Tuesday, February 27, 2007

ANNOUNCING THE RELEASE OF DENNIS WAITE’S NEWEST BOOK ON ADVAITA VEDANTA SUBJECT MATTER, Part One

F.: Dennis Waite has been a student of Advaita for over 20 years and maintains one of the most visited websites on the subject. He is the present Chief Moderator of the Advaitin group and has published several books, including ‘The Book of One’ and, this month, ‘Back to the Truth: 5000 Years of Advaita’. For information about the books, together with endorsements and many extracts, visit www.advaita.org.uk.

Dennis was an early contributor to this site and has provided support since its inception. [See the Archives for June and July, 2005.] His unparalleled grasp of the Advaita Teachings, combined with his ability to transmit the Teachings in a fashion that allows seekers to actually find, explains why so many have sought out Dennis for his directions along the “path.”

The regular postings on this site will soon be continued, but for the next two days, a story written by Dennis will be shared. After reading the entire story and considering the pointers, you will understand why the space is being provided to share its content with the visitors to this site.

“WHAT IS ADVAITA?” PART I
by
Dennis Waite

“So, Swami-ji, what would you say that Advaita is?” The eager young woman crossed her legs and sat expectantly, pencil poised above a pristine pad of paper.

“It simply means ‘not two’ – the ultimate truth is non-dual,” replied the Sage, reclining in a large and comfortable-looking armchair and not sitting in an upright lotus position, as he ought to have been, for the sake of the photograph that she had just taken, if nothing else.

She continued to wait for further elucidation before beginning to write but it soon became apparent that the answer had been given.

“But is it a religion? Do you believe in God, for example?”

“Ah, well, that would depend upon what you mean by those words, wouldn’t it?” he responded, irritatingly. “If, by ‘
religion’, you mean does it have priests and churches and a band of followers who are prepared to kill non-believers, then the answer is no. If, on the other hand, you refer to the original, literal meaning of the word, namely to ‘bind again’, to reunite the mistaken person that we think we are with the Self that we truly are, then yes, it is a religion. Similarly, if by ‘God’ you mean a separate, supernatural being who created the universe and will reward us by sending us to heaven if we do what He wants, then the answer is no. If you use the term in the sense of the unmanifest, non-dual reality, then yes, I most certainly do believe in God.”

The pencil raced across the paper, recording the answer for the benefit of the magazine’s readers but, as the words clashed with previous ideas in her memory, the lack of a clear resolution of her questions was reflected by an increasing puzzlement in her expression.

He registered this with compassion and held out his hand towards her. “Give me a piece of paper from your pad.”

She looked up, mouth slightly open as she wondered why he could possibly want that. But she turned the pad over, carefully tore off the bottom sheet and placed it in his outstretched hand. He turned to the table at his right and deftly began to fold and refold the paper. After a few moments, he turned back and, before she had had time to see what he had done, he held the paper aloft and launched it into the air. It rose quickly and circled gracefully around the room before losing momentum and diving to meet a sudden end when its pointed nose hit a sauce bottle on the dining table. “Could you bring it back over here do you think?” he asked.

“So, what would you say that we have here?” he asked, as she handed it back to him.

“It’s a paper aeroplane,” she replied, with just a hint of questioning in her voice, since the answer was so obvious that she felt he must have some other purpose in mind.

“Really?” he responded and, in an instant, he screwed up the object and, with a practised, over-arm movement, threw it effortlessly in a wide arc, from which it landed just short of the waste paper basket in the corner of the room. “And now?” he asked.

“It’s a screwed-up ball of paper”, she said, without any doubt in her voice this time.

“Could you bring it back again, please”, he continued. She did so, wondering if this was typical of such an interview, spending the session chasing about after bits of paper like a dog running after a stick. He took the ball and carefully unfolded it, spread it out on the table and smoothed his hand over it a few times before handing it back to her. “And now it is just a sheet of paper again,” he said, “although I’m afraid it’s a bit crumpled now!”

He looked at her, apparently anticipating some sign of understanding if not actual revelation but none was forthcoming. He looked around the room and, after a moment, he stood up, walked over to the window and removed a rose from a vase standing in the alcove. Returning to his seat, he held the rose out to her and asked, “What is this?”

She was feeling increasingly embarrassed as it was clear he was trying to explain something fundamental, which she was not understanding. Either that or he was mad or deliberately provoking her, neither of which seemed likely, since he remained calm and open and somehow intensely present. “It’s a flower,” she replied eventually.

He then deliberately took one of the petals between his right-hand thumb and fore-finger and plucked it. He looked at her and said, “And now?” She didn’t reply, though it seemed that this time he didn’t really expect an answer. He continued to remove the petals one by one until none remained, looking up at her after each action. Finally, he pulled the remaining parts of the flower head off the stem and dropped them onto the floor, leaving the bare stalk, which he held out to her. “Where is the flower now?” he asked. Receiving no reply, he bent down and picked up all of the petals, eventually displaying them in his open hand. “Is this a flower?” he asked.

She shook her head slowly. “It was a flower only when all of the petals and the other bits were all attached to the stem.”

“Good!” he said, appreciatively. “Flower is the name that we give to that particular arrangement of all of the parts. Once we have separated it into its component parts, the flower ceases to exist. But was there ever an actual, separate thing called ‘flower’? All of the material that constituted the original form is still here in these parts in my hand.”

[Part II Conclusion tomorrow] Now, please enter into the silence of contemplation and consider the words offered by the re-purified consciousness which some take to be “Dennis.”
Tomorrow: Details for ordering the newest release, Back to the Truth: 5000 Years of Advaita