The Essence of the Teachings: An Advaita Primer (Synopsis below)
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THE ESSENCE OF THE TEACHINGS: The Simplicity of Realization
(Revealed through Answers to Frequently-Asked Questions)
This concise book came about as a result of proteges asking questions about concepts set forth in various books and discussions. The work provides in one direct volume the answers to questions raised about the elements of the teachings including, but not limited, to:
"How do I get peace of mind?"
"How can I get a sense of fulfillment and fill the hole inside?"
"What is Realization?"
"What is Enlightenment?"
"What is the TRUE SELF?"
What is the difference in the "thinking mind" and the "working mind?"
What are the Seven Degrees that separate us from knowing Who We Truly Are?"
An excerpt from THE ESSENCE OF THE TEACHINGS
"This above all: To thine own SELF be TRUE and it must follow, as the night the day, thy canst not then be false to any man."
A NOTE TO THE READERS
This book is often used by some as a companion to FROM THE I TO THE ABSOLUTE (A Seven-Step Journey to Reality). PART ONE can be read in one sitting. The content includes answers to frequently asked questions and provides an overview of terms used during the teaching. I suggest setting aside a period of quiet time every day and reading PART ONE straight for several days, contemplating the teachings in the five readings and considerations offered at the end of the section.
PART TWO is a sharing of comments and questions dealing with Advaita-related topics and can aid those who are 'close' but have not yet 'gotten it' in its entirety. The pointers shared in the second session provide more depth and deeper insight. Some have benefited from using the accompanying CD available at:
If you use the booklet continuously, what you may experience one day is this: at some point during the reading, you will drop the arm that is holding the booklet before your eyes, you'll look off into the distance, and you'll hear words coming from somewhere deep inside you, words that say, "Oh...my...gosh. Yes. Yes! Now I see!" Let us begin. Enjoy.
What is "Realization"?
Realization is the end result of being freed of all beliefs, ideas, and emotions (but not feelings) that have led you to believe you are something or someone that you are not. Realization is the state of awareness which occurs when you finally realize that millions and billions of people can be wrong-wrong about their ideas, wrong about what they have told you, and wrong about their superstitious beliefs that have been passed down for so long that they are taken to be fact.
It is the state of consciousness in which one can exist in peace because one has given up all false identities, roles, and personas. It is a state of peace that springs into being when one realizes that the bars that form the prison of the thinking mind are made up of other peoples' beliefs and ideas that you have adopted. Realization also allows you to perceive that trying to meet the expectations and demands of others' beliefs is blocking you from a peaceful existence. It is a state of being conscious of Who One Really Is, a state that can only be perceived after knowing who one is not and after discarding all their ideas.
If we should give up all ideas, why should we listen to yours?
First, they are not mine. These teachings are more than 40,000 years old, but I'll answer your question by explaining "The Lesson of the Thorns" that my Cherokee grandmother taught me. One summer while staying with Grandmother, I fell onto a thorn bush and buried one of the prongs deeply into my palm. Grandmother used a larger thorn from the bush to remove the fragments from my hand and then she threw away both thorns. BOTH ultimately proved to be useless, though one served the temporary purpose of relieving me of pain and suffering. So it is with the concepts that I will offer-including this discussion of thorns, including every word that follows in this booklet, and including every word ever spoken by anyone. New concepts can be used to get rid of old concepts. Then, all the concepts should be discarded.
The thorn in my palm was causing me great pain. It was of no use to me at all. The second thorn was of temporary use to me since it was only used to rid me of that which pained me. Once its job was done, it was not needed. So it is with the ideas I offer.
What pains anyone not yet Realized are the ideas, emotions, and beliefs given by others, accepted as truth, and empowered to control your thoughts and behaviors and feelings. Any words I offer are like the larger thorn: they can be used to rid you of the other thorns that are causing your pain.
If the ideas I offer reach their goal, they will help you become free of the programming and conditioning that locked into your belief system their ideas and their beliefs that were taught to you and taken by you to be truth and fact. Actually, all ideas that you have been taught were dreamed up by people, usually men.
Historically, those men have been the ones playing the roles of priest or medicine man or government man or businessman. All those had an agenda-and have an agenda to this day-in telling you their ideas. They want something from you and they want to control you. People are controlled by the ideas, emotions, and beliefs adopted from others. Those (along with the influence of physical organs) cause destructive behavior and create restless minds.
All dreamed-up ideas were dreamed up in an effort to control you, so those ideas repress you. Their ideas restrict your mind and your natural behaviors. In so doing, the result is a planet filled with people now behaving most unnaturally. The thinking mind is your prison. The working mind is the vehicle to freedom in this manifestation. (Eventually, the seeker that would be totally free will abandon the mind entirely.)
What is the difference in the "working mind" and the "thinking mind"?
The 'working mind' is a term used by some teachers to refer to the type 'mind' that a deer uses. I give no credibility to any 'mind,' and prefer to refer to "natural" living as opposed to a thinking-driven-existence. Natural living involves self-preservation, self-constructive behavior, and awareness of intuitive knowledge.
It is a generally peaceful, quiet existence. The thinking mind is the mind that is unique to a programmed, conditioned human. It is a racing mind, an unquiet mind, a restless and irritated mind. It is a mind pumped full of dogma and theories and ideas and beliefs that inspire expectations and demands. The thinking mind is the unnatural mind. Of course once realized, it is understood that no mind exists and that in humans the 'mind' was merely the compilation of all the lies that humans are programmed to accept as truth.
What is "manifestation"?
In the physical realm, all that appears is really just a manifested form of energy with consciousness. You are currently energy with consciousness that has temporarily manifested as a body. Energy seems to take forms and shapes that can be perceived by the eye.
Why do you say "seems to take forms"?
If you use the most powerful microscope to look at what humans call a "door," you will see that it is really made of nothing like what the eye seems to perceive. One can see that at its core is a mass of swirling energy. At a smaller level, scientists speak of "strings" and talk of waves of energy that can even take the form of particles. Nothing is as it appears, and all fear and anxiety is rooted in false perception. Seeing clearly will remove fear. If you walk into a dimly-lit room and see a snake coiled up in the corner, you'll be in fear. But if you turn on the light and see that it is actually a rope, then your fear leaves. That's what enlightenment does.
What is the difference in the "Manifest" and the "Unmanifest"?
All is energy. Energy can manifest into a plant which, if eaten by an animal, can absorb that energy. Energy can have consciousness. An acorn knows how to make a forest. It happens automatically with one acorn producing an oak tree and that tree producing others, ad infinitum. All living things live because they are energy with consciousness. Those are manifested.
The Unmanifested is that body of energy that is available for absorption into a plant or animal or thing but that has not yet been caught up in such cycling. The Unmanifested, or the Absolute, is that from which all is "made." Ultimately, I Am the Absolute. So are you. For now, I am and you are (we "exist"), but truthfully, I Am THAT, and You Are THAT. The teaching is summed up as: "I Am; I Am That," but there is no duality. There is only What We Truly Are.
Perceived duality comes when people think there is "this form" or "that form," this skin color or that skin color, etc. In truth, there is no separation or difference, only perceived separation and difference. Actually, there is only one...that one "element" that constitutes the unicity-the Oneness. That truth is Realized only after all falsehoods are seen for the lies that they are.
Is The Absolute the same as "The Field" I've been hearing about?
No. The Field is a field of consciousness containing some energy-consciousness available for manifestation, some previously manifested, and some never to be manifested. It's like the "luck of the draw," so to speak. The Absolute, on the other hand, is that state even prior to consciousness. Think of it as energy with a potential for consciousness...but at rest. Compare it to the sleep state in this manifestation.
What do you mean when you say that "the cause of anything is actually... everything"?
Why are you alive? You are alive because an ancestor more than 13.5 million years ago survived. Humans love to look at one thing-an action, a comment-and assign blame or cause to one recent, specific event. To understand cause accurately, one must look back at the entirety of all experiences related directly and indirectly-ad infinitum-to any person or persons or event.
What is the "negation of free will" and the "absence of choice" that you speak of?
Consider for example a person driven (by an obsessive-compulsive disorder) to check the knobs on a gas range to be sure they are turned off, and then driven to check them again, and then driven to check them once more before leaving the house. Do you think that person is consciously choosing to check those knobs three times?
Isn't it possible that the OCD is causing that behavior to take place unconsciously? Understand that OCD can result from chemical imbalances in the body and can drive people to behave obsessively and compulsively. As long as that imbalance exists in them, people have no free will to behave differently. They will be driven to do what they do.
Free will is negated or suspended for them in that condition. They might even consciously decide that they have a problem and need to stop checking the knobs so frequently, but as long as the imbalance exists, then they will be driven to behave in a compulsive and obsessive manner. (OCD CAN be treated with natural food supplements which can restore the chemical balance in the body and eliminate the effects. THEN-but only then-a treated person can have choice and free will.)
So that's why you talk about the body-mind, not a body and a mind?
Yes. The body affects the mind and the mind affects the body. Since all that happens with both elements is interactive, there is no separation. As explained earlier, the body can create obsessive thinking in the mind. There is no disconnection. There is the body-mind.
What is the True Self?
The True Self is that subtle state which comes into form as the Absolute begins to manifest. Before the Absolute manifests, there is no Self. The True Self is the closest that the manifestation can get to what it really is-The Absolute-without returning to the Absolute. It is the True Self that can know the Absolute. [The discussion on the "Seven Degrees" will clarify this even more.]
You're supposed to be making this simple. That didn't help. Ha. You speak of "Seven Degrees of Separation from the True Self." Would understanding those help me?
Probably. The seven degrees of separation are the stages that separate humans-via their identification with the physical body and the mind and the roles being played-from knowing their original state as the Absolute.
Here are the phases one operates in until Realization comes: identifying with the physical body; living in the mental stage of being dominated by ideas and beliefs of others; the religious stage, a "religion" being any particular system of beliefs that results in devotion to or worship of one thing or many things; the next stage is the spiritual stage in which one focuses less on the material realm and more on the non-physical realm, seeking answers to those questions dealing with that which is beyond the physical;
next is the Child Ignorance stage, in which one gives up all ideas and dogma and beliefs and merely exists in the "I Am" state rather than in the "I am this" state (which will be explained in more detail later); the witness state follows, in which one can witness the events in the material world but will not be attached to them or made emotionally-intoxicated by them; next is the "awareness of the True Self state" in which one knows she or he is something beyond this physical realm, Realizing that one is nothing more than a mass of energy with consciousness in this manifestation; and then comes the Absolute State-that state of existence in which the energy exists without consciousness.
In fact, I Am not even the True Self. I Am the Absolute, speaking to you from the manifested state but with an awareness of the True Self and that which is beyond. If the Absolute begins to manifest, then the True Self is the first stage. As the manifestation ends, the True Self is the last state of consciousness prior to transitioning into the Absolute state. Peace in the physical manifestation can be experienced as the Ignorant Child (that is, as one with a pure mind, free of others' teachings and ideas and emotions and beliefs), or as the Witness, or in the knowledge of the True Self, or by knowing the Absolute.
I still don't get it.
Then let's look at each degree.
Degree Number One: The Body
I'll begin with the manifestation and work back. Most believe that they are the body. They are so identified with the body-and its needs, desires and longings-that they can see nothing beyond the body as an identity. Typically, the fixation of one who is identified with the body is to work to guarantee the body's infinite existence. Programming and conditioning usually convince children that infinite existence for a body is possible, and most carry that myth into adulthood if they live that long.
So this is where you use the "arms-legs-organs" lesson to help us get free of body identification?
Exactly. Here's how that tool works: ask yourself, "If I lose an arm, am I still Me, the Real Me?" The answer would be, "Of course." Then ask, "And if I lose the other arm, am I still Me?" The answer is, "Yes." Then ask, "And if I lose a leg, and even the other leg, am I still Me?" The answer is, "Completely."
Then consider: "If I have a heart transplant, am I still Me?" and the answer is, "Yes." Then ask, "And if I lose a spouse or lover or job or home, am I still Me?" The answer is, "Very much so."
"So that short exercise shows you clearly that Whatever You Really Are has nothing to do with your body; and it has nothing to do with your physical form; and it has nothing to do with the organs within it; and it has nothing to do with the roles and labels assigned to you by your culture. The Real You has no shape and no concreteness and no defined form at all."
Degree Number Two: The Mind
Believing any idea put into your mind about who or what you are will prevent your knowing Who You Really Are. No definition in your mind of "who you are" came from you. You have been told that you are a boy or a girl, a man or a woman, an employee or an employer. You have also been told that you a good or bad boy or girl, a good or bad man or woman, a good or bad employee or employer.
Take every role or identity that has been assigned to you or that you have assumed and Realize. Realize that none of those are Who You Really Are or What You Really Are. To continue along the path to find Who or What You Are, you must discard every current idea or belief you have about what they told you and about your identity.
Degree Number Three
Recall that a religion is any particular system of beliefs that results in one being devoted to or worshiping something. Many worship alcohol, drugs, other people, money or work. People worship many things, often unconsciously. Some who have never been told that they are members of a particular religion nevertheless adopt false identities as a result of whatever they worship.
Religion need not be organized to be religion. Once absorbed in this false ego-state, people might hum or sing, wear special garbs or trinkets, or immerse themselves in rigid disciplines (having been convinced by programmers that certain clothes, rituals or accessories can make one a better person.)
Via religions that are organized, however, many are given an identity associated with religions, all of which have been dreamed up by men. (Judaism, Christianity and Islamic religions all evolved from the concepts of one man, Abraham.) Many have been told that they are "Christians" or "Muslims" or "Jews" or "Adventists," ad infinitum and they accept that as an identity. Within each religion is fostered much division, resulting in thousands of denominations or sects or sub-sects, ad infinitum. Other religions even accept no outsiders and remain aloof and separate. Either way, some seem to find help in their religious stage, but it is not the end-it is merely another stage to be transitioned.
Degree Number Four
Some eventually sense that the worshiping of whatever they are worshiping is still not addressing the lack of fulfillment that comes with not being Self-Actualized, that is, from not being aware of Who They Truly Are and thus feeling unfulfilled. Here, spiritual roles or personas are often adopted. People begin acting like they are "Spiritual Giants."
An intensive quest for Self-Knowledge or Truth or the Great Understanding often follows. Ultimately, this state only creates more roles to play, more work to do, and more exercises to complete-all of which can be a necessary part of the transitioning from one level to the next but which ultimately has nothing to do with living naturally in the peace of Realization.
I discussed natural living, unnatural living, and supernatural living in my "SELF-Transformation Meditation Guide" (Volume One): "Many try to live supernaturally, trying to control everything in life by manipulating a power. Operating within that belief system, some think they can control whether it rains or not; some think they can improve their financial conditions by appealing to a power rather than working; in fact, humans have imagined for thousands of years that they can manipulate power in order to control their world and everyone in it.
Many others try to live unnaturally, doing to others and themselves things that are most unnatural. A morning hangover, for example, is evidence that one engaged in an unnatural behavior the night before. If you have ever watched a deer being startled while feeding in a clearing, you have seen a perfect example of natural living. After being disturbed, the deer will move to the safety of another area and will continue feeding within minutes. It will hold no grudge; it will not attack you for getting into its space; it will not gather other deer and fight you to the death over land; it will not be upset for the rest of the day because of an earlier disturbance.
Can you think of times when you have waited for supernatural intervention to solve a problem that you could have addressed on your own? What was the cost of waiting rather than taking actions? Are there things you really could do for yourself that you haven't? Can you think of times when you have behaved unnaturally? What was the cost? Is it possible that living naturally might be a goal worth setting? Might it be worth your effort to begin trying to achieve that goal starting today?" ("SELF-Transformation Meditation Guide," Volume One, Reading #13.)
Also separating us from the knowledge of Who We Truly Are-but moving us closer toward the awareness of such knowledge-is the state of Child Ignorance. It is the state of the pure mind, the mind before all the programming and conditioning of the culture has been set into place or, as one begins to Realize, the state of the pure mind that exists as one begins to discard all the faulty programming and conditioning and all the ideas and dogma and beliefs that were set into place by such programming.
eBOOK SPECIFICATIONS: 119 pages; Publisher: Henderson Books; Language: English.
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