[Advaita-l] New member introduction: Michael Hawkins

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Sun Aug 15 21:46:29 CDT 2004

I am 42 years old, I live in the Rocky Mountains of the U.S., I am a
fiction writer, meditation teacher (in the Vipassana tradition of
Theravada) and long-time student of various spiritual traditions.  My
father is a Presbyterian minister, so I grew up in the Protestant
Christian Church, which I left at age 19 due to an absence of direct
spiritual experience.

>From approximately 1995 to 2001 I became involved with what I now
understand to be "pseudo Advaita," or a version of nondual teaching that
seems packaged for the Western seeker.  The teaching attempts to simplify
what would otherwise be an overwhelming amount of information for a
seeker who expects instant gratification.  So, "You are That," or "Who Am
I?" or "Consciousness is all there is" are catch-phrases that purport to
replace years of study, practice and experience which are essential to a
true understanding.

I now understand that the teachings offered through the likes of
Nisargadatta Maharaj, Ramana Maharshi, Ramesh Balsekar (my teacher) and
Poonjaji (i.e., Papaji, devotee of Ramana Maharshi) may offer some glimpse
at an ultimate truth, but that, separated from the practice tradition from
which they derived, the teachings have the potential to instill severe
imbalance in the seeker.  There is the possible consequence of what I call
"narcissistic paralysis," or an increasing withdrawel from the phenomenal
world that eventually leaves the seeker totally disempowered, if not
suicidal.  I and some close friends have tasted this phenomenon, and it's
not pretty.

I am interested, then, in placing these simplified renderings of the
original (i.e., Sri Sankara, et al) teachings into their proper
perspective -- into the correct historical, cultural and spiritual
framework -- so that my understanding will deepen and my daily practice
will expand.  I sense that the conversation on your list is not only
informed by many years of cumulative experience, but a wisdom gained
through being infused by the above-mentioned "proper perspective."  I wish
to learn from you, and to see where it leads.

In my personal library I have collected several English translations of
Sri Sankara texts, and would appreciate learning of other available
material.  I feel wholly unprepared to participate as an active email
poster, but will monitor the discussion and consider asking questions over

Thanks very much for your consideration.

Michael Hawkins

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