Buddhism, Hinduism / Sanatana Dharma, Interview, Philosophy, Society, Spirituality

Episode 29: What is Advaita Vedanta? — Interview with Swamini Brahmaprajnananda


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As Swamini’s guru most eloquently put it: ‘In psychology there is no solution to the human problem. In Vedanta, there is no problem.’

Swamini was classically trained as a modern psychologist and moved her consciousness forward, based on the limits she saw within this framework. Thus, she trained under her Advaita Vedanta guru and master, H.H. Sri Swami Dayananda Saraswati ji — renowned as the best teacher of his time until his death in 2015.

Advaita Vedanta is an ancient body of wisdom which has two functions: to realise God/Brahman fully and to live day-to-day life well. Advaita aims to realise non-duality and also relies on the Vedic Upanishads as core guides to truth and realisation. Thus, we see these two functions in action: direct recognition of God and also living a wise life.

As a follower of Advaita Zen (also called neo-Advaita), I have gained a deep intellectual understanding of non-duality, the formless, emptiness, and being. However, the experience or manifestation of these has been few and far between, leading me on a more gradual approach to enlightenment via the Buddhist path — because I found that I was still suffering, or experiencing dukkha (dissatisfaction) in my everyday life.

As a seer of this, Swamini points out to us what neo-Advaita lacks in terms of longevity for the awakener, which my direct experience has also taught me. She elaborates on these points in our episode with ease and grace:

1. Neo-Advaita lacks lineage, gurus, and disciples
2. Simple reliance upon the Netti-Netti method (Not-this, Not-this)
3. Based on the individual human being only, without a larger context
4. De-emphasis on the importance of a guru, prepatory practices, and maturity of the student/seeker
5. No scriptural basis, as scriptures point out ‘what cannot be figured out by my own perception or logic alone’

We also go over Hinduism in relation to Advaita and whether Buddhism and Advaita share the exact meaning in the face of spiritual awakening, where I believe that they do and Swamini believes they do not… unless we interpret the Buddhist Dharma in the correct way

Listen, enjoy, and send your questions to me at curiousbodhi@zoho.com and find Swamini at www.discoveratma.com and on The River of Wisdom Podcast.

 

Buddhism, Death & Rebirth, Guided Meditation, Hinduism / Sanatana Dharma, Philosophy, Society, Spirituality

Episode 24: Gentle Guided Meditation on Death


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What does death feel like? Surely, no one of us knows: but we have our imaginations to help us find out.

One of the four noble truths is that life is suffering (or dukkha), if it is taken wrongly. Almost all of us have a wrong view of both life and death, because they are mostly left unexplored due to intillectual fear. Liberation from fear can be achieved either slowly along a Buddhist path or rather quickly, as in the case of Pratyekabuddhas (or lone Buddhas) who awaken spontaneously and without effort. With a little patience and perseverance, awakening can be achieved, including the reminder that life is fragile, will end for all of us, and no one is immune to Samsara.

Along with the four noble truths, another truth that we can see very clearly is that all beings who ever have lived and who ever will live, will pass away. This can be explored before the big annhilation if we choose — and it is very healthy to ponder, contemplate, and wonder about truth. We don’t need excuses as to why “we shouldn’t look at that” or “we shouldn’t talk about that” or even “we shouldn’t think about that“.

If it is an experience of the human kingdom, either psychologically or societally, then it is fair playing ground to explore.

Depression has been explored… anxiety and a whole host of mental ailments are being explored… the expansion of consciousness through entheogenic plant medicines is explored… sexuality… personal identity… climbing the highest mountains and looking through the deepest jungles… so why not explore our own deaths along the way?

Often our deepest fears are rooted in habitual tendencies linked to negative experiences in the past or the unknown and intangible future.

Let’s explore these together, if they come up, in this gentle guided meditation on death.

May all beings be happy; may all beings be free from suffering. May all beings be peaceful; may all beings be free!

With love and gratitude for my life and yours,
Jnana B

Buddhism, Death & Rebirth, Philosophy, Society, Spirituality

Episode 22: The Cycle of Birth, Death, & Caffeination

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It occured to me that I am in the cycle of birth, death, and caffeination. The first two are inevitable, and the second is my choice.

Coffee is like a grounding force inside my consciousness: as black, without sugar, maximum three and minimum one cup per day. It’s an ironically bitter, valuptuous, force that gets us legally high and becomes a staple in the day of multiple days.

We all have at least one idea or perception that we cling to, forcefully, as if it’s our last breath. Like that man who laid down to die with £20 in his hand, hoping he could still spend it.

In this episode, we go over some of the pitfalls of waking up — including why we don’t automatically fall into that state of non-dual awareness we are after.

The episode and my blog, here down below, are different. Here, this blog goes lightly into the deep edge of how the mechanism works to keep us from waking up. My episode goes hand-in-hand, speaking more personally and intuitively about this mechanism, so have your go at both!

As always, here we go…

The mind is a big player in the game of life, and she has been switched on since our birth, creating our physical and mental perceptions, our ideas about life, abstractions, responses to pain and pleasure, and pretty much every other facet of our personality we take for granted. This is the bubble of “me”, and everybody lives in their own; indeed, a person from the UK has mightily different values from somebody residing in the Amazonian jungle! For example, I have had the belief instilled in me that hard work pays off, and we must work hard for our money. Deep inside there somewhere is also the basic belief that if I’m not busy enough, then I’m not worth enough. The first is completely cultural and came from an idea my parents had from their parents whereas the second is personal and family-orientated (meaning that not all people in the UK follow that basic belief). So beliefs and perceptions can range widely from the societal level down to the personal level, and each individual becomes completely unique in their viewpoint of the world and themselves to try to make sense of what is going on their “screen”.

The screen of consciousness is not normally seen as a screen but as a true and accurate projection of what’s taking place. Whether that be sight, sound, emotion, or a recurring situation (potty training your kid, perhaps, or going to the gym like it’s a religion), we believe it’s all real and we’re in control of making the whole thing up.

That’s partially true. We have decided to make it all up, but not from “our self” — but from the standpoint of Awareness itself — which is responsible through all our life changes from birth until death. But we don’t recognise that. When we’re in the thick of it, we carry all our projected baggage and see mostly endless rows of bags: essentially, the construction of the self.

The easiest portion of ourselves to cling to is our body — if we have any doubt we exist, we can rely on our body to confirm that we do. (Deep sleep, comas, and being under aneasthetic cause loss of awareness of the body lead us to believe we don’t exist for a while. Think about that!)

So our brain sort of hallucinates a basic self-image into our consciousness that stays with us for a matter of time — until it changes, eventually. Maybe once we viewed ourselves as a serious person and now we’re a relaxed person. We had a different self-image when we were 16 than when we were 26. It’s all relative and constantly changing, but if we can’t see that that is the case, then we can “get stuck” in ideas about ourselves that no longer serve us. It happens all the time.

But I believe that consciousness is always looking to expand its awareness, capabilities, and smash down limitations of the mental, physical, and spiritual realms; we let go from time to time. It’s just that the ultimate smash-down is the death of the ego itself. And that is not going to happen overnight. So we have to be aware of the fact that there will be limitations and setbacks. This is a natural part of the awakening process, so don’t give up!

Maybe that’s why Buddhists says it might take lifetimes…

Interview, Society, Spirituality

Episode 21: Energy, Tantra, and Awakening with Julie Jancius


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Welcome Julie Jancius to the show! Julie noticed she could communicate with the Other Side as she was mundanely brushing through her daughter’s hair, and her deceased father’s voice rang clear through her mind. He had a message for her! Far from being a one-off, she now honed her gift and brings through messages for people having a hard time on this planet from the Other Side, where passed relatives, friends, and angels give their advice from this higher vibration. She explains clearly how this happens in our episode together.

This has me wondering… is the Other Side completely omniscient? Or do they know more than we know about ourselves, simply because they are no longer “people like us” but “transformed energy” that operates on a level that knows energy, love, and wisdom with ease?

Aside from the Other Side, we share our knowledge on energy, both within and without the physical body… dive into the true meaning of Tantra and Kundalini… and share our personal awakening stories that may resonate with yours.

If you have an awakening story to share, please email curiousbodhi@zoho.com so we can get you on the show!

Buddhism, Hinduism / Sanatana Dharma, Philosophy, Society, Spirituality

Episode 19: Building an Ecological House – Part II


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Building an ecological house… is what I am going to do. Because I feel a responsiblity towards taking care of myself and changing the current situation on earth.

People, like you and me, are starting to wake up and bypass the status quo, because the disillusionment of pleasing authorities that exist in our imaginations is over-grown, like disengaged tree branches falling and crippling away at their stems.

Bodily freedom comes with enjoying life’s blessings and eliminating the stress of chasing bills for energy companies who could give a damn if we stay warm or not. Freedom comes when we are living authentically, under less pressure, acknowledging the inner space to let thoughts, emotions, sensations, and material sense objects flow through our experience without having to cling to them. Our current cultures all encourage clinging: to business (busy-ness), to success, to sense stimulation, to future events, to familiar people, to our reputation, and more subtly, to habits (“Samskaras” in Buddhist/Hindu philosophy), and to self-image. That is: the external world and its multiplicity of situations.

In my previous episode (#18), I talked about how the Industrial Revolution ignited massive economic change in Europe and North America, spurring the growth of the consumer society we now live in. It’s not our fault, but we made rash decisions when the population boomed and kept growing larger. Cities replaced rural lifestyles, factory lines replaced craftsmanship, and railroads promoted long-haul transport. Now we have a system (again, imaginary, but passed right along by our forefathers) that encourages working to get by while life passes us by.

So… I will build an eco-house and harness wind and solar power to create a home where the family are reliant on nature and live closely with her; we will grow our own fruit and vegetables and freeze them over winter. We will nurture animals who come to live with us. We will spend time making music, taking long walks, reading, podcasting, painting, building guitars, and have a healing centre with massage and meditation.

I feel the responsiblity to be free — to inspire the rest of humanity to be free.

If you have similar ideas that need expression or an inspiring thought to share, then comment below!