31 August 2016

Robert Adams and Nisargadatta--A Perspective

I knew Robert very well.  I loved him and was in awe of his silence and ability to talk about nothingess endlessly, mixing that talk with the elements of everyday life.  And, under Robert, I attained first the oneness state of becoming the totality of my manifest consciousness, and then experiencing myself as just awareness, watching the various states of consciousness come to me, cover me, creating in alteration the sleep, dream and waking worlds.  He was a complete manifestation of a Jnani, a sage.

On the other hand, Nisargadatta is an enigma.  He appeared agitated, uncomfortable, was brusk, irritable, and rude.  Yet his words seemed more true than Robert’s because he was so brilliantly clear in his exposition of Advaita in everyday terms, describing the spontaneous arising of consciousness, and our truest identity as the nothingness to which we will return.
Robert spun out a beautiful tale about Brahman, transcendence, and nothingness, but Nisargadatta broke the whole of the manifest and unmanifest into baby steps that led to a progressive realization in baby steps that are very compelling to the mind that he teaches us to go beyond.
If I had to say it, I’d judge Robert as being deeper than Nisargadatta, more thoroughly embedded in emptiness, more at rest.  But Maharaj was more engaging, more forceful in his exposition of the ways of consciousness and its relation to the absolute, the noumenal, nothingness.

That is why I refer to Nisargadatta so often, because his teachings were so clear and methodology also so clearly laid out. Robert on the other hand, taught dozens of meditation methods, mantras, and used many superlatives about consciousness that did not seem to convey anything useful.
But it was not until I had a personal awakening to myself as Atman, as the incarnated God-principle, that the brilliance of Nisargadatta’s teaching became fully realized by me.
Unlike Robert, Nisargadatta spoke of realizing oneself as the totality of manifest consciousness first, staying there for a bit, then going into Nirvana.  Robert said nothing of this step, which was my experience.  He did not distinguish between satchitananda and nothingness. Nisargadatta did.

27 August 2016



Robert used to say, “Ponder this!”  and then recite some common argument or theorem of Advaita Vedanta.  Ramana did the same, speaking to students about the nature of consciousness, and Nisargadatta did also.

This is because Advaita Vedanta is not purely about self inquiry.  Although self inquiry is the most prominent method extolled by Ramana, Robert and Nisargadatta, in fact Advaita Vedanta has a philosophy of existence, or ontology, as well as a philosophy of knowing and the limits of knowing.

Pure self inquiry, without a foundation in a philosophical model may prove to be both endless and fruitless.  So the self inquiry proposed by all three teachers above, is really a guided self inquiry within the confines of a model.  In fact, all spiritual teachings and methods are like this, whether it is Kundalini Yoga, chucker yoga, Christian mysticism, or the philosophy of the Bhagavad-Gita.

Thus there is a wide gap between pure self inquiry without having any idea in mind, and self inquiry based on a model.  The origins of Nisargadatta’s model lay in the teachings of his guru, Siddharameshwar.  Siddharameshwar offered a model of the self of many layers, from the body of waking consciousness with an external world perceived by a body, the more subtle layer of internal energies found within one sense of presence, as well as the bliss found that there, deeper to the causal body where mind was absent and therefore perception was absent, to the lowest level, the deepest level, Turiya, with a sense of I resides.  Beyond that was the absolute, which was the absolute I that new the eye of existence.

However, unless one already believes the model, it is unlikely herself in query without a model in mind would reach the same understanding as self inquiry within the confines of a model of existence.  Nor would the attempts at logical argumentation by Robert, Nisargadatta or Ramana really make any sense.

For example, I present briefly a logical argument made by Nisargadatta in one of his books.  I will not tell you where I found it, because that will force you to actually read his books and look for the phrase if I do not tell you.  I make you do some homework.  Follow closely the brief argument he makes, and ponder whether his conclusion follows from his premises, and whether those premises can actually stand alone as obviously true.

“This is a subtle point, so try to understand it clearly.  When I say “I was not” prior to conception, then what I actually mean is that I was not like this present “I am.”  But that “I” which could discern this must be there to judge the absence of the present “I am.”

“Owing to the absence of a body, that “I” prior to conception had no sense of being or sense of “I am-ness.”  With the arrival of a body the sense of “I am this” is imposed on the prior “I.””

Now ponder this: as clearly as you can, restate Nisargadatta’s argument in your own words.  Does his argument prove to you, make any sense to you, convince you, that there is a pre-existing “I” to which a body appears, which then is able to witness a sense of I am-ness?

There are many other arguments like this.  Ramana says your body is not real, because it does not exist when you sleep.  But he says consciousness, awareness, of sleep is there, because when you awaken in the morning, you can say either I slept well, or I did not sleep well.  That is, he is saying that there is a subtle awareness that exists throughout sleep such that the morning after the mind awakens, it remembers that it was aware of the sleep state.

I just want you to be aware that all teachers, or most all teachers, have a model of existence or ontology, and of knowing or knowledge, called epistemology, and they have a set of methods to confirm the model they are passing on to their students.

Nisargadatta is a prime example of this.  His teacher, Siddharameshwar, told him from their first meeting, that he was not his body, that he must not identify with his body, that he was Brahman, and even beyond that, the knower of Brahman.  He was given a mantra to be repeated endlessly.  The mantra was “I am Brahman and Brahman is I.”  In addition, after realization, he developed the technique of fixating on the I am sensation and following it to its root in Turiya and beyond, to the absolute or para-Brahman.

Since almost all spiritual traditions rely on a model of existence, and a model of knowing her knowledge, which shape our student’s spiritual experiences, and which also provide a framework for his future teachings to his own students.  Because there are so many different spiritual traditions, there are so many different models of reality, such that there is a vast range of differing experiences and methods, such that the awakening of one tradition conceivably is completely different from the awakening or enlightenment aimed at in a different tradition.

So ponder these things in your own way and your own time when listening to various spiritual teachers are reading their books.  Tried to tease out the underlying model that that teacher has in mind when he or she speaks.  If you do this, you are well on your way to finding your own truth because you question the source of the spiritual teachings you hear with your ears or see with your eyes.

26 August 2016

In the West, the distinction between matter and consciousness was clearly made only a few hundred years ago. But, because of science and technology, the realm of matter has always been given more attention. There is no science of consciousness or spirit.  In the West we are still trying to reduce spirit to matter, to the brain and nervous system, with the external world being real, and our bodies and brains create a picture in consciousness of that real external world.

For Ramana, only consciousness is real, with the material world considere unreal because the objects and experiences within it are temporary, changeable, impermanent, without a self-sustaining existence outside of consciousness.  For him, consciousness has two aspects: the field of experience and the witnessing of that field which also was an aspect of consciousness.  For him, the material world and all experiences were illusory, a dream, because they did not last, and didn’t exist outside of our awareness of them.  Thus for the Advaita tradition, consciousness was primary existence and we needed to recognize that all experiences, including that of an apparent external world, only occur in our own consciousness.  So everything is consciousness, you, me, waking state, dream and deep sleep states. 

Robert Adams held this to be true also, but emphasized that one needs not to identify with any situation within that play of consciousness, but only with the totality of consciousness, one’s entire manifest experience as an apparent human, and also the world of apparent objects.  They are one totality.

For Robert though, that which was absent any experience at all, nothingness, was the real source of consciousness, the no-place from which the whole field of consciousness sprung as its projection.

In the West, about 400 years ago, Immanuel Kant gave the name “Noumena” to that nothingness, which was only nothingness, because it could not be experienced, thus had no quality or characteristics such as time, space, extention or existential qualities of any sort.

Doug Harding called this place, “I,” and created what he called the science of the subject, wherein each of us became the source of our experiential world, and taught exercises to make this an existential reality.

For all, there was no death when the body dies, because only the existential aspect of our lives disappears, but the subject aspect never does because the subject is not within the field of existence. Our essence, as subject, as witness, as noumena, remained untouched because it did not exist within the realm of matter of experience.

For all the Advaitin traditions the path was the same: 1. Disidentify with the body; 2. Identify instead with our entire field of consciousness, our Manifest Self, which was universal and pervaded everywhere and was the same in everyone; 3. And then go beyond to discover and identify with the eternal subject, the Self, nothingness, which lies prior to or beyond any and all of existence, where there is no need, no want, only divine peace.

Other paths, such as Chakra yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Tantra, tended to emphasize one or more aspects of consciousness, such as Kundalini, the life force, Ma Kali, or Shiva, the observer, or the creator, Brahman.  Advaitins considered this playing on the surface of the field of consciousness.

23 August 2016


I talked to Marie last week and wanted to update her followers about her health and the 150 cats she cares for in Los Angeles.
Marie had been subjected to unending medical tests since I wrote about her months ago.  Her cancer staging has been upgraded from III rd to IVth stage uterine cancer.  The tumor spread to her kidneys and bladder, but apparently has only minimally invaded those organs.  She has had three chemo sessions each a month apart to be followed soon by a PET scan to see how far the tumor has retreated, and whether Marie can progress to radiation treatment to reduce the tumor further prior to surgery.  She said chemo has been very tolerable, which is unusual for this type of chemo.
But the stress of having cancer and worry about the welfare of her cats and keeping her surrogates supplied with cat food has left her feeling overwhelmed and vulnerable, and therefore unable to reach out to thos who so kindly provided financial support.  In the minimum, it will be six weeks before she can have surgery and another 8-12 weeks to recover after that.

But there is a dire financial need to support her efforts to supply her surrogates with cat food and other supplies, so I am once again asking my readers to help her financially.  I send Marie about $270 a month that I get from Internet donations and my own paychecks, which maxes me out.
So I am requesting donations for her to be mailed to:
Marie Schuckles
8860 Corbin Avenue
Northridge, CA  91324


19 August 2016

Every morning, immediately after waking, just the feeling “I am” is felt. After that, witnessing of the world happens.  First you witness the “I am” sensation, the feeling that you are, that you exist.  This primary witnessing is the prerequisite for all subsequent witnessing.  But to whom is witnessing occurring?  This is what Robert and Nisargadatta ask.

It occurs to one that ever is, even without waking, to the ever present substratum.  

The mystery of the worldly experience is at this point.  Now you have woken up, and the witnessing of waking happens.  The primary witnessing is of my own presence, my existence.  The waking state, or the sense of existence, is a temporary state, alternating with the deep sleep, waking and dream states which together constitute consciousness.

So, you need to become acquainted with that witnessing substratum, the invisible, formless, intangible self that is the listener, the seer, the feeler, who itself is not of this world, but prior to it.  This is That which ever is, who responds to his/her name being called when asleep, who hears the sounds of wind, rain, and thunder.