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NB. This blog will not be updated any more.
Instead, I invite you to look at the Facebook group I have started on the subject of Nonduality - Oneness - Advaita. Please click here to go there.

As is well-known to many spiritual seekers, non-duality is a spiritual teaching with ancient roots. Often, it is also referred to with the Sanskrit term "Advaita".

The sole purpose of the blog is to share information and references to such material and websites as have been of great use to myself. I have in no way any desire to pretend to be an "expert" in this field of knowledge.

If you have questions, you are welcome to e-mail me at citron16@gmail.com

Non-duality puts an end to all spiritual searching. As Nisargadatta Maharaj pointed out, "the seeker is the sought". Why seek "liberation from bondage", when there is in truth no bondage and nothing to liberate?

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Overview of the blog

So far, this blog contains the following entries:

- August 2010:
- September 2010:
- October 2010:

Jeff Foster

If you are looking for something that goes right to the edge - and falls over it - then Jeff Foster may be just the answer! He consistently turns everything upside down so that one sees all one's ingrained concepts of spirituality, awakening or enlightenment blown into atoms. 

Jeff Foster belongs to a younger generation of non-duality teachers. He graduated in astrophysics in 2001 and as it is being phrased on his website, he "awoke from the dream of separation" after two years of searching. Jeff has his base in the UK, but as you will see from his list of scheduled events, he travels extensively in both Europe and the United States to give meetings and seminars.

Jeff Foster clearly adheres to the general framework of non-duality and frequently makes use of its terminology. That being said, I have nowhere seen him indicate that he belongs to any lineage of non-duality/advaita teachers or masters, be it Nisargadatta Maharaj or anybody else. Which is also entirely immaterial, as far as I am concerned. To me, it is the power and consistency of Jeff's teaching that makes the difference. He never seems to compromise with  conventional concepts such as "enlighthenment" or "awakening". And like the other teachers of non-duality mentioned in this blog, he ever so often points to the futility and meaninglessness of spiritual searching.

There are several books and DVD's with Jeff Foster available and you can find information on all of it on his already mentioned website. There, you also have access to interviews with Jeff for free download. In the excellent book "An Extraordinary Absence", you can read Jeff's moving story of his personal process right from being on the verge of suicide to awakening and clarity. The subtitle "Liberation in the Midst of a Very Ordinary Life"  strikes the fundamental note of the book from the very beginning. It is a gigantic illusion that there should be any  prerequisites for liberation! It is utterly unimportant whether our life is "glorious" or not.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Ramana Maharshi

To many people,  the name Ramana Maharshi (1879-1950) will already sound familiar. Here, we have a master of advaita/non-duality of unique standing. Even if 60 years have now elapsed since the death of Ramana, there is a strong radiant power around his life and teaching.

In a large number of books and websites, you will find accounts of the decisive occurrence that happened to the 16 year old Venkataraman, the name given to Ramana at birth. In some way incomprehensible to the everyday mind, an intense experience of his own mortality resulted in a realization of a character that transcends all words. Not long after this, Ramana left his home and birthplace and eventually arrived at the area around Tiruvannamalai in Southern India. Over the years, an ashram was built around him and he received thousands of visitors and spiritual seekers. Undoubtedly, the encounter with Ramana Maharshi has been a landmark to a great number of people.

This is merely an attempt to briefly suggest a few circumstances related to Ramana Maharshi. You will be able to find heaps of material and stories about Ramana on the web. For instance, at the official Ramana Maharshi website administered by Sri Ramanasramam, i.e., Ramana's ashram in Tiruvannamalai. Here, you can also subscribe to newsletters with infomation on current activities at the ashram, accounts from people who have been with Ramana, and a lot more.

In the truly beautiful book "The Essential Teachings of Ramana Maharshi - A Visual Journey" you will find a large number of high-quality photos of Ramana. Most of these were taken in the ashram in Tiruvannamalai and they are accompanied by short and powerful statements from Ramana. As a prelude to that, there is a good short introduction to Ramana's teaching and a brief biography. Even if it should be said that the statements from Ramana appear out of their original context, this is indeed a heart-warming and deeply inspiring book that I warmly recommend.

Even if the book mentioned above actually points very well to the essence of Ramana Maharshi's teaching, you may of course also be looking for a more conventional discourse on the subject. Here, the probably most widely studied book is David Godman's "Be As You Are - The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi". David Godman was born in 1953 and thus, has not had any direct personal contact with Ramana himself. However, on the basis of numerous records of Ramana's answers to questions, David attempts to explain some essentials of the teaching - such as the two different spiritual practices of "Self-enquiry" and "Surrender", respectively. And from David Godman's website, you have the opportunity to e-mail him, if you would like him to elaborate on particular aspects of these "methods", for example. In my experience, the book does not convincingly answer the question of how to "use" non-duality in one's life here and now.

In a blog entry of September 2010, Gilbert Schultz maintains that there has not ever been an "official" successor to Ramana Maharshi and that Ramana had no lineage - even if many have claimed successorship. You may take a look at the entry and judge for yourself! In there, you will also find a beautiful quotation from Ramana that may be said to express his teaching in a nutshell.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Mark West

Mark West lives in Australia and like his fellow-countryman 'Sailor' Bob Adamson, he has attended numerous talks with Nisargadatta Maharaj in the 1970's. It is a sheer blessing that both Mark and Bob have been able to impart non-duality to all the rest of us on that background of direct personal contact with Nisargadatta. Moreover, they accomplish this in a straightforward and easily accessible manner, without complicating or mystifying elements.

In his 37-page booklet "This ever-present unqualified immediacy", Mark conveys the essence of non-duality in a kind of a hard-headed, simple and almost spoken-language style. There are no "sacred cows" in this text, no illusions to protect. I warmly recommend this booklet.

On Mark West's website, you will find a wealth of excellent material in the form of free audio interviews with Mark, as well as his blog named "Notes from Kings Cross". You are likely to find yourself amply rewarded by investing time in this website!

On the DVD "'Sailor' Bob - Pointers on Nonduality" that I have mentioned in the entry about Bob Adamson, you can also see Mark giving a few comments.

Finally, as I have mentioned in the entry about Nisargadatta Maharaj, Mark has also published the book "Gleanings from Nisargadatta".

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Ranjit Maharaj

Undoubtedly, Shri Ranjit Maharaj (1913-2000) is far less widely known than Nisargadatta Maharaj, but it is definitely a deep inpiration to get acquainted with his teaching. Curiously enough, both these teachers of Advaita had Siddharameshwar as their guru and essentially, there is in my opinion no difference between their respective teachings. Contrary to Nisargadatta, Ranjit Maharaj spoke English, making him able to communicate without an interpreter with the Western people coming to him. He also partially uses other words and terms than Nisaragadatta, and his "style" seems more relaxed and at times rather quick-witted. But those are all external and, in the final analysis, unimportant attributes. In each their fashion, both teachers impart non-duality in a lucid and cogent manner.

Ranjit Maharaj did not begin to teach until he reached the age of 70, but then he also managed to travel to both Europe and America, along with giving his regular satsangs in Mumbai (Bombay). A large number of the dialogues with Ranjit Majarah have been documented in the outstanding book "Illusion vs. Reality", which in my view holds a key position within the advaita/non-duality literature. One can only be grateful to Robert Wolff for his extensive work with transcribing and publishing these dialogues.

Reading the 36 dialogues in "Illusion vs. Reality" from one end to the other, I felt the same "message" being hammered into my head all the time. Subsequently, I experienced getting the same good "medicine" whenever I opened the book at any random place. Ranjit Maharaj has a keen ability to dismantle one's mental concepts, so that they disintegrate into the nothing they truly are. For instance, it becomes evident that both "Ignorance" and "Knowledge" are illusions, in the final analysis. But I shall refrain from any further dissection of this book's contents - I suggest you allow yourself the pleasure of absorbing it on your own!

As will be no surprise in these times of YouTube, several video clips with Ranjit Maharaj are available. For example, this one from one of his dialogues in Germany. It is a delight to watch him and others speaking "live" about non-duality.  But the video clip culture easily becomes a fragmentary and superficial approach. Almost needless to say, time invested in sitting with a book in peace and quiet is likely to have a more penetrating effect and take one to a more profound understanding of non-duality.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Gilbert Schultz

Gilbert Schultz is clearly inspired by Nisargadatta Maharaj and 'Sailor' Bob Adamson. He writes on non-duality in a stimulating fashion, making use of the dynamic tool of internet blogging. Since April 2009, Gilbert has made his notes available in a blog called "Seeing-Knowing - Shining Through The Mind", which I absolutely recommend.

In the beginning of studying the manifold entries in this blog, I asked myself if it is really necessary to say so many words about non-duality. But as I went along, I found it more and more intriguing to read Gilbert's multifaceted angles on the subject. There is a refreshing atmosphere about this blog, which is free of illusions about anything. I experience that it helps me keep my focus on the fundamentals - it's all about SEEING and KNOWING, as emphasized by the title of the blog.

Considering the mind's propensity to produce all sorts of ideas about non-duality and anything else, it's surely a sobering thing about Gilbert Schultz' blog that he not only tends to state what non-duality is, but certainly also what it is NOT. Also, with respect to that motley crowd of spiritual "teachers" and "masters" out there, I think he puts forward some valuable suggestions on how to discern the real teachers from those who may merely lead the seeker into a blind alley. Having had some mixed experiences with teachers and teachings myself, I can certainly relate to many of Gilbert's observations.....

As just one example of Gilbert's critical approach, I would refer to his blog entry of August 22, 2010, called "Sacred Traps.....and pitfalls". I am tempted to quote from the entry, but I don't want to detach any of it from its context. Better read it yourself!

At the top and in the right-hand side of Gilbert's blog, you can navigate to audio and video recordings with him as well as to his e-books.