Advaita Vision


Advaita for the 21st Century

Questions and Answers
Dennis Waite

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Dennis photo

How to Meet Yourself cover   The Book of One cover  Back to the Truth cover

Read extracts from and purchase my books: For beginners to Advaita - 'How to Meet Yourself (and find true happiness);
For intermediate Advaita students - 'The Book of One';
For advanced students - 'Back to the Truth: 5000 Years of Advaita'.

All my books take the stance that ‘I have been looking into advaita as a teaching that explains the nature of self and reality and this is what I have found so far’. I do not teach – hold no satsangs or residential courses. I just write books. I have never claimed to be a teacher of any sort nor do I claim to be writing/replying according to purely traditional methods. In fact, 'Back to the Truth' quotes from all manner of teachers, including neo-advaitin ones. It is certainly the case that 'Enlightenment: the Path through the Jungle' advocates traditional teaching as the only reliable system and I stand by that. It is possible, therefore, that some readers may have made the assumption that I have some (traditional) authority - but this is their assumption, not my claim.

I am still learning, so that what I say should always be treated as my current understanding. According to the teaching tradition of Vedanta, there are several levels of assimilation necessary before one arrives at the pAramArthika, or absolute understanding - that all that exists is one non-dual reality. Sometimes, my views do not accurately reflect the position that would be taken from within the tradition. This is especially the case with regard to some of those topics which relate to the relative order of reality (vyavahAra), such as Ishvara, karma, reincarnation and free will. My own views tend to be more reflective of what traditional teachings have to say about the pAramArthika and do not necessarily include all that those same teachings have to say about vyavahAra.

The following are questions that I have answered via email or comments I have made in discussions on email groups. I will eventually group questions into related topics.

Question (or topic of question):

  1. Why has no realized man written a book?
  2. Do thoughts create our reality?
  3. Purpose, satyam and mithyA.
  4. Watching and thinking.
  5. Feelings.
  6. Is watching thoughts/feelings of any value?
  7. What is the practice of Advaita Vedanta?
  8. Does it rely on faith? Is it a religion?
  9. What is your view on free will?
  10. Do you have any comments on the (reported) sex/money behavior of Ramesh?
  11. Is enlightenment personal?
  12. Why am I not all-powerful?
  13. Does the acceptance of Advaita lead to a life of passivity?
  14. How did being come into being?
  15. Can meditation bring about enlightenment?
  16. Is it impossible to do anything that Brahman doesn't want?
  17. If so, then there is no way we can do anything 'wrong'?
  18. Everything is 'scripted' and known by Brahman?
  19. Are jIva-s reincarnated until they realize?
  20. Does our "sense of self" have the egoic power to manipulate reality?
  21. If there is no free will, how can our attitude to life change?
  22. Doesn't this contradict the idea that there is no thinker or doer?
  23. Do those who have awakened live in reality?
  24. Is suffering 'necessary'?
  25. Is there an ego involved in the spiritual teacher who has a 'calling' to teach?
  26. Who (in my opinion) most embodies the principles of Advaita today?
  27. Similarities between Christian Science and Advaita. Concern with results.
  28. Christian Science continued - Nature of reality.
  29. The monastic lifestyle.
  30. Is it true that nothing matters? How do we know the Self is not another mind construct?
  31. A satsang teacher 'laid his hands' on a disciple. Could you explain what was going on?
  32. Isn't enlightenment a permanent state of peace and happiness?
  33. Discussion on terms 'happiness' and 'suffering.
  34. (Sanskrit) Why is the 'm' in saMsAra pronounced as an 'n'?
  35. Is study of the scriptures a waste of time?
  36. Meditation - One without a second?
  37. Does the World exist independently of the perceiver?
  38. A question about depression and anti-depressants.
  39. Would you please tell us about your own Awakening?
  40. How can the elements and guNa-s be both real and unreal?
  41. Does the mind exercise self-preservation?
  42. What is knowledge?
  43. How can one replace ordinary desires by a desire for the Self?
  44. How can the mind help us to achieve enlightenment if it is illusory?
  45. Is it possible to 'transmit' enlightenment?
  46. Who is it who awakens?
  47. What would happen to the soul if a person were cloned?
  48. Should we be happy, no matter what we are doing?
  49. Is the 'Law of Attraction' a useful tool?
  50. If lIlA is true, why is there enlightenment?
  51. Why can't I feel your sensations?
  52. Is truth relative?
  53. On the teaching of Ramana Maharshi.
  54. Floating with the stream of life.
  55. Stopping the mind.
  56. Is a still mind important?
  57. What is the difference between non-dualism and monism?
  58. The simplicity of 'not two'.
  59. Communicating with others (about advaita).
  60. How do we reconcile the actionless Self with action in the universe?
  61. What is the mind?
  62. Could you explain the words of the Buddha, regarding suffering?
  63. Could you say something about practice with reference to bhakti and j~nAna in bringing about enlightenment?
  64. Reality of the world.
  65. Another question regarding free will.
  66. How does the message of Advaita deal with the possibility of spirits?
  67. Don't traditional and neo-Advaita point to the same thing?
  68. Destruction of the ego.
  69. Why is there so much misinformation about enlightenment?
  70. Further questions on the dialog with Jeff Foster (see Q67).
  71. A question on Ramana Maharshi's method of Self-inquiry.
  72. What should be the life-style of an "enlightened" person in todays world?
  73. Language and reality.
  74. More on Life after enlightenment.
  75. More concerns about the teaching of neo-Advaita.
  76. A question about Michael Langford's interpretation of Ramana Mahrshi's teaching.
  77. 'A little investigation is all it takes' (Charlie Hayes) .
  78. Experience versus faith.
  79. Do we have a choice about whether to become enlightened?
  80. Is 'I am' the content?
  81. Meditation Technique of Michael Langford.
  82. What does it mean to say that we are 'one with God'?
  83. You really seem to have got it in for the modern nondualism teachers.
  84. 'No-path' teaching and neo-advaita.
  85. svadharma and Hitler.
  86. How can I be brahman yet not know brahman?
  87. Pairs of opposites.
  88. Traditional Vs Neo-Advaita Debate.
  89. Why should I be afraid of a thought?
  90. What is the difference between samAdhi and the deep sleep state?
  91. (A long question and answer about) knowledge, science and enlightenment.
  92. (A very long question and answer about) Ignorance and Enlightenment (continuing from the previous Q & A).
  93. Concerns for the environment.
  94. Are some people unable to be sufficiently detached from the suffering of the world?
  95. Insight and spiritual paths.
  96. The qualities of Krishna in Advaita.
  97. Meditation on objects and asking 'who am I?'.
  98. 'Giving up on the relative'.
  99. On the existence of Consciousness.
  100. Is there evil in brahman?
  101. Some questions about karma yoga.
  102. How did we become ignorant?
  103. On the relationship between brahman and mAyA.
  104. On reading a single text as a practice.
  105. On experiences, enlightenment and contentment.
  106. On the confusion between liberation and enlightenment.
  107. How do you pronounce advaita?
  108. On being in the present and j~nAna yoga.
  109. Studying the Upanishads and goal of man.
  110. Experience of dying.
  111. ) Questions on
  112. ) neo-advaita 'teaching'
  113. ) and the new book.
  114. ) Is Ramesh
  115. ) enlightened?
  116. Does mAyA hava a context?
  117. Some comments on 'Enlightenment' E-Book.
  118. Reading (Back to the Tuth) and practice.
  119. Lots of questions on the 'Enlightenment' E-Book.
  120. Problem of good and evil.
  121. Can one 'get it' overnight?
  122. Why do you have links to neo-advaitins?
  123. Does nothing matter?
  124. More questions on Enlightenment E-Book (Continuation of Q. 119).
  125. On Happiness and Choice.
  126. Is there only knowledge?
  127. On the desire for making money.
  128. Where is the 'bliss' of pure being?
  129. How does one move towards enlightenment in advaita?
  130. Does advaita endorse man's dominion?
  131. Is there room for individuality in Brahman?
  132. Anti-depressants and spiritual progress.
  133. An alcoholic looking for happiness.
  134. Is my understanding of Advaita correct?
  135. Are there other people having subjective experiences?
  136. Are teachers x and y neo-advaitins?
  137. How do you rationalise your lack of belief in free-will with traditional advaita?
  138. Body, memory and reincarnation.
  139. j~nAna yoga and the Brahma Sutras.
  140. On shabda pramANa and knowing the Self.
  141. Question about mAyA and its origin.
  142. On the notion of a 'witness'.
  143. On the 'silly arguments' between traditional and neo.
  144. On Near Death Experiences and communication with the dead.
  145. Do the enlightened suffer pain?
  146. Surely individuals cannot have multiple lives?
  147. On the merits of neo-advaita, with particular reference to Jeff Foster.
  148. Why do people have near-death experiences?
  149. Was Nisargadatta a neo-advaitin?
  150. I'm not sure that my goal is enlightenment.
  151. [I've had a powerful religious experience and wonder if it is enlightenment.]
  152. Who is it who awakens?
  153. How can brahman be indescribable and yet be said to be sat-chit-Ananda?
  154. After realization, can one simply enjoy reading books by neo-advaitins?
  155. Why do you recommend books by neo-advaitins? (See also question 122)
  156. Is there a distinction between consciousness and awareness?
  157. Is our sense of 'being' only a reflection of the absolute?
  158. Is there an easy translation of the Mandukya Upanishad?
  159. What are your top 10 (5) books? Which would you most want to keep (not including 'Back to the Truth'?
  160. How does one convert 'partial' enlightenment into 'complete' enlightenment?
  161. If a teacher has not completely eradicated his saMskAra-s, can he call himself enlightened?
  162. Do you feel the need to write about advaita? Is this the ego?
  163. Are dreamed people real?
  164. How can traditional be 'better' than 'neo'?
  165. Some more short questions on my criticism of neo-advaita.
  166. Regarding mAyA.
  167. Am 'I' the 'sense of I'?
  168. If one person becomes enlightened, why does not everyone else?
  169. Are only unenlightened jIva-s reincarnated?
  170. More criticism of the traditional versus neo-advaitin debates.
  171. I have problems with the notion of 'choice' and 'doing'.
  172. Could you give me your opinion of Gangaji?
  173. How does one cope with anger?
  174. Do I need to learn Sanskrit?
  175. Can one still attain enlightenment if one blasphemes against brahman?
  176. After all jIva-s have attained enlightenment, might lIlA start all over again?
  177. Does Self-realization arise as the result of dissolution of all beliefs?
  178. Is there choice at the moment of awakening?
  179. On Ramana Maharshi's 'Who am I?'
  180. Why is 'OM namo...' sometimes written 'OM namaH...'?
  181. What does chidAbhAsa mean?
  182. A question about adhyAsa.
  183. A discussion on kuNDalinI yoga.
  184. On functioning in the world post-enlightenment.
  185. Why do we suffer, while God does not?
  186. Further objections to the criticism of neo-advaita.
  187. Everyone is as enlightened as everyone else.
  188. How do we know that the seat of awareness is not in the brain?
  189. Aren't 'truth', 'justice', 'faith' etc real?
  190. What is the relation between 'waking consciousness' and brahman?
  191. The experience of a j~nAnI.
  192. Do you make a distinction between Awareness and Consciousness?
  193. Is advaita fatalistic?
  194. A question about the enlightened 'person'.
  195. On the need for a teacher.
  196. On shravaNa, manana and nididhyAsana.
  197. How can different philosophies derive from the same sciptures?
  198. On traditional teaching and 'methods'.
  199. 'The sound current.'
  200. On the freedom to dedicate bhAvana (mental attitude).
  201. On the Ramakrishna Order.
  202. Various paths to enlightenment.
  203. Getting rid of the false sense of 'I'.
  204. My understanding is only intellectual.
  205. Can one 'lose' enlightenment?
  206. The role of the mind in enlightenment.
  207. On the 'changelessness' of brahman.
  208. On selfishness versus selflessness and svadharma.
  209. What is meant by 'Consciousness is not the final reality'?
  210. On the mind, brain and Buddhism.
  211. How should one reconcile spiritual seeking and career?
  212. What does Nisargadatta mean by Consciousness 'coming out of' Awareness?
  213. On the mind, brain and reality.
  214. On the concept of 'Beingness'.
  215. On requesting payment for teaching.
  216. How does one reconcile 'right action' with helping others?
  217. Is it necessary to practise karma yoga etc in order to understand the higher teaching?
  218. How can I be the creator of the world and yet the world is an illusion?
  219. Why don't I come to know everything on enlightenment?
  220. Are the vAsanA-s stored in the causal or subtle body?
  221. If given the choice between liberation from rebirth, and rebirth with self-knowledge, which should one choose?
  222. What about people who are clearly enlightened but claim they are not?
  223. Is there a difference between the observer and the observed or not?
  224. I have difficulty trying to 'see' my thoughts.
  225. The nature of jIvanmukti.
  226. The concept of shabdha pramANa.
  227. The perils and pitfalls of Neo-Advaita.
  228. Is Advaita a cure for life?
  229. The Release Technique?
  230. Nondualism - a question of definition.
  231. Neo versus traditional Advaita... again.
  232. Consciousness, brahman and samAdhi.
  233. Awareness vs Consciousness Part I of II.
  234. Awareness vs Consciousness Part II of II.
  235. brahman and the mind.
  236. Enlightenment.
  237. The relative status of jIva, world, Ishvara and brahman.
  238. The mind and the I-thought.
  239. The content of enlightenment.
  240. Enlightenment, meditation and mithyA.
  241. Karma and reincarnation.
  242. apauruSheya.
  243. The last rug.
  244. Teachers.
  245. The enlightened dream?
  246. Knowledge versus experience.
  247. Neo-Advaita.
  248. Free will.
  249. Ignorance and existence.
  250. Finding a teacher.
  251. Neo-Advaita and meditation.
  252. Choice.
  253. Behavior of the guru.
  254. Near-death experiences.
  255. Enlightenment and the brain.
  256. Self-realization - why bother?
  257. Enlightenment and the nature of reality.
  258. Traditional Advaita versus Neo-Advaita... once more.
  259. Describing brahman.
  260. Different approaches and practices.
  261. Ignorance.
  262. Consciousness and the Brain.
  263. Death.
  264. Japa.
  265. Rituals.
  266. samAdhi.
  267. No more questions...
  268. 'Knowledge' series.
  269. Why is not everyone interested in Advaita?
  270. The Void.
  271. Inquiry into the nature of 'I'.
  272. How does a plant grow without an observer?
  273. nirvANa.
  274. Practical requirements for studying advaita.
  275. Who is the individual?
  276. Who is afraid/angry?
  277. Need to 'resonate' with a guru.
  278. Enlightenment at the end of the universe.
  279. Does an object exist before we see it?
  280. Direct Path and the 'intellectual mind'.
  281. saMskAra and memory.
  282. Qualified guru.
  283. Consciousness.
  284. brahman and mAyA.
  285. Shankara and advaita.
  286. Nothingness.
  287. Choice.
  288. Enlightenment.
  289. vyavahAra.
  290. Self-knowledge.
  291. Truths.
  292. Do we have to read certain scriptures?
  293. prArabdha karma and reincarnation.
  294. Suffering and neo-advaita.
  295. Does a j~nAnI still see the world?
  296. Emotions and enlightenment.
  297. Cause of creation.
  298. I am not the reflection.
  299. Ignorance and the Self.
  300. Advaita and Buddhism.
  301. Why do we see duality?
  302. Meditation.
  303. Pursuing enlightenment and rebirth.
  304. Questions (and answers) continue at Advaita Vision.

If you want to ask a question, and do not object to its being included in this section, please email me.

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Page last updated: 26-Sep-2012