Search & Read
Must I Be in the Presence of the Teacher?
Bill: I have completed the Advanced Course and am somewhat curious as to the value of attending an event such as this other than repetition of the same information but in a personal setting. I suppose the heart of my question lies more in the nature of and accessibility of a “teacher” of Vedanta and self-inquiry. Does attending to the online prerequisites of the website qualify as “having a teacher” or is this a more of a one-on-one idea, which could perhaps be satisfied to some degree by attending a physical event such as this one?
Sundari: The proximity of a qualified teacher is indeed a bonus, and if the opportunity arises making this possible it is wise to take it. However, if the mind is truly dedicated to self-inquiry and has a burning desire for freedom, it also works to be guided by a qualified teacher through other means, such as reading the scripture and listening to talks by the teacher. ShiningWorld is unique in that you have direct access to a number of teachers who can answer any questions or explain any apparent contradictions in the teachings.
There is a very good reason why Vedanta stresses the importance of a teacher. Ignorance, or the non-apprehension of the true nature of reality as non-dual, is hardwired and very tenacious. The mind is conditioned to think a certain way, and because non-duality is counter-intuitive and radical, 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 are not real contradictions and need to be resolved by a qualified teacher. Teachings and teachers abound who teach according to their methods and experience, but this is always flawed and limited because unless a teaching is independent of the teacher, it will be contaminated by his or her beliefs, opinions and experiences.
I strongly advise that you read all of James’ books slowly and carefully, and watch as many videos of him as teaching as possible. Also, the e-satsangs at the website are a goldmine of the highest-level Vedanta teaching; every question you could think of has been asked of and answered in many different ways by all the teachers. There is a search function that facilitates the search. Feel free to write to any of the teachers.
~ Namaste, Sundari