Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

Recommended Reading -
Modern Advaita

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A. Parthasarathy - Vedanta Treatise
The Book of One has numerous references to Sri Parthasarathy's stories and metaphors, originating mostly from his excellent audiocassettes of commentary on the Bhagavad Gita. He has also written several books, including one on the Gita, one on Shankara's Atmabodha and, very recently, a commentary on several of the Upanishads. The Vedanta Treatise was his attempt to summarise Vedanta from his readings of the classical texts and from his studies with his own guru, Swami Chinmayananda. He still travels the world giving lectures on the Gita and also runs a school in Bombay, which provides a three-year residential course on Vedanta. An excellent book, it does tend to be more practical than theoretical; it is certainly not 'direct path', emphasising rather the bhakti and karma yoga aspects than those of jnana. This is in line with the quotation on all of his cassettes that "The Bhagavad Gita is a technique, a skill for dynamic living, not a retirement plan". The book can be purchased from his website - you are unlikely to find it in any bookshop.

"Selfish love or devotion is that which caters to your individual satisfaction, which merely pleases your body, mind and intellect. It is impure. It ceases to be love or devotion. It is attachment. Whereas, unselfish love or devotion satisfies the interests of others as well. It is directed towards your community or your nation or your fellow beings. It is pure. Selfless love or devotion is universal. It is directed neither to individuals nor to nations. It pervades everywhere, resides nowhere. It is divine."


Alan Watts - The Book (on the taboo against knowing who you are) (sample pages available to view at this Amazon link)
A very readable book, written by the man who started out as a Christian in England and became a popular speaker and writer on most Eastern philosophies, especially Zen, during the 1960's. The teaching espoused by this particular book is predominantly Advaita and it is advertised as the book that you give to your children when they set out to make their own way in life, answering all of the questions that they will ask about meaning and purpose. A large number of his talks are available on CDs, videos and audiocassette, mostly from his son's website. There are also a number of Internet 'radio stations' that broadcast these talks on a regular basis.
"Happiness is not a result to be attained through action, but a fact to be realised through knowledge. The sphere of action is to express it, not to gain it."


Another highly recommended book by Alan Watts is 'The Wisdom of Insecurity', subtitled 'a message for an age of anxiety'.Not just about the impossibility of finding certainty or security in our lives but about the meaninglessness of past and future, memory and desire.On the topic of memory, he says "It is like seeing the tracks of a bird on the sand. I see the present tracks. I do not, at the same time, see the bird making those tracks an hour before. The bird has flown and I am not aware of him.From the tracks, I infer that a bird was there. From memories you infer that there have been past events. You know the past only in the present and as part of the present." 20 sample pages may be viewed here.

"Memory is the corpse of an experience from which the life has vanished."


Atmananda Krishna Menon
The main works of the Sage Atmananda Krishnamenon, who influenced both Jean Klein and Francis Lucille, are 'Atma Darshan' and 'Atma Nirvritti'. Both are very short, originally in verse form in the Malayalam language, and translated by the author. So simple, straightforward and logically presented, yet presenting all of the key issues of Direct Path Advaita. Excellent! Both books are available from Blue Dove.

"In one's experience - strictly so called - there is neither thought nor external object present. It is the state in which all alone one abides in one's Self"


Notes on Spiritual Discourses of Shri Atmananda, taken by Nitya Tripta. The copyright holder wishes to make this wonderful document available to all seekers, as easily as possible. A version of the second edition may now be downloaded as a pdf file. This version is still a little provisional, with some technicalities of proofing and scholarly checking remaining to be done. The file has been zipped for minimum size (1.7Mb), 509 pages including a comprehensive index with hyperlinked page numbers. Download. (Right-click mouse and select 'Save As'.) Readers are requested to feed back any errors or comments on the document. Some quotations from these discourses may be read here.

"You will never succeed in bringing in light, if you insist upon removing all the darkness from your room before you do so. Therefore simply ignore the ego and try to understand, and the understanding itself will remove the ego."


Eliot Deutsch - Advaita Vedanta: A Philosophical Reconstruction
This reads like an academic Western Philosophical text and presents Advaita from an objective analytical viewpoint. This might tend to put off many potential readers but should not necessarily do so. Whilst it may seem dry at times and does require some effort to read, it does present some difficult concepts in a very clear manner and is an essential addition if you are building a library of key texts on the philosophy. It is another 5* recommended buy from Amazon.

"The second theory (which is associated with the Bhamati school of Advaita) is called avaccheda-vada, the theory of limitation. According to this theory, consciousness that is pure and unqualified, without sensible qualities, cannot be 'reflected', and hence the analogy with the mirror breaks down when pressed to the point which the pratibimba-vada takes it."


Francis Lucille - Eternity Now - Dialogues on Awareness
This is not a published work, but is available from specialist bookshops or from his own website. It contains transcriptions from some of his audiocassette discussions with David Jennings (who utilises the teachings of Advaita in his psychotherapy practice) together with additional material, such as answers to my email questions. As noted earlier, his approach is 'direct path' and, as such, there is nothing of the traditional bhakti or karma methods here. The questions are answered in an incisive and uncompromising way that will appeal to those who feel that they have to use their minds and intellects to analyse everything.

"When we take our stand in the background, there is no death. At the relative levels, there is death; at the physical level, there is death at the end of the body; at the subtle level, there is death from moment to moment, at the end of a perception, at the end of a thought; at the ultimate level, there is only timeless continuity."


Jean Klein - I Am
There are a number of books available by Jean Klein, all in the form of short questions followed by longer answers on topics typically raised by those seeking answers to spiritual questions. Most are available in at least English, French and Spanish. His teaching is very much Direct Path but attempts to provide answers that can give some satisfaction to the intellect. Though lacking the humour of Wayne Liquorman, the material is not heavy. He often brings a refreshing lightness to the mind with its tendency to become mired in irresolvable logical analysis. This book in particular is full of insightful observations. All his books may be purchased at the Jean Klein Foundation.

"The 'I am' shines in its glory when you are free from the two volitions: doing and not doing."
"There is no aim. God is perfection and beyond improvement. If we want to talk in terms of an aim, the world and objects are there only to reveal the ultimate subject, 'I am'."


This book has been so well used that the cover has been mostly destroyed and therefore cannot be photographed!

Maha Yoga by 'Who'
This is essentially a book about Advaita as taught by Ramana Maharshi who, to my mind, bridges the gap between traditional and direct path methods. The author, only identified as 'Who' on the title page, was Sri K. Laksmana Sarma, who studied for over twenty years with Ramana. He defines Maha Yoga as 'the Direct Method of finding the Truth of Ourselves'. The key topics addressed are happiness, ignorance, world, soul, god, the nature of the Self and the means for realising this, and the role of the Sage and devotion. Some difficult concepts are explained with transparent clarity and the entire book is readable and authoritative yet written with obvious humility. Highly recommended. It can be purchased from Sri Ramanashramam. It may also now be downloaded free of charge as a PDF file.

"The Sage is often loosely described as 'one that knows the Self'. But this is not intended to be taken in a literal sense. It is a tentative description, intended for those that believe ignorance to be something that exists; they are told that this ignorance is to be got rid of by winning 'Knowledge of the Self'. There are two misconceptions in this. One is that the Self is an object of knowledge. The other is that the Self is unknown and needs to be known. The Self being the sole reality, He cannot become an object of knowledge. Also, being the Self, He is never unknown."


Nisargadatta Maharaj - I am That
This is probably the best known book by any modern day Sage and justly so. It consists of short dialogues that he had with visitors, who travelled from around the world to listen to his blunt and forceful answers to questions on a variety of topics of concern to those still trapped in the illusory world. There are many wonderful, direct and unambiguous statements from this illiterate seller of cigars in the back streets of Bombay. It is an essential buy.

Read a chapter in the Discourses by Teachers and Writers section.

"The mind is but a collection of states, each of them transitory. How can a succession of transitory states be considered real?"

"You cannot have freedom in creation, only freedom from it."


Nitin Trasi - The Science of Enlightenment
This provides a comprehensive coverage of the subject in an informed manner. It reads like a school textbook on the subject (though this is in no way intended to be a criticism) and has, indeed, been selected by the Department of Education in India for university libraries. It quotes very extensively from the works of Ken Wilber. It is thus particularly useful if you wish to acquaint yourself with the latter's work but, like me, find him not particularly readable (also 5* rating at Amazon).

"In fact the very idea that a 'method' or 'technique' is required for Enlightenment reveals a deep ignorance of what Enlightenment is all about. Most people fail to realise that Enlightenment is simply the understanding of the situation, and not a physical, mental or intellectual feat or achievement. (And Liberation is the automatic, natural result of Enlightenment.) And thus it is that the seeker makes a very fundamental error right at the point where he begins the search - he begins with the presumption that he is a separate entity - and the battle is lost before it is even begun!"

Read the essay 'The Man Who Wasn't There' by Dr. Trasi.


Osho - Mustard Seed
There are so many books by Osho that it is very difficult to recommend just one or two (even assuming that you have read them all). They are principally transcriptions of the talks he gave over many years or of the question and answer sessions that he held with his disciples or 'sanyasins', as he called them. Many are based around a particular classical work such as an Upanishad. Whilst the philosophy that he propounded was mainly that of Advaita, he drew his inspiration from many other sources, including Buddhism, Sufism, Hassidism. This particular work is based upon the Gospel according to St. Thomas, the Christian work discovered amongst the Dead Sea Scrolls. Although this document may not be universally accepted amongst Christians, he uses it to bring out very clearly the non-dual teachings of Christ. It is quite a long book - nearly 500 pages - but it is nevertheless amazing how many topics are covered. Always readable and provocative, it is often very funny too. Extremely good. As with many of these books, this one is currently out of print and selling at exhorbitant prices thorugh some Internet outlets. Osho World offers the books readable free of charge online, however, though my patience ran out waiting for this particular one to load.


Osho - What is Meditation?
Unlike most of his books, this is very short. It consists of brief extracts from some of his other books, which are relevant to the subject of meditation, telling us what it is and what it isn't, how to deal with thoughts and much more for a pocket-sized book. He is a master of metaphor and example and, if you are learning to practise meditation, this is an ideal prompt for relevant issues.Since this is a compilation of extracts it may not be available at Osho World (see under Mustard Seed above).

"Meditation is a state of clarity, not a state of mind."


Self Enquiry - The Journal of the Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK
This is a periodical, which was published three times each year until Feb 2004. See the entry on Ramana Maharshi under 'Organisations' above. You are unlikely to read and enjoy every published article but the variety means that there will usually be something to strike a chord and there are often gems that you are unlikely to find anywhere else. Back issues are available via their website.


Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi by Dr. T.M.P. Mahadevan
Another book of conversations, these were recorded by Sri Munagala S. Venkataramiah over the period 1935 - 9. Previously published in three volumes, they are now available in a single book of over 600 pages, published by Sri Ramanasramam. Very readable, yet full of wisdom. It has a comprehensive index and glossary. Probably another essential buy! Click on the title above for the American version from Amazon or Sri Ramanashramam for the cheaper Indian version.

"Find out from where this 'I' arises. Then this 'I' will disappear and the infinite Self will remain. This 'I' is only the knot between the sentient and the insentient. The body is not 'I', the Self is not 'I'. Who then, is the 'I'? Where from does it arise?"


Be As You Are - The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi
Although I have not yet finished reading this, I have seen many quotations from it on the Million Paths E-Group since I joined a few months ago. I could have recommended it unreservedly even without reading any more. However, I am currently reading it and can state categorically that it is one of the best books on the subject that could be imagined. It also has the advantages of being much shorter than the previous book and much cheaper. David Godman researched many sources and combined the material so as to provide fuller answers to the various questions, which are sorted into topic. You can read 15 sample pages at the Amazon link above.

"Bliss is a thing which is always there and is not something which comes and goes. That which comes and goes is a creation of the mind and you should not worry about it."


Michael Reidy recomends 'The Collected Works of Ramana Maharshi' edited by Arthur Osborne. This also receives 5* at Amazon and is pretty well guaranteed to be just as valuable as the above. It also has some of Ramana's poetry. There are 11 sample pages here.


Swami Dayananda - Introduction to Vedanta (Understanding the Fundamental Problem)
Exactly what it says - an introduction to some of the key concepts, explained in simple terms. 'The fundamental problem', 'The Informed Seeker' and 'Ignorance and Knowledge' form the core of this very clear exposition. It also uses all of the correct Sanskrit terms so that these will be understood when moving on to more general reading. If still in print, this may be ordered from Arsha Vidya Gurukulam.

"A teacher does not produce anything; he does not need to produce anything. Nobody can produce knowledge. Knowledge is the accurate appreciation of what is. The teacher throws light upon something which is already there. If an object I want to see is in a completely dark room, all I need is light to see it in. The light does not produce the object; it merely dispels the darkness so that I can see it. A light in a dark room produces neither the room nor the objects in it; it only reveals what is."




Almost certainly any other books by Swami Dayananda will also be worthwhile. In particular I can personally recommend the following: 'Self-Knowledge', 'Dialogues with Swami Dayananda' and 'vivekachUDAmaNi (Talks on 108 Selected Verses)' - see above for review of this last book. The first two are short but contain key topics presented with original lucidity. Swami Dayananda is, in my view, the best living teacher of traditional Advaita and one of the few to teach in the west. He is able to explain the most difficult aspects clearly, using modern language and often amusing metaphors. All highly recommended. All are normally available from Arsha Vidya Gurukulam.

"Someone once said, 'Deep down inside the heart of everyone, behind the veil of names and forms (mithyA), there shines a divine spark, a shining truth, which is at once bliss.' That is all bluff. If I had told you that originally, without explaining mithyA and satyam, it would sound okay. You would all like that. But I cannot bluff you now. mithyA is satyam."




Swami Muni Narayana Prasad - Vedanta Sutras of Narayana Guru
Based upon twenty-four short sutras from Narayana Guru, Swami Muni has provided a commentary that is both lucid and informative. It is authoritative, yet eminently readable, covering most of the topics of this book. Despite its unpromising title, this is certainly one of the best books on Advaita that I have ever found, traditional or modern. Full references are provided and there is a comprehensive glossary of Sanskrit words. The above link is the only one that I was able to locate that is currently offering this book for sale.

"Though blind, we are aware of self-existence; even when deaf, self-awareness remains. If all five senses are withdrawn from their objects and there is no awareness at all of externals, even then awareness of self-existence would continue. That self-effulgent self-awareness, devoid of externals, pure and unconditioned, is Atman, the Self of all and everything."


Krishnamurti (J.) is someone highly regarded by many as the reluctant guru, pushed unwillingly into spiritual teaching by Annie Besant, but who subsequently rejected this role. He has written a number of books but one that dips into many of these to come up with a wide selection of topics is 'The Penguin Krisnamurti Reader'. There is a particularly good section devoted to the dangers of knowledge. Unfortunately, the book is out of print at the moment so may be difficult to find.

"A mind burdened with knowledge cannot possibly understand that which is real, which is not measurable."


Tony Parsons - The Open Secret
This is a short book relating the experiences of the author in a candid and unpretentious manner. It is a refreshing antidote to the tendency of many books to over-intellectualise the topic. It is repeatedly made clear that there is 'no separate identity'. His second book is now available (below) and seems likely to be even better.


As It Is: The Open Secret to Living an Awakened Life (8 pages available to read on-line). Tony claims that the following quotation encapsulates his teaching:
"There is only Source appearing. All that manifests is always and only the appearance of Source - the apparent universe, the world, the life story, the body-mind, feelings, the sense of separation, and the search for enlightenment. It is all the one appearing as two - the no-thing appearing as everything. The drama of the search is totally without meaning or purpose; it is a dream awakening. There is no deeper intelligence weaving a destiny and no choice functioning at any level. Nothing is born and nothing dies. Nothing is happening. But this, as it is, invites the apparent seeker to rediscover its origin. When the invitation is accepted by no one, then it is seen that there is only Source - the uncaused, unchanging, impersonal stillness from which unconditional love overflows and celebrates. It is the wonderful mystery."


Wayne Liquorman - Acceptance of What Is - A Book About Nothing
This book presents much of the material that you will hear if you attend one of his talks and in the same style - humorous yet uncompromising. It is possibly the best book to read for an entertaining introduction to the key principles of Direct Path Advaita.
"Where you're trying to go doesn't exist; there is no place other than here."


Leo Hartong - Awakening to the Dream
This is a marvellous exposition of non-dual teachings, straight from the heart. Though drawing on quotations from a wide variety of sources (not just Advaita), it is principally a crystal clear presentation from the author's own experience. Read the chapter on the subject of free-will to see how brilliantly Leo puts across the message. Excerpts and endorsements may also be read at his own site. Highly recommended!

"The final and insurmountable problem with words is that, like the compass, they can point from, but never at the centre from which the pointing is done. To those who will look both to where and from where the compass points, the realisation of their true nature is directly available. In this knowing, the knower and the known are realised as inseparable and dissolve into the undivided space of Pure Awareness."


With respect to meditation, the most widely known and practised method in the west is that brought over by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the 1960's. The movement still flourishes though we may hear less about it these days and the method remains a simple and readily accessible one. It can be used simply to reduce stress or as part of a more structured spiritual 'path' (if you believe in such things!). 'The TM Technique' by Peter Russell is an excellent presentation of the topic, its history, practice and benefits.

"The state is not one of unconsciousness so much as unmanifest or pure consciousness. Since consciousness itself remains, the subject of all experience, the experiencer, also remains. Thus we might also call the state one of pure self. But this pure self is not the ego or any other form of individual identity, for all these 'selves' are concepts or constructs of the mind, products of mental activity, and as such they die when mental activity dies."


A recommendation for a more general, and apparently comprehensive book on meditation is 'Meditation and Practices : A Definitive Guide to Techniques and Traditions of Meditation in Yoga and Vedanta' by Swami Adiswarananda (Senior Minister of Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center of New York City). Thanks to Clarke Code for this. He also recommend the Swami Rama Tirtha site, where parts of the latter's complete oeuvre are available for download.


A book that is shown as 'Out of Print' at Amazon, appears still to be available from the publishers, Shanti Sadan, in London. It is called 'Freedom Through Self-Realisation' by A. M. Halliday and takes the form of transcripts of some 18 lectures 'on the Yoga of Self-Knowledge'. There are a wide range of topics, including one on T. S. Eliot's 'The Still Point' (see the Four Quartets below) and one on 'The Nature of the Self in the Mysticism of Jalal-Uddin Rumi'. Very articulate and knowledgeable, these essays are a pleasure to read.

"Transcendental reality demands another means of knowing, and this is direct experience, anubhava, not sense perception, not even experience through an idea or mental picture, but direct experience. It is the self-luminousness of reality as consciousness, its immediate self-evidence as awareness, which enables it to be directly known."


A book which any browser of spiritual bookstores cannot fail to have seen is 'Autobiography of a Yogi' by Paramahansa Yogananda. I have looked at it myself on several occasions but not bought it. The reviews here indicate that it is not strictly speaking Advaita-related but can be appreciated by adherents of other religions without changing their faith. However, it seems to be universally praised by its readers. Two examples:
"When I first read this book after many years of aimless searching, it not only answrered many of my deepest questions, but set my spirirtual life in a fresh and positive direction." and "Here are many clear, meaningful responses to many of lifes most profound questions. If you are wondering about the most advanced methods of meditation & prayer. If you need inspiration and motivation to grow spiritually. You will find it in this book." There are 30 sample pages to read here - Recommended by Michael Reidy.


The 'Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna' by M, translated and with an introduction by Swami Nikhilananda documents the teaching of this 19th Century Self-realised 'saint' through his dialogues recorded during the last four years of his life. There is an extensive introduction providing biographical details. I have only read the abridged version (this full version is over 1000 pages) but can highly recommend it. His words are full of compassion and wisdom and many of his stories are used in modern Advaita teachings. There are 37 sample pages to read here - Suggested by Michael Reidy.

"The important thing is the mind. Bondage is of the mind, and freedom also is of the mind."


Raphael is an Italian teacher who is also very popular in Germany and has inaugurated the Aurea Vidya Foundation in New York, who is now publishing his books. (N.B. This is not Raphael Cushnir, a teacher currently active in the US, about whom I know nothing.) He has spent over thirty-five years writing and publishing on the spiritual experience, commenting and comparing the Orphic Tradition with the work of Plato, Parmenides, Plotinus, for the Western Tradition and is also the author of several books on Advaita. I have recommended his Mandukyakarika in the Classical section of Recommended Reading. Carlo Frua provides some additional detailed recommendations below:


The Threefold Pathway Of Fire - divided into three sections corresponding to the three sadhanas (ways) of the Path of Fire:
1. Alchemy - the means necessary to accomplish the Opus.
2. Love of Beauty - references the philosophy of Plato and Plotinus.
3. Asparsha Yoga - bridges the discursive mind and pure Intellect.


At The Source Of Life - depicts man's ideals, deviations and weaknesses, looks for their cause and investigates the Ultimate Reality as well as man's position towards it. Raphael offers a solution for dealing with the problem of desire and refers to the condition of the Liberated, who is not moved by anything that life can offer.


Tat Tvam Asi - a dialogue between a seeker of the ultimate Truth, and an Asparsin Yogi. The text is not scholarly and aims simply at expressing the Doctrine upon which realisation is to be based. The metaphysical discussions have been abridged so that it may be of greater and more direct interest to the western reader.

I have now read this myself and can affirm that it contains some excellent material on the nature of reality. The style of presentation, as a fictionalised dialogue between a reformed drug addict, now spiritual seeker, and his guru makes Raphael's teaching much more accessible, with only occasional lapses into mystical confusion.

"Therefore, only your true reality can give you the certainty of total completeness, and the implication is that all those other external realities, although perceived and experienced, were unable to give you completeness. This leads us again to conclude that they are not realities after all and that, most likely, what you have perceived and experienced must have belonged to a certain order of enslaving phenomena."


Chuck Hillig is a modern author whose earlier books have been widely acclaimed by many teachers. His latest one, 'Seeds for the Soul' is not a textbook on Advaita and contains nothing in the way of discussion or rationale. It is much more of a guidance for practical living, presented in an aphoristic style which may not be to everyone's taste. But pearls of advaitic wisdom are scattered throughout:

"What you think you are can't possibly survive your own awakening. Nobody can survive it."
You can read extracts from the book at the publisher's site.


The Rope and the Snake by Arvind Sharma.
All students of Advaita will be aware of the famous metaphor of the rope and the snake, used amongst other things to explain the theory of adhyasa. However, this book presents many other uses from pre-Shankara buddhist times through to modern interpretions of Advaita. The purpose of metaphor is of course to make difficult concepts easier to understand and makes this particular one the metaphor par excellence. Highly recommended (but only for the relatively advanced Advaitin)! This Amazon version will cost you $24.95. You can obtain it more cheaply (but it will take longer) from Motilal Banarsidass in India.

"Another issue which arises in Advaita may be raised in terms of the rope-snake metaphor. If one superimposes a snake on a rope it implies that one has seen the snake before. If, however, one superimposes the universe on Brahman, does it not similarly imply that one has seen the universe before?"


A Guide to Awareness and Tranquillity by William Samuel.
A collection of short essays, letters, dialogue extracts etc. - this should appeal to all those readers who are looking for something simple and direct, speaking from heart to heart rather than mind to mind. It may grate with the aspiring jnani yogi, who is seeking to use the tool of the intellect to dispel ignorance. But to those inclined towards bhakti, especially if from a Christian background, it should resonate well. There are many references to the teaching of Jesus, illustrating its non-dual essence. There is a wonderful opening section explaining how thinking prevents us from simply living in the present. It may be purchased from speciality bookstores such as Watkins in London (see Buying Books) or ordered from others (ISBN 1-877999-19-9). Failing that, order direct.
"The habitual, unregenerate intellect of us all is seldom interested in aught but shoring up its forged and fraudulent foundations."


'Nothing Personal - seeing beyond the illusion of a separate self' by Nirmala. As with most modern books on Advaita, this is a psychological rather than a metaphysical presentation but it is full of sincere love, wisdom and humour. It is highly practical and readable with many original ways of looking at the situation in which the seeker finds him/herself. I highly recommend this book and there is no excuse for anyone not to read it when it may be freely downloaded as a PDF file. A wonderful gift to the Advaita community. Alternatively, if you want to be able to read it anywhere, it may be purchased in the usual format. Nirmala is a disciple of Neelam, in the lineage of Ramana Maharshi and Sri Poonja.


Ken Wilber has written many books and, though I have periodically looked at some of them in bookshops, I have always been put off by what appeared to be an overly intellectual treatment of the subjects. However, the last chapter of 'The Eye of Spirit : An Integral Vision for a World Gone Slightly Mad' was recommended to me by Greg Goode so I bought it. And I can confirm that this last chapter is amazing. It is the clearest exposition I have ever read of how we are already 'it' and how nothing we can do can ever change this. So clear is it that it is totally unarguable. (N.B. I haven't yet read the rest of the book, which looks overly intellectual...)
"If you understand this, then rest in that which understands, and just that is exactly Spirit. If you do not understand this, then rest in that which does not understand, and just that is exactly Spirit."


The Texture of Being by Roy Whenary. Here is the endorsement that I wrote for the book:
"A practical guide to living the spirit of non-duality amidst the vicissitudes of the apparent world. Roy appeals from the heart directly to the heart for us to recognise our true nature and abandon once and for all the traditional pursuits of pleasure, prestige and prosperity, which can never lead to happiness. Instead we should open ourselves up to the silence and clarity, there to discover the beauty and fulfilment of the reality that is already here and now." The author may be contacted via his website - Lotus Harmony.
"What you have now, which you do not have to struggle for, which you will never lose, but which you may not even know you have, is Being, in the silent emptiness of your true nature."


The Teachers of One Living Advaita: Conversations on the Nature of Non-Duality by Paula Marvelly. Here is the endorsement that I wrote for the book:
"All seekers will empathise with this sincere and beautifully written, personal search for the truth of the Self, as the author traverses the world to interview a number of modern teachers of Advaita . There is much to learn about their personal backgrounds, teaching styles and content and gems of wisdom are elicited by the penetrating questions. But for me it was the interludes between these, where the author writes about her own feelings and reactions that make this book special. The reader shares her moments of confusion, loneliness and yearning as well as those of peace, understanding and acceptance, culminating in a samAdhi experience in Ramana’s Virupaksha cave at Arunachala. Wonderful!"
"As in my dream of a few nights back, the oily darkness seeps into my skin, filling up orifices and pores and I drown in a sea of blackness. But this is not the anaesthetized withdrawal into the unconscious that sleep brings. Now, I am fully present, fully awake – a witness to the withdrawal of creation happening within me. My thoughts and feelings have died and the world passes away. Time stops. The universe dies. Nothing remains. I exist no more."

book cover

The Wisdom of Balsekar is a new compilation of extracts from Ramesh's other books, themed by topic (e.g. action, bondage, death, desire, effort, ego etc.). A wonderful selection presenting an overview of his clear and logical approach to the teaching. Edited by Alan Jacobs, chairman of the Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK and approved by Ramesh.

book cover - Silence of the Heart

Students of Advaita who have not read “Silence of the Heart:
Dialogues with Robert Adams
” are in for a treat. Robert Adams did not write books or give lectures. Towards the end of his life he attracted a small group of students who would come to him for satsang. After Robert’s death in 1997, some of these students transcribed some tapes of Robert’s talks, and this book consists of these transcriptions. The style is simple and direct. Robert, like Ramana, advocates self-inquiry:

What does Jnana Marga teach? We teach simply this: not to accept anything, unless you can demonstrate it. Not to believe anything, unless you can demonstrate it...To do affirmations, mantras, yoga exercises and so forth will not awaken you. We start from the beginning: you simply admit to yourself that you’ll soon find that “I” and “exist” are two separate’ll have to ask yourself, “Who is this I that exists? What is I?” You never answer. It will come of its own inquire within yourself, “what is this “I” that exists at all times? And now the inquiry starts...and you keep asking yourself over and over and over again. Whatever answer comes to you is the wrong answer. Do not accept it, but do not deny it. You simply put it aside....Someday something will happen. To some people it comes like an explosion within where all your thoughts are wiped away...when the “I” is wiped out, everything else is wiped out, and the troubles are over. All thoughts go with the “I”.
(Recommended by Charles Carignan.)


A Natural Awakening - book cover

A Natural Awakening by Philip Mistlberger. Here is the endorsement that I wrote for the book:

Many students of Advaita think that to become enlightened is to attain a permanent state of peace and happiness in which they no longer have any worries or fears.

It seems that many teachers attempt to subvert the traditional teachings by diluting them with ideas from western psychology in order that they may satisfy this need. If they can make the person feel good (instead of undermining their idea that there actually is a person), they claim to have succeeded. This completely misses the point and invariably the student ends up confused and dissatisfied. The reason that this can happen is that the teacher is usually poorly trained in psychology and has not correctly understood the philosophy himself (irrespective of whether or not he is himself ‘enlightened’).

In order to address the perceived needs of these western students, what seems to be needed is a teacher who fully understands both. He will then be able to address the psychological issues authoritatively in their own context whilst at the same time expanding the students' awareness into being able to see the truth behind their seeming problems.

In my own studies and research, I have read many books on Advaita from all traditions and I have never encountered anyone with the ability to teach in this way - until now. I invariably pencil in notes in the margins of books whenever I encounter particularly useful explanations or helpful metaphors so that a very good indicator of the value of a book can be gained by the number of such annotations. Based upon this, I can state categorically that this is a very good book indeed!

Philip Mistlberger succeeds in explaining the psychological background to our misunderstandings and mistaken view of reality and provides practical exercises to help in this regard (another rarity in spiritual, as opposed to self-help books). Yet, at the same time, the clear aim of all his teaching is unambiguously to steer readers towards realization of their identity as non-dual Consciousness.

This book takes the essence of the wisdom of what is essentially an eastern philosophy, often difficult to appreciate by a mind cultivated in western society, and presents it in a style that will be readily appreciated by the intelligent reader. It explores the way life seems to be, with its apparent difficulties in terms of such things as self-image and relationships and clearly explains how Advaita cuts through all of this to remove the ignorance and delusion and show us the already existing reality of our true nature.

There will be several extracts from the book in the Discourses section. If you are interested in buying the book, you had better hurry as this was a low-volume self-publication and there are very few copies left! The link above is to the author's website where you can email the order.

book cover - Radical Happiness

Radical Happiness: A Guide to Awakening by Gina Lake.

Although not following Advaita philosophy in respect of theory, this book should nevertheless prove valuable to all serious seekers of truth, no matter what their background. It is a very practical guide to coming to terms with such topics as ego, desire and suffering and it is filled with the wisdom of someone obviously skilled and knowledgeable in the field of psychology. There are many astute observations about the human condition and the mistaken views of ourselves that bring about all of our problems. These points are driven home effectively and in a very readable manner. Highly recommended.

Read extracts from the book.

Incidentally, there are other sites that recommend books, such as Spiritual Books Worth Reading. Please let me know if you are aware of any others that provide recommendations (with justification) on Advaita-related books.

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