What is enlightenment? What is it not? This book exposes the myths and defines this misused term once and for all. Which teaching methods will get you there? And which will not? Dennis Waite explains how the traditional methods work and why the modern, Western approaches are most unlikely to. Offers necessary help to sincere seekers who wish to learn how to differentiate the diamond-like brilliance of authentic Advaita-Vedanta from the rhinestone approaches represented by popular neo-Advaita. Mariana Caplan, Ph.D., author of "Halfway Up the Mountain" and "Do You Need a Guru?" Dennis Waite's newest book is his most succinct and, I daresay, by far his most brilliant and cogent work. This is simply must-reading for any teachers or attendees of the imbalanced pseudo-satsang movement. Timothy Conway, author of Women of Power & Grace Dennis Waite triumphs yet again with the definitive exposition on the fundamental differences in contemporary non-dual teaching, principally between â€˜traditionalâ€™ and â€˜neoâ€™ advaita. Paula Marvelly, author of The Teachers of One and Women of Wisdom If you teach, study or practice Advaita, Dennis Waite's latest book on how Advaita should be taught is essential reading.
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The first volume, entitled The Book of One, consists of three sections, dealing with various aspects of the classical Advaita Vedanta and the views of the neo- advaitins. The first section is divided into various chapters, where topics, such as "What I am not," "Nature of Man," "What we think we can know," "The driving forces of our lives," "Actions and Results," and "Lord or Ishvara" are dealt with. In the second section, issues such as mental preparation or sadhana for the spiritual path, meditation, acharyas are discussed. The third section is a treatment on appearance and reality, creation and time, nature of the Self, enlightenment and the postulates of neo-Advaita. The first volume also has three useful appendices and a long bibliography. Appendix 1 gives a list of sources for more information, Appendix 2 mentions texts for further reading and Appendix 3 lists the introduction to Sanskrit and ITRANS. The author has employed simple and straight-forward language, without bringing in too many technical terms, though occasionally a few Sanskrit terms and their import have been given. Certain terse precepts of traditional Advaita philosophy have been explained in detail with illustrations and anecdotes. For instance, the well - known statement from the scriptural text, 'neti, neti', has been explained, while describing "What I am not." By the process of reductio ad absurdum, the essence of beings, i.e. Self or Pratyagatma as described in Vedanta vocabulary, following the deductive principle of Sherlock Holmes, is stated interestingly. The two streams of the Brahman, inherent in individual Self,--the theory of reflection (bimba pratibimba vada) and the theory of containment (avaccheda vada) in the interpretation of the Brahma Sutras, is brought out very clearly. Again, the concept of drik and drisya (the seer and the seen) or the Upanishadic statement of tattvamasi has been dealt with in a facile and easily graspable manner. Cross-references to various scriptural texts and the commentaries of great masters like Gaudapada, Sankara, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, as also modern preachers and teachers of Advaitic philosophy find mention in these books. In addition, exponents of Western philosophy have also been introduced, to compare and contrast with the concepts in eastern (Advaita) philosophy. Extracts of interviews between exponents and audience so as to clear common misconceptions have been cited wherever relevant, and these greatly help clear doubts in our minds. For example, to a question by a modern day exponent that Hindus worship several gods and goddesses, the answer is: "Hindus worship only one god, but in several names and forms". This statement draws support from the Vedic assertion, ekam sat viprah bahudha vadanti. The compatibility of bhakti in the scheme of Advaita has been clearly established. The excellent quote from Yoga Vasishta that life is but an elongated dream--deergha svapnam imam viddhi-is the opening quote for the chapter on enlightenment, where it is said that "suffering just means you are having a bad dream. Happiness means you are having a good dream. Enlightenment means getting out of the dream altogether." The three levels of reality- paaramaartika (really real), vyaavahaarika (phenomenally real) and the praatibhaasika (the apparently real) have been neatly presented. Examples, anecdotes, illustrations, etc., enhance and exemplify the content. The Book of One has a glossary of Sanskrit terms for easy understanding of the key words that occur in Advaita texts. The second book, titled Enlightenment, contains around 540 points which appear in the form of propositions and comments. They cover a variety of topics, such as ignorance about Self, reality, satsang teaching, neo-Advaita, criticism of traditional teaching, the need and characteristics of the teacher, etc. Whether there is a need for a path to attain liberation (Self- knowledge) is also discussed. The author mentions that there is no need for a path. This is as it should be, because the Self is already attained but it is the ignorance that veils it for the individual soul, due to maya. Therefore, what is required is "realisation". The popular statement runs: praapthasya praapanam na samlchlnam bhavati, kintu apraaptasya praapanam eva samlchlnam bhavati. The illustration given by Vidyaranya about the wearer of a necklace searching for it and somebody (guru), pointing out to him that it is already around his neck, is also mentioned. The arguments and counter-arguments regarding the traditional Advaita and the neo-Advaita are brought out in detail, as also the untenability of neo-Advaita. The book concludes with a summary of the main points. Book Three contains eight sections and is also arranged topic- wise. The topics covered are: "Discovering who we are not" (not the physical body, senses or the mind), "Karma and Freewill," "Knowledge and Ignorance," "The Various Spiritual Paths, such as Karma Yoga", "Who Really is the Individual Soul" and "What is Absolute Reality" and a few others. There are three useful appendices. There is a glossary of Sanskrit terms, with an index, which is very helpful. The first book contains the fundamentals of advaita philosophy and the subsequent volumes are a kind of supplement and complement, with detailed explanations. These three volumes make for heavy reading. Considerable thinking and mulling over the concepts are called for. But it is as it should be, considering the depth and dimension of the topic. An excellent effort by a foreign author, who has taken pains to study eastern philosophy and also articulate it with clarity and precision. ~ C. L. Ramakrishnan, Tattvaloka Magazine, December 2012
This very enlightened and philosophical 186 page book, looks at the spiritual theory and practice of advaita (non-dual reality). The removal of self knowledge is important to the true acceptance of our oneness. The author very clearly presents honest and well developed beliefs concerning the advaita theory, and how it has in many ways become misguided and drifted off the path of the original intention. This is a highly thoughtful read that I found I could only take in small doses, but I loved the simple outline type format and I learned quite a bit as I would read a little and reflect a lot along the way. I would recommend this introspective and devoted helper to anyone who has been attracted to a guru based experience. Thanks Dennis, for this wondrous way home. ~ Riki Frahmann, Mystic Living Today
I think this is a most valuable work for the serious aspirant who wants to understand the weakness of Neo-Advaita as opposed to the traditional teachings of the great Sages. I agree with the summary of your findings and wish the book well. I am sure it will assist many who are becoming increasingly confused and disillusioned by Neo Advaita, and may turn to the traditional approach. ~ Alan Jacobs, President of the Ramana Foundation UK and author of numerous books, including \"The Principal Upanishads\" and \"The Bhagavad Gita\".
When in the Nineties the Neo-Advaita satsang movement burst on the spiritual scene many enlightenment seekers took heart. Here was a teaching in harmony with the fast paced pulse of modern life, one that that did not require effort and promised instant enlightenment. As the new century began to unfold, however, it became apparent to the discriminating that the bloom was off the rose. Although it served to familiarize the public with the idea of non-duality, Neo-Advaita, like so many â€˜movementsâ€™, proved to be little more than a lifestyle fad and probably will not rate more than a miniscule footnote in the annals of the spiritual life of the planet. No harm done? Hardly. As a result of the many ill-considered half-truths it served to propagate it has reinforced any number of enlightenment mythsâ€¦ leaving tens of thousands of seekers disappointed and confused. Dennis Waiteâ€™s excellent new book, â€œEnlightenment: the path through the jungleâ€ sets the record straight by comparing Neo-Advaita with traditional Vedanta, a means of enlightenment that has passed the test of time. This critical but fair book clarifies what enlightenment is and what it isnâ€™t according to the traditional definition. It shows why a gradual, systematic, time-tested method of inquiry is necessary. It explains how mixing the relative and the absolute levels causes great confusion. It also provides a valuable service by distinguishing the path of action or Yoga, the techniques used to prepare the mind for enlightenment, from Vedanta, the path of knowledge, the direct cause of enlightenment. It makes it clear that enlightenment is for the mind and that the cursory dismissal of the mind, or the â€˜storyâ€™ as it is called in Neo-Advaita, is spiritually counterproductive. It deals with the issues of path and no path, doing and non-doing, appearance and reality, the qualifications necessary for enlightenment, the need for a teacher and other important topics of interest to sincere seekers. I heartily recommend this book. ~ James Swartz, teacher and author of numerous books, including â€œMeditation: An Inquiry into the Selfâ€ and â€œSelf Knowledgeâ€, a commentary on Shankaraâ€™s â€˜Atmabodhaâ€™.
I welcome Dennis Waiteâ€™s book Enlightenment: the path through the jungle as a breath of fresh air amidst the quagmire of new books on neo-Advaita. Finally, someone has done their homework, and made the effort to create powerful distinctions about what Advaita is and what it isnâ€™t. So many are hungry for truth, yet so very few are willing to pay the price. Dennis Waite offers necessary help to sincere seekers who wish to learn how to discern between the diamond-like brilliance of authentic Advaita-Vedanta, from the rhinestone approaches represented by popular neo-Advaita. ~ Mariana Caplan, Ph.D., author of â€œHalfway Up the Mountain\" and â€œDo You Need a Guru?\"
Over the past ten years or more, many people have been confused by the various interpretations of the teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi and other recognized gurus in India who teach Advaita according to the traditional values and principles. A number of would-be teachers have misrepresented the teaching, apparently for their own personal glorification. Dennis Waite has presented a clear and informed step by step analysis of what Advaita truly means and shows how the teaching has been subverted by those whose understanding is, to say the least, limited and misguided. He has cleared away the half-truths and the misperceptions about Advaita and shown the correct approach. This is a valuable addition to Advaitic literature and should be read by all those who are perplexed as to the truth of this noble tradition. ~ The Mountain Path, Tiruvannamalai.
Dennis Waite's newest book is his most succinct and, I daresay, by far his most brilliant and cogent work. This is simply must-reading for any teachers or attendees of the imbalanced pseudo-satsang movement rampant in our era. In a cascading shower of liberating, purifying and healing wisdom, Dennis gives us an elegantly systematic and even beautifully logical presentation of authentic, classically traditional Advaita Vedanta. Clearly, without harangue, yet with ample debunking of many myths, are presented the severe shortcomings of neo-advaita. Some proponents of the latter may find this book â€˜square.â€™ I found it to be filled with sublime, even sometimes hilarious though subtle wit. A plethora of truly wise, useful distinctions and deliciously quotable quotes are served up here. Any aspirant interested in genuine Self-Awakening is well-served to read â€œEnlightenment: the path through the jungle.â€ Thank you, kindred soul Dennis--with this dazzling bright gem you've helped distinguish True Dharma from falsehood and mediocrity. Namaskaram and love to you and to all beings. ~ Timothy Conway, author of â€œWomen of Power & Graceâ€ and the forthcoming 2-volume â€œIndia's Sagesâ€.
Dennis Waite triumphs yet again with the definitive exposition on the fundamental differences in contemporary non-dual teaching, principally between 'traditional' and 'neo' advaita. Elegant and lucid, "Enlightenment: the path through the jungle" will dispel all illusions with regard to the myth of quick-fix enlightenment, re-establishing once and for all the respect the traditional teaching truly deserves. ~ Paula Marvelly, author of â€œThe Teachers of Oneâ€ and â€œWomen of Wisdomâ€.
If you teach, study or practice Advaita, Dennis Waite's latest book on how Advaita should be taught is essential reading. Presenting Advaita in the traditional manner in the West raises difficulties, including the required level of commitment, the inevitable cultural dissonances and the scarcity of accessible, well trained and enlightened teachers. "Enlightenment: the path through the jungle" systematically lays out the relevant issues in sutra format, with a clear indication of the author's views regarding the benefits of the traditional approach and some of the potential faults of the satsang and Neo-Advaitin assumptions and methods. This book will be of interest to the entire Advaita community and is sure to stimulate controversy; with any luck the ensuing dialogue will prove useful and demonstrate the participants' real appreciation of Advaita. ~ John Lehmann, Philosophy Foundation, Boston, Massachusetts
In this instant age, it may be tempting, when you are offered instant enlightenment, to jump on the bandwagon of the latest self-proclaimed 'non-dual sage' and to unquestioningly chant his or her mantra, like some latter day Jehovah's Witness. In the writings of Dennis Waite, we don't find someone professing to be a sage ... we find someone who is offering us the full body of a tradition spanning many hundreds of years, so we can see that this teaching of Advaita is not just a one-dimensional homespun philosophy, but an inspired body of work, built on the foundation of some of the greatest sages who ever lived. To totally ignore this tradition, in favour of a more convenient, though also much more shallow, teaching could be considered an expression of both arrogance and ignorance. In his new work: ENLIGHTENMENT, Dennis Waite rises to the challenge of this modern spiritual dilemma ... confronting the key issues between the traditional and modern approaches to Advaita/Non-Duality head-on. In this regard, he is a lone, rare voice, and should be commended for his diligent work. ~ Roy Whenary, author of â€œThe Texture of Beingâ€