Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

Making the Advaita Teachings Relevant Until the Illusion of Relevance Disappears
Floyd Henderson

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Floyd Henderson

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With that space which once thought it was “floyd,” the suffering and misery which followed the corruption of the consciousness reached an unbearable level that inspired a global search for a solution that could bring relief—a search that did not end until Realization eventually happened via an understanding of the Advaita Teachings. During that search, the very first Advaita pointer offered was, “You must simply abide as the Absolute, then these relative happenings will become meaningless. Now go and abide as instructed.”

As valid as the counsel was, that recommendation at that particular point on “my journey” might as well have been, “Now go and create a universal cure for all cancers, and take no more than a week to complete the task.” Later, it would become clear why a “journey” cannot begin at the end of the “path” as was suggested in that piece of advice.

A subsequent invitation that proved more effective was to “see that you are not what you believe yourself to be.” That pointer can inspire many to review, first, what they believe themselves to be. Then it might inspire persons to ask later, “If I am not all of those things that I have believed myself to be, then what am I?” Elimination of the belief in “all of those things” had to precede any movement along the “path” to witnessing the one thing…THAT. Recognizing the delusion of belief in the “multiplicity” had to precede the understanding of the reality of the “unicity.”

Likewise, frequent inquiries are now received from persons with a similar hope that Advaita’s noumenal teachings might reduce their “personal,” phenomenal suffering. It is explained to those “seekers” that the basic personal illusion is rooted in identification with the body. It is further explained that programming and conditioning and enculturation generate erroneous beliefs, ideas, and concepts that accumulate as a fictional collective which is called “the mind.” As the fictitious, thinking “mind” eventually begins to control behavior even more than the brain, that “mind” also accepts as true identities the various roles (i.e., false identities, personalities, personas, ego-states, etc.) that are assigned or adopted.

Soon, the belief by persons that their various roles actually define who they are becomes entrenched. Then, if personas feel that they are being hurt, challenged, interfered with, or threatened, most persons become willing to fight to preserve that which is nothing more than an image. Many have fought to the (relative) death to preserve the false personality that their “minds” have convinced them is who they actually are.

More often, it is only after understanding the illusion of the body-mind-personality triad that “proteges” are able to move further along the “path” to Full Realization.

One “seeker” wrote to the Advaita Vedanta website to discuss the struggle of trying to “process the loss” of his “husband role” and wanting a quick fix for the problem. He was invited first to list some of the many labels that he had accepted as identities in order to uncover first who/what he is not. He included, “man,” “husband,” “father,” “employer,” “provider,” “leader,” “caretaker,” “businessman,” “homeowner,” “investor,” “pillar of the community,” “school board member,” and several others. After seeing that those were merely identities dreamed up by his culture and adopted by him, the discussion continued via a reply posted on the website, a part of which included the following:

Understanding the unicity reveals that a pile of ashes, a pile of dust, you, a dog, a tree, a piano, and a plant are no different. All of those “seemingly different things” are one thing. Supposed differences perceived by the human eye and misidentified as a result of warped “minds” are the result of variances in vibrational frequencies only. Humanity’s (post-programming) propensity for misperceiving makes persons believe that differences are real rather than grasping the truth of the unity beyond the wrongly-perceived multiplicity.

H2O might temporarily manifest in a perceived shape or form of “this” or “that.” Is a so-called “cube” really a cube because some human labeled it as such, or is it just a binary compound consisting of two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen that can assume the form or shape of a cube at a certain temperature? Is a cloud a cloud because some human labeled it as such, or is it just H2O? Is a river truly a river because some human labeled it as such, or is it just H2O?

Now, take that one step farther: are you “a man” because some human labeled you as such, or are You a quantity of energy with the ability to be aware of while temporarily manifested? Are you “a husband” because a man in a robe labeled you as such, or are You a quantity of energy with the ability to be aware of while temporarily manifested? Are you the elements that have temporarily combined into a space, or are You a quantity of energy with the ability to be aware of while temporarily manifested? Are you “bad” or “good” because some parent or some religious or spiritual expert labeled you as such, or are You a quantity of energy with the ability to be aware of while temporarily manifested? And ultimately, are You the consciousness that has manifested temporarily, or are You the Absolute?

An occasional response by “newcomers” to the offering of the above pointers is, “That all sounds rather pompous. I’m seeking something relevant, something applicable, something that can help with my suffering right now. I have no use for your lofty pontifications.” As with the “husband” above, many persons arrive who are seeking something that will alleviate the misery of their most-recently assumed role: “The Husband Whose Wife Has Left Him”; others have wanted something magical to help recapture the role of “Husband.”

The invitation offered to those persons is never to minimize the pain that they are perceiving with such advice as, “Now go away and abide henceforth as the Absolute”; instead, the consideration offered to those yet trapped in a false identity is always to see first that you are not what you believe yourself to be. Recently, the following was offered as a follow-up to one who arrived in just such a personality-induced state of misery and had began to see “the relative costs” of having accepted body-mind-personality identifications:

“If you cling to the false identity of ‘husband,’ you shall never find the True Self, so peace will never happen consistently. If you find the True Self, then either ‘husbanding’ or ‘not husbanding’ can happen…and consistent peace will manifest either way.”

When first heard, the words “You are not what you believe you are” certainly intimated that there is that which is beyond the phenomenal, but the phenomenal falsehoods had to be seen as falsehoods before the truth of the noumenal could be realized. In the book FROM THE I TO THE ABSOLUTE (A Seven-Step Journey to Reality) even the title suggests that the “journey” begins with a recognition of the falsity of the “I,” not with abidance as the Absolute. The Advaita Vedanta philosophy can prove to be highly relevant (in the “relative existence”) until abidance as the Absolute happens. At that point, of course, all illusions regarding “relative” and “relevance” dis-appear and spontaneous living happens for the remainder of the manifestation.


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Page last updated: 10-Jul-2012