Question from Suzanne from NothingExistsDespiteAppearances: How can you teach someone to be?
This is a truly excellent question, Suzanne, because this question delivers people from terrible suffering.
If someone who is experiencing abject suffering – the kind of pain and torment that often visits seekers – goes to a neo-advaitin and asks “how to be” then in all likelihood the neo-advaitin will say something like this:
“No one can teach you to be. You already ready are. It is not possible to become what you are right now. Everything is perfect right now, including your apparent suffering. But if you really want something to do, then abide in the Self.”
Whilst there is a factual basis to this answer, it is useless to 99% of sufferers.
(I can hear the neo-advaitin’s follwers laughing sarcastically at the sufferer and saying, “This guy thinks he’s a sufferer!”)
If someone came to me and asked “how to be” – meaning how to be free from the duality of bondage and liberation – I would tell them to follow the teachings of the great liberated masters like Sri Ramana Maharshi, Adi Shankara, Sage Patanjali, Lord Krishna, Lao-Tsu, Sage Ashtavakra, Rishi Narada, etc.
I would not refer the person to neo-advaitins who pay lip service to the above great teachers and then ignore their teaching.
These great masters have already laid out the path and the practices. They address the obstacles and challenges. Why ignore time-tested and rishi-endorsed teachings?
As Sri Ramana said, each person needs to find a practice that suits their temperament – gyan yoga, bhakti yoga, hatha yoga, raja yoga, karma yoga, tantra yoga. All of these methods that people can do lead them to realize that they are not the doer.
In advaita circles people like to talk about jnana, but do not know much about jnana yoga – ie knowledge as a path. This path of knowledge has three stages: shravana, manana and nididhyasana – hearing, reflection and realization. I discuss it at length here.
Neo-advaitins dismiss this ancient path of knowledge as mere “mental masturbation” and advise people just to skip all this mental mumbo-jumbo and just be. I cannot emphasize enough how ignorant this advice is for the majority of self-inquirers.
But the sincere seekers who want to realize “what is” and free themselves from suffering, rather than just talk about it, will not be satisfied with this useless neo-advaita stuff and will actively apply themselves until they find their way home.