Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

Advaita Vedanta
A living experience

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by Atman NItyananda

Advaita Vedanta is not a philosophy or a theory for discussion and entertainment. It is the living experience of the oneness of life. It is the perception and realization of the true Self. It is the fulfillment of the deepest craving in man. It is the conscious union of man with the essence of the whole universe. It is the realization that everything is the eternal Being, pure awareness and bliss.

Vedanta is a way of living, not a field for intellectual argument and discussion. Vedanta is a powerful weapon to destroy the darkness of ignorance. Vedanta gives us the means to see beyond the phenomenon of sense perceptions.

All people live in the oneness of life. But they do not realize it. They live like separate individuals, which are in constant conflict between their minds and their nature. It is completely different for someone to live in oneness as a separate individual full of miseries, than experiencing the oneness moment to moment with peace, love and harmony with everything.

Dear brothers, arguments and discussions can never take you above the miseries of separation. Talking about Advaita Vedanta is not going to help you much. Practice of Vedanta alone can give you freedom and the realization of oneness. Vedanta can be your savior, but only if you put the Vedantic principles in practice.

People usually like to speak a lot and practice little. They want to find answers in transcendental matters intellectually. They want to get things fast and without much effort. Advaita Vedanta has become these days an �easy craft� for Self realization. New age teachers and �non teachers� talk to people about Advaita Vedanta with no consideration. They speak little (if at all) about the fundamentals of spirituality. Purity of heart and mind, one-pointed mind, discrimination, dispassion, etc., are prerequisites for the practice of Vedanta. These qualities seem to be not so important to them.

Sri Ramana Maharshi says:

�Lectures may entertain individuals for a few hours, without improving them.�
�If those who are unfit even to live a life of religious morality, take to a critical study of Vedanta, it is nothing but a pollution of the purity of Vedanta.�
�For those who are very attached to their filthy bodies, all the study of Vedanta will be as useless as the swinging of the goat�s fleshy beard unless, with the aid of Divine Grace, their studies lead them to subdue their egos.�

New age teachers and �non teachers� seem to ignore that they speak to people whose minds are filled with rajas and tamas, clinging mainly to sensual life and who are , perhaps, at the beginning of spirituality (even if they are engaged in spiritual practices for many years). But Vedanta is for people endowed with dispassion, discrimination and self control.

Sri Adi Shankaracharya says:

69. The first step to Liberation is the extreme aversion to all perishable things, then follow calmness, self-control, forbearance, and the utter relinquishment of all work enjoined in the Scriptures.
78. He who is free from the terrible snare of the hankering after sense-objects, so very difficult to get rid of, is alone fit for Liberation, and none else � even though he be versed in all the six Shastras.

Sri Ramana Maharshi says:

�Only to such a mind which has gained the inner strength of one-pointedness, Self-enquiry will be successful. But a weak mind will be like wet wood put into the fire of jnana-vichara.�

Rajasic and tamasic minds are always agitated, anxious, desirous, distracted, fearful, extroverted, etc. How is possible for an impure mind full of rajas and tamas to do contemplation, meditation and Self-enquiry? How is possible for an impure mind to comprehend the principles of Vedanta and put them into practice? How is possible for an impure mind, which most of the time is dwelling on sense objects and can only perceive gross forms, to realize the Atman which is the essence of life and the subtlest of all?

Sri Ramana Maharshi says:

�If the aspirants have not one-pointed mind, which is possible for him who has pure mind full of sattva, dispassion, discrimination, etc., Self-enquiry is impossible.�
�It is easy, the concentration on the Self, for him who has qualities like dispassion, discrimination, one-pointed mind, renunciation, etc. For the rest, it is either less or more, depending on how much one has these qualities. For those who are not prepared, it is very difficult, if not impossible.'

Only sattva can make the mind serene, tranquil, discriminative, one-pointed, cheerful, introverted, etc. A sattvic mind has the inclination to enquire within for its source (pure awareness) and has the capacity to do it.

A rajasic-tamasic mind can be transformed in sattva, only after long-term sadhana, self-discipline and a sattvic lifestyle. But this process of purification is very hard, unpleasant and thorny, especially in the beginning. The mind resists intensively to its transformation. It doesn�t like to abandon its old habits and patterns and the pleasures of sense objects. It is a great battle between the higher or sattvic mind against the lower or impure mind.

This process requires great patience, perseverance, sincerity, steady determination, forbearance, faith, courage and a great thirst for the truth. That is why the majority of people doesn�t like to pass through this process of purification. However, it is undoubtedly pleasant for them to hear that for Self-realization, it is not always necessary to pass through this process.

The fact is that only when the mind is purified to a great extent, it becomes our friend and a great instrument for Self-enquiry and meditation. Then Self-realization is very easy.

Sri Adi Shankaracharya says:

Verse 181. Therefore the seeker after Liberation must carefully purify the mind. When this is purified, Liberation is as easy of access as a fruit on the palm of one�s hand. (Vivekachudamani)

New age teachers and �non teachers� used to say: �You are already That�; �Who is going to do sadhana or spiritual practices?�; �Just be here now.� These sayings may seem wonderful for tamasic-rajasic minds! But it is not easy for someone to still the mind and �be�. Talks cannot destroy ignorance, vasanas and samskaras that are accumulated from many past births. Only intense uninterrupted sadhana can make the mind one-pointed and still. They claim also that spiritual practices strengthen the ego and sadhana becomes a prison for the seeker. How can that be so? They really don�t know, probably because they never did real sadhana.

Sri Ramana Maharshi says:

�Of course, everybody, every book says, "Be quiet or still." But it is not easy. That is why all this effort is necessary.'
�Self remains veiled by vasanas and reveals itself when there are no vasanas.�

On the other hand, the masters say that even for wise men constant effort is necessary to destroy the egoism. How can this can be easy for people addicted to sense pleasures?

Sri Adi Shankaracharya says:

342. Even wise men cannot suddenly destroy egoism after it has once become strong, barring those who are perfectly calm through the Nirvikalpa Samadhi. Desires are verily the effect of innumerable births. (Vivekachudamani)

Sri Ramana Maharshi says:

�One must be ready to sacrifice everything for the truth.�
�Effort is needed so long as there is mind.�
�Without spiritual practice (Upasana), there cannot be attainment. This is certain.'
�Firm resolve to discover the truth for oneself is important. It is the heart, it is necessary to hold on to enquiry till one�s mind merges into its source, the heart. Ceaseless effort is needed.�
�But in all cases the effort must be ceaseless and untiring until the goal can be reached.�
�Effortless and choiceless awareness is our real state. But one cannot reach it without effort, the effort of deliberate meditation. All the age-long vasanas (impressions) carry the mind outwards and turn it to external objects��

Great masters like Jesus Christ, immortal Babaji, Satya Sai Baba, Swami Sivananda, Vedanta teachers like Adi Shankaracharya, Sri Ramana Maharshi and scriptures like the Upanishads, the Bhaghavad Gita, etc., tell us to purify our minds and hearts through sadhana. If sadhana and the purification of mind are not necessary, it means that the sayings of the great masters are false. And because all these masters are divine incarnations and the scriptures are divine revelations, that means that God himself is cheating us! Is that possible? Maya is very powerful and makes the impossible happen!

New age teachers say that everything is illusory, just a dream, that everything just happens. Then who is going to do what? Surely everything is an illusory appearance, a long dream. But only for those who have awaken from the dream! For the rest, it is a very solid reality.

This world is an illusory reflection of Consciousness; jiva is illusory, bondage and liberation are also illusory. But this is very easily misunderstood. The bondage is illusory, but this does not mean that sadhana is not necessary. When someone is hungry or thirsty, he has to eat or drink something to relieve his hunger or thirst. In this illusory world, an illusory hunger can be satisfied by illusory food!

Similarly, illusory bondage can be destroyed by an illusory sadhana. The illusory practices can destroy all the fancies of the mind at its root (ignorance and ego). This is impossible without practice. Only in very rare cases like Sri Ramana Maharshi can this happen instantly. But that happened because he did intense sadhana in many previous lives. Similar is the case of Swami Vivekananda. Sri Ramana Maharshi said: 'Vivekananda was ripe. He was anxious to realize. He must have completed the preliminary in his past births.�

Keep in mind also that if the bondage were true, no power in the whole universe could destroy it.

To get out of this matrix of the mind is not so easy, dear brothers. Similarly, it is not so difficult. It depends on the maturity of the jiva. The jiva is necessary to do ceasesless and intense effort until the steady realization of the Self. Nobody knows when realization will happen. It is the divine will who rules everything. Practice accompanied with surrender is the surest and shortest way, 'Thy will be done, not mine.'

Radiant Immortal Self! You have to practise constantly with faith, steady determination and perseverance to purify your mind and heart. Simultaneously practise meditation and Self-enquiry to realize your true nature. You have to practise until the mind is empty from desires, attachments, egoism, all samskaras and vasanas, until you are established effortlessly to your true nature.

Sri Ramana Maharshi says:

�There is a state beyond our efforts or effortlessness. Until that is realized, effort is necessary.�
��intense effort is necessary until the I-thought disappears completely in the heart (Self) and all the vasanas and samskaras are fried and do not revive again.�
� Knowledge (Jnana) can only remain unshaken after all vasanas are rooted out.�
�� if one has not rooted out the vasanas, he will not attain salvation.�

Adi Shankaracharya says:

317... the destruction of desires is Liberation, and this is considered as Liberation-in-life.
337. There is no Liberation for one who has attachment to the body, etc., and the liberated man has no identification with the body, etc.
299. So long as one has any relation to this wicked ego, there should not be the least talk about Liberation, which is unique.
303. As long as there is a trace of poison left in the body, how can one hope for recovery? Similar is the effect of egoism on the Yogi�s Liberation.

Do real sadhana my dear children, do real sadhana. You cannot wake up from the dream of separation only by talking and listening. Do intense sadhana from this very moment to realize your divine nature. Time passes by very fast. Tomorrow will never come. Every day there is a tomorrow. Do not waste your time in trifling illusory sense pleasures. Live every moment of your life, for Self-realization. Put Vedanta into practice. Destroy �I-ness� and �mine' that separate you from God and the world. Realize your real Self in this very life. Be an embodiment of peace, love and harmony. This is your birthright and the purpose you took for this human body.

Never think that you will fail in this attempt, that is a very difficult task or anything that can make you feel impotent. The whole universe is going to help you, because what you are doing is not only for you, but for the good of all. Life�s main purpose is to be conscious of itself. So anybody who is marching towards Self-realization lives in harmony with the purpose of the whole of life. That�s why life will give him everything he needs to succeed in this endeavor. Never forget that God�s Grace is always with you.

�The true seeker will always have the protection and Grace of the Guru� Amma

References for Sri Ramana Maharshi�s quotations:

Guru Vachaka Kovai, Sri Muruganar
Daily Quotes from Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, compiled Sanjay Lohia
Jnana Marga in Bhagavan�s Own Words, compiled Sanjay Lohia
Ramana Maharshi Answers 100 Questions, edited and compiled A.R. Natarajan
Quotable Quotes from Day to Day, compiled Sanjay Lohia
Day by Day with Bhagavan from the diary of A. Devaraja Mudaliar
Maharshi�s Gospel Book I & II
Gems from Bhagavan, A. Devaraja Mudaliar
The Resplendent Sun - Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi, A.R. Natarajan

All these books can be found in the bookstore of Sri Ramanasramam, Tiruvannamalai, India.

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Page last updated: 04-Mar-2016