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August 04, 2005

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Plunging deeper into Univers-ISM said: "A .... worldview in which all meaning and purpose is understood through personal reason and experience."

Then why not simply abide in the understanding gained from personal reason and experience ? Why super-impose, attach, or place in the context of an "ism" or "ist" ?

To do so seems artificial and contadictory.

No, I don't think embracing Universism is artificial and contradictory, because in this case the "ism" is a process of inquiring into the nature of reality that doesn't have any dogma or preconceptions attached.

This is made clear in the FAQs that I mentioned in this post. It's analogous to the idea of the "scientific method." It doesn't make sense to say that one should simply "abide in the understanding gained from scientific experience," as Who Am I? suggests, and not embrace the scientific method that leads to such experience.

In my opinion, it actually is less artificial and less contradictory to be upfront and honest about our most basic assumptions about the nature of reality and how reality is best known. As the Universist FAQs point out, you can be a dogmatic atheist because you've got a preconceived and rigid notion about ultimate reality that isn't founded on direct experience.

I know that Who Am I? has a deep fondness for Advaita philosophy, as do I. But reading Ramana and Nisargadatta I'm struck by how even Advaita is very much an "ism." Everything is, as soon as an attempt is made to describe a subjective experience in objective words.

I mean, there is an overwhelming tendency to reify and rigidify personal experience into absolutes. This is why I'm attracted to the Universist folks, because they have a good understanding of this. They abjure all attempts to make universal statements about non-physical reality, which would include such Advaitist conceptions as "the Self is All."

That's just four words, not reality. Simply abiding in one's direct experience may be the truest thing that can be said (or not said), but this leaves us isolated from other people. So I believe that if we're going to relate to others and have discussions about spiritual matters (as occurs on this blog), the focus should be on reason and personal experience--as the Universists urge.

Once I say "my truth is The Truth," I've made a personal experience into an unprovable proclamation, which is the root of what's wrong with religion. But to talk about how to approach truth, humbly and with a recognition that I could be wrong--that I am comfortable with.

Hope this clarifies why I don't view Universism as the usual sort of "ism."

Brian wrote:

"...reading Ramana and Nisargadatta I'm struck by how even Advaita is very much an "ism." -- and -- "...attempts to make universal statements about non-physical reality, which would include such Advaitist conceptions as "the Self is All.""

Response: Advaita philosophy can and may become an "ism" for some folks, but that is not the point of advaita (non-duality) in terms of direct experience and realization. When advaita is postulated as a particular philosophy, then it tends to be seen as another "ism".
But I would strongly disagree with your perspective that Sri Ramana Maharshi (and Nisargadatta) espoused 'advaita-ism'. Sri Ramana focused and taught one thing, and one thing only, ie: Self-inquiry (atma-vichara). Self-inquiry is not a philosophical construct or conceptual "ism". It is founded and centered in direct experience, discovery, and ultimately realization, of the true nature of existence. To think that Sri Ramana (and Nisargadatta) represent "advaita-ism" is fundamentally incorrect and mistaken. Both sages used words to communicate and point towards the direct experience of reality, but the focus was over-whelmingly upon the direct experience, not upon conceptual, intellectual, or philosophical constructs such as advaita-ist philosophy. Their focus was on the direct experience and realization of non-duality (advaita) and Self-knowledge, not simply upon conceptual constructs about the Self.

Brian wrote: "Simply abiding in one's direct experience may be the truest thing that can be said (or not said), but this leaves us isolated from other people.

Response: Yes, this is the point. But I would have to disagree with your assumtion that it "leaves us isolated from other people". Self-knowledge is the direct experience and realization of the non-dual (advaita) nature of one's self and existence. In non-duality, there is no isolation, because there is only absolute Oneness (non-duality). Thge sense of isolation can only arise in the duality that is the mind. Separation and isolation are simply illusions when there is an absense of Self-knopwledge. An awakened Sage has no sense of isolation or separation, because he (or she) abides in Reality, the state of non-duality, Self-knowledge.
To assume any sense of "isolation" or separation from anything or anyone, is simply an illusion based in the duality of mind. It is due to only to ignorance (ignorance is an absence of Self-knowledge).
Self-inquiry leads directly to the direct experience and awakening of Self-knowledge. Self-knowledge is not simply a word or intellectual idea. It is Direct Experience itself.

Brian wrote: "I believe that if we're going to relate to others and have discussions about spiritual matters (as occurs on this blog), the focus should be on reason and personal experience."

Response: Exactly. And that is exactly and all that I have been speaking about and pointing towards, in all of my comments. on this weblog. The sharing and discussion of Direct Experience and Reason, is known as true 'Satsang'. Satsang literally means to associate with Truth/Being (Sat). That does not mean intellect, belief, philosophy, or "ism". It means to associate in, and consider the Truth or Reality itself, the direct experience of one's true nature and Being (Sat).

Brian wrote: "Universism is a commitment to the open-minded search for truth and not the holding onto of any set-in-stone dogma."

Response: The open-mided search for truth, is exactly what Self-inquiry (the teaching of Sri Ramana Maharshi) is all about. But to view Sri Ramana Maharshi and Nisargadatta, and the essence of Advaita, as being "dogma" or "ism", is to not have a proper understanding of their teaching. The teaching and practice of Self-inquiry leading to Self-knowledge, has noting to do with assuing or believing in concepts, ideas, or the 'advaita philosophy'. Self-inquiry is the actual "open-minded search for truth", that you and your Universist/Universism perspective speaks about. My point is that it is quite unecessary to further label it and turn it into a philosophy and "ism". All that is needed is simply to put it into practice, to engage in it (Self-inquiry). The result will be the direct experience of Self-knowledge, which is beyond all "isms". But Self-knowledge must be experienced and realized, not simply theorized about or postulated, such as even "Universism" does to some small extent. Yes, Universism is oriented to an open-minded search for direct and personal experience of truth, but for an awakened Sage abiding in the natural state of Self-knowledge, Univers-ism is simply superfluous.

It is likely that this will be my last comment for awhile, or even longer. This is primarily due to the relatively poor reception and obvious resistance to my sincere comments and offerings about Self-inquiry and Self-knowledge. This is mainly coming from the area of other commentators. There is far too much argumentative discussion and focus on various rigid spiritual ideas and notions, dogmatic beliefs, and the comparison and defense of such perspectives. I prefer to engage in productive discussion oriented towards real awakening and the direct realization of Truth. I have little or no interest in discussing cults and their beliefs, intellectual exercises, or wrestling with other people's concepts and acquired beliefs about their spiritual paths, and about spiritual notions in general.

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