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Advaita Vedanta - ancient wisdom Options
 
nen888
#1 Posted : 1/28/2014 1:15:32 AM
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Advaita Vedanta is probably the highest developed form of Indian philosophy/spirituality, and comes from the teachings of the Upanishads, and Vedas (at least 2-3000 years old)

Advaita ('not two') refers to the Atman (the 'self' in the larger meaning ) , non-dual, as the foundation of reality

Vedanta means 'the end of the Vedas', meaning that the Upanishads are both physically at the end of the Vedic texts, and are the highest form of wisdom deriving from them

it was particularly strengthened by the philosopher-monk Adi Shankara (Shankaracharya) in the 8th century..he founded the order of swamis..

we can see from it's writings that the study of Mind in a serious manner was happening in India long before western psychology (only 150 or so years old)

it has been 'corrupted' in the view of many in recent times by the mostly western 'Neo-Advaita', of which the wikipedia entry is half criticism...this popular modern form does not emphasise the work and training required to achieve higher states, and just kind of goes straight to 'Non-dualism/all is one' without the tools or techniques to grasp this...hence it is abused by many new agers..i can't stand people who just say 'all is one' like a slogan, without having done any deep thought or meditation..also, i am not into the 'guru' thing..
real Vedanta is about rational thought..

the original Vedanta is highly developed and logical in it's premises

..whatever your orientation, whether spiritual in any form or simply logical/non-spiritual, i highly recommend this talk by Swami Sarvapriyananda-"PURPOSEFUL LIVING WITH VEDANTA", given at the IIT university in 2012, as an introduction to the principles of Vedanta..it's a very good talk..

 

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jamie
#2 Posted : 1/28/2014 1:59:32 AM

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great stuff nen thanks!

Long live the unwoke.
 
universecannon
#3 Posted : 1/28/2014 6:17:50 AM



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cool, thanks dude :]



<Ringworm>hehehe, it's all fun and games till someone loses an "I"
 
nen888
#4 Posted : 1/28/2014 7:48:49 AM
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^^..thanks jamie & universecannon ..


a key understanding of Atman is that it is the 'witness'...the observer..of mind..of experience...
ultimately the same for all points of view..
.


it's worth noting (for the Nexus perspective) that the visionary plant derived drink Soma is mentioned 130 times in the Vedas..(i will start a thread on Soma soon, as i've done a lot of research)
..but the Vedas are partly a guide to all aspects of daily life..
the vedanta path emphasises regular practice in both physical and mental exercise, health etc....through practice and effort..there is no instant 'samadhi' which lasts..

ultimately, it's a practical system..
.

some more vedanta wisdom/philosophy below..
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zhoro
#5 Posted : 1/29/2014 12:03:52 PM

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nen888, have you studied Ramana Maharshi?
Here it is - right now. Start thinking about it and you miss it. ~ Huang-po
 
nen888
#6 Posted : 1/29/2014 12:30:31 PM
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zhoro wrote:
nen888, have you studied Ramana Maharshi?

..not in great depth to be honest zhoro..for many years i associated Maharshi with his devotees (the guru thing) rather than his teachings, and had been exposed to too much 'Neo-Advaita'..however i would like to appreciate his work more..he is often associated with Advaita Vedanta, though was not strictly in any tradition afaik..

.. Adi Shankaracharya's (Shankara) commentaries on the Upanishads was what i first resonated with..so, it was the 'old school' that caught my attention..

thank you for raising Maharshi, zhoro..

 
Amygdala
#7 Posted : 1/29/2014 1:09:42 PM

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nen888 wrote:
this popular modern form does not emphasise the work and training required to achieve higher states, and just kind of goes straight to 'Non-dualism/all is one' without the tools or techniques to grasp this...hence it is abused by many new agers..i can't stand people who just say 'all is one' like a slogan, without having done any deep thought or meditation..also, i am not into the 'guru' thing..
real Vedanta is about rational thought..




Thanks for your post - I would like to offer a difference of opinion on this segment however (assuming I am reading you correctly) -

I don't think it takes work to realize the union of self with everything… I think that people experience their union with everything all the time, otherwise they wouldn't experience anything at all. For me it is less of an acquisitive process of 'tools and techniques' and more of an "unlearning" of conceptual models that clarifies the 'all is one' experience.

To put it another way, I think that pre-linguistic infants are perhaps the most mystical of all humans - there is no separation of self and other, no naming of things, just experience. I think that this prelinguistic experience is available to anyone who makes the effort to turn their head off for a minute and just be.

I agree with your disdain for gurus - they are totally unnecessary, and anyone who claims they 'get it' likely doesn't. My difference in opinion lies mostly that I don't think it requires any training at all to experience unity with the universe- quite the opposite. As soon as I STOP trying, there it is, and there it always has been. I can't name it, any time I try to wrap my head around it, it goes away. All I have to do is be what I was from day 1.

Perhaps I am wrong, but so far it works for me. Interested to hear your thoughts on this.
“What goes on inside is just too fast and huge and all interconnected for words to do more than barely sketch the outlines of at most one tiny little part of it at any given instant.” - David Foster Wallace
 
nen888
#8 Posted : 1/29/2014 1:58:14 PM
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..thank you for your post Amygdala..i enjoyed it and ultimately agree..

if my limited understanding of Maharshi is correct, then i think that's a bit like what he says..Smile

from what i understand..where i think your perspective aligns with 'Vedic' Vedantism, Adi Shakara (order of swamis) etc..is when you say
(and this is post-linguistic, sure)
Quote:
I think that this prelinguistic experience is available to anyone who makes the effort to turn their head off for a minute and just be.
(illtaics mine)
Quote:
For me it is less of an acquisitive process of 'tools and techniques' and more of an "unlearning" of conceptual models that clarifies the 'all is one' experience.

..the 'techniques' if you like (e.g. meditation, regular eating and sleep, caring for others, chanting, yoga, even perhaps soma) ,could be said (post-linguistically) to be to 'unlearn' conceptualisation..yes
..conceptualisation happens in mind..in it's observations of mind, Vedanta offers practical techniques to focus on that which observes the mind, which is not mind..
'turning one's mind off' is not easy for many..vedanta is also philosophy, life advice, dharma (doing helpful and caring deeds for others), and sharing spiritual knowledge..all 'tools', if you like..

they're just trying to stay increasingly more at that level of that awareness..but this is a rather crude summary
..the Swami dude^ is the expert..
but you're not wrong Amygdala ..
.



here's a shorter one from the same seminar: "Message of the Upanishads":

 
Amygdala
#9 Posted : 1/29/2014 9:39:59 PM

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Thanks for your reply, nen888.

I would like to learn more…. I will go over the videos when I have more time, but curious if you have some suggested reading on the subject. They block youtube at work, and when I have downtime, printed text is usually the easiest to lose myself in.

I haven't picked up the actual upanishads in quite a few years - I think I remember finding them difficult to navigate without much of a background…. maybe I'll give them another go. Are there certain upanishad texts that are more specific to the Vedanta perspective?
“What goes on inside is just too fast and huge and all interconnected for words to do more than barely sketch the outlines of at most one tiny little part of it at any given instant.” - David Foster Wallace
 
zhoro
#10 Posted : 1/30/2014 3:47:49 AM

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Hi nen, I can understand your distaste for the guru scene. I was a part of such a scene for a period of time with an Indian guru who is physically alive today and I even became ‘a teacher’ within his organization. He taught many aspects of the Indian spiritual traditions, including Advaita concepts, but the greatest emphasis was on some very powerful experiential breathing practices. Ultimately, I felt the dynamic of that scene was counterproductive, exactly because it was placing an inordinate amount of emphasis on the person of the guru, and left.

Ramana’s teachings immediately appealed to me exactly because they are very practical, extremely simple and to the point. He emphasized the direct method of Self Inquiry, bringing every other inquiry to the question of who it is that is making the inquiry, which is the gateway to greater things.

I have not been a part of the devotee scene around Ramana, although I do feel a very, very deep affection for him. But that is not different from how I feel about other outlets of Advaitic teachings, be it Vasistha, Ashtavakra or countless others. My practice has been very private. And, from the distance of my current position, I can also appreciate how all that happened before had its place and usefulness, and was the only way things could have happened. I don’t have an aversion to the guru scene any more. The very fact that it exists shows that it is necessary. Different people have different proclivities, starting positions and needs at different times. Things evolve perfectly.

After all, consider that there was a guru scene around Adi (The First) Shankaracharya, the man who is known as one of the most “intellectual” of masters. In fact, it is often related that, out of his four main disciples, it was the least intellectually-prone one, the most devotionally-inclined one, who first fully realized Shankara’s teachings in his own experience. It is not inconceivable that, had we witnessed the scene and the hype around him, both of us and Amygdala may have been turned off by the phenomenon of Adi Shankaracharya. And he did become quite a phenomenon in his day, traveling the land and holding public discourses and debates with many. For some of us, it is certainly easier to relate to the teachings in their abstract form without associating them with a living person, in whom undoubtedly we can find flaws. For others, the personal element is essential. Some need special practices for the body and the breath, mantras, entheogens, etc. For yet another group, albeit smaller, no external teaching or aid is necessary at all. Everyone gets what they need, it’s lovely stuff. Smile

As far as advaitic texts go, here are a few that I have loved:

Yoga Vasistha – this is a larger text that constitutes a complete instruction cycle at progressively deeper levels of understanding culminating in non-dual realization; the setting is a royal court, in which one of the princes, Rama, is undergoing an existential crisis and is becoming despondent trying to find meaning in life; this deems him fit for spiritual instruction, which the sage Vasistha carries out over a period of time leading to Rama’s liberation. A magical text.

Ashtavakra Gita – a very to-the-point expression of advaitic knowledge; again the setting is a royal court; this time, it is the king, Janaka, who is experiencing crisis but he is a very mature seeker who is fit for the highest level of instruction almost from the get-go.

Shankaracharya’s Viveka Chudamani (The Crown Jewel of Discrimination), of course; also Atma Bodha.

Mandukya Upanishad – this I have with lovely commentary in a book called Advaitic Sadhana by Ramana’s disciple S.S. Cohen.

As you can probably tell, the topic of Advaita Vedanta is one that is very close to my heart. Cheers! Smile
Here it is - right now. Start thinking about it and you miss it. ~ Huang-po
 
nen888
#11 Posted : 1/30/2014 10:25:15 AM
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..hey thank you for that zhoro..and also for the reading suggestions..much appreciated, great to have your insights on the topic.. ..and i see your point on Adi Shankaracharya, and certainly miraculous events are ascribed to him..
i don't object to devotion..on that level i take to shaktism..but devotion is experiential to the individual..whereas as rational argument is transmittable..
it's through (hopefully healthy) skepticism that i eventually weed through the gardens of ideas for what resonates..
cheers also, zhoro..Smile
.



 
Elpo
#12 Posted : 1/30/2014 1:21:59 PM

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Hi nen,

Thanks for the great info, I was wondering:

- What kind of meditation technique do you practice?

- Is there a good translation of the Vedas including the Upanishads to be found?

- Do you also do yoga and if yes what kind?

"It permits you to see, more clearly than our perishing mortal eye can see, vistas beyond the horizons of this life, to travel backwards and forwards in time, to enter other planes of existence, even (as the Indians say) to know God." R. Gordon Wasson
 
nen888
#13 Posted : 1/31/2014 3:36:22 AM
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..hi Elpo..i should say that i don't follow any one particular system of spirituality, or technique with regards to meditation or yoga..i have spent more time learning with 'indigenous' peoples than with teachers of indian knowledge, though a few have come my way over the years..i have more come to appreciate the wisdom of vedanta in the past few years..
it is the philosophy which drew my interest..and also a profound vision of Durga about seven years ago led me to look at sanskrit writings more..

i find learning and chanting mantras particularly helpful to my personal practice.
in terms of meditation for me it's pretty simple..{edit: i expand on it post after next}..though i sometimes ponder the 'Devi' before meditation..so no there isn't any one system i use..
similarly with physical yoga, i have more accumulated various postures from others and integrated these with my own, though a friend who is a teacher has said i tend towards Ashtanga yoga..so i am still a student of life, and combine multiple systems..

as for the Vedas, i have attached a pdf translation of the 4 Vedas below..
i tend to just take in snippets at a time...a lot of the Vedas are devotional prayer, as well as instructive stories..

a good entry point to the Upanishads is http://www.holybooks.com...n-principal-upanishads/
or else Vivekananda's translation, pdf here: http://www.vivekananda.n...ooks/The_Upanishads.pdf

 
zhoro
#14 Posted : 1/31/2014 4:14:39 AM

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A few excerpts of Ramana's teachings that indicate the framework and contain pointers to the method.

"If you take the appearance to be real you will never know the Real itself, although it is the Real alone that exists."

"Reality is simply the loss of the ego. Destroy the ego by seeking its identity. Because the ego is no entity it will automatically vanish and Reality will shine forth by itself. This is the direct method."

"Whichever path may be followed it ends in `I' and the investigation of the nature of the `I-thought'. Its elimination is the sadhaka's hardest task. But what could be easier than to fall back on the experiencer and to ask oneself who perceives and who sees with each experience?"

"All methods of sadhana (practice) lead to one-pointedness of the mind; thus distraction or the vikshepa of the mind may be overcome, but the veiling or the avarana might still remain. If blankness prevails, unless one persists with the question, "To whom is the blankness? Who am I??" and holds a receptive attitude with absolute surrender for the grace to prevail, the veiling is not removed."

"One day the door is opened and the meditator is merged in the ever-present, all-pervading peace. The peace is so profound and all absorbing that the sadhaka cannot give up till it is constant and abiding. A true sadhana begins and his inner monitor will guide him till that state is reached."

"My reward consists in your permanent unbroken bliss. Do not slip away from it", says the guru to a devotee in Kaivalya Navanita. This is endless Ramana-Consciousness."

"What are the hindrances to the realization of the true Self?

Memory chiefly, habits of thought, accumulated tendencies.

How does one get rid of these hindrances?

Seek for the Self through meditation in this manner. Trace every thought back to its origin, which is only the mind. Never allow thought to run on. If you do, it will be unending. Take it back to its starting place -- the mind -- again and again, and it and the mind will both die of inaction. The mind only exists by reason of thought. Stop that and there is no mind. As each doubt and depression arises, ask yourself, 'Who is it that doubts? What is it that is depressed?' Go back constantly to the question, 'Who is the "I"? Where is it?' Tear everything away until there is nothing but the Source of all left. And then -- live always in the present and only in it. There is no past and future, save in the mind."

"What effort is necessary for reaching the Self?

‘I’ should be destroyed. Self is not to be reached. Is there any
moment when Self is not? It is not new. Be as you are. What is new
cannot be permanent. What is real must always exist."

"Annamalai Swami (a Self-realized disciple of Ramana's): Initially, abidance in the Self may not be firm and irreversible. Vigilance may be needed to maintain it.

There is a verse in Kaivalya Navaneeta that Bhagavan often quoted. It speaks of the need for vigilance even after the Self has been experienced for the first time. In this verse the disciple is speaking to his Guru:

'Lord, you are the reality remaining as my inmost Self, ruling me during all my countless incarnations! Glory to you who have put on an external form to instruct me. I do not see how I can repay your grace for having liberated me. Glory! Glory to your holy feet!'

The Guru replies:

'To stay fixed in the Self without the three kinds of obstacles [ignorance, uncertainty and wrong knowledge] obstructing your experience, is the highest return you can render me.'

The Guru knows that without vigilance, an initial experience of the Self may slip away.

Q: Why is this experience not enough?

Annamalai Swami: If vasanas are still there, they will rise up again and the experience will be lost. While they are there, there is always the possibility that we may again take the unreal to be real.

If we take the mirage to be real water, that is ignorance. Similarly, if we take the unreal body to be the Self, that is also ignorance. As soon as ignorance comes, you must question it. 'To whom does this ignorance come?' A strong determination to pursue enquiry in this way will dissolve all doubts. By questioning 'Who am I?' and by constantly meditating, one comes to the clarity of being.

As long as vasanas continue to exist they will rise and cover the reality, obscuring awareness of it. As often as you become aware of them, question, 'To whom do they come?' This continuous enquiry will establish you in your own Self and you will have no further problems. When you know that the snake of the mind never existed, when you know that the rope of reality is all that exists, doubts and fears will not trouble you again."

"Is success not dependent on Guru's Grace?

Yes, it is. Is not your practice itself due to such Grace? The fruits are the result of the practice and follow it automatically. There is a stanza in 'Kaivalya' which says, " O Guru! You have been always with me watching me through several incarnations, and organizing my course until I was liberated." The Self manifests externally as Guru when occasion arises; otherwise He is always within, doing the needful."

"Consciousness is always Self-consciousness. If you are conscious of anything you are essentially conscious of yourself. Unselfconscious existence is a contradiction in terms. It is no existence at all. It is merely attributed existence, whereas true Existence, the sat, is not an attribute, it is the Substance itself. It is the vastu. Reality is therefore known as sat-chit, Being-Consciousness, and never merely the one to the exclusion of the other. The world neither exists by itself, nor is it conscious of its existence. How can you say that such a world is real?

"And what is the nature of the world? It is perpetual change, a continuous, interminable flux. A dependent, unselfconscious, ever-changing world cannot be real."

"Some time, after the stillness of thought intervened, I used to hear first some sound resembling that which one would hear if he were in the midst of or near a rolling mill,
and then, a little later, a sound like that of a steam-engine whistle. This was only during meditation when I was at home, but here the sound is heard at all times, irrespective of whether I am before you or am walking round the ashram. (Note: The present experience is that the sound is like that of a humming bee).

Ramana: Ask who hears the sound. Repeat the question now and then."

"Why should Self-enquiry alone be considered the direct means to jnana (non-dual knowledge-experience)?

Ramana: Because every kind of sadhana except that of Atma Vichara presupposes the retention of the mind as the instrument for carrying out the sadhana [?], and without the mind it cannot be practised. The ego may take different and subtler forms at different stages of one's practice, but itself is never destroyed. The attempt to destroy the ego or the mind through sadhanas other than Atma vichara, is just like the thief turning policeman to catch the thief, that is, himself. Atma vichara alone can reveal the truth that neither the ego nor the mind really exists, and enables one to realize the pure, undifferentiated Being of the Self or the Absolute. Having realized the Self, nothing remains to be known, because it is perfect Bliss, it is All."

"The mind will only subside by means of the enquiry 'Who am I?' The thought 'Who am I?', destroying all other thoughts, will itself be finally destroyed like the stick used for stirring the funeral pyre."
Here it is - right now. Start thinking about it and you miss it. ~ Huang-po
 
nen888
#15 Posted : 1/31/2014 6:46:49 AM
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^..great advice and technique thanks zhoro..


i guess to go into my meditation approach more, while i certainly have asked the 'who am I?' question many times, and it is the most effective of all questions, i often take a slightly different approach which is influenced by my indigenous training..

what i attempt to do is move my focus from thought towards pure perception in each moment..in other words, the Now..
thoughts are not in the now, as they involve memory and categorisation..

it starts with outward rather than inward focus (the indigenous approach having the benefit of sitting in nature, but it still works in city) ..i become as focused on perception in each moment as possible - sounds, wind etc - without allowing thought to define or analyse them..the more intent on perceiving the more thoughts must be silent to allow this..i focus on extending outwards such that my inner process becomes increasingly perceptional..as thoughts cease the increased perception leads towards perception of What is perceiving..
which leads to the same place as the question 'who am i?'
the boundary between observer and environment is being dissolved..(such a mode of acute perception is similar to the mode of the old school hunter or gatherer moving through the environment)

so, the approach still arises from the question 'Who Am I?'..and seeks to resolve it through focused observation..

but yes, like the first quote you gave zhoro, it is not the appearance which is eventually seen to be real..but only the actually Reality itself...the observer (or dreamer) , or consciousness, etc.

thank you again for your post zhoro...very helpful..
 
Elpo
#16 Posted : 1/31/2014 7:40:58 AM

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Thanks a lot for the documents nen!
This is truly an amazing thread.

For someone like me who has recently started with meditation and yoga it is very interesting to get the background of it all as well. That's why I'm drawn to these texts.

Thanks a lot!
"It permits you to see, more clearly than our perishing mortal eye can see, vistas beyond the horizons of this life, to travel backwards and forwards in time, to enter other planes of existence, even (as the Indians say) to know God." R. Gordon Wasson
 
nen888
#17 Posted : 1/31/2014 2:07:14 PM
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^..am glad and thankful Elpo..
.

with regards to entheogens and this topic
...it's the same observing consciousness whether under the effects of DMT, or completely 'straight'..

that said, i do think the insights in the mind with entheogens can allow perspective and understanding of some of the more esoteric aspects of the Vedas (& their philosophy)
but, as with meditation, going beyond mind permits the direct experience..
.
 
joedirt
#18 Posted : 1/31/2014 8:33:47 PM

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nen I just wanted to log in and say what a cool thread. I enjoyed the video as well.

Advaita Vendanta and Buddhism developed during the same period and share a lot. The teachings of no self almost certainly came from Buddhism, but Advaita Vendanta being solidly derived from the much older system of Upanishadic Vedanta keeps a lot of the other devotional aspects in place. I'm quite the fan of both systems actually and find a lot of truth in them.

With that said, and you noted this as well, Western Advaita Vedanta, or neo Advaita Vedanta is a bunch of delusional asshats walking around claiming they are enlightened. Arguing back and forth with each other trying to convince everyone that they are in fact enlightened and that there isn't anything to do. Oh and if you don't clearly see exactly what they are saying then no poblem once you become enlightened you will understand... the emperor has no clothes indeed! They claim there is no reason to meditate or do anything special at all. Just see clearly and you see there is no you. Only problem is seeing no-self clearly is only the first step of this whole process. In Buddhism this realization is what is referred to as stream entry. Full liberation then comes about from the working out of all karmic traces. True Advaita Vedanta knows this as well.

Honestly the neo crowd does a large disservice to Advaita Vedanta IMO. As you noted it is one of the most developed philosophical systems in existence. I'd say Buddhism/Advaita Vedanta are the two that reign supreme in my mind. For me I found the buddhist teachings of dependent origination crucial to finally seeing through the illusion of self. So I naturally lean that direction, but a good friend of mine (Indian) follow the Vedanta path.


Peace
If your religion, faith, devotion, or self proclaimed spirituality is not directly leading to an increase in kindness, empathy, compassion and tolerance for others then you have been misled.
 
Amygdala
#19 Posted : 1/31/2014 9:19:39 PM

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joedirt, ad nen888 -

Is it possible that there is a middle ground between traditional practices of buddhism/vendanta and new-agey flakiness?

I am not being flippant, I am genuinely asking.

My sympathies certainly lie similar to what I have read re: taoist/buddhist philosophy, though I bristle at the idea of labeling myself either of these (no disdain for those who do). I am particularly interested in the no-self concepts… to me they lie well within the stringent boundaries of scientific materialism (another label I would not adorn) - in the sense that if everything that exists is the big bang a little further down the line, then any separation of myself and what is outside of myself is just a mind-game of naming and nouns… I like this idea, it makes me feel more empathetic to other people, and everything else in general. A sort of westernization of the Tao. Doesn't sound out of step with the traditions to me.

I appreciate that everything in existence is entirely temporary - a constantly changing soup of particles and energy of which the 'me' that I would recognize as me is just a temporary manifestation of. This resonates strongly with all of my psychedelic experiences so far.

So my question - do you think it is possible/beneficial to incorporate elements of these philosophies into your life without full immersion in traditional practice? It seems to be working well for me so far, but I am always open to the input of others that are on a somewhat similar path.
“What goes on inside is just too fast and huge and all interconnected for words to do more than barely sketch the outlines of at most one tiny little part of it at any given instant.” - David Foster Wallace
 
joedirt
#20 Posted : 1/31/2014 10:09:54 PM

Not I

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Amygdala wrote:
So my question - do you think it is possible/beneficial to incorporate elements of these philosophies into your life without full immersion in traditional practice? It seems to be working well for me so far, but I am always open to the input of others that are on a somewhat similar path.



Absolutely. I actually don't call myself a Buddhist either, though in truth I find the most inspiration/truth from a mixture of Zen teachings and the Pali teachings... Specifically I have found the teachings of Thich Nhat Hahn to be very inspiring... If you want a pretty in depth book I would checkout "Understanding our mind" by him.. I have read this book several times and continue to deepen my understanding of these matters every time I read it.

BTW I do whole heartedly believe psychedelics can help lead one to the complete understanding of no self. Without a doubt they were instrumental in my break through on this point. However, I think the utility of psychedelics pretty well stops there for this path... and this isn't to say that they have no other use or that they should never be done or enjoyed again. Psychedelics are amazing tools, but they are only tools on this path. Once you see no self you don't need them for this kind of work any more. A hint I will give you here is that the fancy visions basically mean absolutely nothing, (I know I'm about to get flamed for this), but seriously the visions are just more of the same mind stuff that everything else is.

In buddhist terms psychedelic visions are rampant with the 3 characteristics of existence:
1) They are impermanent.
2) Because they are impermanent clinging to them will lead to suffering.
3) Because of 1 and 2 they are also not self.

I think the Buddhist teachings on mindfulness are hugely beneficial in every day life without any of the other philosophical concepts. The Dalai lama agrees and in fact there have been several scientific studies on mindfulness meditation that have also suggested this to be the case.

Honestly mindfulness meditation (vipassana) has done more for me than anything else. I practiced several forms of yoga meditation and had solid concentration before I took up this practice, but this practice continues to strengthen my ability to remain present in this moment. Why is this useful? Well it helps you see things as they arise. In my case anger has been one of my greatest teachers. It turns out that with mindfulness I can see the anger arise, with the complete understanding of no self I understand it's not actually me, and with equanimity built up from a continuous practice of meditation I am able to endure the sensations without becoming immersed in them....

Mindfulness really is the key to finally eclipsing the ego. When your mindfulness is strong you will be able to observe thoughts come and go, but more importantly you will see when the mind feeds back on itself and tries to inject a story line about how there is an 'I' to which things are happening. In truth there isn't anything happening to you or me. We are in fact that which is happening. Understanding noself deeply leads to this realization, but mindfulness enables one to live the teachings...

Some claim (most in the neo Advaita Vedanta) that simply seeing no self is the end game, but in reality you can see through the self and then fall right back into ego. Anyone that has experienced a true ego death under psychedelics knows this to be true. So no self really is only a half teaching in and of itself. If you want to fully walk this path and bring an end to Dukkha then you will have to employ mindfulness to catch the ego overlaying itself on top of reality repeatedly until it finally tires out and disappears... though I have not had that happen yet nor do I really expect it will as long as I am immersed in the world with a job, mortgage, wife, etc...

For me the biggest gain has been greater equanimity in the face of difficulties. I still feel anger, but the anger is observed more as a sensation that moves through my body than something I have become. Thoughts no longer belong to me, but are more like mental suggestions. I am no longer defined in the same way I was before because I understand fully that I am just a part of a continuous manifestation.
If your religion, faith, devotion, or self proclaimed spirituality is not directly leading to an increase in kindness, empathy, compassion and tolerance for others then you have been misled.
 
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