TONY VERMA brahman1008 at hotmail.com
Tue Aug 9 00:27:53 CDT 2005

What Is Required to Realize the Non-Dual Truth?:
The Controversy Between the "Talking" School

and the "Practicing" School of Advaitism

Certain proponents of Advaitism (or of the Truth of non-dualism) , even some 
who may be genuine Realizers (but only in the sixth stage sense) of the 
Great Truth of Advaita Vedanta, generally represent or advocate what I call 
the "talking" school of Advaitism. That is to say, their contact with 
disciples is primarily one of conversation, and the process in which they 
engage their listeners is basically (and even exclusively) a matter of 
attendance to verbal argumentation. (And this emphasis on, or even 
confinement to, the verbal context of Advaitism stands in dramatic contrast 
to the real practicing ordeal and deep meditative process that many 
"talking" school Teachers, such as Atmananda and Nisargadatta Maharaj, have 
endured as the context of their own sixth stage process of Advaitic 

There is even a kind of "Emperor's New Clothes" syndrome associated with the 
"talking" school. It is said that, yes, there are many practices (other than 
listening) that could be engaged, but such practices are only necessary for 
those who are immature (or whose minds are not yet ripe for the 
"Truth-Taking") . Few, of course, want to acknowledge their immaturity or 
unreadiness for the One Thing desired by all. Therefore, the proud listeners 
doggedly refuse to acknowledge the necessity of their own self transcending 
ordeal of sadhana, and so they merely listen (again and again).

Unlike the "talking" school, the original tradition of Advaita Vedanta 
requires great preparations and real qualifications for the Advaitic (or 
non-dualistic) Realization, and such preparations (or qualifications) 
include practical self-discipline, the development of a disinclination 
toward the search for (and attachment to) the conditional satisfactions 
associated with what I have described as the first five stages of life, and 
the achievement of a clear-minded and profound motivation toward 
Transcendental Self- Realization. Indeed, only individuals who were thus 
prepared would, in the strictest traditional setting, be welcomed even to 
listen to (and to seriously "consider") an Advaitic Teacher's discourses on 
Transcendental Truth.

In any case, the practice of listening is traditionally called "sravana". 
All proponents (both traditional and modern) of the "talking" school tend to 
isolate (or idealize) this first (or initial) stage of the total process and 
thus make it the Only Method (or the one and only context of possible 
Realization). And they (especially the modern proponents of the "talking" 
school) do not generally require the traditional preparations or 
qualifications (whether as a prerequisite or an eventual attainment) on the 
part of their listeners.

(Even modern proponents of the original tradition, or what I call the 
"practicing" school, generally do not require the traditional preparations 
as a qualification for listening, but effective disciplines and real 
qualifications are expected to appear over time. There is a tradition that 
expects Advaitins to accept sannyasa, or the life of an unmarried, or 
socially detached, celibate, but the modern trend is to return to the 
classical orientation of the Upanishadic era, which calls both sannyasins 
and householders, or even Tantric practitioners, to the practice and the 
Realization of the non-dualistic Way.)

The complete traditional process of "practicing" Advaitism goes on from the 
"talking" and listening stage of sravana to the advancing stages of manana 
(or profound examination of the Teaching arguments, to the point of hearing, 
or intuitive understanding) and nididhyasana (or deep contemplation, to the 
degree of true and stable Realization of Inherent Samadhi, or Inherent 
Identification with Consciousness Itself). Although the proponents of the 
"talking" school generally look for some kind of understanding, or hearing, 
to develop in their listeners, the great practice and the Great Realization 
associated with the traditional discipline of nididhyasana appear to be 
generally neglected (or even disdained) by them.

This distinction between the "talking" school (or Teachers of the "talking" 
school) and the "practicing" school (or Teachers of the "practicing" school) 
points to a basic controversy within the tradition of Advaitism. At least 
since the time of Shankara, both of these two schools (or interpretations of 
Advaitism) have existed.

The "talking" school generally attracts those who have a minimal capability 
for (or capable impulse toward) renunciation, Yogic (or Spiritual) 
discipline, and deep meditation, but who otherwise are habituated to 
constantly talk, listen, and think. The "discipline" and the "Realization" 
in the "talking" school (especially in its modern form) are generally 
minimal, weak, superficial, temporary, and merely mental (or intellectual) , 
and the "talking" school is (and has been) rightly criticized because of 

The modern "practicing" school of Advaitism is clearly represented and 
advocated by such Teachers as Swami Gnanananda, Brahmajna Ma, and Ramana 
Maharshi. Such Teachers also "talk", and their disciples listen, but real 
qualifications (including practical self-discipline) are expected (at least 
over time). Likewise, the Teachers of the "practicing" school clearly 
indicate that hearing (or fundamental understanding) is not itself Ultimate 
Enlightenment (or an end in itself), but it is only the beginning of 
practice (or the seed of Ultimate Enlightenment). Therefore, according to 
the Teachers of the "practicing" school, hearing must lead to right (and 
most profound) enquiry into (or direct Identification with) the Inherent and 
Transcendental Nature, or Perfectly Subjective Condition, of the apparent 
conditional subject (or conditional self)Which Transcendental, or Perfectly 
Subjective, Self-Condition inherently transcends the apparent conditional 
subject (or conditional self). And such right enquiry necessarily (and 
spontaneously) becomes deep (object-transcending) meditation, or "dhyana", 
and (at least eventually) "Jnana Samadhi", or most profound, and thoroughly 
object-excluding, Identification with Consciousness Itself, and 
(potentially) even sixth stage "Sahaj Samadhi", which is the basis for the 
apparent premonitions, or partial intuitions and limited foreshadowings, of 
the seventh stage of life that have sometimes been expressed within the 
traditional sixth stage schools, and which is a matter of deeply Abiding in 
the basically and tacitly object-excluding (and, thus, conditionally 
achieved) sixth stage Realization of the Transcendental Self Condition, 
while otherwise naturally experiencing the natural arising of mental and 
physical objects, and naturally allowing the performance of mental and 
physical activities. (However, as I have Revealed, the necessary, but only 
preliminary, or sixth stage, Process is finally and Most Perfectly Fulfilled 
and Completed only in Divine Self-Awakening, or What I call "Open Eyes", or 
What may, using the traditional reference, be called "seventh stage Sahaj 
Samadhi", and Which Is utterly and inherently non-exclusive, and not 
conditionally Realized, but Non-conditionally, and Inherently, and 
Inherently Most Perfectly, Realized, Transcendental, and inherently 
Spiritual, and necessarily Divine Self-Realization and effortless, or Non- 
conditionally, and Inherently, and Inherently Most Perfectly, Realized, 
Transcendental, and inherently Spiritual, and necessarily Divine 
Self-Abiding, even, should they arise, in the apparent context of the 
arising of all conditional phenomena and all conditional, or 
psycho-physical, states, and always, spontaneously and Inherently, and 
Inherently Most Perfectly, Recognizing all apparently arising conditional 
phenomena and conditional, or psychophysical, states as transparent, or 
merely apparent, and unnecessary, and inherently nonbinding modifications of 
the Transcendental, and inherently Spiritual, and necessarily Divine 
Self-Condition Itself.)

Some interpreters of the Teaching of Shankara propose (or may seem to 
propose) that Shankara himself was an advocate (indeed, the chief proponent) 
of the "talking" school. Swami Satchidanandendra Saraswati, for example, 
many of whose writings on the Teaching of Shankara appear in this "Sixth 
Stage" section of The Basket of Tolerance, affirms (on the basis of 
Shankara's own Teaching) that listening to the Mahavakyas, or the 
Upanishadic Principal Declarations (such as "Tat Tvam Asi", which means 
"That Thou Art"), or listening to the Great Upanishadic Truth as expounded 
by a Transcendentally Self-Realized Teacher (such as Shankara) is sufficient 
for (sixth stage) Realization (of the Inherent Samadhi of Consciousness 
Itself), but (and Swami Satchidanandendra also cites the textual evidence 
for this) Shankara did not otherwise propose (or dogmatically affirm) that 
listening (to the point of hearing) is the Only Method for such (sixth 
stage) Realization.

Clearly, Shankara did affirm that listening could be sufficient for (sixth 
stage) Realization. Indeed, it is true that, in the case of some rare and 
uniquely prepared individuals, listening, particularly listening to a true 
Realizer, or listening to insight itself, however that insight may be 
communicated or originated, is sufficient for (sixth stage) Realization of 
the Inherent Samadhi of Consciousness Itself. The Awakening of Ramana 
Maharshi is a modern example of such sudden Realization. And, for some 
others, the Darshan, or seeing, or mere sighting, of a true Realizer is 
sufficient for such Realization.

However, Shankara clearly indicated that only exceptionally prepared 
individuals are qualified even to listen (or to practice sravana), and he 
likewise clearly indicated that only certain unique individuals (in whom the 
mind no longer effectively limits the possibility of Inherent Samadhi) can 
or will Realize Inherent Samadhi directly and immediately via listening.

Shankara clearly indicated that a broad range of preparations are necessary 
before listening (to the Vedantic Great Truth) can be either appropriate or 
effective. Those necessary preparations include the development of the power 
of discrimination (particularly between the Real, or the eternal or 
permanent or Merely Existing, and the un-Real, or the conditional and 
temporary) , the power of renunciation (or, as I have indicated, even the 
transcendence of all purposes and results associated with the first five 
stages of life), the power of equanimity, and the motivepower of longing 
(for Liberation, or Freedom Itself) . Likewise, Shankara clearly indicated 
that, even in the case of individuals specifically prepared in the manner 
described, the Inherent Samadhi of Consciousness Itself will not necessarily 
(or even likely) Awaken through sravana (or listening), but the further 
stages of manana and nididhyasana will, in the general case, be necessary.

Thus, Shankara in fact Taught in the broad context of the "practicing" 
school. And, as indicated in various of Shankara's own original (or 
otherwise traditionally, or even recently, attributed) writings and 
commentaries (such as The Chapter of the Self, as presented by Trevor 
Leggett, Bhala Govindam, Prabodhasudhakara, and the Tantric text 
SaundarvaLahari, Shankara even advocated, or otherwise approved, fourth and 
fifth stage practices as possible preparatory means (for removing, or 
otherwise transcending, the apparent obstructions to sixth stage 

Shankara himself intuitively Realized the inherently actionless (or 
Transcendental) Brahman, or Consciousness Itself. He did not affirm (as 
Ultimate Reality) the mere (and exclusive, or individual) atman (the "soul", 
or the separate but permanent self-entity), but he Realized that what is 
conventionally (or previous to Realization) presumed to be the atman, or the 
"soul", or the separate conscious self Is (Inherently, and by virtue of 
Realization) Only SelfExisting and Self Radiant Transcendental Consciousness 
itself (or Brahman). However, Most Ultimate (or Inherently Most Perfect) 
Enlightenment Is Only That Realization and Demonstration That Is Absolute 
Freedom, Self-Existing and SelfRadiant As Consciousness Itself, All and 
Infinite As Love- Bliss. And That is no small matter or state of mind, but 
It Is What ~ (Ultimately), and That Is (Truly Most Ultimately, and 
Inherently Most Perfectly) Revealed Only By (or In the Shine Of) the 
Inherently Most Perfect (and by Divine Grace Given) Sacrifice (or Inherently 
Most Perfect, and by Divine Grace Given, transcendence) of the conditional 
self. At last, Only This Most Ultimate (or Inherently Most Perfect) 
Realization Truly, Finally, Completely, and Most Perfectly Reveals The 
(Inherently) One and (Inherently) Real God, or Great (Obvious, or Always 
Already) Truth, or Ultimate (or Inherently Perfect) Reality. That Most 
Ultimate (or Inherently Most Perfect) Realization Is Unique to the by Me 
Revealed and Demonstrated seventh stage of life and to the by Me Revealed 
and Demonstrated and Given Way of the Heart. And Only That Most Ultimate (or 
Inherently Most Perfect and Complete) Realization, Awakened and 
Demonstrated, can Finally Fulfill (or Most Perfectly Complete and End) the 
Ordeal of Man.


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