I came across this great post by Scott Kiloby this morning on Facebook , it’s long but worth the read… (probably before you read my comments on it)
End the Neo-Advaita LieBy Scott KilobyFrom the moment Buddha experienced the complete dissolving of all suffering…
[I’ll post the full article at the bottom of this page if you don’t want to hyperlink out to it.]
I agree with Scott here in that awakening is not the end. For me it was the beginning of meeting myself, maybe for the first time, and seeing where there were traumas and conditioning to be met, worked on and integrated. It’s a continuing process for me, one that I believe wouldn’t be fully possible without awakening (for me at least) as there were far too many egoic structures in place to prevent the ability to go where was needed to go. With awakening there was openness and space for it all.
The statement “there’s nothing to do and no-one to do do it” for me has truth to it on one level, but where the rubber hits the road on this human embodied level of existence it doesn’t account for the felt experience of living. And what really matters for our daily life is how we experience it, how we suffer it, how we love it, how we LIVE it.
Yes, there’s no one to do it, but yet doing happens. Yes there’s nothing to do, it’s all unfolding perfectly as it needs to… But that INCLUDES the work of healing and growing and integrating ALL aspects of this human experience.
Putting my neck on the line here… My perspective is that awakening is half baked unless the humanness is fully brought back INTO the awakened recognition of the underlying unity of this all appearing in awareness. To deny our humanity is to create separation and confusion where there really needn’t be.
Its BOTH-AND not EITHER-OR… and our ‘job’ on an individual level post-awakening is the job of clean up. The cleanup of what it means to live and breathe and relate in this world WITH the recognition of the underlying truth of our nature as that of awareness/consciousness. It’s a naturally occurring process if you let your heart stay open to all possibilities and make no attempt at pinning ‘wrongness’ to whatever needs to show up because is not ‘spiritual’ or ‘enlightened’ enough!
There’s a tendency to negate life with the ‘neo-advaitins’ (yes that’s a massive generalisation of course, no offense intended) to go towards the nihilistic and denial of the human experience in favour of tropes that can quite frankly be even more damaging such as “Who is experiencing depression? It’s just a thought appearing, it’s not real”. There’s a coldness, a non-compassionate side to it that leaves someone feeling hopeless and lost, or even gaslit. Because if not done very skilfully can be taken by a seeker as a denial or a wrongness for their felt experience, like they need to ignore or get rid of that experience of depression because it’s not real and it’s certainly not enlightened.
Humanness is relegated to the realms of ‘you’re identified’ putting it straight into shadow and wrongness. I would go as far as to say creating an idea of separation (the opposite of the nondual recognition) because it suggests that this experience isn’t ‘it’, that you aren’t ‘enlightened’ if you are experiencing life in this X,Y & Z way. But even the so called dream is a living, breathing, fully immersive experience IN and AS consciousness and that can’t be just denied away. It’s felt, it’s experienced, it can’t be separated from consciousness because it IS consciousness TOO.
The full colour experience of consciousness expressing itself as this human body-mind. It’s all the be met, it’s all to be experienced and it’s all to be accepted into the heart of life.
Anyway… just my 2 cents tapped out with my thumb on my phone first thing in the morning ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Scott Kiloby’s Facebook post 7th February 2020:
End the Neo-Advaita Lie
By Scott Kiloby
From the moment Buddha experienced the complete dissolving of all suffering while sitting under a Bodhi tree (as well as other experiences by sages that resulted in the same dissolution), man has become fascinated with the prospect that this kind of deep awakening is possible and that it may even be our our birthright – our natural state when the false ego is seen through. Buddha’s realization was that there is no self and that, since all suffering comes from the belief in being a separate self, when that self is seen as illusion, suffering ends.
The awakenings of the great saints and sages throughout history have confirmed again and again that what happened to Buddha is not connected to Buddha himself. It is an awakening available to anyone who shifts their perception from believing that their thoughts are true and that there is a self to seeing through the illusion of thinking and no longer being able to find a self. In this discovery, profound peace, freedom, love and even bliss can show up. No wonder people are chasing this elusive phenomenon called “enlightenment.”
Although Buddhism and other traditions began to write about the subject, the texts of the older traditions are sometimes hard to translate to the modern world. Plus many of the texts were written after Buddha died, leaving lots of room for mistranslation, just as when Jesus died and others began to translate his experience even though they didn’t experience it directly. Second hand knowledge is not only ineffective. It can also be highly misleading. And a lot gets missed in the translation of these older texts, which can frustrate current day practitioners seeking enlightenment. Plus the language that explains the practices in these older traditions is sometimes hard to understand or translate, leaving the seeker with little specific guidance about how to realize this profound state of consciousness. To make matters worse, many traditions become too bogged down in describing this state rather than giving any clear instructions on how to wake up. That’s like describing a lemon in books for hundreds of years, when what would be more potent is to let people actually taste and explore a lemon firsthand, leaving no room for second hand knowledge.
But the psychology of humans sometimes carries with it a need for dependency on the teacher and the teacher’s writings because they do not trust their own experience in the way I imagine Buddha did.
In the late 90s and early 2000s, a movement called Neo-Advaita was born. It’s promise – very seductive indeed – is that no practice is needed. “You are already free because there is no self,” as if pronouncing pithy one-liners like that automatically brings about the experience of freedom. They are referring to a sudden experience that comes out of the blue and “wakes you up out of ego.” It’s a lot like going to a meeting to listen to a teacher hoping to catch a cold accidentally. I find Neo-Advaita teachings to be first grade level fairy tales. Even those who have had such sudden awakenings by listening to Neo-Advaita teachings, many of them continue to struggle afterwards because they haven’t studied history and tradition. They lack context around awakening. They lack the understanding that trauma and certain core conditioning often sticks around even after a sudden awakening. What’s more troubling is that they often ignore this conditioning that is left, eager to pronounce to themselves, others and to the world (sometimes) that they are awakened.
I also noticed an interesting set of phenomena showing up in people after watching the Neo-Advaita movement:
1. Even if someone has a sudden realization while listening to an Neo-Advaita teacher, that teacher cannot help the student past that point. Why? Because there is a prevailing belief among Neo-Advaita teachers that once you experience that initial “pop” into awakening, into seeing no self, all your suffering and troubles are over. “You’re now liberated and so you can give up the search,” so the story goes. We now know through western research on trauma and years and years of anecdotal evidence that the “sudden pop experience where one expects never to suffer again” is mostly a myth. The more common experience among people is that sudden experiences can happen, bringing a profound shift in perception BUT that’s not the end of it. Within just a few years of that sudden pop, any unresolved traumas, deficiency stories or other deeply embedded conditioning can begin to surface for many people. And unless that person turns away from the infantile rhetoric of Neo-Advaita at that point, that person will suffer, albeit quietly sometimes, and flat out refuse to do any more work on him or herself. He has been conditioned by the Neo-Advaita rhetoric to ignore all the stuff that is still coming up, making him feel not-so-liberated at times. And there is no place in the Neo-Advaita atmosphere to even bring up these post-awakening issues. If you bring it up, you can expect to be shot down and hear more of the same rhetoric – “there’s no self.” But just saying there is no self is not enough. If someone has an awakening experience, “selfing” still happens, albeit much less. That’s what I’ve learned from doing thousands and thousands of one on one sessions. I’ve learned that Neo-Advaita is misleading people and that people truly aren’t waking up out of the deeper strands of conditioning. When people stay asleep to these deeper strands, that is bypassing. So they have no business claiming “full liberation” for that would be a lie. But these people can’t be blamed because they learned this misguided information from teachers they thought they could trust but whose own half-baked realization keeps them sticking to a party line that is outdated – namely that in one fell swoop, all self-referencing or self-identification vanishes immediately. I can assure you that this normally doesn’t happen. It’s the stuff of fairy tales told within cultures that long for a one time fix that will solve everything. Awakening doesn’t work that way. The teachers you see claiming that all suffering has ended for them are lying. Trust me. I’ve worked with them, spent time with them and have done inquiry with them. The lies have to stop because nondual teachings are coming close to becoming a scam (if they aren’t already).
After all, it takes courage to come out and say, “Hey I thought I was liberated but there is more ego stuff in me, I’m not done.” Nobody really wants to own that because it opens up the prospect of more years of work to undo what has been left behind in terms of ego conditioning. Bottom line: there are a bunch of half awake Neo-Advaita people (teachers and non-teachers) continuing to spread this misinformation about Neo-Advaita as some sort of magic pill. They are diluting the message of freedom, serving up a plate that is half empty and fooling practitioners that the plate is full, that they are fully liberated. And so the lies continue . . . .
2. Even if someone has a sudden shift through contact with a Neo-Advaita teacher and the shift feels complete, a huge misunderstanding can happen after that. The misunderstanding is that ”just like me, everyone can wake up suddenly and be free of all suffering at once.” Again, tons of anecdotal evidence shows us that this is a rare phenomenon. No one wakes up just like everyone else. Everyone’s experience is different. So if someone has had this sudden shift, they may feel pulled to go out and share a false promise such as “There are no practices needed, you can just wake up fully by attending this or that teachers meetings.” Most of the time, when other people do attend those meetings, the sudden shift doesn’t happen, and they eventually learn that they have to work out some very real human issues before they can truly live in a liberated state. This is bad news for people who were looking for that one time experience that ends all suffering at once. And the misleading came directly from the Neo-Advaita teacher who was also misled by his Neo-Advaita teacher.
For 15 years, I have been translating what the older traditions are really saying (the traditions that started way before Neo-Advaita) and also testing it out in my own experience and with the people I work with. I found that when you peel away the old language from Buddhism and translate it into a simpler language and then help people begin to explore their own experience more skillfully from awareness, waking up happens in a healthier way. These older traditions have a lot to teach us about how to be truly free. But these older teachings are often ignored because the promise of Neo-Advaita is such a seductive sales pitch that it wins over people very easily, but then eventually “fucks them up” once they realize after the awakening that the promise of Neo-Advaita was and is empty.
Helping people work through the human issues either before or after an awakening experience ends with a healthier and more balanced freedom. You don’t need to trust what I’m saying here. Just go hang out at some Neo-Advaita meetings. They can sometimes have the feel of a show being put on by a snake oil salesman. Something feels off if you have done any real work on yourself and your traumas or if you understand that trauma work is necessary for most people. Without work on trauma, a person can walk around all day claiming to be liberated while secretly suffering because they choose not to inquire into that suffering. After all, they were told that the sudden experience is the end of the road and there’s nothing left to do. Nothing left to do? We now know that everyone is traumatized to some degree due to solid western research. Walking around claiming liberation while you have unresolved traumas is like walking around dressed as Santa Claus. Everyone knows you’re pretending, especially those close to you who have to endure the brunt of your unresolved emotional baggage that you claim doesn’t matter because “there is no self.”