How to Attain Enlightenment : The Vision of Non-Duality, Paperback

How to Attain Enlightenment : The Vision of Non-Duality Paperback

3 out of 5 (1 rating)


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 317 pages, b/w illus
  • Publisher: Sentient Publications
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Hinduism
  • ISBN: 9781591810940


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Overall, I found this to be a valuable and insightful discussion on nonduality, Vedanta, enlightenment etc. It was clear, concise, and interesting to read. There is some excellent discussion on what enlightenment is NOT (e.g. no thought theory, magic powers theories etc.)This said, there are some generalizations, and dare I say incorrect assertions. But again these are specks on the surface of a largely clear and excellent work. The author uses the term 'self-inquiry' throughout the whole book to mean many things, sometimes the teachings of Advaita or Vedanta, sometimes jnana yoga, and sometimes exercises into psychological inquiry. This is a little confusing for beginners. In fact, the author's slant for the whole book is on actual intellectual knowledge, and that this correct knowledge can set one free when used via intellectual inquiry, along with overcoming mind tendencies. There is a fairly large assumption throughout that readers actually have the power to live consciously, righteously, or follow dharma, and perform karma or devotional yoga. If not, then they fall into the "not ready" or "need more preparation" category. Big call.The assertion that nonduality has played no part in Christianity, Islam or Judaism is wrong, as anyone from the mystical schools in these religions would prove. Likewise, there is no monopoly on nonduality held by Hinduism. Buddhism is rarely mentioned in the whole book, except to say it is a 'variant of Hinduism'. Bad. There seems to be some sort of assertion that India is a spiritual powerhouse and that the spiritual and social systems (read the chapter on Marriage where contractual type marriage in India is set up as an ideal where both parties see the marriage as a 'means to an end', and for "self-realization" (really?!)) are superior to elsewhere, notwithstanding India has its own share of spiritual and social maladies. The whole traditional idea of life stages, ie. student, householder, seeker, renunciate, is ideal and cute, though hardly practical today, even if someone were lucky enough live into retirement and could "start" on their spiritual journey at 60.The chapter on diet and energies is informative, though generalised- not everyone who eats meats or fats is obese, tamasic and ready for hospital (check out paleo eating, or the way humans ate before rice and beans were farmed for the masses). This is to be expected though, since it gels with the whole "wise Vedic culture vs bad West" concept common in Eastern spiritual circles.The ideas on karma yoga, devotional yoga and knowledge yoga are excellent, and the meditation practice given is good, though limited. Yet it is just one way. Also, the advice on meditation being only easy for those lucky enough to have a "contemplative temperament" or having attained one through "righteous living" (else abandon meditation and go try action yoga) is incorrect. Everyone can benefit from meditation or mind training, it just takes practice like any other skill.The chapter on Ramana Maharshi is interesting reading, and worth reading for anyone interested in his teachings. However, the author seems to discuss what Ramana didn't teach and how Ramana didn't teach Neo-Advaita, which is fair enough.. but sidesteps a huge area that Ramana DID teach, which was self-investigation and self-observation through self-inquiry (yet another different definition to the one the author has used through the whole book). Excellent books on this area of practice have been written by Michael James, David Godman, Ramanasram and others.This is a valuable read on enlightenment (alas there are no magic methods or "how to" steps here, despite the title).. and should be taken as a friendly discussion by an experienced author who has his own set of ideas and history.

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