This is a reply to a comment from Suzanne on my KiwiYogi Blog.
IMHO the teachers who “eschew traditional advaita practice” do so out of their own limited understanding. In Kali Yuga these ignorant teachers are everywhere.
The great undisputed Vedic teachers such as Adi Shanaka, the Sage Patanjali, Rishi Narada and Lord Krishna Himself all prescribe practices for awakening to Brahman, paramatman, parabhakti and Bhagavan. They even have advice for those individuals who have already awakened to their no-self nature.
They prescribe to seekers ego-based and dualistic activities for spiritual growth. For example, Sri Ramana encouraged people to walk around a mountain!
Adi Shankara declared that everything is maya and that there is no individuality anywhere, yet he still spent his life walking around India setting up monasteries. Why would he bother if there is no one to benefit from this?
Perhaps these sages don’t know what they are talking about. Perhaps Tony Parsons knows something which they don’t. But I doubt that in the extreme.
Many neo-advaitins often teach what is only appropriate for themselves – abidance in the Self. But the pathless-path of Self-remembrance is not for suitable for everyone. And neo-advaitins give very poor advice when they discourage traditional practices. Lord Krishna says of this, “Let not him who knows the whole disturb the ignorant who know only the part.” (3.29)
In the Yoga Sutras, Sage Patanjali addresses this topic of appropriate practice – particularly with regard to self-abidance versus ego-based meditation:
These afflictions, when subtle, are removed by returning to one’s original state. 2.10
When active, they are removed by meditation. 2.11
This is really a no brainer – in most people vasanas (outward going tendencies) are very strong. If someone has no conscious self-awareness, then they should purify themselves through appropriate action – mantra, vichara, asanas, pranayama, seva, etc. This prescription for action is advocated by Sri Ramana Maharshi, Adi Shankara and every other genuine empathetic sage.
Those who have what Patanjali refers to as “subtle afflictions” (vasanas) often delude themselves into thinking they are fully awakened. Most neo-advaitins fall into this category. Their mind is transparent enough for the light of the Self to shine through but this is like the dawn light before sunrise. Sri Ramana calls this Aham Sphurana and his explanation is here.
Nisargadatta was in this category for a long time. He said that he thought he was fully enlightened, but then he witnessed his own death. If someone with the stature and intelligence of Nisargadatta could make this mistake then what chance has a neo-advaitin?
Neo-advaitins, who have limited vision, do not appreciate the science behind getting enlightened. They think that because they do not know the details of spiritual evolution then no one knows. This is not true. A liberated master blessed with the knowledge of past and future lives and the gift of being able to communicate with Kundalini Shakti Herself, is able to assess an individual’s progress and determine what the seeker needs to do to realize their lack of individuality. Obviously, such insight in today’s world of teachers is so rare that it is almost academic to mention it. In more simple words, the path is not random – it is just that the past causes are obscured making the current circumstances difficult to understand for those with lesser vision.
The biggest deficiency among neo-advaitins is their lack of appreciation of what the relative aspect of creation has to do with enlightenment. A liberated master has dominion over maya, but a neo-advaitin is merely a helpless, ignorant witness. Nisargadatta was asked about this point – he was asked what was beyond simple witnessing. He said that initially awakening is like being in a cage in a jungle full of wild tigers. Next, the tigers are in the cage and you roam freely through the jungle. After that you ride the tigers through the jungle fearlessly.
Understanding how the witness and the individual are the same thing is a very difficult concept for the unenlightened mind to understand because they are entirely opposite. But there is not a Self and non-Self, there is only the Self. And that Self is Saguna Brahman – the One Without Second.
The ultimate truth as declared by the great Vedic Advaitins is Nirguna Brahman. Everything is actually uncreated – Ajata Vada as Sri Ramana calls it – something did not come out of nothing. These states can only be comprehended with experience of them.