Mistakes against the Shankaracharya Tradition

Discussion of the SES, particularly in the UK.
Dr.Alan
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Mistakes against the Shankaracharya Tradition

Postby Dr.Alan » Fri Jan 11, 2013 7:21 am

One of my reasons to engage with this forum is to try and correct some of the negative attitudes I have seen with relation to the Indian Holy tradition and its truly honest advocates (by which I do not mean SES leaders). This negativeness aimed in such a way is not spiritually healthy for people to culture their thinking. However, it is one example of how SES and the like have damaged the good reputation of Indian philosophy. Think and speak up against SES by all means, but take care of your own soul and refrain from directing such negativeness towards the True Tradition , for your own future welfare.

So let us not develop negative attitudes towards the Shankaracharyas, H.H. Shantanand Saraswati or the ancient system of Advaita Vedanta. They are not the ones who have mislead us. SES and the like are the ones who should take the responsibility for misleading people who came to them with genuine intentions. Focus your attention on the differences between your experience with SES type organisations and what is written here, and form conclusion from that about who has mislead you.

My comments in this new topic are all meant to be in the context of the true tradition of Advaita Vedanta as promoted by His Divinity Shri Guru Deva. Three UK schools are included in some of the mistakes SES, the School of Meditation (SoM) and the Study Society (SSNP) all of whom have the same connections in India with the Advaita tradition. This came about indirectly due to the Maharishi going around the world teaching a meditation system which he claimed was with the support of the tradition which His Divinity Shri Guru Deva represented.
Contrary to common belief, this was not the same as the meditation system taught by H.H. Shantanand Saraswati to the SES, SoM and SSNP.

His Holiness Shankaracharya Swami Swarupananda Saraswati, who is a disciple of Shri Guru Deva, and was appointed in the traditional way to the western Shankaracharya seat of Dwaraka, was given a detailed and clear description of the meditation which the Maharishi was teaching around the world. His statement following that description was:-
"The kind of process you just described is purely imaginary and it has no connection with our Scripture of the Shankaracharya tradition."
This statement was made in public at a celebration where H.H. Shantanand Saraswati was present and sitting alongside H.H. Swarupananda Saraswati. According to the Shankaracharya code, He did not say that it was wrong, He merely stated its relevance to the tradition. There is no possibility that an appointed Shankaracharya would ever say such a thing, in public and with another disciple of His own Master present, unless it was not only true but was also important for the tradition to which He is committed to uphold.

In the same way it is not my intention to say that anything done by the three schools described here is wrong, or that they should not do it. In the context of the spiritual conditions in Europe and other western styled nations around the world, there are many organisations teaching one form or another of Vedanta. Not all of them, however, claim that they are continuing the true tradition of Advaita Vedanta with the support of the Shankaracharyas, and offering what they call "Self-realisation" to those who stay with them. So where these claims are made the question has to be asked, "Are they true?" if the answer is "No!" then we need to ask, "Why do they make the claims?" Naturally we know that it gives credence to an unknowing public to claim the support of the highest authority. But is that the only reason?

Where this involves promoting one's own ideas, money or power over the lives of others, it is a violation of the tradition to make such claims if they are not true and to use the tradition for one's own purposes. Therefore a time comes when the record has to be corrected. I do not say that the leaders of the schools described here know the falsehood of their claims. They obviously do not know. This I say because I know them to be honest and respectable citizens of the UK. However, we have a saying in the UK, that "ignorance of the law is no defence". The way to remove ignorance is to gain the correct knowledge and thereby dispel it.

FIRST MISTAKE - LOSING THE FOCUS OF THE TEACHING
Leon Maclaren's introduced a number of other subjects of study alongside philosophy. These were such things as calligraphy, music, Sanskrit, mathematics, painting (art), horticulture, food science etc. etc. Many of these subjects formed part of Maclaren's dream of a "real" university. An institution where people would come and learn how to be great artistic and academic geniuses. This was his attempt to create a British renaissance along the lines of the Italian one. We are still waiting for this renaissance!
Therefore the classic mistake has been made in diversifying too much and the sharp focus, so necessary for success with Vedanta and meditation, is lost.

SECOND MISTAKE - APPLYING THE TEACHING TO ALL - REGARDLESS
The whole of SES membership is not controlled in the traditional way of Vedanta. This way is summed up as "The thirsty man goes to the well for water." Traditionally the sadhus in India do not proselytise in any way. It is an ancient formula whereby natural selection of suitable candidates for Self-realisation comes about by them having to seek out a competent teacher and go to him for instruction. Instead of adhering to this principle, SES and others go out to the population of the UK with a vast and expensive advertising campaign.

The promotion of philosophy as an easy to access subject with potential benefits for ordinary folk, draws in all and sundry. Hence the reasons for joining are wide and in many cases not because people are desperate to live a disciplined life. For this reason the discipline side of the course does not become clear to all of them until one year or more of study has been undertaken. By that time many people are so invigorated by meeting others who sought something which has an "upper brow" atmosphere surrounding it, that their reasons for continuing were not 100% for the teaching but a large part for the sort of company they had grown to like.

Hence, the chance of progress for the individual who seriously seeks a spiritual life is really slim in such company; (i.e. the SES is bad company for a true seeker) apart from the fact that they do not have a single Self-realised soul available who could guide such an individual. The proportion of humanity who truly seek the Self is known to be very small in the age in which we live. There never has been and it is unlikely that there ever will be, any formula for the mass production of Self-realised souls. So to promise this in a round-about way without really having the capacity to carry it through is a form of fraud
Let me pause here before I discuss the third mistake, for comments from the forum if any.
Last edited by Dr.Alan on Sun Jan 27, 2013 11:17 am, edited 6 times in total.
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bonsai
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Re: Mistakes against the Shankaracharya Tradition

Postby bonsai » Fri Jan 11, 2013 11:20 am

Thanks Dr Alan for starting this thread, which was born out of you first post. So I have to respond and acknowledge this, make some observations from my own experience of the SES and ask some questions.

I recognise the second mistake very clearly. It is probably most clear as a pupil of St James and a child to parents of SES members. In this case, my own spiritual thirst was never allowed to develop or take me on my own journey. Rather that thirst has assumed to be there by virtue of the fact that I find myself a child of SES parents and sent to such a school. Call this coincidence if you like, though the SES and St James would prefer to bastardise the concepts of Sanskara to further justify that in some way this is a thirst that has brought me to this point. So my question is Dr Alan, from your understanding of advaita vedanta (truer or not, I won't judge) how should a parent and teacher raise and educate a child and to what degree should they foist their own spiritual path on someone in their care?

The truth is that what was foisted on the pupils of St James and most of the SES was one strict and intolerant man's spiritual path, without the fallibilities of the man being acknowledged, addressed or compensated for.

At the end of the day, my education at St James has taught me more on the subject of intolerance than anything else. There was no little lattitude of the pupils at the school to express their own curiosities and abilities unless they were within the envelope of what the SES masters accepted as pure and proper. It is amazing just how stifling and restrictive this is and the fierceness with which the boundaries were imposed, even without considering the punishment regime in place at the time.

On the subject of the first mistake, my main observation about Maclaren's dream to inspire a renaissance is that he was simply delusional. You cannot inspire such a renaissance by looking backwards at the past. Plus in many areas Maclaren's own ability in these subjects was merely primative, so the likelihood of revolutionary leaps forward were unlikely. This together with the megalomaniacal egotistical belief that he could cause such a change is more than just a mistake; I believe it undermines the little spiritual benefit that the school offers to genuinely thirsty truth seekers by setting the school on a political and revolutionary path rather than just helping people.

Bonsai

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Re: Mistakes against the Shankaracharya Tradition

Postby ManOnTheStreet » Fri Jan 11, 2013 11:45 am

Dr.Alan wrote: His statement following that description was:-
"The kind of process you just described is purely imaginary and it has no connection with our Scripture of the Shankaracharya tradition."
This statement was made in public at a celebration where H.H. Shantanand Saraswati was present and sitting alongside H.H. Swarupananda Saraswati.


Did you hear him say this yourself, or did the quote come to you second-hand? While this sentiment corroborates what quite a few others have said on this forum, some actual proof is necessary if the quote is to be taken as fact. I am not doubting your honesty, but we need to hold ourselves to the same standard of proof as we do the leaders of our respective Schools.

Dr.Alan wrote:Therefore a time comes when the record has to be corrected. I do not say that the leaders of the schools described here know the falsehood of their claims. They obviously do not know. This I say because I know them to be honest and respectable citizens of the UK.


I'm not sure that it is obvious that "they do not know". Perhaps they are delusional (as Bonsai said), but I don't think that "honest" is a term that could readily be used to describe them. My experience is with the leader of the Sydney SFSK, and she is one of the most dishonest people I know. In any case, it seems moot to mention our own subjective opinions about these people as a basis for argument.

Dr.Alan wrote:We are still waiting for this renaissance!


Exactly. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and if after 40 years nothing happens you have to wonder about the efficacy of the 'method' they propose.

Dr.Alan wrote:The proportion of humanity who truly seek the Self is known to be very small in the age in which we live.


How is this "known" exactly?

Dr.Alan wrote:There never has been and it is unlikely that there ever will be, any formula for the mass production of Self-realised souls. So to promise this in a round-about way without really having the capacity to carry it through is a form of fraud.


Well put! However, if you say it is a form of fraud, this would seem to undermine your statement above regarding your opinion of these leaders as "honest". Fraud is perpetrated knowingly.

MOTS.
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Re: Mistakes against the Shankaracharya Tradition

Postby Dr.Alan » Fri Jan 11, 2013 12:10 pm

Dear Bonsai, My wife and I left SES after our second child was born. The reason was that SES was beginning to tell us what we should do with regard to our private family affairs and with regard to the children. We had a third child while we were at The Study Society (SSNP). We continued there for about 15 years following the same teaching as SES but with less personal obligations put on each person. We never gave a single hint to any of our three children that they should follow what we did. This was the reason we left SES mainly - we wanted our children to find out about their own lives as much as they could by themselves, with full support from us of course. This is any loving parents true purpose, surely.

So bringing up children is a simple thing of loving them for what they are - supporting them in their own choices - and being a good example to them. And above all do not try to make them a carbon copy of yourself in any aspect whatsoever. They come through you - but they do not belong to you in Truth, they belong to the Universe - if you get what I mean.
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Re: Mistakes against the Shankaracharya Tradition

Postby bonsai » Fri Jan 11, 2013 12:30 pm

Dr.Alan wrote:They are a shining example of what SES does not want to know -- that is if someone is meant to take up a spiritual way in their life - they will find it without SES's help.


And I presume also, that implicit in this there is nothing "wrong" with not following a spiritual path, be that by choice or not yet discovering the inclination.

Thank you for explaning your own circumstances for leaving the SES.

I am certainly keen to know what you see as the Third Mistake.

Bonsai

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Re: Mistakes against the Shankaracharya Tradition

Postby Dr.Alan » Fri Jan 11, 2013 12:32 pm

Dear MOTS,
wait for MISTAKES numbers 5 and 6 for the answer to your first.

Honesty in this context is that you truly believe what you say. Dishonesty would be that you really know that you are lying. Then your story will change constantly unless you have a phenomenal memory of all the untruths told in the past. If the story changed all the time - no-one would stay at SES for long. It is a mark of this kind of "ignorant" honesty that there is some form of consistency. But ignorant honesty is not to be confused with conscious untruth.

Above is why I said it is a "form" of fraud - actual fraud would be knowingly - I agree.

How is it known - "Among thousands of men scarcely one strives for perfection, and of those who strive and succeed, scarcely one knows Me in truth." - Bhagavad Gita Ch. 7 v. 3 - a central scripture of Advaita Vedanta.
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Re: Mistakes against the Shankaracharya Tradition

Postby Dr.Alan » Fri Jan 11, 2013 12:40 pm

Bonsai -- the quote I gave from the Bhagavad Gita answers your query about "OK not to follow the path". Any person who truly lives their life by the wisdom in the Bhagavad Gita - would never think that another persons choice is wrong. This path is an all or nothing - you follow all the teaching - or none at all. Cherry picking is not advised - i.e. making up a Bhagavad Gita of one's own with bits cut out that don't suit.
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Re: Mistakes against the Shankaracharya Tradition

Postby Dr.Alan » Fri Jan 11, 2013 8:25 pm

One of my reasons to engage with this forum is to try and correct some of the negative attitudes I have seen with relation to the Indian Holy tradition and its truly honest advocates (by which I do not mean SES leaders). This negativeness aimed in such a way is not spiritually healthy for people to culture their thinking. However, it is one example of how SES and the like have damaged the good reputation of Indian philosophy. Think and speak up against SES by all means, but take care of your own soul and refrain from directing such negativeness towards the True Tradition , for your own future welfare.
So let us not develop negative attitudes towards the Shankaracharyas, H.H. Shantanand Saraswati or the ancient system of Advaita Vedanta. They are not the ones who have mislead us. SES and the like are the ones who should take the responsibility for misleading people who came to them with genuine intentions. Focus your attention on the differences between your experience with SES type organisations and what is written here, and form conclusion from that about who has mislead you.

THIRD MISTAKE - FAILURE TO TRULY UNDERSTAND WHAT IT IS THEY ARE TEACHING

SES type organisations convinced people that they have a super power teaching which will lead to inner development. These things may be true, but in a way they don't seem to know about; however, ego and personality problems are the main stumbling block. They do not realise that the teachings have as their goal, renunciation* of the worldly life and a total focus on the existing unchanging purity of the human soul, which requires diminution (or elimination) of the ego. Instead they focus too much on making the worldly life better and not the inner life of the soul. Emphasis is on paying attention to the actions in the world, not focussing attention on the deeper meanings of the scriptures and teachings. If those teachings had been truly applied to the leaders, they would have produced humble and wise persons, rather than the confused and egocentric personalities, which they apparently display.
* renunciation here for the householder means an inner attitude of mind leading to beneficial detachment, not turning one's back on the world.

One mistake is repeated by the leaders in all three, SSNP, SES and SoM; which is that they should discover the truth in their own life first, and become Self-realised, before trying to help others on that same path. If this had been focussed on 50 people 50 years ago, we might now be in a position where no one needs to go to India and we could get proper guidance. Gaining the realisation first is what the true teachers of Advaita Vedanta do in India; but where it is that those who don't bother with this and who set themselves up to be teachers of others, and have not realised the truth of the teaching in themselves, they are considered to be false gurus (teachers). Those true teachers in India undergo a lot of austerity in order to achieve their objectives. There are specific ways this can be done for the house-holder, not the way SES and the like are approaching it, which only causes stress and strain by giving inappropriate practices in a general way which may cause conflicts within people.

Teachers who have travelled the whole path are what we call wise men or women. They are fully versed in most matters to do with spiritual subjects. But wherever they are not knowledgeable on any subject they will always be honest and say so. Usually they will also know where to point you in the right direction if they don't know the answer themselves. This is not the case with the SES type organisations, in my experience; and from what many of you are all saying on this forum. I genuinely feel the pain that many of you are suffering. That is my only reason to get involved with this forum at this juncture in my life - where I have recently decided that this year I would take much more solitude to get away from the world. However, I am giving some of that up so as to pass on any help that I can give. But if I seem to have disappeared at some time, you may know why that is.

FOURTH MISTAKE - APPLICATION OF THE TEACHING TO THE WRONG AREA OF LIFE

These organisations seek to promote and use the value in the teachings to "improve the world we live in" or ideas similar to that. In other words, it is as if the practice of the teachings by groups of people would act as a kind of therapy for the world or community around them. So in the minds of their followers there is a dual purpose; one which may improve their individual lives and one which would affect, by their example, the lives of many others who come in contact with them. The fact is that since the SSNP, the SES and SoM have been practising for more than 50 years in London, such things as drug crime, sexual crime, fraud, greed, theft and corruption have all increased almost out of control. So the reality does not connect with their theoretical idea. In fact the example set by many SES types and the like is not a good one on which to base a civilised society.

This is the inevitable result of setting up an organisation to teach profound subjects as a "good idea" to as many as they can convince to join them, without realising that in the tradition of Advaita Vedanta the teaching has been carefully controlled for millennia, so that it is targeted at people who will most benefit from it. However noble are the intentions of SES types in the beginning, eventually human nature will dominate the situation and the people or person who runs such an organisation will get out of their depth and become fanatic in some way. Such organisations are sometimes, perhaps erroneously, referred to as cults. However, there is no internationally agreed definition of what a cult is, because it would also need to include the major religious organisations as well, if that description was to include such organisations as SSNP, SES and SoM

5th and 6th are about meditation - but it is a tricky subject and needs much care in the preparation. So maybe next week some time - if I have the time. Please coment on the above.
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Re: Mistakes against the Shankaracharya Tradition

Postby ManOnTheStreet » Fri Jan 11, 2013 10:35 pm

Dr.Alan wrote:Honesty in this context is that you truly believe what you say. Dishonesty would be that you really know that you are lying. Then your story will change constantly unless you have a phenomenal memory of all the untruths told in the past. If the story changed all the time - no-one would stay at SES for long. It is a mark of this kind of "ignorant" honesty that there is some form of consistency. But ignorant honesty is not to be confused with conscious untruth.


But surely it is possible to maintain a consistent lie? Communist governments did this successfully for 75 years - there is no reason why the leaders of these Schools be not thought capable of similar deception. I think it highly unlikely that after 40 or so years these people have no idea that what they are telling their students is false. They certainly know it is not Advait-Vedanta. One of the main reasons this forum has come to life again is because information to that effect has been discovered. It seems to me that consistency is a quality that can be co-opted by honesty and dishonesty - it is not a distinguishing factor. Deliberate plagiarising of Gurdjieffian and Theosophical ideas, and the passing off of these ideas as (at least consistent with) Vedanta simply cannot be "honest". They know that idea X comes from Gurdjieff, and if they know this then passing X off as Vedantic in origin is simply deceptive.

Dr.Alan wrote:Above is why I said it is a "form" of fraud - actual fraud would be knowingly - I agree.


In light of the above, the facts point to actual fraud.

Dr.Alan wrote:How is it known - "Among thousands of men scarcely one strives for perfection, and of those who strive and succeed, scarcely one knows Me in truth." - Bhagavad Gita Ch. 7 v. 3 - a central scripture of Advaita Vedanta.


To put this more accurately then, you might be able to say that it is believed by followers of Vedanta that not many people are knowers of Brahman, but this is not at all the same as saying "it is known that not many people are knowers of Brahman". Even if the verse held true at the time it was formulated, there is no reason to suggest that an identical situation persists today. It may well be that there are many more people searching for truth now - their journeys may not be in the form recognised by Vedantins, but that really doesn't say anything at all about their validity.

Re: Third Mistake

Couldn't have said it better myself. Absolutely spot on.

Re: Fourth Mistake

Yes - we used to get this a lot at the SFSK. "You're meditating for the good of humanity" and all that. This is yet another 'proof of the pudding' moment, and as you say the state of society today is really no better (in fact worse) than it was when these Schools started. There's a big difference between saying "The world is a better place because of our work in the School" and "Because of our work in the School, I feel better about the state of the world". Given certain parameters, the former is something empirically quantifiable and verifiable. The latter is indistinguishable from profound ignorance or even apathy.

I look forward to your next post.

MOTS.

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Re: Mistakes against the Shankaracharya Tradition

Postby Dr.Alan » Sat Jan 12, 2013 9:35 am

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Re: Mistakes against the Shankaracharya Tradition

Postby Dr.Alan » Sun Jan 13, 2013 10:26 am

MEDITATION or DHYANA

The term "meditation" is wide ranging in its meaning nowadays. It can be anything from a method using music, yantras (visual shapes), focus on breathing, use of mantras or other sounds etc. etc. But we should know that in the decade before the Maharishi came to the UK, if anyone heard the word "meditation" it might be associated with something odd, occult or just plain weird, not an acceptable word in common use. These days you see it mentioned in connection with many subjects and the word is totally acceptable. Also the aims or expectations from practicing meditation are even wider than the meanings of the word. Relaxation, reducing stress or depression, healing, stilling the mind, etc. etc. are but a few. So let us not believe that we understand what we are talking about, or that it is about the same thing, when we use the word "meditation". For reasons associated with the above I will use the term Dhyana in the text below, with first an explanation of what it means.

Dhyana is the Sanskrit word used in Advaita Vedanta for the inner processes relating to sound. Dhyana is used for three basic purposes in the Vedanta system where householders are concerned, all three may use sacred sounds called mantras to assist the process. These three ways can be likened to the process of scriptural study which has three levels. (1 - Shravana) Reading a verse in a scripture to open the meaning in the verse, this can be out loud or in the mind. (2 -- Manana) This is inner reflection on the verse, making it possible to get deeper into the purpose of the scriptures and (3 -- nididhayasana) for making a positive connection of the individual consciousness with an aspect of the Universal Consciousness, where all meanings of the verse may drop away eventually. In terms of Dhyana these three are (1)Japa, (2)Mantra, and (3)Bija. Any mantras used for these purposes are specific to the purpose. Dhyana used for ascetics, monks or renunciates may not be the same.

Dhyana type 1 - can be out loud or mentally. This is the first step away from the material world towards an inner appreciation of sound. Japa can be used during the daytime during normal activities. It can act as a preparation for Dhyana type 2. Sound is the easiest medium for the whole inner process of appreciation of what our soul really is. This is related to sound being associated with the creation process. Japa was introduced to the middle east from India, maybe more than 2,000 years ago by the Sufis, who themselves have an ancient origin not associated with any particular religion. Hence, in the middle east you will see people holding beads and doing a mental repetition at any time during the day.

Dhyana type 2, which was recommended to SES, involves a specific mantra. Type 2 by itself may not lead to Self-realisation. It is a preparatory practice for further stages. But there are exceptional people, who due to previous good work, will reach realisation very quickly. So we cannot say one thing or another is a definite outcome of Dhyana at any stage.

Dhyana type 3 is given individually to a seeker by a teacher when the time is right. It involves what are termed bijaksha or bija mantras (bija means seed). These are ancient sacred sounds which relate to the seekers own inclination to worship, or to the specific aspect (* see below) of the Divine which appeals to the seeker. They act as a vehicle for the seekers mind and intellect to melt into his / her own being within the soul. There everything becomes One.

* For example there is a list of 1,000 aspects of Bhagavan in the Vishnu Sahashranama. (sahashra = 1000; nama = names) Each of these is a true way of appreciating the Divine. Adi Shankara has described in detail each of these aspects so that we can connect with them. At some stage during the contemplation of these 1,000 names, "the penny may drop" that all aspects of creation are an expression of Bhagavan Himself, including one's own body, mind and soul.

The Bhagavad Gita chapter 6 is devoted to the subject of Dhyana, and it is well explained. Up to verse 9, pre-conditions of the seekers attitude and progress are described, which may involve type 1, but it is only inferred here in verses 3 and 4 through the word karma (action). Verses 10 to 15 explain the practice (type 2 above) and its outcomes are detailed. Then follows other criteria which assist or hinder the process up to verse 20, observing these are a preparation for the next stage. From 21 to 32 the process of type 3 Dhyana is detailed, explaining it from many angles. This may connect the seeker with the Universal Consciousness just as "nididhayasana" mentioned above can do. But specific details of this type 3 are not given, due to it being an individual thing. The whole process is carried through chapter 6 using the word yoga or yogi. Each time these words yoga or yogi are used they refer to the specific part under discussion as well as the whole process, but simultaneously meaning both. This is how Sanskrit works sometimes.

There is no better explanation of Dhyana than chapter 6 of the Bhagavad Gita, if it is understood in the way intended by the Advaita Vedanta teachers.

One thing must be absolutely clear - none of the above is anything whatsoever connected to what the Maharishi taught under the title of "Transcendental Meditation" or TM as it has been labelled. Even some SES members are not clear on this point. So be assured they are very different. There may be similarities - and it is these which have created a confusion between TM and the mantra meditation recommended by the Advaita Vedanta teachers.

So having attempted to describe the subject which this post is about let's see if SES got it correct.

FIFTH MISTAKE - TEACHING MEDITATION BEFORE PREPARING PEOPLE FOR IT

Asking people to undertake the practice of Dhyana without knowing if they were really ready for such a thing is not the method of Advaita Vedanta. In India the tradition is to instruct a seeker over several years and give him or her the opportunity to see the importance of turning the mind from thinking all the time about matters of their worldly life, towards thinking more and more about the spiritual aspects (stage 1 above). This is detailed in the Bhagavad Gita Ch.6 vv 2, 3 & 4 etc. This inner thinking can be done even though engaged in worldly affairs, simply because it is recognised that the mind has the capacity to focus on something different from what the body and senses are currently engaged in. When a seeker has passed the point that the mind is being focussed more on the inner aspect than on the worldly one, then Dhyana can be introduced (type 2 above) then it will help to tip the balance in the direction intended. The process leading up to this stage is detailed in Bhagavad Gita Ch. 6 vv 5, 6, 7, 8 &9. If Dhyana type 2 is given before this time, then the seeker may struggle, finding that the mind is going all the time to worldly thoughts. This can lead to the introduction of more underlying stress in the life of the seeker. Hence, it can be counter productive. If there is deviation from an established formula, which has worked for millennia, then the end result is unpredictable. It is far better to stick with a tried and tested method. It is most likely that MacLaren did not know about these aspects of the Advaita Vedanta tradition and so could only do the best with the knowledge which he had. However, as we all know it is dangerous to play with fire if you are not aware of the damage it can do.

So to summarise the above - Dhyana type 2 is better given when the mind of the seeker has been controlled to turn away from material pleasure, using type 1 Dhyana or other similar methods - timing is individual and quite important. The seeker should not be told that Dhyana type 2 is all that is needed for Self-realisation. It should be explained that it is preparatory only. I remember in the early days at SES in the first year or so, the tutors were always saying that the school is only a preparatory school. Maybe they stopped saying that later on I don't know. Certainly the idea of being only preparatory seemed to vanish in later years.

The above 3 stages are also advised in their principle approach each time a seeker practices Dhyana. i.e. prepare the mind first to turn it inward, by the right kind of music or reading or chanting etc. any method which works. Then when the attraction to worldly issues has weakened start the process of Dhyana. Later gradually let any specific meaning or sound melt into a deeper place beyond the mind. This can take up to 1 hour, but for a keen seeker this is a small price to pay.

Appologies for it being so long , but it is an important subject, and has taken me many hours to prepare. I hope the above clarifies Advaita Vedanta approach to Dhyana. Please ask via the PM system.

SIXTH MISTAKE - CHARGING MONEY FOR A MANTRA

This is the charging of a sum of money for the giving of a mantra for Dhyana. In the early years when I was at SES, Dhyana was not offered until two years of membership; and it was compulsory for continued participation of the philosophy classes. By that time members were already being encouraged to contribute 10% of their net income towards running the organisation. So there was really no need to charge for the giving of a mantra. There certainly was no cost to SES for giving the mantra. However, in India it is forbidden for a true Guru to take fees for giving initiation with a mantra. It is stated that if the Guru charges a fee then he steals from his disciple and also will take upon himself the bad karma of that disciple; it also is stated that a Guru who charges fees will most likely go to a bad situation in the next life (i.e. be born as a lower form of life with the consciousness that he was once human). However, it could have been that MacLaren wanted to find out (all too late) if the members really wanted to follow the "path", and so a charge of one weeks net earnings was asked for, maybe to test this out. I do not know if this is still the practice.

On this subject His Holiness Swarupananda Saraswati, Shankaracharya of Dwaraka said:- "This is a principle. Hear a quotation from Goswami Tulsidas: 'The guru who charges or takes money from his disciples in return for initiation, steals disciples property and goes to damnable hell.' For that reason His Divinity Shri Guru Deva used to give 'upadesha' (initiation) without any fees. He used to say 'If I accept any gift from the disciple (or fees), then his sins are transmitted to me.' In India, dharma, yoga, knowledge, specialized knowledge can never be sold for money. That is priceless. Anyone who puts a price on it insults it. So, a mantra is also never given for money. Knowledge cannot be sold for money. Therefore, the process that is being employed for the sake of making money, is entirely against the canons of Indian culture and civilization. Where money is involved that becomes a business. I am telling you what is good for you without any vested interest. This is the rule followed here."

So let us not develop negative attitudes towards the Shankaracharyas, H.H. Shantanand Saraswati or the ancient system of Advaita Vedanta. They are not the ones who have mislead us. SES and the like are the ones who should take the responsibility for misleading people who came to them with genuine intentions.

One of my reasons to engage with this forum was to try and correct some of the negative attitudes I have seen with relation to the Indian Holy tradition and its truly honest advocates (by which I do not mean SES leaders). This negativeness aimed in such a way is not spiritually healthy for people to culture their thinking. However, it is one example of how SES and the like have damaged the good reputation of Indian philosophy. Think and speak up against SES by all means, but take care of your own soul and refrain from directing such negativeness towards the True Tradition , for your own future welfare.

This may be my last post here for a while. But I am happy to respond to any private messages which readers send to me. You may comment if you think it will help other readers. But please don't ask me to respond to comments posted up for all to read.
Last edited by Dr.Alan on Sun Jan 27, 2013 11:21 am, edited 2 times in total.
SES - London 1964-1974 left due to SES interference with private life.

Gerasene Demon
Posts: 139
Joined: Tue Sep 15, 2009 3:20 am

Re: Mistakes against the Shankaracharya Tradition

Postby Gerasene Demon » Tue Jan 15, 2013 2:29 am

I have read the words of Dr Alan in his thread, Mistakes against the Shankaracharya Tradition, with great interest and accept what he is saying in good faith. I am grateful for the time he has taken and for the help.
I do not and have never thought that Indian philosophy is at fault. Indeed, I am glad the Shankaracharya are aware of the situation. It has always been clear to me that something was very wrong with SES philosophy which is not what it claims or aspires to be and where there was little or no spirituality to be found when I attended.
I wish Dr Alan the best of health and happiness in his solitude.
Warmest regards.
NW

I have reproduced this here by request and in what I hope is a genuine show of some unity.

Dr.Alan
Posts: 70
Joined: Sun Jan 06, 2013 3:15 pm
Location: UK

Re: Mistakes against the Shankaracharya Tradition

Postby Dr.Alan » Wed Jan 16, 2013 8:05 am

GM (aka N.W.)- You must have misunderstood my PM to you which simply said "Hi, I thought your post was more appropriate in the 'Mistakes --' stream" . Which was not a request for you to move it this stream. But as you have done it, you now have two copies of a post which is clearly not a genuine sentiment, since you did not appear to have attended philosophy classes at SES, also you endorse statements which I have not made, i.e. the reference to the Shankaracharya being told about SES. I have not done that. Also wishing me health and happiness in my solitude, when you don't even know me.
Last edited by Dr.Alan on Sun Jan 20, 2013 10:42 pm, edited 3 times in total.
SES - London 1964-1974 left due to SES interference with private life.

Dr.Alan
Posts: 70
Joined: Sun Jan 06, 2013 3:15 pm
Location: UK

Re: Mistakes against the Shankaracharya Tradition

Postby Dr.Alan » Wed Jan 16, 2013 10:18 am

SES MEDITATION SYSTEM
From reading some comments on various posts, there may be some of you who are not sure about the meditation taught to you at SES. If this has arisen from anything I have posted, then I apologise for that.

So if you are either still at SES or are otherwise still practising meditation, then be assured that the meditation taught is OK. The mantra given by H.H. Shantanand Saraswati to SES, SoM and SSNP was an ancient traditional one used for householders (i.e. not monks or renunciates). It represents an incarnation who Himself was a householder (i.e. He married a princess). So through that sound there is a link to deeper places within the human psyche.

There is no need to doubt that continuation with the mantra given by either SES, SoM or SSNP is not a valid approach to meditation according to the tradition of Advaita Vedanta.
SES - London 1964-1974 left due to SES interference with private life.

Gerasene Demon
Posts: 139
Joined: Tue Sep 15, 2009 3:20 am

Re: Mistakes against the Shankaracharya Tradition

Postby Gerasene Demon » Wed Jan 16, 2013 5:49 pm

Dr Alan,

Are you willing to consider the possibility that you have fallen into the trap?

Best wishes.


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