It so happens that ShiningWorld has become a successful voice for non-dual Vedanta because it is a powerful tool for transforming one’s life in harmony with the Truth. We appreciate the need of those who have received this precious teaching to communicate it to others and lend support to them, assuming they don’t mix Vedanta with other liberation, quasi liberation, or dualistic teachings...Christianity, Buddhism, Neo-Advaita, Yoga, etc. and that they they don’t monetize the teachings. At the same time there are certain expenses associated with the dissemination of the teachings which can be defrayed by the concept of ‘donations.’
Donations fall under the category of visesa dharma, situational ethics. They are adharmic or dharmic depending on the state of mind of both the giver and the receiver. Only you know if your gift is conditional or unconditional and only you know if the gift you receive is used for the intended purpose so there is room for problems. The rules for charity are discussed in the 17th Chapter of the Bhagavad Gita. It is not wrong if a teacher who has given value uses your donation to support him or herself, although financial insecurity often tests a teacher’s integrity, as do other factors, desire for recognition, power, etc. So those individuals whom we support need to be very clear concerning their motivations for teaching.
As one of the senior lineage holders in the Vedanta sampradaya, it is my duty, along with my wife, Sundari, to avoid even the appearance of impropriety, so we expect people who represent it to stick to the spirit and the letter of the rules. At the same time, we can't monitor the behavior of the people we endorse...Vedanta should never be thought of as a career. It is a sacrifice. Swamiji’s teaching was called The Sacrifice of Knowledge, Gita gyana yagna.
Apart from the teaching itself, ShiningWorld is successful because we have not monetized the teaching. I have occasionally solicited donations for a particular publishing project but never for personal financial reasons, as I have a small inheritance and friends who contribute to our living expenses. We finance the website, books and videos and our travel expenses...which are considerable...from donations for the teaching. The books and videos, which involve considerable work and expense, make virtually no profit. However, we continue because the purpose of ShiningWorld is to disseminate Vedanta. ShiningWorld is not a business, although I pay taxes on donations and the sale of books and videos.
We have been extremely generous with the young men we endorsed over the years and they have benefitted by their association with ShiningWorld...We have helped them establish themselves as Vedanta teachers and we know they have people who benefit from their teaching who can support them if they see fit. We encourage anyone who has benefitted from their teachings to continue doing so.
We will continue to encourage and assist people who want to teach, who have assimilated the teachings and have the right attitude, but we will not promote anyone henceforth who does not have an independent means of support and does not adhere strictly to the spirit of the teaching. It is very difficult teaching Vedanta in the West because materialism has infected every institution in society. People actually often tell us that we are fools for teaching on a donation basis. But this is a sacred holy teaching and we cannot stand to see it contaminated by even the appearance of worldliness.
1. I am limitless unassociated awareness, here and now. I am ever unchanging, eternal, actionless awareness, nondual, complete and full. My nature is unconditioned presence, pure awareness, pure existence, absolute peace and unlimited happiness.
2. The macrocosmos, the creator of the macrocosmos and the myriad laws and principles that make up the creation appear like a dream in me, limitless awareness.
3. The human form is a microcosmic projection within the macrocosmic projection.
4. This projection is not the same as me but it is not different from me either. Space in a room appears to be different from space outside the room but they are the same.
5. I am thought to be associated with a material human body and mind due to ignorance, although I am always free of it.
6. So it seems as if I am a mixture of awareness and matter, like twilight is a mixture of light and dark.
7. Because I seem to be a mixture I become confused and seek to find out who I am even though I am always present and known to myself alone.
8. In this strange condition it seems as if I am affected by ignorance but I am not. My form is in one order of reality and I am in another. When there is smoke in space, it seems as if space is smoky but it is never contaminated. I am never contaminated by the thoughts and feelings that appear in me. I am unaffected by the body superimposed on my radiance.
9. When I am apparently under the spell of ignorance I know that I exist but I do not know that I am existence itself.
10. When I am apparently under the spell of ignorance I know that I am conscious but I don’t know that I am limitless consciousness. I think I am limited.
11. Confusing myself…awareness…with my body and mind causes suffering.
12. In spite of the confusion I am always unaffected by ignorance.
13. Knowledge cancels ignorance just as alkali neutralizes the acid in an upset stomach. When I imagine that I am bound I need knowledge to set me free.
14. When I understand that I am limitless awareness my individuality disappears because I was only seemingly ignorant. If my ignorance was real it could not be removed by knowledge.
15. With or without my apparent individuality I am awareness free of knowledge and ignorance. I was never not awareness. I just thought I was a person.
16. Before my ignorance was removed by self knowledge I was only indirectly aware of myself as awareness, but now I am directly aware of myself as awareness.
17. It seems like I am two, limitless awareness and an apparently aware individual, but I am only one.
18. I use the apparent person that appears in me to transact business with the world.
19. The apparent person seems to be alive and independently aware but it is not. It seems so because I illumine and enliven it by my presence like a ventriloquist enlivens a puppet.
20. At the determined time, according to the momentum of its past action, the Gross Body body dies and the Subtle Body goes into a potential, unmanifest state, the Macrocosmic Causal Body.
21. I continue as limitless unassociated awareness. I am ever unchanging, eternal, actionless, one, complete and full. My nature is unconditioned presence, pure awareness, absolute peace.
Confusion appears only when I am associated with a human form. Why ignorance of myself as awareness and confusion of identity happens to me, awareness, cannot be explained logically. Also, why I as limitless awareness, identify with the limited form cannot be logically explained. That is why it is called a play.
I always am the unaffected witness of confusing ignorance and the removal of my apparent confusion by self knowledge.
Life is a ‘Both-And, not an Either-Or’
We think of our bodies as either healthy or sick. But the physical body is ‘both healthy and sick’ simultaneously. Every moment there is a balancing between BOTH the forces that lead to health, maintains life AND the forces that lead to sickness, death. We try to keep the health-forces predominant over the sickness-forces to enjoy a ‘healthy life’. But one day, sickness will be predominant over health and the body dies. So we are both alive and dying simultaneously, but I am unaffected by life and death.
People have ‘contributory’ free will but not ‘causative’ free will. Causative free will is determined by karma; nothing can be done about it. An arrow released from a bow cannot be stopped mid-flight. Contributory free will is the choices people make in particular karmic situations. They influence destiny. But free will and determinism are only issues for human beings. I am free of will.
‘Both-and’ applies to the creator, the creation and the creatures…the whole spectrum of life, but it does not apply to me, awareness.
In 1977 I dropped out and became a disciple/devotee of a famous guru, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, later renamed Osho. My life in Osho’s community was intense, vibrant and filled with psychological challenges. It was the perfect spiritual playground to process negative emotions and build a more positive sense of individual identity. Next I became a disciple of Sri H.L. Poonja also known as Papaji, a disciple of Ramana Maharshi who lived in a dirty and noisy city near Delhi, India, called Lucknow. Although Papaji did not have a proper teaching methodology, at least he had good pointers that directed me towards the truth, the pure Consciousness we all are. His message was simple; turn the mind away from objects of experience and keep it on its source, the Self. He was also a Shaktipat Guru and to be in his presence was a great opportunity for experiences of the Self and other epiphanies. But the greatest gift I received from him was an introduction to two important spiritual sages, Ramana Maharashi and Nisargadatta Maharaj. Nisargadatta’s powerful words became my main source of inspiration. After some time with Neo-Advaita teachers in the spring of 2011 I was giving up hope for Moksha until my long term meditation on the thought-feeling “I Am” inspired by my dear guru Nisargadatta began bearing fruits in the form of the effortless experience of peace, love and bliss. My mind was becoming sattvic. At the same time the teaching of Nisargadatta’s teacher, Sri Siddharameshwar Maharaj made me understand in a moment of clarity that no state of consciousness, no experiential bliss, love or ecstasy would resolve my quest for permanent happiness because all states produced by my meditation always ended, leaving me again and again thirsty for more. I told my wife, “I will never meditate again!
The seeking continued for a few more months, but a deep dispassion toward experiential bliss developed. A few more months passed and I eventually realized that my problem was not about getting the right experience of enlightenment but that I was ignorant of my true nature as Awareness. What I once thought of as meditation became an “intuitive” contemplation into the nature of Consciousness. It was more like a prayer, a burning desire to directly know my true identity as the Self. In my prayers I used to evoke God to take my physical body in exchange for Him to reveal my true nature. Before long the seeking stopped as I realized and assimilated the knowledge “what I am, is Pure Consciousness.
But that was only the beginning and it did not translate into real day-to-day freedom. The knowledge of my true nature as Awareness was clear but I did not have the full understanding of the implications of this knowledge. I needed a complete body of knowledge that not only revealed the non-dual nature of reality as the Self/Awareness but one that would set me free of the need of discrete objects of experience in order to feel permanently complete. That was when Isvara sent me a book written by James Swartz called “How to Attain Enlightenment”. The words of Vedanta penetrated my soul like an arrow. The missing link was found. I took Vedanta into my heart and stopped offering Satsangs to my friends. Slowly but surely the teachings of Vedanta produced in me the firm conviction that as Awareness; “I am already full, whole, and complete”, and with that hard and fast knowledge, dispassion towards my desires and fears developed. After all, real Moksha is freedom from craving, needing, or dependence on any particular type of experience, which is only possible with the full apprehension of the nature of Consciousness, so brilliantly revealed by the teachings of Vedanta.
Nowadays, I reside in a small town in mountains surrounding Sao Paulo, Brazil. I live a quiet life as a retiree householder and share my Self-knowledge with a small group of friends in Sao Francisco Xavier and around Sao Paulo. My passion for Vedanta compels me to continue my studies under the guidance of my dear teacher, the one who brought Real Freedom into my life thru the ancient teachings of the Upanishads…James Swartz…affectionately known as Ramji.
1. Which statement is most accurate?
a. Reality is non-dual
b. Reality is dualistic and/or pluralistic
c. Reality is neither non-dual or dual
d. All of the above
e. None of the above
f. Reality is how one sees things.
2. The statement ‘I am not the body’meansa. I am a disembodied spirit
Reason: Reality is composed of two apparent categories; Awareness and Matter. One’s body, feelings and thoughts are subtle matter in motion. They are not conscious. Only the Self is conscious and because I am conscious I know the body mind.
3. The statement ‘I am enlightened’ meansa. I am very intelligent and know more than most people
Answer: F. ‘A’ is not true because intelligence is determined by the nature of the Subtle Body, reflected Awareness. The Subtle Body is conditioned by many factors. ‘I’ is independent of the mind, and illumines all degrees of intelligence. ‘B’ is not true because everyone everywhere is always experiencing Awareness…because Awareness is all there is…appearances to the contrary notwithstanding. Enlightenment is the knowledge that I am Awareness, a fact unknown by most people. ‘C’ is untrue because what can awaken can also fall asleep. Awareness neither sleeps nor wakes; it illumines both conditions of mind. The one that experiences an awakening is the ego/mind. ‘D’ is not true because the Self is not a doer. To get into Awareness you would have to move from unawareness. It is not possible to ‘become’ aware because awareness is one’s nature and it is limitless. Any movement requires an agent and all agents are limited because they are in the dream of duality. ‘E’ is not true because it posits two ‘I’s: a limited entity…me…and Awareness.
4. The ‘truth’ is
a. What happens
b. How I see myself and the world
c. What never changes
d. What is
Answer: C and D
Truth is Awareness. Awareness never changes. It is being, what is. How you see yourself is conditioned by many factors and subject to change. If at all it is truth it is relative truth, what is called ‘my truth’ these days.
5. What statement is not true?
a. The world is an object of Awareness.
b. The world is me
c. The world is an apparent reality
d. The world is not real
Answer: D. The world enjoys a peculiar ontological status: it is neither real nor is it unreal. It is not real because it has a beginning and an end. It is not unreal because it is experienced. If you did not choose ‘D’ because you understand that the world is impermanent or you understand that the world is actually the Self in form give yourself credit for a right answer. ‘C’ is the most truthful statement about the nature of the world. It seems to be, but in reality is doesn’t exist, like a snake perceived in a coiled rope at twilight.
6. The meaning of the statement ‘the world is me’ is
a. The world is what is created by my thoughts.
b. Because reality is non-dual Awareness, the world is not separate
from It and because I am Awareness the world is me.
c. I experience the world in Awareness and there is no
separation between what I experience and myself
d. None of the above
Answer: B or C. A is true but it is a psychological statement. As such it does not indicate the identity of the mind and the Self, the knowledge of which is enlightenment.
7. Ego loss is
a. The goal of spiritual life
b. A precondition for enlightenment
c. Impossible, because there is no ego in reality
d. Possible through surrender
Answer: ‘C’. In non-dual reality there are not two principles, a Self and an ego. There is only one Self with apparent knowledge and apparent ignorance. ‘A’ is not true because Self realization is the goal of spiritual life and it is the ego that needs to realize that it is the Self. The Self illumines both the presence and absence of the ego. ‘B’ is untrue for the same reason that ‘A’ is untrue; enlightenment is for the ego. ‘D’ is untrue because the ego will not do anything to threaten its existence. ‘E’ is a myth because the Self, Awareness, is not in opposition to the presence or absence of anything; enlightenment is Self knowledge, knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt “I am limitless Awareness.”
8. Enlightenment is
a. Being in the now
b. A mind with no thoughts
c. The fourth state of Consciousnesss
d. The nature of the Self
e. The knowledge “I am limitless Awareness and not this body/mind.”
Answer: D or E. ‘A’ is not true because you can’t be ‘in’ the now. The ‘now’ is in you, Awareness. How can you be ‘in’ yourself? You are yourself. ‘B’ is not true because the Self is always free of the mind and enlightenment is Self knowledge. Additionally, everyone has experienced the absence of thoughts in deep sleep but remains unenlightened when awake. ‘C’ is not true because there are only three states of consciousness: waking dream and deep sleep. The Self is not a ‘state.’ It is the Awareness because of which the states are known.
9. Nothing ever happened
a. is a clever spiritual cliche
b. means I wasn’t paying attention so I missed what happened
c. means the world doesn’t exist
d. means reality is uncreated
e. is the statement of a person in nirvikalpa Samadhi
Answer: D. It is not possible for time and creation to exist in a non-dual reality except as a projection, like a dream. Things seem to be born and die because the Self is not known for what it is. ‘C’ is not true because the world enjoys a temporary existence. ‘E’ is untrue because nirvikalpa Samadhi is a state in which there is no person to know or experience nothingness.
10. The Self is
a. made of many parts
b. the forth state of consciousness
c. a void, a nothingness
d. a partless whole
e. the person indicated on my driver’s license
f. my body, feelings and emotions
g. my soul
Answer: D. ‘A’ is not true. Only the body and mind are made of parts. ‘B’ is not true because there are only three states of consciousness: waking, dream, and deep sleep. The Self, is not a state. It is the invariable Awareness because of which the three states are known. ‘C’ is not true because to say that something does not exist requires a self i.e. Consciousness. ‘F’ is not true because the body and subjective events are not conscious; the Self is Consciousness or Awareness. ‘G’ is not true because the soul is a limited entity, one that transmigrates. The Self is limitless and does not transmigrate. How can it move if it is everything?
11. The body is me but I am not the body means
a. I am beyond the body
b. The ‘I’ is sentient; the body isn’t
c. I am my personality
d. I’m schizophrenic
Answer: B. The Self, Awareness, appears as the insentient body without becoming unaware. ‘A’ is not true because if reality is non-dual and there is such a thing as the body it cannot be away from the Self and therefore cannot be transcended. ‘A’ is acceptable if the word ‘beyond’ is understood to mean ‘apparently other than.’
12. I am not the doer means
a. I have no arms and legs
b. I am lazy
c. There is nothing you can do to get enlightened
d. I am actionless Awareness
e. I am an enjoyer
13. What happens
a. is created by my thoughts
b. is a statement about who I am
c. is caused by the world in which I live
d. is the result of my past actions
e. has nothing to do with me at all
Ans: E. The Self is always free of karma. ‘A’ is not true because what happens depends on many factors. Also many things happen that I have never thought of and many things that I think don’t happen. ‘B’ is not true because the Self does not require anything to validate it. It is self evident, self revealing and self validating. Things that happen have no effect on the Self and do not define it in any way. ‘C’ is not true because it takes an agent and a field of experience to cause things to happen, not just a field. ‘D’ is true if you take yourself to be a doer. If you are enlightened the doer has been negated by the knowledge “I am actionless Awareness” and therefore there are no actions and their results for you.
14. Surrender of my ego to the Self will not help me get enlightened
a. I am already the Self i.e. enlightened
b. If I surrender my ego who will be left to get enlightened?
c. Everything is the Self alone so there is nothing that belongs to me
that I can surrender
e. Surrender is an activity and no activity will produce limitlessness
f. Enlightenment is only possible through knowledge
g. All of the above
h. None of the above
i. B and C
15. Enlightenment is experience of the Self. True or False? undefined
Enlightenment is not experience of the Self because reality is non-dual Awareness i.e. the Self and therefore all experience is the Self. If all experience is the Self each and every experience is the Self. Therefore there is no unique Self experience.
16. Enlightenment is a state of desirelessness. True or False? undefined
Enlightenment is not a state. It is the nature of the Self. The Self is free of desire.
17. The Self is hidden behind the mind. The mind must be removed so the Self can be revealed. True or False?
18. Why is the above statement false?
a. Because the Self is self revealing
b. Because there is no mind
c. Because the mind cannot be removed
d. Only knowledge, not action, can reveal what is already present.
Answer: A and D. A is untrue because Consciousness is never covered. The fact that there is mind and a Self is only known because of Consciousness. Any covering would only be known because of Consciousness. Finally, there is nothing other than Consciousness to cover it. It is the focus on the events in Consciousness, one’s experience, that obscures one’s appreciation of the Self. ‘C’ is not correct because the mind is the consequence of impersonal Awareness illumining the vasanas which cause the mind. No individual can remove it. ‘D’ is self explanatory.
19. Which is true?
a. Enlightenment is the experience of the Self
b. Enlightenment is knowledge of the Self
c. Enlightenment is the knowledge “I am the Self.”
Answer: C. B is not true because it implies that the Self is an object, something to be known as one knows any object.
20. Why is Enlightenment for the mind alone?
a. Because the mind is ignorant of its nature
b. Because the Self is already enlightened
c. Both of the above
d. None of the above
21. One’s activities are caused by one’s past karmas in the form of one’s likes and dislikes. True or False?
Answer: Apparently true, but actually false. One’s activities are motivated by one’s identification with the likes and dislikes arising in the mind.
22. Why can you not be killed?undefined
Answer: B. The Self is non-dual. It was never born and therefore it cannot suffer death. If you answered ‘C’ you it is correct if you also chose ‘B’ and you understand than the Self cannot be objectified. If you chose ‘D’ you should probably consider visiting another website.
23. Enlightenment can be transmitted from an enlightened person to an unenlightened person. True or false?
Answer: False. Enlightenment cannot be transmitted because every being is already enlightened. Enlightenment is simply the destruction of one’s ignorance concerning the nature of the Self. The Self is already enlightened and there is only one Self.
24. A guru can give enlightenment by destroying your ignorance.
True or false?
Answer: False. A guru can only give the knowledge that reveals
the Self. It is up to the person seeking enlightenment to grasp
the knowledge and remove his or his or her ignorance by applying it.
25. Enlightenment is the destruction of all concepts. True or False?
Answer: False. Concepts are not opposed to ignorance. Nor is the Self opposed to concepts. Concepts are the Self but the Self is free of concepts. Enlightenment is the destruction of one’s identification with the concept that the Self is limited and incomplete.
26. If enlightenment is the destruction of all concepts an enlightened person could not function in this world. True or False?
Answer: True. Action cannot take place without a thought preceding it.
27. An enlightened person is free of suffering because
a. He or she is protected by God
b. He or she knows the difference between what is apparent and
what is real.
c. He or she has special healing powers
d. He or she is a vegetarian and takes lots of vitamins
Answer: B. Suffering is caused by confusing what is real with what isn’t. When you don’t know the difference you often take what is unreal to be real.
28. There are no enlightened beings because
a. Mankind is too materialistic these days
b. The few there were, like Buddha and Jesus, are all dead.
c. They leave the earth because it is too low for their vibrations
d. The Self, Being, is a partless whole and cannot be split into
e. God is waiting for the right time to send them to earth so they can
Answer: D. Enlightenment is the discovery that there is only one Self and I am it. A person who realizes this loses his or her limited identity. ‘Enlightened being’ is just a concept.
29. The experience of enlightenment can be made permanent
a. with enough practice
b. is impossible because enlightenment is not an experience and if it
was it could not be made permanent because no experience is
c. by the grace of the guru
Answer: B. The Self is beyond time and experience. It cannot be ‘made’ permanent because it is permanent.
30. Self inquiry
a. is a technique that produces experience of the Self
b. is a method of analysis that reveals that the doer is nothing but
consciousness, the Self.
c. is asking ‘who am I?’
Answer. B. ‘A’ is not true because the self is self existent and cannot be produced by any action. ‘C’ is superficially true but is ineffective as a practice because the one who asks the question has no way to objective way evaluate the answer should it arise in Consciousness. Additionally, there is no need to ask the question because the answer is already known; scripture and the testimony of the enlightened makes it clear that the Self is Awareness. Self inquiry is actually moment to moment application of the knowledge “I am limitless Awareness” to the ‘I’ thought as it appears in Awareness.
31. When you see yourself as a doer you cannot escape the results of your actions because the results of actions accrue to the karmic account of the doer. True or False?
32. Why is this statement true? I am neither enlightened nor unenlightened.undefined
a. Because you can only be one or the other.
b. Because enlightenment and ignorance are only concepts and the
Self is free of both knowledge and ignorance
c. Because only Buddha and other great beings were enlightened.
33. Why is the Self beyond both the individual and the Creator?undefined
b. It is the consciousness because of which both the individual and the creator exist.
Answer: A and B.
34. When you see yourself as the Self your karmas are nullified because your karmic account is closed with the renunciation of the doer through Self knowledge. True or False?
Answer: True. The karma appears but it is like burnt rope. It no longer binds.