Sunday, August 29, 2010


Dear Sri Harsha-ji, you do not know me but I have followed your postings on and off for many years on many forums and thank you for sharing your profound wisdom and experiences with others. I'd like to share an alternative perspective on the topic of this post and trust you will take it in the spirit of love in which it is offered.

I do not have any problem with how or what you or any one chooses to eat but let us examine what you are saying with respect to Advaita. From the standpoint of pure awareness (Advaita), hunger is a sensation, not a requirement. All actions/sensations/emotions/thoughts/wars/killings of animals and humans are happening in and of their own as a consequence of the infinite power of the field of consciousness (not a `you' or a `me' or any person). Gita teaches that both the experiencer and the experienced are ephemeral, but experiencing itself is an automatic consequence of the field of consciousness, and not even a leaf can move without the power of this impersonal omnipotent field. What is real and eternal is love, joy, peace, beauty, Silence and that holds priority for devotees of Advaita over things of this world like belief systems, wars or killing of animals or plants for food…

If the field placed Arjuna in a situation of war, Krishna's advice is to fight, not run away. Similarly if I happen to be in a country, community or a family where it is normal to serve non-vegetarian, how do you think it make others feel when I refuse to eat because the food they serve does not meet the requirements of my belief system? I submit that a Jnyani eats to make other happy, and not to satisfy his body's hunger. My understanding is that according to the Rig Veda, each level of organic life "sacrifices" its life to the higher and thus karmically sanctifies its life and earns its own evolution to higher forms (life serves higher life). It behooves us as aspirants for Jnyani-tattva to examine all our belief systems and discard those that do not serve.

I was a strict vegetarian for many years until 2003 when I left my home in the Dallas area to visit a family in Austin some 250 miles away for a few days, and they served us what they thought was the holiest food that could be eaten but it was almost completely non-vegetarian! I was making faces when the first meal was served but one of my wise companions told me: "Arvind, from this day forward, you eat what is served. That is the most loving thing you can do for everyone here." Well, Sir, from that point onwards I have followed that advice and have not looked back, in the process earning unsolicited kudos from family and friends who apparently feel freed from the oppression of my previous posture of a strict belief system. To maintain harmony in this world of time and space, wars or killings are necessary else how could negative karma be undone? And so we accept the world as it is and change our perception of it, leaving every one free to be as they are or would be.

Thanks every one for your presence here and thanks be to Thee O Lord, the innermost Self of all, Invisible, Immortal, Unfailing, Unmoved mover of all!

Saturday, August 28, 2010


Yes. Right now, I think I am in my body. My husband is working,
15 feet away. I see us as two individuals in the same room
so dvaita.

Hi Ari,

I didn't have time yesterday to get back to you,
and even today is pretty jam packed, but I wanted
to reply to what you wrote.

First of all, I see that when I replied to your
original question 'What is nonduality?' I made too
many 'jumps,' way too many leaps in logic, which
assumed a familiarity with the teachings of
Advaita/Vedanta, and I see that was a mistake.

So I apologize for any confusion that may have caused.
It's really better, IMO, just to begin at the beginning
and go on from there.

Above you wrote: "Right now, I think I am in my body.
My husband is working, 15 feet away. I see us as two
individuals in the same room so dvaita."

Indeed that is your interpretation of what you are seeing,
and from a certain perspective, (from the perspective of
what one might term 'transactional reality') you are correct.
There are two people in one room doing different things,
thus dvaita.

So let's start there. You said, "Right now, I think I am
in my body." How about substituting these words for that
statement, "Right now, I think that I *am* my body."

I would assume that right now you think that you exist as
a separate body/mind/sense organs individual. Am I right?

Questioning whether this is true or not is a good place
to begin a process which is called 'self-inquiry. '

Would you say that these words, "I am, I exist,
I am a conscious being," apply to you?

If you say yes, (which most people would say), then the
next thing to do is to examine what this existent conscious,
being which you know yourself to be, actually is.

Most people logically assume that their existence/conscious ness
is a product of, and one with, the body mind. And that is
what makes me different from you. Correct?

So there is an exercise one can do, an exercise of inquiry,
asking yourself various questions, while at the same time
making various observations, to see if this is actually true
or not. The exercise goes like this.

Start with your body. Are you aware of various changing
sensations in your body? Does your sense of touch work?
Are you aware of it? If you say yes, then let's go on.

Are you aware that your other sense organs work
(assuming that they do)? You can hear, you can see,
you can taste, you can smell, right? You are aware of
all of those things. They are known to you, and they
change. Right?

Okay, then next, are you aware of the thoughts in your mind?
Are they known? Are you aware of your moods, your emotions,
and thoughts, thoughts such as, 'Now I am doing this or that,
now I am hungry, now I am happy, now I am sad, I was lost in
a day dream, and now I am back to reality, etc,' are you aware
of all of that?

The thoughts in your mind are constantly changing,
correct, and you are aware of them, right?

So, then there is a question to ask, which you might
never have asked yourself before, who or what is aware
of all of the changing experiences of the body/mind?

Is it your mind? Is it a part of your mind?

If it is your mind, then who is aware of that mind?
Is there a mind behind the mind, behind the mind,
behind the mind, and so on into an infinite regress,
or does the 'buck stop,' with that which is aware of,
and lights up, the thoughts in the mind?

This takes some time, some contemplation, and lots of
noticing. Who is aware of the thoughts in the mind?
And does that one change?

It isn't a question one can answer immediately.

It's better to sit with the question for a while,
to ponder it, as it were, to observe that everything
I take to be 'me' changes; and then to ask the question,
'Do I actually change, while everything else I took to be
me changes?'

Everything I take to be 'me,' the body, the senses, the thoughts change, but who is it that is aware of all of them? And does
that one which is aware of them change?

The teachings of Advaita/Vedanta say the buck stops with
the one who is aware of the changes, the one because
of whom the thoughts in the mind are known. The buck stops
with that which 'illumines' the mind, with that because of
which all thoughts in the mind are known.

So then, if you can sit with that understanding for a while,
examine it, and see that it is true, you might ask yourself
certain questions about this one who is aware of the thoughts
in the mind, questions like, does that one change?

This is a very simple exercise, but its results can be
extremely profound.

There is that about you which never changes, which goes
unrecognized amidst all of the changing experiences of
the body/mind. Because it is ever present in exactly the
same way, we don't notice it, until someone points it out
to us.

It may take quite a while to recognize that which is ever
present to the thoughts in the mind, which lights them up,
that which never changes, and because of which anything
having to do with the body/mind/sense organs, is known.

So ask yourself, while the sensations in my body change,
and the objects of sense perception, and my thoughts,
my moods, and emotions change, do I change?

Actually you don't.

It is to this *you,* which doesn't change, that the words,
"I am. I exist. I am a conscious being," actually refer.

In the teachings of Advaita/Vedanta this *you,* which
doesn't change, is sometimes referred to as 'the witness,'
that which is ever present to, and witnessing,
the changing experiences of the body/mind.

Another word for the witness is the atma.

Having stripped off from my self, anything that
changes, anything to do with the body and mind,
we are left with the atma, the unchanging witness
consciousness, in which all changing experience
takes place, and because of which all changing
experiences are known.

Then the teachings of Advaita/Vedanta will guide
you, through another process, to see that, that which
you took to be your bottom line individual unchanging
self, the atma, (the witness) is in fact, brahman,
the unchanging, ever present, self or being of all that is.

And that's another process which I didn't go into above.

What I outlined above is the process of self-inquiry known
in Sanskrit as drig/drisha viveka, which means seer/seen discrimination.

It is a process of making the distinction between that which
doesn't change (the seer) and that which does (the seen).

So just noticing that while everything I took to me changes, (anything having to do with the body/mind and sense/organs) ,
I, who am lighting up and witness to all of those experiences,

This is where the process of self-inquiry, which leads
to the complete, thorough, and direct recognition
of what the word nonduality actually means can begin.

Best wishes,

Friday, August 6, 2010


Ramesam Vemuri: The first and foremost thing is the knowing of information “I am Brahman.” This has to be understood by the mind intellectually. It is the Shravana (Listening) phase. Next is to assimilate it and internalize it to the extent that no doubt remains in one’s mind about the Truth of that statement. This is the Manana (Reflection) phase. After being firmly convinced and free of doubts, one needs to continuously stay with it as Brahman (not become Brahman but be Brahman). This is the Nidhidhyasa (Contemplation and Meditation) phase. Jivanmukta is one who unwaveringly and unbrokenly abides as Brahman.

But first:
viveka: 'discrimination' between the real and unreal

vairAgya: 'dispassion' towards everything worldly, brought about by viveka that they are unreal.

shatsampatti: 6 'disciplines'/ virtues:

shama: serene tranquility of the mind brought about by vairAgya from desire of worldly things.

dama: control of the senses to continue shama

uparati: being satisfied with what you have, without hankering for more, natural for one who has viveka driven vairAgya, having shama & dama.

titikshA: endurance of pair of opposites such as pleasure and pain, heat and cold, so as to continue virtues gained above.

shraddhA: unshakable faith in the scriptural teaching and Guru, guided by pramANas, which makes understanding easier due to above pure achievements.

samAdhAna: ability to concentrate on brahman (the truth) as a result of shraddhA and conviction gained thereby.

mumukshutvam: burning 'desire' for liberation, wanting nothing else but moksha, since one has samAdhAna now.

Finally, the very fact that vedanta makes sense to us is a big factor. After all, it is said, 'IsvarAnugrahAdeva pumsAm advaita vAsanA' (it is only due to God's grace man gets interested in advaita).