A New Way of Teaching
Again, I have been quiet for a while. Now that I have read Siddharameshwar’s Master of Self-Realization, I am aware both of the strengths and weaknesses of the Advaita approach.
One strength is that it is a model that provides a complete ontology and epistemology about the human condition, focuses on what is important, which is self-realization versus other kinds of spiritual knowledge or of attaining siddhas, and provides the method of following or abiding in the I-sense, the I Am.
However, one weakness of Advaita (and Zen) is that it misses the human condition that still binds most seekers, and tries to cast it off rather than use it to energize awakening. Traditional Advaita, at best, urges one to love one’s family and children, but to concentrate on the I-sense, follow it downwards into the depths of consciousness, to the deepest layer of consciousness, Turiya, and then even surpass that to utter silence, the Void of Voids.
The other even stronger weakness is that it is a simple-to-understand model with enormous power to gratify one’s thirst to know and to understand. One reads Nisargadatta or Siddharameshwar, and immediately the mind halts and one feels awe. It is so easy to make the mind rest when it hears these deep truths.
Like Einstein’s General Theory, it is so beautiful, eloquent, and complete, one rests in a state of pure knowing.
Yet, this knowing is still of the mind. It does not penetrate deeper into one’s consciousness to the deeper levels of Samadhi, or guide you through to the levels of knowing nothing, becoming nothing, wherein all knowledge is shed and you become simple and humble.
You see, the traditional Advaita is so powerful, just reading it generates profound states of understanding in some, with profound “opening” experiences, that one often feels they have gone all the way and have a complete understanding. Very often they become very arrogant, filled with spiritual knowledge, which they begin to announce to everyone they know.
Thus is born the Facebook and other Internet gurus and also the guru-bashers, who smell the arrogance of knowledge, or the falseness of those who proclaim their utter purity and divine love. One can feel that these teachers lack humility and a certain humanness and loudly proclaim an impersonal state, or of a divine and impersonal love for all. One feels in their presence, the lack of the human touch, of mortality, and simple humility. They are teachers, and everyone should listen to their truth, and believe their impersonal love is deep and true.
It is so hard for many to ever escape this trap of understanding and embodying an impersonal, universal love.
There is another way of teaching that I think is more powerful and without the weaknesses of Advaita. I should also include Zen and Tibetan Buddhism with Advaita, because they beget similar problems as Advaita, and also miss the transforming power of human love. You will not find love in Zen, believe me.
This other way is by direct transmission of transformative shakti, and also just being in the presence of the guru in Satsang and Darshan, being in the presence of truth and manifest love.
This is why I hung around gurus for many years, looking for truth in them which I felt I lacked. This is why I spent 8 years with Robert, because I could feel it in him. I felt his “beyond this worldliness,” and its draw was infinitely powerful. To be around him and feel knowledge and knowingness drop away into the peaceful holding grace of nothingness brought such peace. One can certainly feel the draw of the Great silence, the stateless state beyond even Turiya, which is the ground state of the Self, the feeling that core that penetrates through and permeates all other states of consciousness, like the waking, dream and sleep states, as well as the mind with all its knowing, and impulses, as well as the physical body, and even the awakening Shakti itself.
Yet, one always feels there is something lacking following this path, a feeling of love and the terrible power of love to twist and turn you into a thriving, flowering plant, or by its lack, into a shriveled leaf. I am talking about human love, the love for another, which in its deepest form is really love of the Self, for itself, both in oneself, where the love arises and is felt, but also love for the Self that is felt and experienced in the “Other.”
I saw it in Robert. Robert was always seeking personal love because he said it grounded him and kept him in the world. What he meant was that love of the self turned inward resulted in a Ramana, benevolent and impersonal, but love of the self turned outwards, brought a transformative power both to the guru and to those who loved him or her.
Yes, Robert loved me. I could feel it all the time. But he also sought the love of a woman to ground himself, to excite and energize that Self-layer of his, as well as energize the Self-knowing quality in the woman. We men students were largely left out of the masculine/feminine transformation around Robert, and most felt the Void and beyond, which can become very, very dry.
I truly believe that one is OFTEN best served by having a guru of the opposite sex, for it can use human love as a transformative energy, a sort of conscious or unconscious Tantra.
I do not want to digress too much in this area, it is only an example of what I saw over 40 years of being around countless gurus: human love in all its forms is an essential part of the best sorts of transformation. It always will destroy the arrogance of knowledge that Advaita and Tibetan Buddhism can bring, as well as the Zen arrogance of knowing nothing. Love, human love as between lovers, or the guru/chela, is humbling and transformative.
Therefore, I think there is a more powerful way of teaching than teaching Advaita or Zen or other forms of Buddhism, and that is direct transmission, outside of the teachings, through respect and love, mostly in silence, while being in the presence of the teacher—someone who has realized the Self.
I admit I totally pooh-poohed such a way of teaching in the past, because it lacked knowingness, understanding, and a method. The only method was to be in the presence of the guru, and lacking that, of a highly evolved lover.
This is the model of Muktananda and currently, Amma, the hugging guru.
I saw Amma several times before I met Robert and felt nothing from her, but I saw the profound impact she had on many. I dismissed her and her approach then as not for me. Also, for me, Muktananda was the same: a silly old man with no particular teachings, or anything else going for him, but who also had an enormous impact on thousands of students through his shakti.
But I see the trap of knowledge and knowingness so easily sprung on Advaita and Buddhist students, which I have seen at work in our own Sangha. Thus from now on, I will emphasize “Truth” less, and the need for love, both personal and impersonal, and for physical presence, more, much more.