[Advaita-l] How to practice advaita?

V. Krishnamurthy profvk at yahoo.com
Thu Mar 18 12:59:06 CST 2004

Namaste, Sister Martone and all

As I do not find my post #591 (Nov.29, 1998)  in advaitin
list in the escribe archives, I am copying that post below
for your benefit:

Practical Advaita:

Practical advaita is what a convinced advaitin would
practise or want
to practise.. He is convinced that there is nothing but the
Self. It is the immutable infinite beyond anything
described by words
or delimited by attributes. It is also the immanent entity
in anything
that is perceivable by the senses. But this theoretical
seems to have only a nebulous contact with the diverse
goings-on of
this outward self with which we exist, converse, act and
One is not sure what it means for this conviction to
percolate into
one’s activities. The seeker, who has just been exposed to
fundamentals of advaita has a tendency to feel that it is
only a
thought-concept and may not be applicable to this ‘world of
multiplicity’. His logic is that if one considers everybody
else and
everything else to be nothing but his own self then the
relationships in the material world would all collapse.
This article
is a set of random thoughts on these matters gathered by me
famous exponents of advaita who were also, in some sense,
practitioners of what they preached. The most important of
them, at
least for me, happened to be my father, from whom I learnt
most of
what I think I know today. The example being my father, I
could take
lessons from the way he himself reacted to multifarious
situations in public and private life.
There are two things: kriyAdvaita – Advaita in action – and
bhavAdvaita – Advaita in attitude. As in almost all spheres
facets of the sanAtana dharma, it is the attitude that is
important. Even in the secular world the criminal law
dispenses a
softer punishment to someone who kills, only accidentally
and not
with intent, than to the one who kills with intent. It is
attitude that matters. A convinced advitin has to have his
attitude reflect in all his day-to-day actions. It is the
attitude of
sama-dRSTi, that is, equanimous vision. The gItA couplet:
He who sees
Me everywhere, and who sees everything in Me, to him I am
never lost
nor is he lost to me - is not just a good quote for
speeches. It is the ace-commandment from the Lord. It is
advaita. Let us spend a few moments digesting this.
This advaita attitude is just the awareness of the One
Reality which is both transcendent and immanent. Every time
we pray to
God or worship Him it should be with the conscious step of
accepting a
duality for the sake of worldly worship while in reality
there is no
duality. The sixteen formalities that are built into a pUjA
are all
expressions of this coming down, namely, a confession: Oh
God! I
cannot but worship You as someone separate from me but let
worship strengthen the realisation in me of the identity
between You
and my Inner Self. This is a characteristic of a true
practitioner of
advaita. It is clear that this is walking on razor’s edge.
When love
of a saguna-idol matures into Supreme Love of God, one sees
the entire
world as Himself. Love towards one object, and for the same
hate towards another object – this pattern will then give
place to an
infinite Love which sees no high and low, no distinction of
Love of God maturing into the insight of seeing the entire
world as
Himself is advaita bhakti.
This is where the first lesson of practical advaita starts.
when we think of another person, we tend to think of his
also. Very often only his negatives come to our mind rather
than the
good things about him. But the habit of seeing God in
should be practised in such a way that the first thing that
attempt to do is to forget the negatives of the other
person. When we
think of ourselves we very often forget our own negatives.
Even when
another person points it out to us we tend to either ignore
it or
disbelieve it. The advaitic injunction of seeing ourselves
in the
other person, when translated into action, gives us the
lever to
ignore or forget his negatives just as we do with our own
setting up almost a supernatural empathy with the other
person. If
this happens to the majority of us, half the world’s
problems are
solved. This is the first great leap forward in
spirituality .
The next step is to see the same God in all Gods and
Divinities. The
dogmatism that is inherent in the fanatical love of one’s
own religion
or in such love of one’s own school of philosophy should
give way to
look at all paths to God as valid and of value.
The third and final step is what is described in the 6th
and 7th
verses of the IzAvAsyopaniSad: ‘yastu sarvANi bhUtAni
Atmany-evAnupazyati; sarva-bhUteSu cAtmAnaM tato na
vijugupsate //
yasmin sarvANi bhUtAni AtmaivAbhUd-vijAnataH; tatra ko
mohaH kaH zokaH
ekatvaM anupazyataH //’ meaning: He who sees all beings in
the Self
and the Self in all beings, hates none; to the illumined
soul, who
sees everything as a manifestation of his own Self, how can
there be
delusion or grief since he sees only oneness? Even here the
seers have
advised us to proceed in two stages. The first stage for
conceptual identification of vision is a sense of unity
with other
existences. This unity makes us give respect to everything.
next stage is to identify it with the Self. The respect
shown to other
beings now widens into compassion and love to the things in
which we
see our own Self. But this oneness is still only an
oneness, a pluralistic unity. Real knowledge begins with a
not just an understanding at the intellectual level, of
this oneness.
The concept of pluralistic unity must give place, or lead
to, a total
comprehension or perception in the experiential level. To
do this one
has to first retreat from the outside world – nivRtti. Then
everything in Oneself. The opposite of this is a narrow
that is what causes attachment and hate. The spiritual
purify one’s mind and this coupled with the association of
the sAtvic
type of people lead to an illumination which unfolds the
harmony of
one-ness. This is the vision. After this vision, the world
from which
one has retreated is drawn into the Self. Ethically the
formula is:
Detach yourself attitudinally, and then Love. Live in that
unity. No more separate self, no more likes and dislikes,
no more
hopes and fears. This is the only way of serving society,
says Swami
Vivekananda. This equanimity of vision is the rationale for
commandment of Jesus: Love thy neighbour. When such an
of Oneness and Equanimity arrives where is the possibility
of grief or
delusion? Grief is always about an event in the past.
Delusion is in
the present. Fear is about the future. It is the Lord who
is the
Master of the past, present and future. –
bhUta-bhavya-bhavat-prabhuH. For one who has given himself
up to the
Lord of the past, present and future, there is no grief, no
no fear. Such a one is a vijAnat, the one who knows, who
sees with a
distinguished vision, whose conviction is not just at an
level, but is of personal experience born out of inner
conviction. For
such a one there is only the Self – no non-Self.

PranAms to all seekers of advaitic truth

Prof. V. Krishnamurthy
My website on Science and Spirituality is http://www.geocities.com/profvk/
You can  access my book on Gems from the Ocean of Hindu Thought Vision and Practice,  and my father R. Visvanatha Sastri's manuscripts from the site.
Also see the webpages on Paramacharya's Soundaryalahari :

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