Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

the Guide versus the Confessor
Jerry Katz

Book Cover - Jerry Katz

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The big duality of nonduality is the two kinds of teachers or communicators.

One kind of teacher is the guide. He or she functions to guide you to toward a full understanding of the way things are. The other kind of nonduality teacher is the confessor. He or she confesses or simply states the way things are. Many nonduality teachers function in both ways.

The guide

The guide leads you to enlightenment or at least a better psychological condition. The guide has a plan, a program, a practice. The guide is extremely useful and helpful, and some would say necessary.

The confessor

The confessor is different. Either you get what the confessor is saying or you don’t. The confessor says that "this" is … "it". What is "it"? Perfect knowledge. Pure experience. The Self.

The moment vs this

What is another description of "this"? You could say it is the moment. However, it is finer than the moment. Since "this" is so refined and small, it is incredibly vast, just as subatomic particles are associated with a vastness of knowing.

The moment is not the same as "this". You can be in the moment, perceive the moment, recall a time when you were in the moment, do a meditation to put you in the moment. You can Kodachrome the moment.

None of that is true for "this". You can’t be one with "this". You can’t perceive or photograph "this".

The moment is the Now. People are convinced about the value of living in the Now, in the moment. That’s not true for "this". "This" is only confessed. The confession is the Kodachrome.


The confessor not only teaches through confession of his or her truth, but also silently. The silent teaching is called presence. Presence is silent confession.

Two in One

As I said earlier, many teachers function both as guide and confessor. They express themselves through clear instructional guidance and through verbal and silent confession. Guiding and confessing are not necessarily separately occurring functions. While the teacher is guiding you in the steps for proper meditation, for example, she or he is also being the confessor, silently, as presence.

Keep in mind that when you hear a nonduality teacher speak, you may be hearing an emphasis on guidance or confession.

Traditional Advaita and Neo-Advaita

Teachers of traditional Advaita teach as guides. Since they are enlightened, presence, or silent confession, is always cast like a lighthouse beam.

Teachers in the so-called Neo-Advaita tradition teach by confession primarily, silent and verbal, though they serve as guides, as well.

I'm currently reading Dennis Waite's new book, 'Enlightenment: The Path Through the Jungle', which points out the flaws of Neo-Advaita and suggests how they should be corrected.

For example, Dennis says, "The untutored seeker does not know what questions to ask to understand the nature of reality. This is why a prolonged course of teaching is required first." That is the voice of traditional Advaita Vedanta.

Dennis claims the voice of Neo-Advaita goes, in part, like this: "Neo advaitins claim that whatever is the case is the 'story' of the seeker, whether it be confusion, identification or suffering, that "is" reality and, by definition, is 'ok'."

It looks like an interesting book, doesn't it?

Jerry featured a summary of the book in Non Duality Highlights Digest Number 3182, together with a criticism of the book by Tony Parsons and a response from Dennis Waite. You can join the group, to receive the daily digests, at

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Page last updated: 10-Jul-2012