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Vedantins Hit the Neo Thing
Inquirer: We hear talk of Neo-Vedantists. It would be handy to know defining points where they go away from the true aspect of Vedanta, just so that we know what to look out for.
(Daniel: The above was a question posted on the Non-doodle Facebook group. Below are the responses from me and five other Vedanta students.)
Daniel: I’d prefer not to get into the Neo thing, but in a nutshell the Neos deny the fact that existence exists. This denial leaves the seeker either frustrated or worse cultivates a lazy (adharmic) attitude towards fulfilling its jiva-duty. Vedanta accommodates both the apparent reality (mithya) and “real reality” (satya), whereas the Neo view attempts to skip the unavoidable projection of mithya.
It’s true that mithya is not real, but not real does not mean not existent. Please use the ShiningWorld satsang section to further explore this topic. Here’s a good link.
Inquirer: Thank you, Daniel. This would apply to me regarding some of the angst I have experienced in getting to where I am now at. I have had to deal with the jiva, as you know. The turning point has been recent, but once you accept duality exists in the form of what it is, namely an apparent duality, you can then leave jiva in the theater acting out its allotted role.
Vedanta student 1: There are two things to a good teaching: (1) the methodology and (2) the shakti/aura of the teacher. In my experience, Neos only have the shakti/aura (and sometimes not even that). They lack the methodology of Vedanta (who are you?, what is God?, what are the objects?, what is the person?, what is karma?, what is dharma? and what is service or gratitude?) and therefore leave most of the people there with some shakti/samadhi which disappears after a day or two, so that the person continues seeking...
But to answer the question: I think it will be quite obvious after an hour or so of their teaching what is missing.
Inquirer: Sounds just like a spiritual merry-go-round, seeking some altered state that will never materialise.
Vedanta student 2: No one can talk from non-existence, which seems to be the specialty in that philosophy.
Vedanta student 3: It is confusing because some have been labeled as “Neo” who don’t deserve the prefix. Vivekananda is a classic example and target of this. Sometimes the disparagement via the prefix (if it is intended as a slur rather than as a catch-all placeholder for minor differences from classical Advaita) has been assigned by immature members of rival schools (such as Kashmir Shaivism or some Buddhists). Typically, it boils down to a misunderstanding regarding apparent reality, as Daniel points out above.
Vedanta student 4: James has been one of the main teachers carrying the torch of discernment between traditional Vedanta (or Advaita) and Neo forms.
Vedanta student 5: I have heard Swami Dayanandaji use the term “Neo-Vedanta” when referring to a particular, and incorrect, type of teaching of Vedanta. This incorrect teaching holds that one listens to the teachings of Vedanta, gains some concepts about same, then one goes and meditates in order to gain “an experience.”
As most mature Vedanta students know, the “experience” is already here. There is no new experience to be gained.
Rather than holding that the student needs to gain a new experience, effective teachings of Vedanta lead the student to recognize the truth of the experience they are already having, i.e. I am that brahman, unchanging, and so too is the reality of every changing thing.