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Daniel A. Detwiler

Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta

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Hello Gillian, David and all forum members, I found a fascinating site called Buddhism Stack Exchange. On it Buddhist's and others knowledgeable of Buddhism answer questions submitted by people. They offered an excellent distinction between Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism. Those philosophies disagree about elements of consciousness and its purpose. However, what I especially liked is that the scholar recognized that both philosophies and practices admit to a "something else" behind this world of sensory experience. What it is called differs. I found that a uniting kind of experience.  I love Swami Sarvapriyananda. What I love is that he is filled with great joy. To me, the joy of the Buddha flashes out from his smile. I also like that he sings the beautiful blessings found in his own tradition. Even translated they are totally beautiful. He is a young sage. While I prefer the Buddhist ideas, he shows the beautiful side of an enlightened being. He is joyous, realistic, aware and happy with his life. That enduring smile of the Buddha is not found only in Buddhism. Back to the Buddhism Stack Exchange:  all participants have to sign a code of ethics before posting. They promise not to distort anything and not to engage in condemnation of differences. That makes me trust them much more. I plan to pose questions to the scholars about Buddhism and anticipate great answers. One final note, I have often wondered what Buddhism might say about the state of an enlightened one after death. One answer from another source (not Buddhism Stack Exchange) said that Buddhist thought about that state is "murky". The author said that it appears that the enlighteed person after death may become something like energy. I was delighted with that idea. In another post I am going to share some of my thinking about what that might mean. Daniel P.S. The swami always says this prayer:  Om, may you lead us from darkness to light, lead us from the unreal to the real, lead us from death to immortality. Om Shanti (peace), Shanti, Shanti. Beautiful

Edited by Daniel A. Detwiler
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Thanks for your response, Jeff. I didn't know that the question had been posed to him. The source I read related to some perusal of Buddhist texts that described what they called the "murky" ideas about what happens to the enligtened one after death. I don't think Buddha worried about it. If I understand correctly, he was just happy to break the cycle of reincarnation through enlightenment and was content with that outcome.  I can understand why that might have been "enough" for him. Daniel

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It is always a true pleasure to read your posts Daniel. Thank you for sharing your questions, insights, findings, and reflections. I agree - I quite like that code of not engaging in condemnation of differences. It's really beautiful when we can hold another's views as they are, and ours simply be held in return. It's not to say that debate has no place, but it is nice to know there are spaces in this virtual world where condemnation is to be left at the door.

If you have a favourite video by Swami Sarvapriyananda, feel free to share it with us.

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Hi Gillian, I would recommend Swami Sarvapriananda's youtube video on Adveita Vedeanta and his one on Maya. The first describes what Advaita Vedanta is and the second focuses on the meaning of the world we live in, which is somehow an apperance of the eternal Atman, the God or the True Self.  I am glad you asked me to recommend a video. I had to think seriously about which to recommend. That spurred me to think what I enjoy about Swami. I had already shared that he is younger but deeply aware of his philosophy, could be funny and is joyful as well as serious when he needs to be. Today, it all came together, he is a brilliant scholar besides these things. I went to a college, now university, filled with brilliant scholars. I adored them and respected them. My major professor at SIU-Carbondale and the chairman of the Department of Higher Education were brilliant scholars as were the two directing Pediatricians I worked with in the Department of Pediatrics. It is clear that I am having a very positive transference reaction to Swami. I love his dedication to learning. He is a true master of Advaita Vedanta. So skilled, that he can admit all the challenges to it, value other philophies and religions in their particular quests and have his ear on popular culture. Quite a person. I prefer Buddhist philosophy and psychology but their scholars have met their match in Swami Sarvapriananda. Daniel

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Hi Gillian, I just finished watching Swami S. in an older youtube done when he was even younger. He lectures at the NY vedanta society. In this talk, called, I believe "The practical Approach to Vedanta"  Swami is at his best! He compresses all of Advaita Vendanta into one lecture. I truly recommmend this one! I loved the line "We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are a spiritual being having a human experiences." That is as close to a one line capsule of the belief of Advaita Vedanta that I think anyone could produce. I have to admit, his brilliance, his use of colloquial American phrases and his mastery of the languages of India make him such a terrific speaker. I am going to give myself pause from watching him. Why? His magic is working. I am having a harder and harder time not believing that Advaita Vedanta may actually be correct! Daniel

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Hi Daniel, Lovely to hear from you. Is this the one? 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDEMqFzejj4

I have heard that line before though I can't think of where - "We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience." It rings true! 

I am so glad to hear that his teachings are working and you are taking a break to live them. Thank you for all that you've shared with us.

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Hi Gillian, while I would bet that the one you sent covers virtually the same topic, it is not the one I watched. However, when I opened this one among other Swami S. works listed on the side, I found the one I did watch! The exact title is "Practical applications of Vedanta" Swami Sarvapriananda, Vedanta Society, April 24, 2016."  I recommend searching for this specific one for several reasons. Swami S. starts the talk by reviewing the impact of Swami Vivikananada(sp?). Swami V was, I believe, the swami who brought Advaita Vedanta to New York in 1895. Swami S. says how powerful he finds the talks of Swami V. Guess What? This talk is a direct line to that power. Swami S. sees, hears and feels it all and communicates it with warmth, kindness and humor! It is what some Christian religionists would say is "getting the WORD" . It feels fully developed and authentic. I hope you can find this specific talk. Daniel

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I am glad you found it. My admiration for the excellent scholar and teacher that Swami S. is just grows. He is an engaging person. I still remember the question I was going to ask Rupert Spira "What do humans and indeed all of creation "get" out of being a thought of consciousness/God?" Rupert and, I believe Swami S. indicate that we, the created thoughts, are the ways consciousness/God has to know about itself, through us" A rebellious streak in me wants to say with a very snarky tone "Isn't that nice for Consciousness/God!. It found a way to know itself".  I wonder "What does creation "get" out of this? To my American mind, full of concern for justice and equality, this seems one sided. We go through all of our ups and downs just so Consciousness/God  can know itself? I can't tell you how much better I feel know that I have let out those feelings of unfairness and injustice! I am going to switch tones completely here: I have watched many videos about near death experiences. About one in five seem real. The others seem some how made up to get attention. There are now national organizations who meet to discuss and it seems, brag about, their NDE's! Among the videos, however, are some with a description I can relate to. In those, time and space are the horizon of a field they stand in. There is a hint of golden light in a twilight kind of sky. These people feel that all of space and time are present. The Golden light is the Being of Light. They report and most of the NDE people also do, the feeling of complete unconditional love from that Being of Light. They might see a vague outline of the Being but nothing more. One was a Roman Catholic Priest. He saw and felt something far beyond any doctrine. No angels, saints or others. Just absolute love and welcome from the light. This appeals to me as it might indicate that complete love awaits after death. That, would be a pretty good payoff for being the means through which Consciousness/God uses us to know itself. Anyway, that's where I am at this point. Daniel

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What a lovely reflection as always Daniel. I have been meditating on and contemplating death quite a lot recently. It has felt raw and also so very freeing. I have heard similar things to what you've shared here, that people explain what comes after life as being something like unconditional love and acceptance. One such person who talked about this is actually a doctor, Zach Bush, who retells what he learned when working with patients who had NDEs. I will share a video of him talking about it here in case you are interested:

Another short video I watched the other day on the subject of death was this one:

 

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Hi Gillian, I watched both of these videos and they are equisite! I like thinking that a beautiful experience comes after death. I am also getting more comfortable thinking of (or recognizing?) that after all I am simply consciousness. Consciousness that experiences through this mind, this intellect, this brain and this body. I am into day 23 of the FitMind program which comes after completion of the 100 days program. Today, the leader had us focus on the consciousness behind our eyes. He posed the question "Who is it that sees through your eyes?" In the old days when mindfulness and meditation were new that question scared me. Now, not as much. It still feels like to admit I am consciousness is something that takes a leap; the kind of leap when you step into the not well known willingly, like bungee jumping off a bridge. If you can do it, the exhilaration is reportedly magnificent. Fear transforms into delight. I want to compliment Sean on designing a course which prepares the student for the deeper side of meditation after 100 days of preparation. Daniel

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19 hours ago, Daniel A. Detwiler said:

He posed the question "Who is it that sees through your eyes?"

This reminds me of something I heard before from a teacher of my yoga teacher training program. He said rather than asking why or what, ask 'who'. Who is having this experience? When we remove all the labels that tell us who we are, we are left with awareness itself.

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