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Women and Self-Realisation in the School
Posted: Tue Apr 11, 2006 8:30 am
"The best women can hope for is to work off some sanskara so they come back as a male and have a real shot at enlightenment."
I've seen this bandied about here a few times, and I was wondering what people's understanding of it was, and where it came from. Since it appears that HH Shantananda Saraswati never made a distinction between men and women as regards self-realisation (at least in the recorded Conversations), I'm wondering how people were exposed to it, and by whom? Laws of Manu? The passage in the Vivekachudamani about a male birth? Something else?
Did your tutors repeat this to you? Was it something explicitly stated (and/or sourced), or something that was implied (and/or inferred)? Thanks in advance for responses.
Posted: Wed Apr 12, 2006 7:35 pm
No one ever told me to my face that women must be reincarnated as men before self-realization could happen, but there's a conservative Brahmanical interpretation of advaita that teaches it. I'm not familiar with the text you mention, but Chapter 9 of the Baghavad Gita could be interpreted that way. However.
A former tutor in the UK, male, who attended the SES in 3 locations and spent more than a decade in the School, who left on good terms in 1998 because he had a growing family and no longer wanted to make the time commitment, told me in a PM that the SES position was that women are not capable of enlightenment without male guidance. He also said that this teaching was introduced after the groups had been split into single-sex classes. Here is the direct quote:
?The school has some strong views on gender differences and these are subtly drip fed into the material, so by the time you arrive at a certain level, it is probably because you mostly agree with what is being offered. Once again I am not presenting an opinion on the morality of what they are doing, just giving my perception of their process. We originally began as a mixed sex class and it got to the point where it became uncomfortable discussing gender related topics. At this point they split into male and female only groups. I am not certain of the specifics regarding male and female abilities or the process to what they call the 'realization' of a person, however the thought is that women need the guidance of a man in order to get there. By themselves they would be unable to do so.?
Posted: Wed Apr 12, 2006 9:31 pm
self realisation - modern day alchemy
Posted: Wed Apr 12, 2006 10:59 pm
Have you ever stopped to think what exactly self-realisation is?
Have you ever questioned your own belief in it?
...is it not just another foundation that the SES has adopted from other organisations / religions and then bent to it's own specifications?
We've been fed this rubbish for so long, that even now, we talk like this state of self-realisation actually exists, yet there is no evidence to suggest this is true.
As I asked in another post, who decides if a person is self-realised? what are the criteria? surely there would need to be a certain amount of mental control for a mythical state such as this to be achieved, yet it is not possible for one person to look into the mind of another. So what...does a bloke (because it seems women are for some reason excluded!) stand up and proclaim that he is self-realised...I mean, surely by doing that, he has proved that he is not.
This is an example of how we are programmed, and how it takes so long to de-program ourselves. I've mentioned my own (on-going) journey where I am questioning absolutely everything I previously took to be fact and then looked at the origins of that belief, and it will come as no suprise to a lot of people here that a great deal of the foundations on which I was basing my life, crumbled at the first whiff of analysis. This process is painful, revealing, amusing and rewarding in that it explains a lot of crap that I went through in my 20's and to a lesser extent am still going through now.
So, who cares if women can or cannot attain self realisation - what is more important is that a bunch of people are spending their whole lives trying to achieve something that doesn't exist.
Re: self realisation - modern day alchemy
Posted: Wed Apr 12, 2006 11:51 pm
Alban wrote:...does a bloke (because it seems women are for some reason excluded!) stand up and proclaim that he is self-realised...I mean, surely by doing that, he has proved that he is not.
Yes. I don't understand how any organisation that claims it is led or inspired by "self-realised" people can take itself seriously. Such claims immediately create a credibility void.
As Sheldon Kopp wrote "If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him!".
Posted: Thu Apr 13, 2006 2:05 am
Nothing yet on the idea that women need to be reincarnated as men, but maybe the folks who posted that stuff aren't around so much anymore.
Alban, if your questions were directed to me and not just general questions to be considered, I suppose I find them a bit patronising. Yes, I've thought about it, and yes, I've questioned my own belief in it. My understanding is that nobody needs to decide if someone is self-realised, and no proclamation needs to be made. It's not a photo-finish in a horse race. Whether other people grant themselves that privilege (or delusion) is another matter.
There's no universal evidence for God, or for Paris Hilton's cultural value either, but somehow these ideas keep being sustained too.
Posted: Thu Apr 13, 2006 2:28 am
if the world is untrue and just something we perceive, once we are 'self-realised' doesn't everything disappear in a puff of logic?
(I now see where Douglas Adams got this from, it's right there in the Addy thingys).
Posted: Thu Apr 13, 2006 2:31 am
Alban wrote:who cares if women can or cannot attain self realisation
It matters to me who is barred from ?enlightenment,? ?self-realization,? ?heaven,? or ?eternal life,? -- whatever name the end goal goes by in a given religious/spiritual tradition -- because it tells you who the tradition doesn?t respect, wants to exclude, and will exploit.
what is more important is that a bunch of people are spending their whole lives trying to achieve something that doesn't exist.
mmmm?how can you be so sure it doesn?t exist?
I can see how if you grew up in the SES with its absurd misrepresentation of advaita and the mystification of it, that self-realization upon examination becomes meaningless. But I wonder if you have much of a problem with the idea that self-realization happens when you identify with ?the Other,? whether ?the Other? looks like you or not.
And Goblinboy, I would make so bold as to say that although I am far from perfect, I do experience self-realization from time to time. And according to the definition I?m using, I bet you do too.
Posted: Thu Apr 13, 2006 2:43 am
I do experience self-realization from time to time. ... according to the definition I?m using,
Care to share NYC?
Posted: Thu Apr 13, 2006 3:09 am
self-realization happens when you identify with ?the Other,? whether ?the Other? looks like you or not.
I guess she's talking about the "seeing yourself in all creatures, and all creatures in yourself". Never had that, ADG?
Posted: Thu Apr 13, 2006 3:18 am
Posted: Thu Apr 13, 2006 3:22 am
I just meant that on those occasions when I identify with something or someone other than myself, there in that moment, I?m partially self-realized. In a way, it?s nothing special ? it could be as simple as identifying with someone else?s suffering ? I think obviously that?s why a number of people who have not been abused as children in SES schools still concern themselves with it. In some way, it?s possible to identify with their pain.
The secular way to put it is ?treat the Other how you want to be treated, in the same circumstances? and advaita just takes it a little bit further, ?treat the Other how you want to be treated in the same circumstances, because really you are the Other.? That?s speculative, I don?t think it can be proven true. But the idea that ACTUALLY, you are part of everything and everyone else, so if you hurt someone (or something), you are only hurting yourself, could be a very effective way of getting people to behave ethically.
I do sometimes experience something more mystical ? like one time sitting on a train platform outside, watching the wind toss the treetops, I realized that I?m surrounded by air, all the time, I just don?t normally notice it because I can?t see it. I only think about the air if it smells or moves against my skin. But of course it?s not just empty space, it?s full of molecules. You?ll see what I mean if you picture the air denser, like water, and realize that you are swimming in air, all the time. Your seat is more solid than air and so easier to perceive, but you are completely surrounded and suspended in stuff. The boundary of skin is real but only partial.
Curious what you think of that.
Posted: Thu Apr 13, 2006 3:48 am
Anton, I don't think anyone's arguing that thinking about, visualising or conceptualising anything can ever be anything other than a mental activity. Likewise, the "proclamations of self-realisation" that are being spoken of. No real arguments from me there.
Some of you guys seem to be under the impression, though, that people who are not dismissive of the idea of self-realisation (especially in the school) must view it as a separate, momentous event, journey or "rite of passage" shrouded in mystery, and therefore be prize wankers.
If you're not seeing an idea of meaning, I don't believe it's mind play. But if you don't believe there is anything accessible to human experience beyond the mind, it's all going to be mind play, isn't it? Potato, potahto...and abortion, politics, euthanasia and the death penalty for good measure.
Posted: Thu Apr 13, 2006 4:17 am
I always split it into its two english words ( ie Self and Realisation) and understood that depending on your definitions of Self and Realisation it can be made to mean all sorts of things.
How I might use it now is as a verbal expression conveying a momentary awareness of the full extent of your holistic self (ie body, heart, mind & spirit).
I don't know the full extent of the junk that was taught us in tandem with some useful stuff that didn't belong to them, but saying that women can't achieve self-realisation is like saying if you dont believe in my version of Jesus then you are going to Hell. Quite what 'Hell' or 'Jesus' for that matter is, beyond an individuals belief system, I have no idea. But then it takes some kind of belief to wake up in the morning, so all the hushed tones are a bit out of place in my opinion.
Posted: Thu Apr 13, 2006 4:19 am