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Christian: Hello, James. We met during your satsang at Heerde Helios recently. I sat next to you at lunch and we talked about Advaita, and I was there also at the evening during the first satsang you gave on Sunday evening.
In the meanwhile I read a lot at your website, and I have to say it means a lot to me, the effort you made and the clarity you have on this subject. It is my belief, this has been growing the last few months, that Advaita Vedanta is truly based upon a system which, like you say, comes from the Vedas. And to attain this enlightenment it works the best once you go and explore this system with a guru and lectures.
James: This is true, Christian.
Christian: In my process of seeking I just read all the Neo-Advaita and wasn’t able to discriminate with my mind what is false and what is true. After my experience, which for this moment I would like to call an awakening, I was done with searching and doubt and all the anxiety a seeker can have. But… to be honest, I still think I can deepen this experience and I think sattva has something to do with this. I know that I am awareness, that the mind/body/world appear in this awareness, but I really feel like reading the Vedas and the Upanishads, Shankara, Ramakrishna and hearing other lectures. Can you relate with that? Did you feel the same after seeing this clearly?
James: If you are clear that you are awareness, then it is good to read the scriptures. They will keep the knowledge in mind at all times until such time as you do not need them. But if you are unclear about your nature as awareness, they will only confuse you.
Christian: My question would be at this moment: What is your advice to people who have this awakening experience, and as a second question, what would you recommend me to read?
James: I suggest you read my book How to Attain Enlightenment first and the ShiningWorld website, particularly the satsangs. Once you are clear, then you can read the Bhagavad Gita.
Christian: What fascinates me also is that there are gurus like Adi da, Osho, Andrew Cohen who seem to have problems with power, money and sex, and there are gurus like Amma, Ramana and Nissagardata who seem really sincere (this is actually also my feeling when I met you, you feel like a sincere teacher), so this tells me that there is a difference. I would also like to know if this been written about in the Vedas or Upanishads (the behaviour and responsibility of a guru).
James: The secondary Vedanta literature discusses the qualifications of a guru. See Vivekachoodamani. The people in the first group are not proper gurus, because their binding vasanas were not rendered non-binding and their sense of doership was not canceled by their realization. They perhaps had some epiphanies which they defined as enlightenment. Most never did proper sadhana and when they had some kind of spiritual experience and a little bit of knowledge they tried to make business out of it. By “business” I mean get what their egos wanted.
The second group were mature people with pure minds who actually did some sadhana.
Christian: I would like to thank you for doing what you are doing and your website (articles like Dharma Combat really are good reading!).
James: Appreciation is much appreciated, Christian.
~ All the best