What has inspired me the most, and matches more or less exactly my own experience is the Advaita Vedanta viewpoint. This is a school of understanding based on modern interpretation of the ancient ‘Veda’ scriptures. Modern exponents of Advaita include: Ramana Maharshi, HWL Poonja (Papaji), Nisargadatta Maharaj, Ramesh Balsekar and Isaac Shapiro. Advaita is Sanskrit and means not two, or, one substance not two. So basically, it states that all is one.
The classical Advaita teachings are mainly conceptual teachings, available to us in the form of books made from discourses with, or written by, teachers for the most part no longer alive. If you are really ready for new insights, then reading is often enough to help you recognise truths for which you already have a good basis of experience. To experience a living teacher can be more powerful, because it is exactly that: An experience.
I find it of eminent importance to not only read about spiritual insights, but to make them your own knowledge through your own personal experience. Which is why I say: DTFE – Do The F***ing Exercises – an exhortation to regularly perform exercises yourself. Many of the exercises which I advocate increasingly open your (non-local) perception in Universal Awareness (see Spiritual terms, short and sweet). Such experiences bring you to the stage which I personally term Enlightenment, the knowledge of the non-separation of all phenomena.
Enlightenment is one of seven facets of spiritual maturity which I have, looking back, been able to identify. The section ‘Spiritual discoveries’ describes them, from deeply asleep to fully awake. DTFE encompasses different types of exercises respectively appropriate for these various aspects – many borrowed or adapted from exercises which I learned as a group participant, but also many of my own invention.
I cannot remember reading or hearing about anything resembling these ‘seven aspects’ anywhere else – they are not classical Advaita. Their advantage is that an earnest seeker can note progress on the spiritual path rather than having to wait to get (mystical) ‘Enlightenment’; and can even select exercises appropriate to bridging the smaller gap to another facet. If you repeat such exercises and reflect on your experience, then spiritual progress becomes likely.
What I describe may initially sound like pipe dreams, unrelated to everyday life in the ‘real world’. It is not! DTFE and the hard to believe will gradually prove to be profound truth. I’m well aware that doing such exercises is not everyone’s cup of tea. Those more academically inclined are welcome to read this book, to leave comments on my internet website, and to come to my live Advaita Dialogues.
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