Shining World

Teaching Vedanta

Seeker: Hi, Sundari.

I have read through all the requirements at ShiningWorld and I wanted to start to teach Vedanta in Swedish. English is my second language, but Swedish is my first language and it would be a big honour for me to teach Vedanta in Swedish.

I have read The Essence of Enlightenment, How to Attain Enlightenment, The Yoga of Love and I will read the book on the gunas and also Panchadasi. I have read lots of satsangs at ShiningWorld and other books by Vedanta by Dayananda and other Vedanta teachers.

I have also listened to all the YouTube clips several times by James and ordered recently The Essence of Vedanta videos from India that I am going to go through.

I realized the self five years ago and like most of the Neos I thought I was done until I ran into Vedanta and James. As soon as I started to read about Vedanta it was as if the teaching sucked me in and I had no way out anymore.

The more I got immersed in it the more I realized how perfect it is, how complete it is and what a gift it is. It has totally changed my apparent jiva’s life for the last four to six months that I have studied it.

My passion for it just gets deeper for every day. Vedanta was the missing piece. I had the knowledge of who I am but that was all. I had no knowledge of the gunas, Isvara, the jiva (causal, subtle, gross bodies), karma, dharma, the four yogas (karma, upasana, jnana, bhakti), etc.

Basically, the teaching of Vedanta has been a detox, a cleanse for the jiva to actualize the understanding, the knowledge of who I am, to replace the old habit that I am a limited, inadequate entity with the truth that I am already complete and whole.

It’s been a time that the mind has been reconditioned so that it reflects who I am and not who I appear to be or I believed I am. It is as if the mind has settled down in this understanding and is happy to be absorbed in the self.

It’s not running out to get anything from maya when it’s totally immersed and steady in peace and fullness, in the self. Why would it then go anywhere to seek for the completeness and fullness when it’s totally secure and happy where it is?

Vedanta brought the missing link on how I could bring the knowledge of the self to the jiva so the jiva could also benefit from this knowledge. It was as if I had knowledge of the self but had no knowledge of the apparent self. That was the missing piece that Vedanta have brought about.

I am open to answer any question you may have and any recommendation to deepen my understanding of Vedanta, and any help I can get to teach Vedanta as well and clearly as possible are very appreciated.

Sundari: You certainly seem to have “done the work” and your dedication to this priceless teaching is clear. If you want to teach Vedanta, follow the methodology that James has developed in his books, mainly How to Attain Enlightenment and The Essence of Enlightenment. He sets it out clearly and logically, both for teaching and inquiry purposes. Nobody has ever developed the methodology to teach Vedanta quite so clearly, in the entire history of the sampradaya. What would be very helpful would be to teach according to the 12-month teaching course we have available for free on the ShiningWorld website. It covers one chapter per month, with all the relevant questions and answers.

Make sure you understand the methodology and the progression of the teachings because Vedanta must be taught in this way for it to be assimilated. As teachers, we must unfold the teachings according to the level of understanding of the student, which is why it is set up the way it is.

If it is your dharma to become a qualified teacher of Vedanta, you must have fully assimilated the means of knowledge and at the very least realized (if not actualized) the self, which it seems you have. One can develop the skill to wield the knowledge by teaching, but one must at the least understand the whole methodology of the teaching from beginning to end, as set out by James. If on the other hand, we do not wish to become a qualified teacher of Vedanta but simply to be able to clearly enunciate the basic message of Vedanta in an accessible way to people who ask to hear it, we must only fully understand and be able to intelligently verbalize one of the many prakriyas in the teachings because all of them say the same thing: you are whole and complete, non-dual, actionless, unconcerned, ever-present, unlimited, ordinary awareness.

You must understand and remember the terminology that Vedanta employs with the implied meaning of words. Using the correct terminology for Vedanta is not about learning how to master a technique. It is about learning the language of self-knowledge – the language of identity: the ability to understand and speak the truth without interpreting it in accordance with your own conditioning. The language of experience is what most people are accustomed to speaking. The reason Vedanta is so insistent on the correct usage of words is to eliminate interpretation and misinterpretation. To be clear on the terminology, make sure you have read Tattva Bodh, which sets it out clearly.

Vedanta is very specific about the use of words. Although James has developed a system of teaching which uses as little Sanskrit as possible, it is very difficult to avoid the use of some Sanskrit terms, as there are no good English equivalents for them. We need these words because so far our own scientific and spiritual traditions have come up woefully short as far as self-knowledge and intelligent living are concerned. Unfortunately, the way language has developed is so open to interpretation, misinterpretation and the contamination of one’s own conditioning that it is very often the greatest source of misunderstandings. Vedanta is called a sabda pramana, the oral or spoken testimony of competent witnesses, meaning that the words are time-tested, impersonal and they work to remove ignorance IF the mind is qualified, has negated the doer and is ready to hear the truth.

Vedanta offers direct knowledge using the implied meaning of words when they are unfolded through the specific methodology, which is the tradition of Vedanta and provides a valid means of knowledge, a toolkit as it were, with which to unpack one’s life in the light of self-knowledge, not in the light of one’s own (or anyone else’s) opinions. Make sure that you understand this. Vedanta belongs to nobody and the only teacher is Isvara. As teachers, we are just the mouthpiece, nothing more. We emphasize this point because unless you are clear about this and your motivation to teach is pure too, the ego can co-opt the knowledge, which is what we call enlightenment sickness. Vedanta is a very powerful teaching, and if the ego is not in check, it will identify with it and claim it.

A book that would be very helpful for you to teach is Vedanta: The Big Picture by Swami Paramarthananda. I have attached it, please make sure you read it. You could also translate this book or James’ book The Essence of Enlightenment into Swedish, just for your own practice and sadhana.

Swami Dayananda also has a brilliant little book out, called The Teaching Tradition of Advaita Vedanta, a must-read too.

Om, Sundari

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