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Isvara Shows up Asking for Teaching
Johan: Hi, Sundari. Something very interesting happened a few weeks ago. I was at a coffee shop reading, and next to me a man set up some objects on the table and took out a sketch pad. One of the objects was a statuette of the bodhisattva Kwan Yin. I asked him if it was there for inspiration or as part of his art project; he said both. The conversation turned to meditation, Buddhism, Taoism, non-duality and eventually, of course, Vedanta. When I explained that Vedanta was a scripture-based teaching upon which all the modern non-duality teachings are themselves based, he became very interested. He was raised Roman Catholic, as was I, and for him the idea of a scriptural tradition seems to have great importance. We have met a few more times since then. At one of those meetings I explained to him the difference between the belief in a personal, anthropomorphic God and Isvara – the order of things, the giver of results, the field, etc. – he lit up with a soft smile on his face and said he felt a freeing in his heart. Personally, for me, that moment was very rewarding.
He called me and wants to get together again this coming Sunday. I said fine and I floated the idea of meeting on a weekly basis to study Vedanta. He likes the idea and wants to go for it. I ordered a couple of copies of James’ book from Amazon.com and plan to use it as a guideline. I also have a copy of the Princeton webinar from 2012 where Ramji gives an outline of the teachings. I believe I can work things out from there, but does James have a lesson plan in syllabus form? One that I could use to help me unfold the teaching?
I know this all seems presumptuous but I see Isvara’s hand in this. I didn’t seek this person out nor did I put the desire for liberation in his heart. It was already there. I directed him to ShiningWorld, specifically to the satsangs. I recommended James’s book and I also recommended Annette Nibley’s website WhatNeverChanges.com. He was very grateful for these recommendations. Me sitting down and unfolding the teaching to the best of my ability was the third or fourth option.
Lastly, Sundari, let me say this: as much as I feel that sharing and teaching is my svadharma, as you pointed out to me, my love and respect for you and Ramji and the sampradaya is such that if you do not think it is a good idea, then I won’t do it.
Isvara will bring him the teacher he needs. Conversely, if you think it might be a good idea I would be happy to give you an update on our discussions, with all the hits and misses.
~ Much love to you and Ramji, Johan
Sundari: Hello, Johan. My apologies, I have just seen your email. Thank you for your kindness and respect in consulting us about teaching Johan but remember, there is only one teacher and one student and that is Isvara. If Isvara has showed up at your door looking for instruction about itself, you bet it is your dharma to respond appropriately!
James does not have a syllabus as such but as I have said to you in one of our exchanges, James is the first genuine teacher of Vedanta who has put the teaching in an accessible methodology for both students and teachers of Vedanta.
Vedanta is a complete teaching but if you follow the Indian traditionalists you will proceed very slowly, which is not a good or bad thing. Of course, Ramji has utmost respect for the sampradaya, being a lineage holder, and he upholds the tradition but he is not a traditionalist. Although he adheres 100% to teaching pure Vedanta, he has done so in a style that if one is qualified can take one very quickly through the very subtle teachings towards moksa. The evidence that this works is astounding and the number of people he has helped to find moksa is legion, both Western and Eastern minds alike. His teaching is not like the “Direct Path” in that it is not a shortcut in any way; in fact it focuses mostly on the teaching on Isvara-jiva-gunas because that is where all the teaching needs to take place, as we have discussed before. It just streamlines the teaching and eliminates a lot of the unnecessary Sanskrit. It is not a matter of haste, it is a matter of what works for different people.
His book is the format you need to follow. He has written it deliberately in the way he teaches Vedanta. It allows for qualified seekers to undertake self-inquiry on their own or in a group with guidance from a teacher. What is most important about having someone unfold the teachings for newcomers is that the mind is conditioned to thinking a certain way and will interpret the teachings through their vasanas, or conditioning.
As you know, there is no such thing really as non-dual teachings per se because teaching involves a teacher and a student. As awareness, ultimately there is nothing to understand because there is only the one principle, you. But there is a great deal to understand as the apparent person, as I have said above. The real and the apparent real may both be awareness but they are not in the same order of reality. This is what has to be taught. It is very tricky discriminating awareness from the objects that arise in you as duality is so persistent and seductive and ignorance so tenacious.
If you want a series that gives a brief overview, the Berlin Self Inquiry series is very good place to start. If it is too late to get a hold of it before you see him again, start with the motivations and qualifications. A very good beginning text is Tattva Bodh as it unfolds the terminology that is of utmost importance.
Trust Isvara; you have been asked to teach, so teach. It is what you do. Don’t identify with being the teacher, let Isvara do the talking for Isvara.
I would be very happy to have your feedback and I wish you the very best with this. I have no doubt that you will give this man what he needs and you will be of great service to Isvara.
~ Much love to you, om and prem, Sundari