[Advaita-l] Advaita practice (fwd)

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Sat Aug 4 10:02:42 CDT 2007

Let me make a few comments here. Firstly, it can be extremely disorienting 
to attempt an advaita practice by intellectually de-personalizing one's own 
identity. It can also be very disconcerting for one's parents, siblings, 
spouse etc. That is why, since ancient times, there is the institution of 
formal renunciation, which provides a support base for such practice. This 
is also why the guidance of a guru is absolutely essential. Just as the 
tendency to fall asleep must be combated when trying to achieve mental focus 
(ekAgratA) on something, the tendency to become apathetic needs to be 
checked when intellectualizing advaita in one's personal life.

Most of us, who live as part of a family, interacting with regular society, 
need to take a more gradual approach, again with the guidance of a guru. As 
far as I can see, there is no one-size-fits-all method. Each person has to 
take into account his or her own temperament and circumstances. "SanaiS 
Sanair uparamed buddhyA dhRti-gRhItayA" - the determination (dhRti-grahaNa) 
needs to be there. SraddhA also needs to be there or it should be 
cultivated. In any given situation, when one's emotions threaten to run 
amok, one should make it a habit to question oneself about it. e.g. why am I 
getting angry at this juncture? why am I feeling jealous of somebody? why do 
I hate this person/thing? This kind of self-analysis is also, in my opinion, 
a kind of yoga - a citta-vRtti-nirodha, because even if one does not 
actively control the mind, the ability to analyze oneself will eventually 
lead to mental calmness. We need to develop that samAdhAna. In my personal 
experience, it is a continuing process. advaita vedAnta can be 
intellectually understood, analyzed, discussed and criticized or defended, 
but requires a lot of preparation before it can be put into practice in 
one's personal life. Otherwise, one very easily gets into a state of anomie 
or into antinomian behavior.

As an aside, I also believe this is one prime reason why Sankara 
bhagavatpAda repeatedly asserts that one cannot know/become brahman merely 
by meditating "I am brahman" either as a japa (i.e. mantra recitation) or as 
an act of meditation involving mental concentration.

I hope the above is useful in some small measure.

Best regards,

>Namaste to all,
>I apologize for asking a personal question, but I want to know how the
>honorable members of this list practice advaita in their day to day lives.
>I am sure many members here put karma kANDa into practice by means of
>daily rituals etc., but my interest is confined to how the honorable
>members practice the jNAna kANDa. Do you practice meditation? yoga?
>contemplation? Do you try to depersonalize yourself? Do you try to see
>everything as brahman?  Do you keep reminding yourself that jagat is
>mithya? I am especially interested in knowing how learned members like Sri
>Vidyasankar, Sri Jaldhar, Sri Sadananda, Sri Bhaskar, Sri Anand practice
>advaita. Sorry if I did not include other names, but I don't know many
>members in this list. Of course, other members are also welcome to share
>their methods of practice. (Hopefully, I am not sounding rude by asking
>such an open question).
>The reason why I am asking this is because I want to find a suitable and
>consistent method to practice advaita (jNAna-yoga). Sometime back, when I
>actually tried to practice advaita by trying to depersonalize myself and
>thinking the world as mithya, I went into such a state of apathy that my
>mother thought there was something seriously wrong with me. I did not know
>how to handle the situation without reverting back to this world. How, for
>instance, should such situations be tackled? I really want to know the
>experiences of others so that I might learn something from them. Thanks a
>Yahoo! oneSearch: Finally,  mobile search that gives answers, not web 
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