Advaita Vision


Advaita for the 21st Century

Questions and Answers
Dennis Waite

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How to Meet Yourself cover   The Book of One cover  Back to the Truth cover  Enlightenment: the path through the jungle

Read extracts from and purchase my books: For beginners to Advaita - 'How to Meet Yourself (and find true happiness);
For intermediate Advaita students - 'The Book of One';
For advanced students - 'Back to the Truth: 5000 Years of Advaita'.
For a comparison of teaching methods in Advaita - 'Enlightenment: the Path through the Jungle' .


Q. What does one need to do to attain realization? How does one go beyond the limitations of this world of vyavahAra?

A. You have to remove the ignorance that obscures the truth that you are already unlimited. This is effectively a two-stage process, though these usually proceed in parallel. Firstly, mental preparation (search the website for sAdhana chatuShTaya sampatti); and secondly, studying under a qualified guru (there are lots of other questions on this, too).


Q. In your own experiencing of this, did you begin to notice the background was not affected even when things around you would have normally upset you? Like you no longer care or not care about the situation? Does it feel obvious and tangible? Did the background 'become' more obvious over time and study, reflection, percolating?

A. Enlightenment is not about experience; it is about Self-knowledge. Irrespective of the knowledge, experiences may be �sharp� or �dull�; interesting or boring. The personal characteristics and tendencies of the mind continue. One does not suddenly become loving, caring, infinitely patient or anything else � that would be an event in time and therefore not enlightenment.

Q. So what is this obvious presence awareness that is here now and seems to be brighter as it stays with its self?

As I sit here, there is no doubt of this presence. It's not difficult to see that all that is manifest comes and goes while this presence does not change. This presence could be described as solid, though I know this is not an acceptable word. When this presence was first noticed it was just a glimpse. Then I did what many have suggested and kept returning to that sense of I AM. At first, it was very hard work. Now it seems that attention naturally keeps going back to this being presence. It is brighter and more obvious. Is this presence vyavahAra?

A. That which does not come and go is you, the non-dual reality. It is not something objective. Nor is something subjective. The subject-experiencer is the reflected Consciousness in the mind.

So if you are talking about something that you experience from time to time, that is not the Self. It sounds like you are talking about you, the ego (i.e. the Self identified with the body-mind), having an idea of some unchanging aspect of phenomenality, of how you think enlightenment ought to be. In reality, you are everything all the time, whether it presently seems bright or dark, as perceived through the body-mind instrument.

Q. 'The subject-experiencer is the reflected Consciousness in the mind.' This is the sentence that has been most helpful. How many non-duality/advaita teachers are caught in this? How do you see Self-enquiry, as Nisargadatta and Ramana Maharshi recommend, as a complement to studying the traditional way?

A. I see �Self-enquiry� as synonymous with traditional teaching. Simply asking �Who am I?� is not going to remove self-ignorance. The pramANa for knowledge of the Self is shabda (scripture-guru), not pratyakSha (perception).

Q. So, Self-knowledge is knowing that all four mahAvAkya-s are true? We are not talking about inference are we? Self, reflected in the mind, must be reflect from Self.

A. Self-knowledge = Enlightenment = certainty in the mind that I am That (non-dual brahman) and that �Everything is brahman�. No, it is not inference � you do not use perception or inference to know that you exist.

Q. What is this mind that Self is reflected in? Isn't mind just thoughts?

A. Call it what you want from the standpoint of vyavahAra. Advaita calls it the subtle body or antaHkaraNa. You can devise whatever scheme you like to explain the appearance but I doubt that you will find one more logical or self-consistent than that provided by Advaita. In the end it is all mithyA.

From the standpoint of paramArtha, there is no mind; there is only brahman.


Q. All is Self and That ultimately cannot be denied. We are living Truth. In the process of allowing our own Truth, we can honour and allow others theirs. But what if our truths clash? How then do we proceed?

A. You are confusing levels of reality here. If you are accepting that �all is Self�, where is the question of �others�?

If you want to ask a question, and do not object to its being included in this section, please email me.

Return to list of questions.

Page last updated: 10-Jul-2012