3 Ways to Enlightenment.

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There are at least 3 ways to enlightenment according to yoga philosophy.

In reality, there are many more, perhaps as many as there are yogis, but just for the sake of limited space and the topic of this essay, I will introduce three distinct and influential  philosophical paths within traditional yoga philosophy.

While doing so, we will look at each philosophy’s unique way to uncover the essence of yoga, which, according to Michael Stone, author of the insightful and very readable The Inner Tradition of Yoga, is simply this:

to teach us “that all forms of clinging create suffering.”

However, while all paths of yoga teaches us about the futility of attachments to our ego: the way our body looks, how much money we make, how big/small our nose is, etc., not all paths of yoga puts so much emphasis on the avoidance of attachment and of suffering.

Buddha said that suffering exists; it has a cause; it has an end; and it has a cause to bring about its end. But not all yoga philosophy is Buddhist in outlook. Tantra instructs us quite the opposite; that the practice of yoga reveals feelings of joy, freedom, wholeness, bliss, love, awe, expansion, oneness. Krishna’s sublime stories in the Gita is also about a different mind-set: to see all as love, embrace all as sacred, see all as One.

A yogi, whose life’s goal is to end suffering achieves enlightenment through detachment leading to transcendental absorption. This path of discernment, this path of calm, focused discrimination is distinctly different from the path of celebratory union, the path of sacred embrace as emphasized in the heart-centered Bhakti Yoga of Kabir, or the ecstatic Kali-worshiping Tantra of Ramakrishna. Yet, as we will see, all yogic paths are intertwined like threads in a meditation rug. They have much more in common than not.

Here’s a brief outline of  3 traditional paths of yogic enlightenment:

1. Patanjali’s Yoga, or dvaita; traditionally considered a dualist school of yoga

2. Adi Shankara’s Vedanta, or advaita; traditionally considered nondualist, or Mayavada (the doctrine of illusion/only Brahman/God is real)

3. Tantra, advaita-dvaita-advaita; traditionally nondualist; but more appropriately a nondualistic-dualistic-nondualist philosophy bridging the philosophical dichotomy between Patanjali Yoga and Vedanta.

Patanjali Yoga

The Classical Yoga of Patanjali is in traditional India also referred to as Patanjali Samkhya, Patanjali Tantra, or Raja Yoga. This is not accidental. When referred to as Samkhya, it is because Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras follow and expands upon the tradition of the incredibly sophisticated philosophy of Kapila’s Samkhya, which is also the philosophical foundation of Ayurveda, India’s yoga-based medical system.

Hence, to deeply understand the principles of both Ayurveda and yoga, studying the detailed and logical cosmology of Samkhya philosophy is exceedingly instructive.

Samkhya is also sometimes referred to as Kapila’s Tantra, after its founder Kapila, to indicate its link to early Shaivism (followers of Shiva) or ancient Tantra. Samkhya is also termed Tantra Shaivism, and Ayurveda is also characterized as “Tantric medicine,” or “Siddha medicine,” especially in East and South India.

In other words, while there are distinct differences between these important schools and practices, there are many more integrating similarities. While Patanjali followed in the footsteps of Kapila, he again built upon the works of the ancient Vedic and Tantric (Shaiva) sages of the past. Most all of the meditation teachings outlined in the Yoga Sutras, for example, are practiced widely among all yogic traditions.

Likewise, Shankara was a Shiva Tantric and presumed to be the founder of Vedanta (see Georg Feuerstein’s The Yoga Tradition ) who followed in the footsteps of Patanjali, and the Tantric sages of the middle ages, those naked sadhus who penned the text book Hatha Yoga Pradipika. But, in true Indian tradition, he advanced his own philosophical school, and he was known as a fierce debater and logician, often debating Buddhist monks.

The Natha Tantrics of the Middle Ages, who wrote the Hatha Yoga texts dedicated to Shiva, followed in the footsteps of an old oral tradition in part recorded in the Puranas, the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita,  the Tantras, and the Shiva Samhitas, They hailed from a fertile yogic tradition that in many ways was originally distinctly non-Vedic and perhaps reached as far back into antiquity as 5000 years before Christ.

This potpourri of ideas and practices spawned a plethora of philosophical sub-schools and traditions with names and founders, practices, myths and meanings as numerous and colorful as the patterns in an Indian sari.

Let us take a brief look at these 3 schools:

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras

Patanjali’s philosophy (approximately 200 BCE) recognizes the Self (Purusha) as a transcendental, all-pervading entity and as a state of mind actualized by a self-realized yogi. The opposite reality of the Self is the World (Prakrti) with all its numerous physical and mental manifestations. The yogi’s delusion according to Patanjali is the preoccupation with the world, the senses, the body, etc.

Thus, in his dualistic view of realty, Patanjali encourages the yogi, through following the eight limbs of yoga to disengage and withdraw from the world through ethical behavior, study, postures, breathing exercises and meditation to reach Samadhi, the final absorption in the Self. The false identification with the world is the allure that draws the yogi away from the inner world of the one true Self.

Patanjali did not promote union with the Self through longing and heart-centered worship or meditation as in Bhakti or Tantra Yoga. Rather his way to liberation and enlightenment is to escape suffering via discernment, introspection, and meditation.

Patanjali draws a distinct separation between the Self and the non-self; it is evidently not a yoga of union. This is how yoga scholar Georg Feuerstein reads him: “Given Patanjali’s dualist metaphysics, which strictly separates the transcendental Self from Nature and its products, [union] would not even make any sense.”

For yoga philosopher and psychologist Michael Stone, we have lost nothing and gained everything with such an attitude. Yoga, according to Stone, is not an act of unity. This turns yoga into a “willful activity,” he writes; quite the opposite of what Patanjali intended.

Yoga, according to Stone, “means that everything is interdependent…not something we seek outside ourselves or a willful attempt at union, but the recognition, in the present moment, of the unification of life.”

A yogi on Patanjali’s path gradually discover a deeper recognition of the inner Self, and eventually realizes, through skillful separation of Truth from untruth, the nondual awareness of the transcendental reality. Hence, the path of duality, artfully practiced, leads to nonduality and enlightenment. This process toward enlightenment according to Patanjali does not occur through union, but as a process of identity, of identifying with the transcendental, not with the worldly.

The strength and beauty of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras lies, I think, in his insightful gifts of philosophical detail on the path of discerning what the Self is not. Moreover, the Yoga Sutras’ contemplative stanzas and practical insights about meditation is an integral part of many yogi’s daily practices both on and off the cushion/mat.

The Yoga Sutras are not an instruction manual in meditation, however. A competent teacher that can impart the practical lessons of pratyahara (sense withdrawal), pranayama (breathing exercises), dharana (concentration) and dhyana (focused flow) is thus essential in order to develop a daily, personal meditation practice.

Advaita Vedanta

Shankara, or Shankaracharya (approximately 800 AD) was a Shaiva Tántrika, or practioner of Tantra who, like many Indian ascetics was a follower Shiva. He believed in Nirguńa Brahma, or Purusha only. His theories are reminiscent of shúnyaváda in Buddhism, the doctrine of emptiness. Unlike Patanjali, he did not believe in the existence of jagat, or the physical world, and he promoted Guńánvita Máyáváda, the doctrine of illusion.

Shankara’s doctrine was summed up in the following sutra:

Brahma satyaṃ jagat mithyā, jīvo brahmaiva nāparah

Brahman is the only truth, the spatio-temporal world is an illusion, and there is ultimately no difference between Brahman and the individual self.

Shankara was a great logician and traveled throughout India teaching his new doctrine. During his short, 32 year old life, he managed to unite the various Hindu sects and to greatly reduce the influence of Buddhism in India. Because of his philosophical unification of two seemingly disparate philosophical concepts, Atman (individual Self) and Brahman, many think of him as the most brilliant philosopher, a kind of St. Thomas of Aquinas, in the history of Indian thought.

As a Tantric yogi, Shankara taught the practices of kundalini yoga and the esoteric science of mantra meditation. In Swami Vivekananada (1863-1902) we witness a modern exponent of Vedanta and simultaneously a teacher following the eight-fold path of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, or Raja Yoga. Moreover, Vivekananda, was an ardent social reformer and not exactly one to act as if the world was an illusion.

Shankara’s doctrine of illusion undoubtedly has had many negative social effects in India by enslaving people to fatalist dogmas steeped in caste, myth and oppression. Yet, in giant personalities like Vivekananda and Aurobindu (1872-1950), both greatly influenced by Patanjali and Shankara, we witness a modern integration reconciling the deep spiritual introspection of yogic India with western Enlightenment rationality and social reform.

In other words, we see in Vivekananda and Aurobindu a fruitful integration of the dualism of Patanjali with the non-dualism of Shankara. Quite tellingly, Aurobindu called his yoga “integral yoga” and Georg Feuerstein thinks it is Aurobindo, more than any other yogi, who epitomizes the birth of modern yoga in the world. The millions of “posture yogis” in the West would perhaps disagree and instead think of Krishnamacarya as a more likely candidate.


If the Vedanta of Vivekananda, or Deepak Chopra—who makes a point about not being a Hindu but rather a follower of Vedanta—signifies the modern version of ancient yoga, it is perhaps Tantra, more than any other form of yogic philosophy, that embody a post-modern and integral vision.

Philosopher Ken Wilber maintains that the nondualism of Tantra brings together the inseparable and eternal unity of Purusha and Prakrti  in a “nondual embrace” of fundamental importance to yogic philosophy. This logical embrace seems to reconcile the best of Patanjali with the best of Shankara, the essence of dualism with the essence of nondualism.

Interestingly, many believe that Tantric yoga is also much older than both these schools, perhaps more than 6000 years old, and represent for many scholars all Yogic practice—the science and practice of mantra, kundalini, chakras, asanas, pranyama, dhyan, etc—as opposed to the Vedic aspects—the fire rituals, chanting, scriptural study, etc—of the vast body of Indian mysticism.

Written down as philosophy, however, the oral tradition of Tantra is a relative latecomer in India and is associated with the “Tantric Renaissance” of the Middle Ages, when most all the Tantric texts dedicated to Shiva—its alleged originator and King Of Yoga—were authored.

According to Feuerstein, “By unifying the mind—that is, by focusing it—Tantra Yoga unifies the seemingly disparate realities of space-time and the transcendental Reality.” In other words, Tantra unifies the duality of Patanjali with the nonduality of Vedanta.

That is, Tantra seems to bridge the contradictions between Vedanta’s the-world-is-an-illusion theory with Patanajali’s the-world-is-a-distraction philosophy by exclaiming that both the world and spirit is Brahman, and that all is real. Tantra, like Krishna in the Gita, instructs us: I am That, I am always unified with That. I am Consciousness, and Consciousness made the World.

Hence the use of will, the practice of observation, discernment, love, are not at all contradictory to Tantra. (Indeed, lest we become lazy deadbeats, we need to employ our will at almost every turn of the way in life.) Each aspect of reality complement each other in a cosmic embrace of spiritual union. Purusha and Prakrti, these universal opposites of Spirit and Flesh are truly one in Brahman, truly two aspects of the same Transcendental Consciousness. Thus speaks Tantra.

The biggest challenge for the followers of Vedanta is perhaps to avoid confusing the intellectual understanding of nonduality with the actual experience of it. To free oneself from the idea that “I am enlightened just because I think I am.”

The challenge for the dualist, on the other hand, is to let go of the mind and also to perceive the world openly through the heart.

For Tantra, perhaps the biggest challenge is the idea that, since Spirit is everywhere, therefore anything goes; therefore any behavior is spiritual behavior; therefore, as we see in so many neo-tantric circles, the flesh is hedonistically mistaken for spirit and indulgence equals transcendence.

A Common Philosophical Weave

The truth is, we can learn from, and integrate, all of these philosophical yogic paths into our own. Dualism is part of realizing non-dualism. Without a body, without experiencing separation and longing, we cannot practice the yoga of nondualism in the first place. Thus all 3 visions are balanced and interconnected.

Although I personally favor Tantra, this impossibly tongue-tied philosophical vision we may call nondualistic-dualistic-nondualism, I humbly bow to the rich inner wisdom of all 3 paths. And rest assured, enlightenment is inherent in all of them, just like the breath of the sacred is inherent in all of us.

We exist in this world. We are not an illusion. Nor is the world an illusion, nor does it have to be a trap of the flesh. Both we and the world are physically and spiritually vibrant, real and present in all our glory. All of the time! Yet, when we are trapped in the world, we mistake the unreal for the real, the rope for a snake, and life’s lessons do indeed become fleeting and illusory.

The inner spirit of these 3 paths to enlightenment, are perhaps most beautifully summed up in the koan-like words of the great nondual sage Ramana Maharshi:

The world is illusory;

Brahman alone is real;

Brahman is the world.

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Ramesh Bjonnes

Ramesh Bjonnes has traveled the world as a meditation teacher, Ayurvedic practitioner, author, and is currently the Director of the Prama Wellness Center, a retreat center teaching yoga, meditation, and juice rejuvenation. He studied yoga therapy in Nepal and India, Ayurvedic Medicine at California College of Ayurveda, and naturopathic detox therapy at the AM Wellness Center in Cebu, Philippines. He is the author of four books, and he lives with his wife Radhika and Juno, a sweet, gentle Great Pyrenees, in the mountains near Asheville, North Carlina. Connect with him via his website: prama.org and rameshbjonnes.com.

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anonymous May 21, 2011 8:47pm

Dear Ramesh,
Thanks for this comprehensive analysis of the different schools of Indian thought and philosophy.

Your dedication to unEarthing these rich teachings is helpful to all.

Yours in Yoga (unity),
Sam Geppi

    anonymous May 22, 2011 3:59pm

    Dear Sam Geppi, thank you so much for your wonderful comments. It was actually our recent discussion that inspired this blog, so kudos to you as well for your astute knowledge and insightful commentaries. In yogic unity!


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anonymous May 19, 2011 1:34pm

Thank you for your understandable outline Ramesh. Once again, I am humbled to learn from you.

    anonymous May 19, 2011 3:41pm

    You are most welcome, and thanks for your gracious comments!

anonymous May 19, 2011 7:11am

Thanks, Bob!!

Bob Weisenberg May 18, 2011 11:10pm

Just posted to "Popular Lately" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

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anonymous May 18, 2011 9:29pm

I think that is a provocative topic too, Ramesh. Of course, I hold that most people are stuck in some ideological hegemony–a network of ideas and cultural biases. Usually, however, it isn't the well articulated, abstract ideas of duality that get us in trouble, but the institutionalized separation based on dualistic ignorance. Patanjali gets grief about this in the yogasphere and Descartes is the straw man of the subject/object split in Western philosophy, but really it is the Rush Limbaughs and Michelle Bachmanns that are the purveyors of true ignorance.

A revisioning of Patanjali's notion of yoga as the "cessation of patterning of thought" sounds like a wonderful ideological prescription, btw, even though this was probably out of his area of intent.

    anonymous May 18, 2011 9:46pm

    I agree, Matt. It is when ideas become populist Jesus-died- for-your-sins-the world-is-an-illusion dogmas that we get in real trouble.Doesn't matter if its Christian or Hindu or Muslim, its ignorance and a prescription for earthly hell!. We see it all around us.

anonymous May 17, 2011 12:44pm

Correction: I meant to write in the fourth line above, of course, that if Prusha and Prakrti had been "interdependent"…

    anonymous May 17, 2011 8:29pm

    Hi Ramesh — I appreciate the notion of unintegrated kaivalya rendering a messy philosophy, as well as your historical speculation into tantric-shamanic roots, and their tension with Vedic structures. Thanks for your thought and time.

anonymous May 17, 2011 12:42pm

Matthew, thanks for reading and for your astute observations and comments.

Your description of Samkhya and Patanjali's Yoga sutras are spot on philosophically, and you have pointed out the dualism in these doctrines perfectly well. If indeed Patanjali had agreed, as in Tantra, that Pakrti and purasha were independent, he could have designed a philosophy that was much more ecological and whole, and thus, been Tantric, so to speak. But he did not.

But practically speaking, and philosophy is our clumsy way of describing reality with language, it is possible to experience kaivalya, nirvikalpa, satori, sunyata, whatever term we use, and still have a dualistic view of the world. Just like it is possible for a person to be both a saint and a jerk.. So what we have in Patanjali are loose idea threads throughout the sutras, some of which not hang together well as a philosophy on all levels. But,he, or any dualist thinker for taht matter, could well have experienced kaivalya, and he can describe all the aspects.In other words, you have a nondual expereience and still come up with a dualistic philososphy because you ahve yet to integrate your spirituality. You have yet to do the ecology, to compost your psychology to embrace the higher. In other words, a spiritual person often does not act or speak spiritually due to lack of reintegration, lack of integral awareness. And I suppose that plays into these philosophies.

To your question about the history of Tantra: I suppose you are familiar with Gebser's cultural memes: from archaic to magical to mythical to rational to integral. I agree that in large part humanity has evolved through these psychological stages and that rational philosophies were therefore a latecomer in our history. But there could still have been subcultures, even giant integral beings at an early part of our history, that were both quite rational, even integral beings. So people thousands of years before patanjali, still had the capacity por advanced thinking, even though it was not common. That is one point. The second is that what Westerners refer to as Tantra and date to the scriptures of the Middle Ages, is found throughout much earlier texts as well. Such as the Puranas, such as the Upanishads, even the Vedas, especially the Atharva Veda. So, if you have the skills and want to dig, then even the scriptural evidence is there. My reading of early Indian history is that it is both Tantric and Vedic way back into antiquity, even before the Indus Valley civilization, and that these two rivers of thought comingled for a long time. BUT socially, politically India was dominated by the vedic Aryans and suppressed the indigenous culture that was much more Tantric in nature. This tension is evident in all of India;s history, but Western yoga historians gloss over it, whitewash it, or do not know about it.

This is complex stuff, and I wish we had hours or days to talk about it, because it has been one of my pet projects to "rewrite" some of that telling of the history of yoga.

The problem is, of course, as you pint out, that so much of indian history is oral, so much of the teachings is oral. But one think we know for sure: shamanism is much older than the first text on shamanism and tantra is much older than the tantric texts from the middle ages.

To the frustration of most others, I like to equate yoga with tantra–it is basically the same–practically and histroically, one source many rivers… and if that is the case, we know that in the Indis valley people practice yoga/tantra as far back as 2500 years before Christ. We know that based on the Pashupati seal and many other yogic glyphs… we don't have the texts, but we do have these seals….
we also have a lot of Puranic/oral "evidence' which my teacher Anandamurti drew from, and according to that, tantra goes back to shamanism, as yoga/tantra evolved from the shamans at least 6-7000 years ago.. not from the Vedas…. the Vedic Aryans brought the priesthood, the varnas, the caste, etc. In Tantra there was no concept of caste, never….
Anyway, long story.

Bob Weisenberg May 17, 2011 9:31am

And we will all look forward to that blog, Ramesh.

Bob Weisenberg May 17, 2011 8:34am

Wonderful clarifying article, Ramesh. Like you, I enjoy learning about all these schools of Yoga. But in my own Yoga I share your preference for the more life-affirming strands of Yoga philosophy, as represented by the Gita.

I have personally never found the idea of relieving suffering to be a very exciting or spiritually motivating concept. I prefer to see it as simply one bi-product of experiencing infinite wonder, or, as some refer to it, divinity.

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Also posting to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

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    anonymous May 18, 2011 9:06pm

    Sounds to me that you are still hung up on Dhammapada, Bob. The suffering–or attachment–is just a fact and a diagnosis. How you deal with that fact can be life affirming or not.

    To say "Buddhism is all about suffering" is akin to saying the "Gita is all about war."

    I find the Buddhist concept of Dependent Origination (aka Dependent Arising) to be very life affirming and positive. Of course, this points to the cure, not the diagnosis.

      Bob Weisenberg May 18, 2011 10:05pm

      Hi, Matt. Not sure you noticed that I was contrasting two schools of Yoga above, making no mention of Buddhism whatsoever. So I'm not sure what the Dhammapada has to do with it. (The Yoga Sutra is Norman Vincent Peale compared to the Dhammapada.)

      But I could have written the same thing about Buddhism compared to Yoga, and often have. Perhaps that's what you were thinking.

      Maybe a year and a half ago, yes, my impression of Buddhism was overly influenced by the Dhammapada. But I've had so much more contact with all kinds of Buddhism since then, much of it right here on Elephant.

      Someday I'll do one of those word charts on all the Buddhist writing on Elephant or anywhere and you will see that relief from suffering is an overwhelmingly dominant theme. That's true for some schools of Yoga, too. (And yes, I know, not true of some schools of Buddhism.)

      Nothing wrong with that. I just don't find it that useful or spiritually motivating personally.

      Personal preference. That's all it is.

      Thanks for writing.


        anonymous May 18, 2011 10:49pm

        My bad then, Bob. When I read this I saw Padma Kadag's and Ramesh's discussion directly above yours–which was about Buddhism–so I read it in this context.

          Bob Weisenberg May 18, 2011 11:04pm

          No problem, Matt. It could have easily been that, and it is closely related, since the Yoga Sutra is so Buddhist influenced. That's why I went and answered your question anyway.


anonymous May 16, 2011 1:55pm

Oh, and yeah, man, you got rhythm!!! Almost forgot that!

    anonymous May 18, 2011 8:54pm


    Fair enough–and I'm still trying to dance–and I like your mention that "philosophical tenets have cause and effect in the real world." That is why I love philosophical tenets that undermine philosophical tenets. Some may confuse this with nihilism but it is really the prototype of the Zen koan. When that metanoia is finally released, all you can really do is sing and dance.

    Of course, the Gita also promotes a certain picture of the world and philosophical tenets, regardless of whether one is able to parse them or not. And sometimes dancers join the Tea Party or some other social movement that seems "life affirming" and yet, well I digress …

      anonymous May 18, 2011 9:49pm

      Well said! The philosophical dance koan must go on…

anonymous May 16, 2011 10:21am

"Buddha said that suffering exists; it has a cause; it has an end; and it has a cause to bring about its end. But not all yoga philosophy is Buddhist in outlook. Tantra instructs us quite the opposite; that the practice of yoga reveals feelings of joy, freedom, wholeness, bliss, love, awe, expansion, oneness. Krishna’s sublime stories in the Gita is also about a different mind-set: to see all as love, embrace all as sacred, see all as One."

Ramesh..your above quote..I think you are trying to make a dramatic distinction between your version of Tantra and and "Buddhism". Your verbage and adjectives are also used in describing the effects of the correct use of the Mantrayana or Vajrayana paths in Buddhism. If there is any distinction between your Tantra and the Tantra of Vajrayana it is that the Vajrayana does not rely on a god for enlightenment. Yet all of the adjectives and verbs are experienced on an ordinary and subtle level at least insofar as we are able to agree on the meanings in english translation. If you were to seriously study the vajrayana you would find that most of what you say is included in the experience of the vajrayana practitioner but not limited to.

    anonymous May 16, 2011 2:01pm

    Good points, Padma. Yes there are so many similarities, and i like to think that basically Tantra is more or less the same in spirit, whether it is Buddhist or Hindu.
    Once i read a Vajrayana description of a dhyana meditation practice (which is part of the asthanga yoga of Patnajali, and also part of my Tantra practice) and was stunned to discover that it was nearly identical, except that the deity used in the meditation was different, but the visualization process and inner spirit of the practice was the same.

anonymous May 16, 2011 4:26am

Ramesh Ramloll,
I agree that advaita defies classification, yet it is classified as a philosophy… such are the contradictions of language, of philosophy… yes, Shankara had a kickass logical mind, I agree, but others have kicked his arguments off the pedestal by saying that if the world is illusion, then the one uttering the statement is also illusion and does not exist.. and how can you not exist and still experience advaita…. so his argument is just a mind construct… but what is important, I think, is that advaita represents a philosophy about the unspeakable, which leads us to the conclusion that the truth (advaita) cannot be reach by philosophy but by going beyond philosophy through practice..experience.

anonymous May 16, 2011 12:33am

Let me get this straight if the cessation of suffering is enlightenment then how many of you is ready for it?

    anonymous May 16, 2011 4:31am

    Enlightenment is the cessation of the perception of suffering and attachment…. both Ramakrishna and Ramana Maharshi suffered from cancer but presumably trough their own statements did not suffer from it….you "suffer" but you are not effected by the suffering….

anonymous May 15, 2011 11:27pm

Ramesh Ramloll,

Such is true for another great yogi with similarities to Shankara: Nagarjuna. I think Neither/Nor and Both/And dialectics are a great prescription for the Western mind determined to find truth or falsity in areas other than science or the law (and even these have their gray areas for veracity). Interesting observation.

anonymous May 16, 2011 4:36am

Yes, I think that is why these philosophies are so attractive the Westerners… BUT one could also argue that what the West needs more than Neither/Nor/And Both dialectics is a strong dose of spiritual heart medicine–bhkati yoga, tantra., the Gita, more dance and singing and poetry…a la Rumi…

anonymous May 16, 2011 8:01am


I don't see Ramesh R's or my comment as necessarily opposed to bhakti, tantra, the Gita, etc. In fact, Nagarjuna's (who was probably something of a tantrika himself) Middle Way dialectic was designed to bring one closer to compassion and openness. He was really popping the conceptual balloons of the essentialists and realists of his time and regaining Buddha's focus on interconnection (dependent arising).

This doesn't make this approach "superior" over other approaches, but it does appeal to different types or to persons of different backgrounds.

Besides, dammit, I have terrible rhythm. 😉