Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

Both = One
John Greven

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John Greven

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In what follows, the use of the word "One" and in the analogies the "sun," refer to the Supreme Subject, Self, Source, Consciousness, whatever label your mind prefers. Whether seen or not – let's assume the sun is always shining - ever present.

Traditional Advaita - a kind of path using knowledge, reason, logic, investigation to dispel the clouds of false ideas so that the sun is realized.

Neo-Advaita - a kind of path that pretends to ignore the clouds of false ideas and encourages seeing Oneness directly.

Since the sun is ever present and the only reality, the Neo-Advaita is right that this is a seemingly shorter route. - But, the thought arises, "what about the clouds?" Don't the clouds need to be dispersed to see the sun? Yes - because they appear to block the sun. No - because they are not the reality and are not blocking the sun.

The question of neo vs. traditional is summed up in the analogy of passing through a door to self-realization and then turning around to see there was never a door. I must agree that neo seems to forget that the stepping through the door occurred. As the One, a veil was thrown over the eyes, and for realization it must be removed. But, it must be removed by the One: how that seemingly occurs has spun countless religions and philosophies – including traditional and neo Advaita.

It is the mind that thinks a way has been found, neo, traditional, meditation, or medication. The dream character thinking is problem one. The dream character thinking it is doing is problem two. The dream character thinking it has realized is problem three. The dream character thinking it can share what has been realized is problem four. Another, seemingly separate dream character thinking, that another can teach them how to realize the self yet another. Yet – it all goes on.

Already – we must divert into more traditional Advaita – even the radical neo will.

Some would argue that the clouds are in fact real because they appear to exist at the moment. And, since there is only the One – the clouds are that. This is a valid point, but to the One the clouds are the enjoyment of being, temporal and meaningless. The One, at any moment, can drop the clouds or the entire creation and no one would know.

To the mind thoughts are real. To the mind, the mind is real. When we begin to investigate the mind (traditional Advaita), it is not difficult to see that the thought of something, which has been taken to be real, is never the actual thing. The thought of a rock is never the actual rock. The thought of "me" is not the actual beingness. If we apply a rather simple test for ultimate reality a definitive perspective is seen.

If the definition of what is real is, "what does not change" then what is not real - is changing. The clouds are not real against the reality of the One. So rather than saying that the clouds are not real, let's just consider that they are temporal events, real from one perspective and not real from another, but ultimately without significance or reality since they are changing.

The changing temporal reality is just an appearance within the ultimate reality of the One. As Nisargadatta Maharaj said,

"A man who moves with the earth will necessarily experience days and nights. He who stays with the sun will know no darkness. My world is not yours. As I see it, you all are on a stage performing. There is no reality about your comings and goings. And your problems are so unreal !"

Nisargadatta Maharaj was speaking from the perspective of the One, not the perspective of the limited mind. If you imagine your nightly dream for a moment, knowing that it is just a spontaneous creation of the mind, could you not say the same words about the characters in your dream that Nisargadatta Maharaj said about the appearance of the world and the characters in it?

Zen: A monk is walking back from a lecture at a distant temple and gets lost on the wrong side of the river.  He needs to get across to get home but cannot find the bridge.  Finally, he sees the Master who gave the lecture on the other side and yells out to him.  "Master, how do I get to the other side of the river?" The master replies: "Novice; you are on the other side of the river!"

While the truth is, as the Neo-Advaita would say - "you are already on the other side." That truth does not benefit the monk, unless these happen to be the words that disperse the clouds. So, the traditional Advaita is right. But, the thought arises, if your true nature is always present - what difference do the clouds make?

None -You are on the other side of the river - just because you don't know it doesn't change that fact. Traditional Vs Neo is representative of the disease of the mind. The very lie that both attempt to dispel - "not two." One river is not in many places.

Neo, it seems, offers the opportunity of removing some traditional Advaita baggage that was born in a different era and culture. Ultimately, it is the One - not the temporal teaching or teacher that removes the veil.

How does the monk see he is already on the other side? Traditionally, work it out through investigation. Neo-ly see what is. Practically, do both. In reality – the One enjoys temporal being - regardless of what appears to be happening.

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Page last updated: 10-Jul-2012