26th of May, 2008 - 9:27
Brief reflections on the nature of bheda-abheda --- dvaita and advaita --- with their roles and consequences in Gaudiya Vaishnavism and overall spiritual practice.
22nd of May, 2008 - 11:00
Cross-posting from Gaudiya Repercussions: Objectives and methods in brief.
Anatman - Exploring the non-self
21st of May, 2008 - 6:33
The doctrine of anatman (Pali: anatta), a central concept in Buddhist philosophy, is sometimes juxtaposed with the Hindu belief in atman. The fundamentals on both sides of the debate deserve a good, careful look.
Journal Goes Retro
14th of May, 2008 - 9:52
With my laptop tucked away in my backpack somewhere in the dusty corners of a certain temple in Sarnath, and with increasing reluctance to spend time in internet cafes and amidst technology and civilization in general, the journal mutates temporarily into a retro-format.
Base Shivapuri - Scriptures secured
14th of May, 2008 - 9:23
There was to be no lengthy solitary retreat, thanks to forest officials and a number of other causes. That notwithstanding, I am still at Bagdwar, the source of the sacred Bagmati river near the peak of Shivapuri.
Posted: 26th of May, 2008 - 9:27
One of my gripes for a good while, even while amidst the official GV ranks, was with the extent to which the advaita-aspect was underexposed. Of course, in an environment where any sense of ultimate non-duality is regarded as an offence unto the personal deity, and where even acceptable non-dual concepts are relegated to the lowest rung of god-relationship, there is little to do in the way of balancing the presentation.
For all practical purposes, Gaudiya Vaishnavism subscribes to dvaita-vada — regardless of doctrinal nuances hidden away in the dusty pages of books unread by most practitioners, obscure references a scholar might point to. It goes without saying that thorough, systematic and sensible explanations of acintya bheda-abheda-tattva are hard to come by. The possibilities of advaitic realization hidden in the more esoteric practices of this hybrid vedanto-tantric tradition, in the attainment of unity of nature and awareness with the shakti-aspect of the universal duo, go either overlooked or wholly unobserved.
Dvaita generates bhakti, owing to the fundamental emphasis of the lasting separation between the servant and the served. Advaita generates mukti, owing to the integrated experience of unity it generates, dissolving the triputi of the seer, the sight and the seen, eliminating any sense of fundamental reality that could be attributed to either the objects or the enjoyer-self.
In absence of self-integration and dissolution of barriers between the individual and the universe, the dvaita-solution to craving, and very pointedly so in the raganuga-tradition, is the imposition of a greater craving, indeed an all-consuming craving, that overshadows non-deity-centered sensual and mental cravings. With this, however, the problem of craving has never actually been properly dealt with and dissolved. It has merely been suppressed.
Gaudiya Vaisnavas could benefit a great deal from integrating wisdom-contemplation into their routine practice. On the Buddhist side of generating wisdom there are numerous vipassana-techniques of meditation, and on the Advaita-side the classical tripartite jnana-yoga-sadhana of sravana-manana-nididhyasana, which seem to me to carry the same essential impact when put into practice.
Dhammam ehipassikam — the laws of liberation and the principles of practice exhort you to personally observe their reality through experiment and experience. Observe the short-term and long-term results of your devotional practices on one hand, and knowledge-wisdom-rooted contemplations on the other hand, and mold your ongoing practice on the basis of your direct experience of the utility of the diverse methods, rather than clinging to a certain set of practices on the mere merit of their supposed orthodoxy.