination. What we think and experience ourselves to be and what we think and experience objects to be arises from self ignorance. Discernment is the discrimination that arises when we realize the truth of who and what we really are. In light of this truth the nature of objects becomes evident...

Page last updated: 12-Nov-2012