#3845 - Wednesday, March 24, 2010 - Editor: Jerry
Different approaches and practices
Dennis Waite responds to questions
Q. I wonder if you are familiar with subliminal technology (innertalk.com).
I ask because I am a seeker (or in the process of becoming one) and am using
'subliminal spiritual awareness' CDs. It has barely audible
messages like, for example, 'I am unconditional love', 'I am Consciousness', 'I
am awakened', 'the kingdom of God is within me', etc., to target the
subconscious mind in order to accept these messages without the conscious mind
I was wondering if it will hinder my progress spiritually? I find the
subliminal CDs my only hope to help my sisters who have serious OCDs [obsessive
compulsive discorders] and they seem to respond well to them. I am taking
lessons at Chinmaya and I heard that you endorse this approach.
A. There are no shortcuts to enlightenment, I am afraid.
You have to follow the due process of mental preparation, karma and/or bhakti
yoga and then the key practices of shravaNa, manana and nididhyAsana. Subliminal
messages, hypnosis, autosuggestion, etc., may well be very helpful for
psychological conditions but they can never provide Self-knowledge. This
requires scriptures and, ideally a qualified teacher, accompanied by attention,
listening, discrimination, reasoning and so on. And it will take however long it
takes. I dont suppose recorded messages will do any harm but they wont help
either so why bother? If you are attending Chinmaya regularly, with a good
teacher, you will get there eventually!
Q. Thank you very much for your answer. Do you suppose
that if I study your books, The Book of One and Back to the Truth: 5000 Years of
Advaita I can get there? I have trouble understanding the Indian accent and
Sanskrit and it took me a very long time to be able to accept that praying to a
statue of Krishna or Ganesha is OK (I still feel awkward because I used to be a
Christian, who was told that praying to idols is evil and against God).
A. After many years of reading, discussion and study, my considered
view is that only traditional advaita has the variety of techniques and
teachings available to enable any suitably qualified seeker to become
enlightened. Neo-advaita may tip the balance for someone already well versed
in the subject. Direct Path may offer a suitable route for a certain type of
mind (very intellectual!) but again, I feel that adequate preparation is needed
first. Since you are already blessed by having access to a traditional path, I
would really advocate sticking to it and not looking elsewhere.
A teacher is really needed there is no one to ask questions of when you
are reading a book. It would not do any harm to read books which are in keeping
with the traditional approach, whilst still attending Chinmaya, but there is a
danger of encountering conflicting ideas if you read outside
the tradition and this will only bring about confusion. The second edition of
Book of One is due out in April and this is now entirely in keeping with
traditional teaching (the first edition was not).
Praying to statues is not an essential part of advaita.
But I wouldnt get hung up about it. The statue represents an aspect of the Self
(which you are); it is largely a means for focusing the mind and for taking the
ego out of the equation. For those to whom it appeals, it can be very helpful
indeed. But if it really does not appeal to you, can you not drop this aspect
entirely? If it is bringing about resentment or rebellion in you, this is
obviously the opposite of the desired effect so is not helpful!
Q. I will definitely continue Chinmaya, knowing that I am blessed to have
it 40 minutes away from my home. I guess it's natural to get hung up with idols
since present-day Christian ideas were instilled in my mind and it's time to get
rid of them to arrive at the ultimate goal. Lord Krishna said it's
easier for one to reach Him through form and yet it's difficult to go
to Him through the formless.
I was initiated into kuNDalinI by the Parajonthi Mahan group, which brings
up the energy from the first chakra to the eyebrow chrakra. I tried to surrender
to the Lord but sometimes the pulsation at the eyebrow starts on its own! I
asked two swamis from the Chinmaya Mission: one said Consciousness should not be
limited to that one spot, while the other said even this kuNDalinI could lead me
I don't know what to do. I know if I meditate on the ajna
chakra, I feel blissful with a peaceful mind and it sometimes happens on its own
when I am at a swami's talk and concentrating on their discourses. Of course, if
I can observe the kuNDalinI, it can't be the unmanifest unconditioned brahman
since I as brahman cannot observe my Self as the subject but only as a projected
What's your view? The other reason why I still sometimes do kuNDalinI is it
relieves my asthma and I see radiance and peace (a halo effect).
A. Im afraid that the only thing I know about kuNDalinI is that it
has nothing to do with advaita! Enlightenment is about removing the
ignorance in the mind that prevents Self-knowledge. You are already the Self,
which is not other than the non-dual brahman. You are not the body, nor the
mind, nor its habits or inclinations. You really should not get hung up about
those things. Giving attention to them means that you are not giving attention
to shravaNa, manana or nididhyAsana. Sense control, mind control, stillness of
mind, etc., are all important practices as preparation.