Agehananda Bharati, an Austrian born scholar who later become both a Hindu monk and a professor of philosophy and anthropology actually studied nondualism, both personally, for he had experienced what he termed 'zero-states' and interviewed many others who had experienced these states.
He had also studied the genuine advaita philosophies, and did this in the 1940s and 1950s, before watered down varieties became commercialized and peddled to mass audiences.
Bharati loved Hinduism but he also stated clearly that there were potential pitfalls.
One, in this interview in 1981, Bharati spok with an interviewer, designated here as U:
U: What about "eastern mysticism" - do you find that offensive?
Bharati: Quite offensive. I call that "drifting into eastern wisdom chatter." When people stop thinking in grammatical terms, you get into this eastern mysticism drivel. I find that very difficult to stomach. I don’t think eastern mysticism is very attractive. But I think it’s of psycho-experimental importance, it’s one of those things that you can do to skim confidently over your problems, which I find very helpful.*(Note his comment 'it is one of thoes things you can do to skim confidentialy over your problems, which I find very helpful')
U: Your term "psycho-experimental" that’s also a very western term.
Bharati: Yes, it’s an etic (scholar’s) term. It’s a difference between the statement of the texts and my critique of them.
U: You are an initiate of an advaitic school, but you don’t really care for advaitic philosophy, as you have said. Why?
Bharati: I think, first of all, it doesn’t really generate a sense of humor. It’s also very dry, and the trouble is, the great pieces of Indian art and music were composed in spite of monism, not because of it. But monism is a good, solid guideline for the kind of meditation I enjoy. But I think it’s drudgery, I think it’s very bad philosophy.
U: In what way?
**Bharati: For me, philosophy is to solve problems. In monism, there are no problems.
The problems (that remain in monism) are of a linguistic sort.
U: Could you give us a one-sentence or one paragraph summary of your own summum bonum?
Bharati: My own personal philosophy? I think that the modern mind has to work on several levels. At one time I called it syncretistic parallelism. By that I mean that you live the religious life by whatever form of meditation, which is purely private and not communicable, and you lead whatever social and active life you choose. The two don’t meet, even schedule-wise, because you do them at different times of the day.
' I enjoy the meditation, but I think if you try to make a bridge between the meditation
and the philosophy
, you’re in great trouble, because it bars you from doing good philosophy.
I follow Nagarjuna, the Brahmin who converted to Buddhism in the 2nd century, who said, "I do my meditation, which is Buddhist, but for the rest of it, I enjoy dismantling people’s arguments." This is what I call "parson skinning." Part if his philosophy was that he hated the ministers, therefore he developed a very strong dialectical way of doing away with these arguments. I find this enjoyable too. This means also Hindu and Buddhist parsons, incidentally.
'......the Hindus and Buddhists don’t make so many ontological claims - How can you fight something which you don’t even claim is there?
I recommend that you get a copy of Bharati's book, The Light at the Center: Context and Pretext of Modern Mysticism. Bharati states that nondual realization is a matter of private pleasure. It does nothing to make one a better person, and it does nothing to solve the problems of society. He even stated clearly that if someone is a stinker before nondual realization, he or she will remain a stinker afterwards--unless that person uses other methods to remedy character defects.
Years ago, someone wrote this concerning her dealing with Tibetan Buddhism.
The website no longer exists but her comments are interesting.
"To me missing aspects of what spiritual teachers discuss are EMOTIONS and healthy relationships with day to day reality or important people in one's life. Head nods are given to keeping some order in one's life, like cleaning one's personal space but that seems to me as if life is supposed to be lived pretty much ROBOTICALLY and the 'really important part' of life is sitting on the meditation cushion contemplating suffering or zoning out into 'enlightenment'.
When attending the Richen Ter Dzo wangs in Clement Town in 1979 I met Teacher X
He joked frequently that what he liked about dzogchen (a nondual practice) was that when life got to be difficult he could just press the dzogchen button and nothing would mean anything painful any more. When in doubt just zone out, sort of thing.
It aggravated me that he advocated side-stepping facing reality, facing moral or emotional challenges or dealing with emotional ambivalence. It seemed to me grotesquely morally slippery and emotionally dangerous.
**(One is not supposed to be taught dzogchen until one has had years of practice and has taken the Buddhist ethical vows and demonstrated compassion as well as wisdom and care for all beings. Someone at this level is not going to go around avoiding pain or personal inconvenience. But the problem is a lot of people who want the easy way out have learned this nondual techniques and its correct to call them on it when they misuse this as a tranquillizer)
It's true he was a young whipper-snapper then, he might be a plain old raging narcissist now or a more mature adult. I don't really know. But he seemed to have gotten his ideas from his TB teachers, so I wonder how sane he could be when all around him has been moral slipperiness.
"Emotions seem to be something denigrated by all these people who are into the enlightenment thing. Either emotions are overlooked because of dazzling intellectual prowess or something to transcend or to transform into non-emotional awareness states. Emotions seem to me to be the core of what is perceived to be bad about samsara and that is where I think these spiritual teachers have proven to be the most disturbed, emotionally.
"There is also an entitlement issue going on it seems. There are those who opt out of samsara and then there are supposed to be the drones, like the serfs in Tibet, who are supposed to pay for and caretake those who zone out of ordinary, practical life.
J"une Campbell talks about the history of the thinking process as valuing so-called facts and not valuing emotional reality because emotions have historically been relegated to being merely female.
"I do think that people who go into 'enlightenment' states, non-dual states or bliss states need to have both healthy emotional lives and practical lives and that enlightenment states would otherwise be unhealthy and dangerous to the person who experiences that and to the people around who might be put in the position of caretaking a 'reality-handicapped' individual.