HarshaSatsangh is dedicated to the joy of fellowship in Ahimsa as exemplified in the purest Advaitic teachings of the Jnani Sage of Arunachala, Sri Ramana Maharshi. We emphasize the universality of the doctrine of nonviolence and the teachings of compassion as these themes are found in all major spiritual traditions and religions of both the East and the West. Ramana Maharshi taught that if one realizes that the same Self (consciousness) is in all and all are in the same Self (consciousness) only, one will not want to harm another! It would be like harming oneself. In Jainism, the religion of my teacher Chitrabhanuji, nonviolence is considered the cardinal principle. Chitrabhanuji taught me that a feeling of amity and nonviolence towards all living beings, when it is carried to an extreme is as powerful as any technique or method of Yoga and naturally leads to Self-Realization.
I used to go to Asia every year, especially to India, but had never been to Bali. So in Aug 92 l scheduled a trip there. It’s such a long flight l decided at the last minute to do a stop-over in Japan for 5 days to break up the trip. Before l left l told my caretaker to get rid of all the weeds in my back yard, which was quite a mess. Upon arriving in Japan l immediately went to Kyoto, which l knew to be a spiritual center with a lot of zen temples. It was then that l found myself in another world, sensing at once that destiny had guided me there. I’d been doing vipassana meditation pretty intensely for several months and was starting to feel the increased concentration and depth from this practice. In addition, I’ve always had a passionately aesthetic nature. So, l think it was a combination of these things that led to not only the temples, but particularly the zen gardens being probably the most wonderful moment of discovery I’ve ever known. There were many moments of melting in tears of joy, and many others of profound meditative stillness, induced by the sense conveyed of almost perfect harmony with nature.
In graduate school, we would-be psychotherapists were instructed in the various ways to listen to another person. This is a little like teaching love, but several suggestions were offered, including “hold evenly-suspended attention” (Freud), “practice the art of unknowing” (Kurtz), and, my personal favorite, “suspend memory and desire” (Bion). Readers will recognize the similarity of these instructions to teachings on meditation. As it turns out, I suspect that a few decades of this kind of listening had a lot to do with the arousal of kundalini in my body, and the subsequent upheaval that, ironically, led me to get out of the therapy business.
My Dear and Wonderful friends,
Spiritual methods are useful to an extent and they are prescribed according to the inclinations of people. They are meant to help you accept your own Beauty. Spiritual practices are meant to make you aware of your overwhelming beauty seeping out everywhere.
The final barrier to seeing the Seer, or being the Seer, is an extremely subtle one. Grace allows for self-surrender to the Divine and this bridge is crossed. The Seer, The Seen, and the Process of Seeing merge Here and the Self-Existent, Ever Present Reality Dominates in all its Nakedness. The ancients called this Self-Knowing, Sat-Chit-Ananda. Existence-Knowledge-Bliss. It is Existence Knowing It Self in Pure Bliss.
They say you cannot say
When will she appear,
Wherefrom will she come.
For ages I searched perfections
WATERFALL AT LU-SHAN
Sunlight streams on the river stones.
From high above,the river steadily plunges-
Three thousand feet of sparkling water-
The Milky Way pouring down from heaven.
This article consists of an e-mail interview with Prof. Stanley Sobottka, Professor Emeritus at the University of Virginia, conducted by Ivan Frimmel. Prof. Sobottka created a web-course covering the relation between consciousness and quantum theory. In addition to these topics, his course covers issues in advaita, Western philosophy of mind, and the practice of nondual inquiry. The course is available at http://faculty.virginia.edu/consciousness/home.html.
Stanley: In answering your personal questions, Ivan, I must make it clear that I identify with Awareness much more than with the body-mind, so your questions and my answers apply mostly to the latter, not to me. That in a nutshell is also the answer to your question about how Advaita has influenced my life.