Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

Book Extract



Advaita spiritual teacher, Nirmala, offers a unique vision and a gentle, compassionate approach, which adds to the rich tradition of inquiry into the truth of Being. He offers satsang or “gatherings for the truth” across the United States and around the world as a celebration of the possibility, in every moment, of recognizing the limitless awareness and love that is our true nature.He is the author of several books, including Nothing Personal: Seeing Beyond the Illusion of a Separate Self and Living from the Heart. Nirmala lives in Sedona, Arizona with his wife, Gina Lake.

More information about mentoring sessions and downloads of several of his free spiritual ebooks are available on his website.


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Publisher: Endless Satsang Foundation

ISBN: 978-1-4681-5569-3
Format : Paperback
Pages: 226
List Price: £9.99, US$15.95

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Q: Can you tell me what Grace is? I’m struggling to understand it.

A: Very simply, Grace is your essence, your true nature. Grace is what you really are, and Grace is all there is. Specifically and practically speaking, Grace is the intelligent, optimizing movement of life. This optimizing force is what unfolds every moment in the direction of greater truth and love and greater functioning and fullness of life. Grace is the nourishing Presence that holds us and supports us in the unfolding of our life. You have experienced Grace directly many times, when things just fell into place or you were touched by a deeper understanding and awareness.

While Grace is obvious in moments when the seemingly miraculous occurs or when a profound opening into the depths of Being happens, Grace also knows when a difficulty or obstacle has the potential to lead to a greater depth of awareness and a fuller expression of our limitless potential. This means that Grace can show up as a flat tire on the way to work or a broken heart or any of the minor and major difficulties we face in everyday life.

In understanding and appreciating Grace, the challenge and the opportunity is to see that Grace is always here and always bringing us the exact experience that is most useful and helpful. Sometimes only in hindsight can we see the Grace in our struggles and suffering, but Grace is always here. Recognizing the Grace in our challenges often allows a challenge to be resolved more naturally and effortlessly, or at least allows us to be at peace with it. The healing of our suffering comes when we see the bigger truth that even suffering is a part of the unfolding of Grace. When you see that there is Grace even in your own problems, then it no longer matters if some difficulty occurs as the situation is no longer as much of an experience of suffering, but just what is happening.

Understanding Grace doesn’t require an intellectual grasp of what it is or even insight into how it works. Understanding Grace only requires that you be open and curious about your experience just as it is right now. Are you willing to see Grace as she is appearing right now this very moment? Can you recognize her even if she is artfully disguised as pain or discomfort? Can you open your Heart to the gift she is offering you today?

The understanding doesn’t come as some final insight or as an answer to all your questions. The understanding comes as a felt sense of trust that life is safe and good and worthwhile. The understanding comes as the unfolding of life moment to moment. This is the miracle of Grace, touching you in every moment and always as close as your own breath. Because you will never be done discovering all the infinite ways that life and Grace can unfold and express itself, the complete understanding of Grace will take forever. What an adventure and blessing it is to be shown the many dimensions and possibilities of your true nature as intelligent, loving, infinite Grace.

Q: I can see that experiences are neither good nor bad unless I judge them. So basically, I see experiences as neutral and not even benevolent. Things just happen, not toward any greater good. I can hold the concept that all experiences are benevolent and beneficial, but from what I see around me, I’m not sure this is true. How is starvation benevolent or beneficial? When I see horrific cruelty to animals, I can’t see any Grace or benevolence. If Grace acts through experiences, it sure chooses some pretty horrific ways to get its point across, and this has hardly led to the mass flowering of enlightenment. If starvation and cruelty were beneficial tools, surely millions would be awakened and awakening by now. To me, life looks more like a mixed bag of tricks and treats without any purpose or meaning.

A: Everything you share is true, and there is still the question of how true. Is it the whole truth? Is it the biggest truth? Is it possible that while all of the hurt, pain, and suffering in this world are real, there is still a bigger truth to this existence? This doesn’t mean denying or ignoring suffering or not acting in ways that would relieve or reduce the horror and tragedy that are part of life. But while acknowledging and attempting to alleviate the suffering, you can look for and question the possibility of a greater intelligence and Presence that is also operating in this world and beyond it. A bigger truth than the pain and suffering is the truth that consciousness isn’t harmed by anything. Bodies can be harmed and even die, but can consciousness be damaged? I’m inviting you to hold this as an open question, something to be discovered as life unfolds here on earth and also beyond your time here on earth.

Here and now, you can directly discover for yourself the bigger truths. The truth is what opens your Heart and quiets your mind, while a smaller truth contracts your Heart and makes your mind very busy. So check this out for yourself: Does believing that life is a mixed bag with no purpose open your Heart? And what effect does it have on your Heart to hold the possibility that consciousness can’t be harmed, and that it has a deeper purpose in life? Which idea gives your Heart more room to breathe and just be? I invite you to explore this capacity of your own Heart to discriminate how true every idea, hope, dream, fear, worry, and intuition is. Truth comes in many different sizes from extremely small to infinitely big, so discrimination is needed to determine how true things are.

In my view, we are both right, and the truths I share and the truths you shared are not contradictory, but complementary. Even if we can’t see how these truths fit together, we can at least recognize that there is room for both of them. A bigger truth is not better, just bigger. A smaller truth is not worse, just smaller. You can respond to and include all sizes of truth in your awareness: You can feed the starving, feel intense grief and sadness over unnecessary cruelty and destruction, and also discover the limitless peace and love that are also here in every moment. You can also discover for yourself the depth of your soul that has never been and never will be harmed. And you can see that same depth in the eyes of a starving child if you look deeply enough.


Page last updated: 13-Aug-2012