Search & Read
Buddhism Prepares the Mind
Sundari: Hello, Simon. I am happy for you that Vedanta has found you, and you are blessed to have found James through David. You will not find a better teacher anywhere, although there are teachers as good, they have a different style of teaching. The Dayananda Ashram in South India offers a three-year intensive course which is excellent. It started several months ago though, so it might be too late to join in. There is also Chinmaya Ashram in Bombay. They offer online courses as well. The best would be to go and see Swamini Atmaprakashanda in London. She is a true Vedanta teacher; you can trust her.
In addition, it would be helpful to do Swami Dayananda’s Bhagavad Gita home-study course. It is available on the internet. The problem with it though is that it is Sanskrit-heavy, which is hard to understand if you are not familiar with it.
I can understand you wanting to immerse yourself in the teachings, but there is actually no need to go anywhere to do self-inquiry. Commit yourself 100% to sadhana and the scripture. Read James’ book How to Attain Enlightenment very carefully, signing on to the logic, watch as many of James’ DVDs as possible, read the massive volume of high-voltage Vedanta available in the satsang section of the Shining World website, as well as the many articles and publications. We are also offering a 12-month course, all information available on the website under “What’s New.”
If it is possible to attend any of James’ seminars, that would be very helpful. Vedanta if properly unfolded will take care of all doubts, assuming the mind is qualified and ready to assimilate it. Vedanta stresses the importance of a qualified teacher to unfold the teachings because ignorance – or the non-apprehension of the true nature of reality as non-dual – is hard-wired and very tenacious. As the mind is conditioned to think a certain way and non-duality so counterintuitive, unless the mind is guided in its exposure to Vedanta it will interpret Vedanta according to its conditioning, or vasanas. There are apparent contradictions within the teachings which need to be resolved by a qualified teacher. Teachings and teachers abound who teach according to their own methods and experience, but this is always flawed and limited because, unless a teaching is impersonal and independent of the teacher, it will be contaminated by his or her beliefs, opinions and experiences.
Vedanta has no problem with Buddhism as a means to purify the mind to prepare it for self-inquiry. We have many Buddhists who have had the same experience you have had with Buddhism asking us for teaching. The main reason why Buddhists get stuck in their spiritual quest is Buddhism teaches that enlightenment is based on experience, not knowledge, enlightenment being a “state” to be achieved by action. Buddhism does not have a valid and independent means of knowledge to teach self-knowledge, which is why it parts company with Vedanta.
Vedanta teaches that all states of mind are objects known to awareness – you cannot gain something you already have – and only self-knowledge removes ignorance, not experience. Experience is an object known to you, awareness. Experience is not real and it always ends because it takes place in time – “real” defined by that which is always present and never changes – a definition that only fits awareness. Vedanta teaches that you are not the doer and you do not need any particular experience to experience awareness because you already are awareness and you are only ever experiencing awareness – you just don’t know it because you have an ignorance problem.
We are happy to help you with your self-inquiry if you would like us to teach you, but we need you to read James’ book, watch his videos and read the e-satsangs first, doing some foundation work so that you know what questions to ask.
~ Namaste, Sundari