Dear Readers. I propose bringing our study of “Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond,” to a close now. The text from here on, in my opinion, is intended for those who have a functioning knowledge of the Jhānas. I’m thinking of senior monks who have been practicing for a few decades, or more – those to whom I show respect including, of course, the author of the book, Ajahn Brahm.
So what has been going on here these last few months? We are working on the book versions of the posts, some of them soon to be published, in time for our 10th Anniversary: 2012/ 2022!
There was one ground-breaking post in December 2011 and the actual starting date was January 2012. Special thanks to WordPress for hosting the site and to all our readers, those who have looked, liked and made a comment – those too, who engaged in lengthy dialogue on this humble platform. I’m very grateful.
To celebrate our 10th year, I think we have to re-publish a few posts from that year, beginning with “Jesus and Advaita Vedānta,” posted on July 1 2012
Jesus and Advaita Vedānta
POSTCARD#473: I didn’t know about Advaita Vedānta when I was a child and only recently discovered there were people like Alan Watts (and others) writing about non-duality in the Christian context, Now I’m convinced it is important to focus on the fact that there is something at the heart of Christianity. The uncomfortable feeling that’s followed me all these years – that somehow I missed the point of the Jesus Teaching – all this has gone when I think of the Advaitist aspect of the teaching. It’s the missing piece of the puzzle I just stumbled upon, coming from an Asian perspective, an inductive knowing and that’s how it works.
The reason I didn’t see it before is because the Western concept of God, having human attributes (similar to the Advaitist idea of Ishvara), contradicts the rational scientific view. Accepting something that’s scientifically impossible, just because it’s written down in the Bible, doesn’t make sense. It’s like a myth and that’s why Christianity never had any reality in the West. What’s needed is to take it all a bit further.
“… when human beings think of Brahman, the Supreme Cosmic Spirit is projected upon the limited, finite human mind and appears as Ishvara. Therefore, the mind projects human attributes, such as personality, motherhood, and fatherhood on the Supreme Being. God (as in Brahman) is not thought to have such attributes in the true sense.”
In Western countries, people are wandering around without a map. There’s the shopping mall and that’s all. How to let go of the individual ‘self’ if everything in the system is aimed at getting you to hold on? Looking for the way out by browsing possibilities will take a lifetime. The distractions built-in to window shopping behaviour are designed to keep you ‘shopping’ and prevent you from finding the way out too easily. By the time you get there you’ll have forgotten what it was you were looking for.
“The Advaita Teachings are pointers, offered at the level of the audience, so to some people Jesus would talk about “a mansion with many rooms” and to other people he would say: “(heaven) is within.” (And) without understanding Advaita and the way pointers are adjusted depending on the audience, (most) Christians haven’t a clue what Jesus was talking about ….”
Those who didn’t fall into the shopping mall trap just took the belief ‘thing’ to pieces to see what it was made of. That’s how it was seen that there was/is no substantial “self” in the centre of consciousness. It’s an operating system that keeps all working parts in the state of ‘oneness’. “We are, right at this moment, God itself, and we can rejoice in that – if we can break out of our individual identity…” If someone had been able to explain it to me like this when I was a child, the challenge to find out what it could mean would have been enough motivation for a lifetime.
Note: I’m including the Jesus Teaching in a oneness of spiritual teaching centred in that geographical region where the three Abrahamic religions arose: Christianity, Judaism, Islam and the connection with Brahmanic religions, Buddhism and Jainism. That region, from North India through to Israel and the Mediterranean, a distance of about 3000 miles, say from New York to San Francisco? I see it like a highway of knowledge, wisdom and information. All of it coming and going along the route many centuries before Jesus was born and many centuries after. All the world’s religions arose here.
Congratulation on ten years of blogging and your upcoming books. So good to hear your voive again here. I enjoyed reading Ajahn Brahm but found it so discouraging to be so “not there” and having no hope of ever getting there at this point. But that’s just me. Good luck with all and, again, congratulations!
Hi Ellen, I agree about reading the text and finding I’m so “not there” and this was discouraging. At the same time there were a number of points raised in that book I wanted to discuss with others and write about in the blog. The format of simply reading the text week after week didn’t suit that sort of presentation, – selected Ajahn Brahm quote, question/answer and variations etc. Maybe now we’ve reached ‘the end’, an inspiring quote from earlier in the book could stimulate discussion.
Thanks for your comment, I received notification from WordPress the other day, saying I’d reached ten years and there was a WP icon I might paste on the front page.
Congratulations on your anniversary and upcoming books! Since I began studying yoga, I’ve enjoyed looking at how ishvara pranidhana can be approached from a Buddhist sense, with the personal aspect removed. Would you be willing to share where your quote came from? It sounds like some interesting reading, as his post has been.
Oops: *this* post.
Good to hear from you again. Interesting point you raise about “how ishvara pranidhana can be approached from a Buddhist sense, with the personal aspect removed.” I really have no knowledge of Yoga, but it does interest me; the shift from no-self to the ‘Self’. You will have noticed this post is about 10 years old and written when I’d just started blogging. Regretfully, I was careless at that time, in the noting of sources for quotes from texts which got mislaid or forgotten in the discovery and enthusiasm for the subject Advaita and Theravadin Buddhism. Also how early Christianity could be included in Advaita. The link below is from the original post. The page has changed since I was last here but you might find an answer to your question through the search function.
Congratulations! 10 years already.. It’s always inspiring to read your contemplations and your experience with the Buddhist practice. I’ve listened quite a lot to Ajahn Brahms teachings at the beginning when i started practicing Buddhism myself.
Looking forward to the book, as you have written many great posts which will be great when put together. And of course, they were never separated in the first place. Thanks for sharing your voice and wisdom and please continue onwards on your journey!
Good to know these past ten years we share has contributed to your practising Buddhism! Right now I]m busy with things and editing the books ready for publication quite soon.
I’m grateful for your participation in these comments, from the beginning… I think you were one of the first