When Discussion of Enlightenment & Consciousness is
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: January 20, 2004 04:42AM

An excellent article on a complex subject. Read this and we may be able to identify some of the tricks used to play with our heads.

May be especially useful for persons who have served time in LGATs and other groups that purloin doctrinal material from Hinduism and Buddhism,


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When Discussion of Enlightenment & Consciousness is
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: January 20, 2004 11:43PM

Over thirty years ago, Agehananda Bharati analyzed the coded discourse of Vedantic scholars and monks. In his two books The Ochre Robe and The Light at the Center:Context and Pretext of Modern Mysticism, Bharati, identified several evasion tactics that could easily fall under the heading of what Renard calls ‘Advaita Shuffle’.

Agehandanda Bharati was born Leonard Fisher in Vienna where he found opportunties to study Sanskrit and modern Indian languages. He witnessed the Nazi annexation of Austria and decided that anything that sacrifices factual truth to an ideology is equally objectionable, whether it takes the form of Nazism, Communism, --or Hindu-centric jingoism that he later encountered in India, among Indian monastics and scholars.

In 1947 Fisher went to India and became a monk in the Ramakrishna order. His tough questions in the classroom led to his polite expulsion from the monastery. After journeying to Banaras, Bharati was ordained a Sanyassi monk and was, in succession, a professor of philosophy at the University of New Delhi, Banaras Hindu University, and later became an anthropologist at the University of Washington.

Here is Bharati’s description of a scholastic equivalent of ‘Advaita Shuffle’, one that has been used and abused to trick people into feeling ashamed of their valid questions—and misgivings.

‘I learned the stereotypical method of rebuttal common to all* traditions of religious doctrine in India: The moment discursive thought (that is, thought that is based on reaching a conclusion through use of reason and verifiable/falsifiable evidence) would jeopardize the axiomatic perfection of the text, the critic is given a simple line:

‘Your argument may be intellectually valid but what of it? Only those who have seen the light can see the consistency of the text. Only those who have experienced the truth from within can see that intellectual argument is of no avail in the end.’

Bharati commented, ‘this would hardly be objectionable were the atmosphere among Indian scholastics purely non-discursive (that is if they were in a state of enlightenment 100% of the time and used intuitive, non-rational methods of thought 100% of the time). But this is not true: the theologians avail themselves of refined scholastic argument all the time, but they jettison all of it the moment their axioms are impugned.’ (Bharati, The Ochre Robe pp. 132-133)

(My note) In other words, the evasiveness Bharati described is the equivalent of a losing baseball team suddenly declaring that they are really winning, not losing, because they’re playing football, not baseball—and the other team is too stupid and unenlightened to have known this.

**What Bharati describes can be easily abused and twisted into the various ‘thought stopping’ techniques endemic to cults. What made Bharati’s observation so very radical was his discovery that this ‘shuffle’ was NOT perpetrated by just a few charlatans or rogue scholars; he found this evasion tactic was commonly practiced throughout the Indian spiritual scene.

It was a trick that could be easily exploited by charlatans, but was so much a part of 'normal' scholarship that most persons would allow themselves to be intimidated.

Bharati’s other discovery, based on his own experiences and his interviews of many gurus and monks, was that it is impossible to be enlightened 100 % of the time. You cannot function, while in enlightenment, just as you cannot function while in the throes of orgasm.

* You cannot even speak about enlightenment, or teach it unless you emerge from the experience itself. This means that any person who claims they are 'permanently enlightened' at every instant is not telling the truth. To talk about enlightenment, you cannot be in it. You can remember it, but you cannot be in it. Period.

And Bharati learned that enlightenment does not necessarily improve character and has no predictable ethical consequences. As he put it, a person who is a stinker before enlightenment remains that way after enlightenment, unless that person volunatarily does some work on herself.

It is one of the tragedies of the 1960s that so few people who went off to India read Bharati’s books before doing so. Like so many persons who tell readers what they need to know instead of what they want to ‘know’, Bharati’s books rapidly went out of print. He wanted to tell the truth about India, and loved India. He felt that the way to serve India was to be honest--not peddle stories designed to foster wonder and mystique at the expense of critical thinking.

Bharati felt that Westerners craving for signs and wonders was one of the great barriers to understanding and appreciating India and Indian spirituality.

Says Bharati 'Facts remain facts and their dignity must not be impugned by any motives, not even spiritual ones.'

The Ochre Robe, p 130.

A great scholar, but arrogant as hell, determined to remain truthful and tell us no lies.

Agehandanda Bharati died in the early 1990s. We need people like him more than ever.

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Re: When Discussion of Enlightenment & Consciousness is
Posted by: SuperBevoir ()
Date: September 07, 2010 03:11PM

Hey Corboy

I'm new to this forum and have been involved with the release technique LGAT.

I would start by saying that as far as I'm aware any enlightenment experience is still a subjective experience and has not been objectively measure by science or at least the physical effects have not been measured by science. Although, from reading "The Dalai Llama at MIT" it seems that science may be making progress.

So with that in mind I'm purely going to talk about my concept of enlightenment. From what I've learnt about it the final state is supposed to be a realignment of your identification. So you stop identifying with your mind/ ego and body and you identify with your beingness/ inner self/ buddha nature/ atman/ oneness.

So supposedly the functioning of the mind and body can continue when you're enlightened, its only the identification that changes in that final state. I have heard in the states leading up to that shift in identification that it may become extremely difficult to function (supposedly a too much joy arises). So in other words, although you no longer see your existence as being defined solely by your mind and body, they are still a part of you and can be used as before. So that concept might contradict Bharati's idea of not being able to function when in the enlightened state. The switch in identification is supposed to be permanent and unchangeable.

However, this is all theory really isn't it.

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Re: When Discussion of Enlightenment & Consciousness is
Posted by: Stoic ()
Date: September 08, 2010 12:57AM

Corboy, your advaya link doesn't work. I read the first article on the site, not sure if it was the one you linked to and wasn't too impressed, or perhaps I am just jaded with so many graduates of Osho and Adi Da peddling their paths on the web.

I think the 'Advaita shuffle' is not so much evasion as a simple power play to ensure that the hierarchy of teacher/ student remains intact. The student has to remain in the seeker, one-down mode or the teacher is redundant.
Just about every preacher/teacher has a range of these put-downs down pat-- to maintain the status quo.

I've been reading on one of the threads on charismatic christianity, the same put-downs are in operation there in order for the 'profit' to maintain his mystique and superiority (and income)

That Bharati was politely asked to leave the monastery probably indicates that he was asking exactly the right questions. There is an old saying, from where I can't remember, that it is impossible to walk this path accompanied. It is a solo effort.

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 09/08/2010 01:15AM by Stoic.

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Re: When Discussion of Enlightenment & Consciousness is
Posted by: Stoic ()
Date: September 08, 2010 04:35AM

I read a bit more and am a bit more impressed, perhaps he is not eternally tainted by his association with Adi Da Samaraj!
The article entitled 'A Hot Potato' seems very relevant and covers the power angle--perhaps that was the article in the link?

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Re: When Discussion of Enlightenment & Consciousness is
Posted by: Stoic ()
Date: September 10, 2010 09:41AM

'Over thirty years ago, Agehananda Bharati analyzed the coded discourse of Vedantic scholars and monks.'

There was a book (which I haven't read) written on this by Roderick Bucknell and Martin Stuart-Fox, 'Twilight Language' which explores the polysemic (multiple meanings) words and symbols in use in Tantra.

As inevitably happens, the authors were taken to task by Nordstrom:

This blog post gives some brief examples and explanations:


The use of polysemes is well understood in various disciplines in the West, notably in literary fiction and poetry:

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Re: When Discussion of Enlightenment & Consciousness is
Posted by: Stoic ()
Date: September 10, 2010 08:11PM

Gita Mehta makes the pertinent observation in 'Karma Cola' that the mythology of India illustrates over and over again that it is one thing to feel playful, and quite another to sit down at the table. She is specifically referring to the gaming table, in particular to the dice play that precipitated the great war that is the centrepiece of the Mahâbhârata This epic also uses the polysemic qualities of mythic storytelling to tell a truth about the human condition.

Eventually, Shakuni sired yet another ploy and got Duryodhana to invite the Pandavas over to his court for a game of dice (gambling). Shakuni was a master at gambling and owned a pair of dice which magically did his bidding and produced numbers desired by him. Owing to this, bet after bet, Yudhisthir lost all of his wealth and eventually, his kingdom in the game. He was then enticed by Duryodhana and Shakuni to place his brothers as bets. Yudhishtir fell for it and put his brothers on stake, losing them too. He then placed himself as a bet and lost again. Duryodhana now played another trick and told Yudhishtir that he still had his wife Draupadi to place as a bet, and if Yudhishthir won, he would return everything to the Pandavas. Yudhishtir fell for the ruse and bet Draupadi, losing her too. At this point Duryodhan ordered that Draupadi, who was now a slave to him, be brought to the court. Duryodhana's younger brother Dushasana dragged Draupadi to the royal court, pulling her by her hair, insulting her dignity and asserting that she, like the Pandava brothers, was now their servant. This caused immense anguish to all the great warriors seated in the court, but each of them, namely, Bhishma (the grandsire of the clan), Dronacharya (the teacher/guru of Kauravas and Pandavas) and others like Kripacharya and Vidura remained silent. Duryodhana then ordered Dushasana to disrobe Draupadi before everyone as a slave girl has no human rights. The elders and warriors in audience were shocked but did not intervene. As Dushasana began pulling Draupadi's sari off, she silently prayed to lord Krishna to protect her honour, and miraculously, regardless of how much of it dushasana pulled off, Draupadi's sari kept growing in length as if the fabric had no end. Thus lord Krishna saved Draupadi. Finally as the blind king Dhrithrasthra realized that this humiliation could prompt Draupadi to curse his sons, he intervened, apologizing to Draupadi for the behavior of his sons and turned the winnings of the dice game back over to the Pandava brothers, releasing them from the bondage of slavery.

She goes on to note:
"In many Indian temples, the idol in front of which you place your incense and your fruit and your marigolds has a reverse image, the image of the profane. This image is not to be looked upon unless you are prepared to forego the securities of the cliches of the sacred. Those who dare and who do not self-destruct are sometimes referred to as 'realised souls.'
What they have realised is that you get no points for good faith in a game of dirty poker."

The polysemic implication here is that the game of life is a gamble in which we are all dealt marked cards--we nevertheless have to play the hand we are dealt, have to act, knowing that there is no conclusive winner at this game.

Christianity has a similar polysemic implication in 'Virtue is its own reward'--there is usually no payoff for virtue (goodness) in the material world and conmen are frequently materially rewarded. Virtue originally referred to the courtly conduct of medieval knights, derring do, honour, nobly laying down their lives for the greater glory of their lord and master etc.
Being somewhat cynical I would interpret the laying down of my life for the enrichment and glorification of another human being as being a very poor return on my investment in a virtuous life.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 09/10/2010 08:20PM by Stoic.

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Re: When Discussion of Enlightenment & Consciousness is
Posted by: OutofTransition ()
Date: September 11, 2010 08:44AM

Sounds like "The Emperor's New Clothes" to me--visible only to those who have not reached a certain level of enlightenment.

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Re: When Discussion of Enlightenment & Consciousness is
Posted by: Stoic ()
Date: September 11, 2010 10:01AM

'visible only to those who have not reached a certain level of enlightenment'

When you strip it down, its stuff you always knew anyway, or at least stuff your granny warned you about, all whipped up into something exotic and complicated and seductive.

The 'Emperors New Clothes' was written as a childrens story and it was a child who was clear sighted enough (and not yet aware of, so not intimidated by the Emperor's position of power) to state the obvious---so I would say that it was the other way round, all the accretions of meaning/justification/interpretation/power politics are what prevented the adults from seeing the naked man who was so obviously in front of them.

A lot of traditional children's stories and fairy tales contain quite dark themes that are coded warnings and preparation for the craziness they are likely to encounter in adult life. Myths do the same in laying down the foundational metaphor which is not immediately understood but which is the building block on which understanding can later be constructed.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/11/2010 10:04AM by Stoic.

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Re: When Discussion of Enlightenment & Consciousness is
Posted by: Stoic ()
Date: September 12, 2010 02:32AM

Here is an interesting talk from the Daniel Dennett, philosopher and cognitive scientist, on 'The Evolution of Confusion' where he considers the theological reasonings, the chasm between the laity and the clergy and also covers the sort of textual criticism that is done in all seminaries.
He concludes that what is actually being taught is a way to spin the glaring inconsistencies uncovered by textual analysis and criticism into a seemingly profound and confusingly satisfying explanation for the questions of the laity without in fact exposing those inconsistencies to rigorous examination. That is, the laity are being fed an acceptable lie.
The pertinent textual criticism part starts around minute 17, but the entire talk is worth a listen:


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