NDM: Can you give me an example of bhAga tyAga
Suppose that you and a friend, A, both went to
school with a third person, X. Although you were not
particularly friendly with X, you knew him quite
well but, since leaving school you lost touch and
have forgotten all about him. Today, you happen to
be walking along with A and see Y, who is a famous
film star, walking by on the other side of the
street. You have seen films starring Y and admire
him very much. A now makes some comment such as “Y
has come a long way in the world since we knew him,
hasn’t he?” You are mystified since you have never
even spoken to Y as far as you know and you ask A to
explain himself. A then makes the revelatory
statement: “Y is that X whom we knew at school.”
All of the contradictory aspects, that X is an
insignificant, scruffy, spotty oik that you once
knew at school, while Y is a rich, famous and
talented actor, are all cancelled out, leaving the
bare equation that X and Y are the same person.
Furthermore, the knowledge is
immediate. We do not have to study the reasoning or
meditate upon it for a long time.
NDM: In sutra 50, you
talk about avidyA. This is also at the core of the
Buddhist teachings. Do you see any difference in the
way this is taught?
As answered in an earlier question, I do not really
know anything about Buddhism. You will need to ask
someone like Greg Goode.
NDM: In sutra 54, you say we do not have any organ
for self knowledge; sudden insight through an
That sutra is talking about pramANa-s – the ‘means
for acquiring knowledge’. We have the sense organs –
sight etc – for acquiring knowledge about external
objects; but there is no organ for acquiring
knowledge about the Self. Similarly, we cannot infer
and have no reason to assume that the Self is the
non-dual reality. Hence we need a trusted, external
source to tell us and explain it. This is the
function of the scriptures and guru. Although it
cannot be stated categorically that enlightenment
does not ‘suddenly come to one for no apparent
reason’, this is not the normal route! Also, the
traditional route is, throughout, totally amenable
to reason whilst the ‘epiphany’ route is totally
inaccessible to reason. Furthermore, if you sit
around waiting for something to ‘happen’, you are
likely to be waiting a very long time! If you commit
to a traditional path for as long as it takes, the
evidence is that you will get there eventually.
NDM: The Kena Upanishads say, “The eye does not go
there, nor speech, nor mind, we do not know "That"
(meaning Brahman). We do not know how to instruct
one about it. It is distinct from the known and
above the unknown".
If this is the case, then how is this known and who
or what knows this?
It is interesting that you should choose this verse
because it is effectively an explanation of the need
for sampradAya teaching. But you have omitted the
last sentence, which says: “Thus we have heard from
those who have gone before us, who told us about
The point is that Brahman cannot be seen, or
directly spoken of, or known (as an object) by the
mind. And it is not saying that ‘we do not know how
to teach it, period’, it is saying that ‘we do not
know how to teach it other than by using such
seemingly paradoxical statements as ‘the eye of the
eye’, ‘the ear of the ear’ etc. It has to be taught
in an elliptical fashion, undermining erroneous
views and coming at it from behind, as it were,
because Brahman is not an object of any sort but, on
the contrary, the ultimate subject – infinite. When
it says that we do not know how to teach it, it is
referring to the usual means of knowledge –
perception, inference etc. I can’t point to it or
say ‘what’ it is. It is different from the known
(i.e. cannot be known as an object) and yet it is
different from the unknown, meaning that we
nevertheless know it. How can this be? Simply
because we already
NDM: Do you think that the mental disposition,
akhaNDAkAra vRRitti can be attained through
NDM: Ok, but what about after waking from this
nirvikalpa samAdhi? After the fact, when nirvikalpa
merges into and becomes Sahaja samAdhi while being
awake and alert?
In the Ribhu Gita by Sri Ramana writes,
Remaining alertly aware and thought-free, with a
still mind devoid of differentiation of Self and
non-Self even while being engaged in the activities
of worldly life, is called the state of Sahaja
Nirvikalpa Samadhi (the natural state of abidance in
the Self when all differentiation has ceased). This
is called Akhandakara vritti, the ‘I’ of infinite
perfection as contrasted with the ‘I am the body’
notion of those who have not realized the Self.
What do you think he meant by this?
A temporarily thought-free mind
is not a mind that has effectively ‘taken on the
form of Brahman’. We have a ‘thought-free’ mind
every night during deep sleep but nevertheless still
wake up believing we are the body-mind. The
akhaNDAkAra vRRitti is an instantaneous ‘dawning of
knowledge’ in which the mind suddenly gels (as it
were); when the full realization of non-difference
from Brahman occurs as a result of the
crystallization (as it were) of knowledge gained in
the past. Nirvikalpa samAdhi is a state of mind that
is temporarily object-free; conscious, but only of
Self. Since it is empty of anything (‘nir’ vikalpa
means ‘without’ difference or distinction), how
could any sort of change or vRRitti (mental
disposition) occur in it? In any case, as I pointed
out earlier, samAdhi-s are experiences and only
knowledge can remove ignorance.
Furthermore, I would say that it is not possible to
‘engage in the activities of worldly life’ with a
So I am not sure what exactly is meant by this
passage. I haven’t read and don’t have a copy of the
Ribhu Gita. Maybe the earlier verses throw some
light on this. As I said earlier (I think) Ramana
was a brilliant teacher and unquestionably
enlightened but he did not have sampradAya training
and had not, I understand, even read much scripture
prior to his enlightenment; so some of his
statements may be suspect, especially when taken out
of context. The Bhagavad Gita II.55 (to end of
chapter 2) talks about the man of ‘steady wisdom’ as
one who is ‘without desire’ but not ‘without
means the ‘state’ of
being in, Brahman,
and arises as a result
of the akhaNDAkAra vRRitti; it is not the
as it. But, unlike samAdhi, it is not really a
state; it is rather that the Atman is now (known to
NDM: A few days ago someone told me about a
western Neo advaita teacher in India who pays
impoverished young Indian boys to have sexual
relations with him. In this case who is the
doer/enjoyer? Is it this Neo Advaita teacher’s
vAsanA-s, or is it Brahman doing this? Oneness, as
some neos would say.
Dennis Waite: This sort of confusion arises because
of failing to differentiate ‘levels’ of reality. All
of this ‘doing’ – whether working, playing, seeking,
becoming enlightened, giving time and money to
charity or having sex with young boys – all takes
place within vyavahAra, the transactional or worldly
level. At this level, there is duality, people and
objects; and all of the usual issues of society,
morality and responsibility apply. Traditional
advaita says that the position into which a given
person is born is determined by their actions in
past lives and they have to ‘work through’ the
related karma. The desires they have are determined
by their vAsanA-s, which again are determined by
past actions and formation of habits and so on. It
is said that when a given situation is presented,
one may act, not act or act differently from the
dictates of past habits. And this brings us onto the
topic of free-will, which I don’t want to enter into
or we will be here indefinitely!
From the standpoint of absolute reality, of course,
there are no people or objects; no time, space or
causation. But you have to be very careful not to
mix up the levels. Most conceptual problems in
advaita result from doing precisely this.
NDM: Who is responsible for this karma "oneness”, or
this apparent man’s vAsanA-s?
Dennis Waite: Again, from the vantage point of the
world, the individual person is responsible for his
actions, which accumulate karma and eventually bring
about the appropriate ‘fruit’ of puNya or pApa –
good things or bad! In reality, there is no such
thing as karma or reincarnation but then, there is
no person either to worry about such things. You
decide which aspect you are talking about and stick
NDM: The neos say that there is no karma because
there is no apparent man or vAsanA-s or saMskAra-s. They
say there is just "oneness". What are your thoughts
Dennis Waite: This is what the neos mostly do. They
try to make absolute pronouncements, as if from a
pAramArthika (absolute) perspective. But at the same
time they seem to expect these statements to be
meaningful and helpful to a seeker who is suffering,
trying to understand what is happening at the level
of the world and looking for guidance to help them
remove this suffering. Mostly it just causes
frustration and often increases the suffering
because such a view does not accord with the
seeker’s experience. The seeker is unable to
rationalize what the neo tells him without both
prior mental preparation and significant preliminary
NDM: In a dialogue that you had with Jeff Foster,
said, "This message is about the simple and obvious
appearance of life, now, now and now. That this
moment - right now - is all there is. And
everything, our whole lives, our pasts and futures,
are just stories appearing now. And yes, of course,
THAT is a story too! And so this can never really be
expressed in words. It's the attempt to put into
words what could never be put into words."......This
is about the possibility of absolute freedom,
absolute "happiness" as you put it, right here,
right now. This is about seeing that the miracle
that we are searching for
is always fully present, that enlightenment is
already the case, but the "search" implied that it
What he is saying here sounds like the teachings of
Eckhart Tolle, being in the now.
Do you think that he is missing the obvious here?
That you can be in the now all day long and still
not be enlightened?
Is it possible that he still has not realized the
Self? It’s like he has only climbed half way up the
mountain and mistaken this plateau for the top?
I say this because this brings to mind the Zen koan,
does a dog have Buddha nature? A cat or a dog also
does not have a sense of self nor is it attached to
a personal identity. It comes when its name is
called. It eats when it’s given food; it urinates,
defecates, fornicates and so on, but it does not
know that it is non-dual awareness.
Dennis Waite: It is impossible to know whether or
not another person is enlightened. The best that we
can do to assess this is to compare what the person
says with what has been said in the scriptures (or
perhaps, for most of us, with how the scriptures
have been interpreted by those whom we believe to
have been enlightened). But this has to be tempered
with the fact that it is possible for people to
learn pat answers without really understanding them.
Living ‘in the now’ and recognizing that there is *only*
the present moment is part of the mental preparation
for enlightenment. I suppose that it is an aspect of
nitya-anitya vastu viveka – discriminating between
the real and unreal, the transient and eternal. But,
in itself, it is not enlightenment. And, you are
right – you could be ‘in the present’ all the time
and still not be enlightened. Enlightenment is
Self-knowledge and has nothing to do with
experience. (I may say this more than once in
answers to these questions but repetition of this
fact is very worthwhile for most people!)
NDM: If I came to you asking you to help me become enlightened,
the way I asked these neo teachers, would you tell
me I'm enlightened already, no need to do anything
and so on? That I'm already perfect just the way I
The problem is this hasn't changed a thing.
I'm still the same miserable jerk as before. Each
time I go to one of their satsangs it costs me 30
bucks. This enlightenment business is getting very
expensive. Especially if I buy their DVDs and books,
photos of them as well. This all adds up. Then they
tell me there is no hope, or meaning. I'm getting
depressed and confused by all this neo babble and
feel like I'm at the end of my rope.
What would you say to me? Would you be able
to help me do this without having to learn a new
language and to study Vedanta like you did for 25
years? Is there a short cut? A direct path I could
take, so I don't go broke or old waiting for this to
Dennis Waite: This is a good example of the way that
neo teachers mistakenly present the message of
advaita. It is true that who-you-really-are
already free, perfect and complete. The problem is
that you think you are this body-mind, and the mind
not think it is
perfect and free. The mistaken views have to be
undermined and then rejected or corrected. Only when
this has been done, will you be ‘enlightened’. But
there is simply no point in telling you this. You
have to go through the process of examining your
experiences and beliefs and, with the help of a
qualified teacher, acknowledge that what he or she
tells you is true. In this, you will have to utilize
the means of knowledge available to you (mainly
perception, inference and scriptures) and your
faculties of reason and discrimination, possibly
with a little bit of faith to begin with.
Ideally, then, you will find a suitable teacher and
commit to studying with them for as long as it
takes. Unfortunately there are not many of these
around as we have already discussed. This need not
be an insurmountable problem. One of the main
qualities for a seeker is mumukShutva – the desire
to achieve enlightenment, to the exclusion of all
other desires. Accordingly, if this is really what
you want, you can ‘simply’ move to somewhere where
there is a qualified teacher. You will overcome all
the obstacles in order to do this.
Realistically, most seekers do not have this
all-consuming passion. For them, the best that they
can do is to read as much and as widely as possible
(but perhaps taking guidance from someone who knows
more about all this). And join an internet
discussion group such as Advaitin, where you can ask
all of the questions that will arise and have them
answered by a number of very experienced and
knowledgeable people, some of whom are acknowledged
academic experts or established traditional
teachers. All of this will cost much less than
But the process will take as long as it takes.
(There is a story in the scriptures of someone being
ecstatic when told it would only take as many
lifetimes as there were leaves on the tree under
which he was sitting!) You certainly don’t have to
learn Sanskrit either. You do have to learn a number
of Sanskrit terms, simply because there are no
equivalent words in the English language. But this
is really not a great hardship.
Regarding short-cuts, I would say not really. There
is the Direct Path teaching of Atmananda Krishna
Menon, currently being taught by people such as Greg
Goode and Rupert Spira. It is certainly worth
investigating this but it does not appeal to, nor is
it suitable for, everyone. It is really for a
particular sort of mind – very sharp, logical,
perceptive and intellectual; ever-ready to drop a
prior conception if reason or experience dictates
that it was wrong. Traditional teaching, on the
other hand, can cater for all levels of mind, with
slow or fast-track techniques according to ability.
NDM: What would you say is the difference with
Brahman and Shunyata?
Dennis Waite: I know very little about any spiritual
path other than Advaita. shunya means ‘empty’, or
‘void’ and I understand the belief of some branches
of Buddhism to be that there is literally ‘nothing’.
This would seem to be diametrically opposite to
Brahman, which is all (everything). On the face of
it, It would seem to be nonsensical to claim that
there is nothing – who would there be to claim this?
It is also our experience that we and the world
exist. How could this (something) world have
originated from nothing?
NDM: What if someone recognizes himself or
herself as Shunyata; is this considered being
enlightened, realizing absolute truth according to
the Shankara and the Vedanta school or is this also
a form of heresy or Neo Advaita?
Dennis Waite: In the Brahma Sutra and bhAShya, Vyasa
and Shankara refute all of the other philosophies
that were prevalent at the time. This includes
Buddhism. Obviously people can believe and claim
whatever they want but they cannot legitimately
claim to be Advaitins unless their teaching
corresponds with that of Advaita.
NDM: When the Buddha came across some Brahmins, they
were discussing about the nature of Brahman, and the
Buddha asked, "Have you seen Brahma?"
"No," said the Brahmin";
"Or your father, has he seen him?" asked the
"No, neither has he,"
"Or your grandfather, has he seen him?"
"I don't think even he saw Him." Answered the
Buddha replied. "My friend how can you discuss
about a person whom your father and grandfather
According to Shankara you don’t have to be
enlightened to teach about it.
Using the logic of the Buddha, how can a doctor
perform brain surgery if he doesn’t even know what a
brain looks like?
Denis Waite: Brahman is not an object and cannot be
objectified in any way. If it could be objectified,
there would have to be a subject treating it as an
object and that would be duality. But, in order to
know Brahman, you do not
need to objectify it
– you are Brahman.
NDM: Can you please tell me the difference between Neo Vedanta inspired by the Vivekananda and the Ramakrishna Mission
and Neo Advaita?
On book learning, Vivekananda said: This quickening
impulse, which comes from outside, cannot be
received from books; the soul can receive impulse
from another soul, and nothing else. We may study
books all our lives, we may become very
intellectual, but in the end we find that we have
not developed at all spiritually... In studying
books, we sometimes are deluded into thinking that
we are being spiritually helped; but if we analyze
ourselves we find that only our intellect is being
helped, and not the spirit. That is why almost every
one of us can speak most wonderfully on spiritual
subjects, but when the time of action comes, we find
ourselves so woefully deficient. It is because books
cannot give us that impulse from outside. To quicken
the spirit, that impulse must come from another
soul. That soul from which this impulse comes is
called the Guru, the teacher.... From "The Teacher
Neo-advaita, as I think we have already discussed,
is the attempt to convey the truth through simple,
absolute statements without any supporting rationale
or mental preparation, denying the existence of
seeker, teacher or of any path that might be
Neo-vedAnta may initially seem to be identical to
traditional advaita. However, there are subtle
differences which only become apparent when your
understanding of the teaching is quite advanced. I
have not made a study of these differences so cannot
say a great deal about them. Principally, I think
that neo-vedAnta is ‘corrupted’ as it were by
confusion with aspects of Yoga philosophy. In
particular, they claim that Enlightenment is a
spiritual experience rather than a vRRitti
(disposition) of the mind. They therefore place
great emphasis on samAdhi, and equate nirvikalpa
samAdhi with realization. Advaita, on the other
hand, states that this is simply another (albeit
very profound) experience, with a beginning and an
end in time.
But it should be noted that many of the books by
swamis of the Ramakrishna Missions etc are
excellent. They translate and comment on Upanishads
etc, including Shankara’s commentaries and these are
often brilliant. It is likely that you will not even
notice the minor discrepancies. I only discovered
the problems myself when I began write my own books
on Advaita and began to encounter statements in
their writing which contradicted my understanding.
NDM; What are your thoughts on this,
"All these talks, and reasonings, and philosophies,
and dualisms, and monisms, and even the Vedas
themselves, are but preparations, secondary
things.... The Vedas, Grammar, Astronomy, etc., all
these are secondary. The supreme knowledge is that
which makes us realize the Unchangeable One. From
"The Sages of India."?
Dennis Waite; It
is true that all scriptures, commentaries, teachings
are mithyA. It is never possible to ‘describe’
reality in any way. So, in a sense, for the
enlightened person, they all become redundant.
NDM: In your book, you
talk a lot about knowing through the aid of
scripture, but seem to relegate intuition. How do
you think the first sages who spoke these
scriptures, secret forest teachings, Upanishads,
Vedas, got to know this when there weren’t any books
or teachers at the time? Was it not through direct
Do you feel that book knowledge and scripture are
superior to intuition? Isn’t intuition the
internal Sat guru as well?
You must keep in mind that religion does not consist in talk, or
doctrines, or books, but in realisation; it is not
learning but being. No amount of doctrines or
philosophies or ethical books that you have stuffed
into your brain will matter much, only what you are,
and what you have realised. From "The Need of
Selections, p. 64-65.
The whole world reads scriptures, Bibles, Vedas, Korans, and
others, but they are only words... the dry bones of
religion.... Those who deal too much in words, and
let the mind run always in the forest of words, lose
the spirit.... "The Teacher of Spirituality."
Selections, pp. 54-55.
The network of words is like a huge forest in which the human mind
loses itself and finds no way out.... To be
religious, you have to first throw all books
overboard. The less you read of books, the better
for you.... It is a tendency in Western countries to
make a hotch-potch of the brain.... In many cases it
becomes a kind of disease but it is not religion.
From "The Need of Symbols."
What are your thoughts on this? Do you think these
old scriptures should be thrown overboard in order
to realize this truth intuitively; through gnosis?
For example, how did Buddha realize the truth? Did
he read books all day long, listen to a guru giving
satsang or did he sit out in the forest alone until
this realization came to him intuitively? In a
flash, like the first sages of the Vedas.
Intuition is fine – but where do you go to get this?
What can you do to increase the likelihood of
getting it? In a sense, the final realization might
be called ‘intuition’. You have been hearing ‘You
are That’, ‘Everything is Brahman’ etc. time and
again but nothing has happened. And then, suddenly,
there is the overwhelming certainty: ‘Ah! Now I see
is Brahman! How could I
not have appreciated that before?’ But, for the vast
majority, this only comes as the culmination of
prolonged study with a qualified teacher.
And, as I said in respect of the sampradAya, the
process is one of guru teaching disciple, who then
becomes the next guru and so on. And this process is
said to stretch back to the beginning. Long before
scriptures were written down, they were learned by
heart in the sampradAya-s. OK, you may not want to
accept that there never actually was a human author,
but we are talking about scriptures that are
thousands of years old.
So, if you want to sit around on the off-chance that
some intuition will suddenly come along – fine! But
don’t hold your breath…
Regarding the quote from Vivekananda, all
scriptures, gurus, seekers and the world itself are
mithyA. Only the Self is satyam. So, yes, once you
are enlightened, by all means throw all of the books
away if you like. But I would make two points:
firstly (if I may repeat), for the vast majority, it
is gurus and scriptures that will have brought you
to this point; secondly, the scriptures and their
unfoldment by a teacher such as Swami Dayananda are
beautiful – the most profound truths embodied in
simple verses and metaphor, explained with
crystal-clear logic. The enlightened person still
lives on in the world for the remainder of that
embodiment; so why throw away such beautiful things?
Read and enjoy!
I think you are still caught up in the idea that
there are very, very few enlightened people in the
world; that maybe most of the ones who were
enlightened are now dead; and that most of these
reached enlightenment by chance or sudden
‘intuition’. This is a false picture. I suggest that
there are actually quite a lot of enlightened
people, most of whom have become so as a result of
following a traditional path. You don’t get to hear
about them because they do not have ‘teacher vAsanA-s’.
Ones like Buddha and Ramana are the exception rather
than the rule.
NDM: Yes what about this one?
The Ashtavakra Gita says: My son, you may recite or
listen to countless scriptures, but you will not be
established within until you can forget everything.
“If even Shiva, Vishnu or the lotus-born Brahma were
your instructor, until you have forgotten everything
you cannot be established within.”
How do you interpret this?
When one goes to dinner, does one eat the paper menu
or the dinner? What do words made out of ink and
paper taste like?
Dennis Waite: The words
alone will never
bring about enlightenment, no matter how many times
they are repeated, even if learned by heart. As I
said earlier they, like the rest of the world, are
mithyA, not satyam (the menu, not the meal if you
like that metaphor). The mind of the seeker has to
be suitably prepared and there must be the intense
desire for enlightenment above all worldly pursuits.
And of course the words themselves are not the
reality – they point towards it and need to be
understood. Hence the need for a qualified teacher
to explain their meaning. Your quote about Shiva etc
is really emphasizing the need for nitya-anitya
vastu viveka – the ability to differentiate satyam
from mithyA. You have to ‘forget’ the unreal world
before you can realize the real Self.
ask, “Intuition is fine, but where do you go to get
this? What can you do to increase the likelihood of
Well according to the Buddhist tradition, you don't sit
around holding your breath, even though this is a
PrANayAmna method, (kevala kumbhaka)
or waiting for it to fall out of the sky. Some
would say through the discipline of meditation.
i.e. to be aware and mindful in all activities
and movements both physical and mental
vicaya) into the nature of
a calm, one-pointed state of concentration of
This leading to the ninth jhana
According to the Christian Gnostic traditions, some would say
through prayer, reciting and studying the scripture,
contemplation, meditation and ascetic fasting and devoting ones life to
God, Heart, mind and soul, with all ones strength.
According to Patanjali, he prescribes adherence to eight
"limbs" The eight "limbs" or steps are: Yama, Niyama,
Asana, PrANayAma, PratyAhAra, DhAraNA, DhyAna and
Samadhi. Leading to nirvikalpa samAdhi, which can
result in sahaja samAdhi. Or turIya,
the fourth state, even though it’s not a state.
Others some would say bhakti yoga, karma yoga and all the
other yogas would result in intuition. Clear
vision. There is also
a so-called fifth state, turIyatita, which happens
when the witness disappears. At this point you
become pure awareness. No identification with any
objects at all. This is JIvanmukta in Vedanta or
nirvana in Buddhism.
The Taoists would say through the practice of Wu-wei
usually translated as non-action, inaction
or non-doing - is one of the most important
Taoist concepts. When linked to the Tao - the
creator and sustainer of everything in the Universe
– non-doing means the actionless of Heaven,
Tai Chi and Qi gung and doing so will open up all
the meridians including ones "third eye", the
ajna (brow) chakra
and the sharastara chakra. The third eye, being
Others would say through grace, as well as studying the
scripture as in your case with advaita Vedanta.
There are so many ways and means to heighten ones
Dennis Waite: The reason why we do not already
recognize that we are free, unlimited, ever-present,
non-dual Consciousness is that we are ignorant of
our true nature. The only thing that can remove
ignorance is knowledge. Action of any kind can never
remove ignorance because action is not opposed to
ignorance. All of the things that you mention are
great for preparing the mind and this has to be done
before enlightenment can occur but, in themselves,
they cannot bring enlightenment. Samadhi may be a
beautiful experience of the oneness of all things
but, in 99% of cases at least, it comes to an end
and we are back in duality. Maybe the remaining 1%
lead to sahaja sthiti; I don’t know. But I would
think most would prefer to go the certain 99% route
rather than the maybe 1%.
Incidentally, as I said, I have no knowledge of
other traditions. You clearly have a much wider
understanding than I do. But I don’t agree with your
comments regarding turIyatIta or jIvanmukti in
respect of Vedanta.
NDM: Sorry, I wasn’t being clear. What I meant by
turIyatIta is not a state but it is non-dual
awareness, or Brahman. Does not one become a
jIvanmukta if one is permanently turIyatIta? I don’t
mean as in some kind of samAdhi, or meditation, or
an experience of some kind one has to go into.
I read this on your site by the way. Am I misreading
or misunderstanding it. Please correct me if I’m
turIya (Atman): non-apprehension of duality;
praj~nA (deep sleep): non-apprehension of Reality
and of duality;
taijasa (dream state): non-apprehension of and
misapprehension of Reality;
vishva (waking state): non-apprehension of and
misapprehension of Reality.
The word turIyatIta is defined in the site
dictionary as follows (http://www.advaita.org.uk/sanskrit/terms_tu.htm):
literally the "fourth" [state of consciousness]. It
refers to the non-dual reality, the background
against which the other states (waking, dream and
deep sleep) arise. It is our true nature. The other
three states are mithyA. (If defined merely as the
highest "state" then Ramana Maharshi calls our true
nature 'turiyatita' but this word is not encountered
in the scriptures.)
Unfortunately the link to this page is missing from
the menu! (Thanks for enabling me to discover this!)
turIya could be considered as a synonym for brahman.
There is only ever this so that we are always this,
whether or not we are enlightened. Enlightenment is,
if you like, the realization in the mind that we are
turIya. jIvanmukti, as I said before, refers to the
person whose prior or post mental state means that
he or she also has the ‘fruits of knowledge’, i.e.
mental equanimity etc.
Regarding the definitions that you quote from the
article, I wouldn’t have defined them likes this. I
would prefer to say that:
. vishva is associated with ignorance and error
. taijasa is associated with ignorance and error
. prAj~na is associated with ignorance only
. turIya is associated with neither
‘Ignorance’ is ignorance of the fact that I am
turIya. ‘Error’ is in thinking that I am the limited
But I believe that the way this is put in the essay
is actually saying the same thing, just in a
You said, “I was totally convinced of the truth of
the teaching and found, through the question and
answer section of the website, that there was no
question that I could not answer (to my own
So, do you see yourself as a guru or a pundit?
Dennis Waite: I discovered during my work on defense
communication systems that I had a particular skill
for describing complex software functions in ways
that newcomers could easily understand, provided of
course that I had understood it myself to begin
with! Accordingly, it seems natural to write books
on Advaita, maintain the website and answer
questions from seekers. It is a subject that is
endlessly fascinating and ultimately the only one
worth pursuing. I don’t teach formally, mainly
because I don’t want to travel and there is
insufficient interest in my area to begin a formal
group. So… call me what you like.
NDM: Sailor Bob said, "Subject-object thinking seems
to cover the natural state (awareness). But without
awareness, thinking could not take place. Because
thinking appears in awareness (like a cloud appears
in the sky), realise that thinking in essence is
awareness. Understanding this, thinking cannot
Do you see anything wrong with this statement?
Dennis Waite: First of all, Bob is using the term
‘awareness’, where most would use ‘Consciousness’.
But this is OK because he is following Nisargadatta.
It is not that what he says is wrong, it is that it
implies that ignorance cannot obscure
Self-knowledge, whereas it can and does. But then
maybe he didn’t intend this connotation. Without the
complete context in which the statement was made, it
is not possible to say. If he did mean to imply
this, one might as well say that, since everything
is Brahman (or Consciousness), therefore there is
nothing that can or should be done to attain
enlightenment. And, of course, this is what the neo-advaitins
say – but it is wrong.
NDM: What are your thoughts on James Swartz’
He refers to this on pages 261 and 262 of his book
"How to attain enlightenment". He calls it pseudo
enlightenment or enlightenment sickness.
He says "after realization, usually a strong sense
of goodwill toward everyone arises at this time and
you almost invariably feel that you should share
what you know with others. But before you set out to
do so, you better check you are not suffering from
the disease of enlightenment. It is similar to
enlightenment and is difficult for the sufferer to
diagnose, although it is a well-known malady. It
should be treated quirkily before it becomes a
One benign symptom of enlightenment sickness is
transcendental boredom. It is an understandable and
slightly negative feeling born out of you have
accomplished everything that had to be accomplished
in this life, the realization that what you do from
now on will not fundamentally make any difference –
ignorance is here to stay after all – and the
crystal clarity about the basic emptiness of life.
It is caused by the residual sense of doer ship and
unpurified traces of rajas. You may long for a bit
of excitement and confusion marked your life in
ignorance but you know you cant go back.
If you interpret this nothingness of reality as a
void and become vaguely disillusioned, know that you
have enlightenment sickness, due to unpurified
traces of tamas. Enlightenment is not the experience
of the void. There is no void, only the pureness of
awareness appearing as the void.
If you formulate your enlightenment as a grand
happening and make it into a big story, you have
enlightenment disease. If you hear yourself telling
others you are awakened, or enlightened or "cooked"
you have enlightenment sickness.
If you believe that your words are gospel and your
deeds whether they correspond to common sense or not
and with reason, or whether they are in harmony with
dharma and tradition, are a teaching stratagem , you
need help". End of quote.
Dennis Waite: James Swartz is excellent! He may not
be the best Western teacher in the world but he is
almost certainly the best Western teacher for the
typical satsang attendee. He doesn’t pull any
punches, correcting all of the mistaken views out
there regarding spiritual ‘seeking’. I’m glad you
asked this question because I’ve been reading this
book for the past 2 – 3 months but, because I always
have so many books on the go at any one time, it
takes me ages to get through any particular one.
Having now read the last chapter, it prompts me to
review the book on Amazon and hopefully get others
reading it too. (It goes without saying that it
merits 5* - more if they were available.) The one
thing I would add to what he says is that I don’t
think that all of those teachers exhibiting the
symptoms actually have the disease. I fear that
there may be a few who are knowingly taking
advantage, deliberately adopting all of the expected
traits and learning the key phrases off by heart so
that they can simply earn an enjoyable and easy
living at others’ expense – cynical this may be but
I do fear it is true.
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