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We Only Teach (Traditional) Advaita Vedanta
Conrad: Hello. I have two questions: Alexander Smit spoke about no gradations/stages to self-realisation, only gradations in (diminishing) amounts of ignorance. It sounds true to me, and at the same time I have the impression that I am in a gradual happening of self-realisation (or however you call it). Can you maybe comment?
Can you maybe give (more) clarity about whether the person at the site Invisible Guru Forum is really Jed McKenna (or better, the author of these books)?
Shams: Hello, Conrad. ShiningWorld has no information about the two teachers you mentioned. Also, we don’t know much about their teachings, because we only teach Advaita Vedanta. Perhaps the confusion arises because it seems that those teachers refer to their own teachings as Advaita Vedanta. It is true that they use several ideas extracted from Advaita Vedanta, but they mix it with teachings from other traditions and their personal views. Therefore, to clarify the difference, sometimes we add the word “traditional.” By this we mean that Advaita Vedanta is maintained as a means of impersonal knowledge, true to its object (the self), unchanged over time.
About the first question, the statement is true: there are no degrees of self-realisation. So we can only talk about two degrees in the mind (because all these quest for knowledge and “realisation” is for the mind). The first degree is when knowledge is indirect and the mind sees the self as an object (“I know the self”). The second one is when knowledge is direct and the mind has the hard and fast knowledge that you are the subject (“I am the self”). This knowledge isn’t gradual, because it’s you, as with the case of a pregnant woman: you are pregnant or you aren’t, not both. With knowledge it is the same: you know who you have it or you don’t. Realization of the self is the knowledge that you are the self, which is synonymous with freedom insofar as it shows you that you are the self and you are free of what appears in you.
The second statement in the first question can also be true: we could talk about gradations in amounts of ignorance (as we could talk about gradations in everything), but this is not a useful approach. Why not? Because only knowledge is important, not the levels or degrees that the mind can achieve. This is not important, because the mind is only an object appearing in you, and we are not interested in apparent objects. What is required here is that the mind gets informed that it is only an object and that you’re the subject, as you always have been. The mind that is still looking to reach levels or to see itself as self- realised actually stills under the confusion, because it takes itself as a subject. The truth is that you are not the mind, you already are the self (and you cannot be self-realised or not self-realised, because you are that!). The purpose of the means of knowledge (Advaita Vedanta) is to remove ignorance about yourself in order to “reveal” that fact. Actually, in a non-dual reality as this is, degrees are impossible (although everything seems possible at the same time), because everything is you: ordinary, limitless, eternal awareness.
~ Namaste, Shams