Advaita Entering the Non-Dual
Entering the Non-Dual
There is a lot of interest in Advaita, so Nukunu have felt that it is a good idea to make a program that teaches the basics of Advaita. The program is divided into four independent modules, which will give time and space to practice. Each module approaches Advaita from differnt angles and therefore they are not depending on each other. This Advaita program will be given in different places in Scandinavia and you are invited to participate in it.
It is of course fine to participate in just one part of the program, and the four parts don’t need to be done in a specific order.
Advaita is a Sanskrit word meaning the Non-Dual. Advaita is a method for self-realisation.
The Non-Dual is often used as one of the countless words for” the Source”. Tibetan Buddhism calls Source “The Luminous Ground” or “Rigpa”. Zen calls it “The Buddha”.
All mystic traditions are aiming at realizing this true reality – the Non-Dual. But how is it to realize it? It can be expressed in so many ways, keeping in mind that no words can really express it. It is like being a neutral awareness that permeates and makes up all experiences: perceptions, feelings and thoughts – all that the six senses can perceive (the mind is the sixth sense).
When we know it, we know that it is the most natural and the most truthful. To live in separation, in duality, is not true and therefore painful. That is the reason why most people feel a longing for something real; we know in the depth of our heart that something real is missing.
Advaita comes from India and is maybe older than even Buddhism. Advaita has been made known through Adi Shankara (788-820) and in the 20 century by Ramana Maharshi, Nisargadatta Maharaj and Poonjaji. Also, Ramesh Balsekar. Many of the present day teachers – like Isaac Shapiro and Gangaji – who are travelling the world, are also coming from the path of Advaita.
Advaita belongs to the tradition that believes in the possibility of transcending the mind through wisdom and understanding.
In Advaita I, we work with the fundamentals:
- Atman (the I) is Brahman (the Absolute)
- All is Brahman
- Maya (Appearance)
- Neti, Neti (Impermanence)
There are basically three ways to transcend the duality between the “I” (subject) and the experience (object):
- Seeing the fleeting and impermanent nature of both the object and the subject (impermanence – see Advaita part 1).
The observer (subject) and the observed (object) have no individual separate substance to be found. In the moment that is seen, there is a transcendence of both and one suddenly realizes that the true Self is playing both roles. That is the feeling of unity.
- Seeing through the object.
This is to get to know that whatever we fight with – for instance a feeling (the object) – in fact has no substance, no lasting reality. When that is realized deeply, we transcend the duality because without an object there can be no subject. They are relative to each other.
- Seeing through the subject.
In this part we ask ourselves whether there is a separate me seeing the object? (Self-inquiry). When we realize that there is no one, again the duality is transcended and there is a spontaneous shift of perspective that we call an awakening.
All three methods ultimately make one realize the same truth. Before that shift, the same consciousness was identified with a thought (the “I”) and believed itself to be separate! Upon awakening, we realize ourselves to be that pure consciousness that is playing both the roles of the subject and the object. What a painful joke!
One of the methods of Advaita is to investigate – inquire – if there is a separate “I”.
In Sanskrit this inquiry is called “Atma Vichar”.
In Advaita part II, we will work intensively with self-inquiry in the group and in pairs to invite a jump in perspective.
Ramana Maharshi said:
“One of two things must be done. Either you surrender because you admit your inability and also require a Higher Power to help you; or investigate into the cause of misery,
go into the Source and merge into the Self. Either way you will be free from misery.
God never forsakes one who has surrendered.”
Ramana talks about two kinds of Surrender, Direct Surrender, which is Atma Vichar, that we mentioned already in Advaita part 2. You surrender the mind with the very question, “Who is experiencing this?” To answer that question, you will need to let go of the private mind and put your focus on the “I”. In Direct Surrender the mind is invited to do a quantum leap, so that the mind is transcended and we realize ourselves to be the pure consciousness that plays all the roles in what we call life.
On the other hand, Indirect Surrender is a gradual work on the private mind. Here, we work with Surrender to Source. It is a work with affirmations. Practicing Indirect Surrender, we slowly become more and more present in life because the whole idea of “wanting it my way” slowly falls away. Wanting it my way, is taking us away from here-now and the truth is here-now.
In this part we will work with the idea of ignorance.
We believe and identify with the thought-form ignorance and take ourselves to be ignorant!
It is our identification with this thought-form that keeps us in prison. As we know, Awakening is a moment of the empty mind; in this glimpse the old private mind looses its power and is turned into the absolute, pure consciousness.
When we believe in and identify with the idea, “I am ignorant”, we are feeding the mind with thoughts. If we could trust that nothing is missing and that nothing should be different, then the mind would be still and quiet. An empty mind is a no-mind.
Another thing is, that the very fact that we know we are ignorant shows that we are not. But by some sad mistake we choose to identify with ignorance and not with the truth.
This is the most advanced part of Advaita and that is why I have saved it for the last meeting.