Neo-Advaita | In Search of the Non-Enlightenment Experience

Published: Dec 5, 2023 | Revised: Jan 10, 2024
Written by: Marce Ferreira

Neo-Advaita | In Search of the Non-Enlightenment Experience

It’s funny, but Advaita Vedanta Gurus — notably those in the Neo-Advaita domain — often claim not to be Spiritually Enlightened. That is, they are not Enlightened because only “a person” can “get enlightened”, and the Advaita Guru has realized that they are “not a person.” They are not a person because “a person” is a not-really-existing, but a fleeting entity, made-up in the ongoing “movie of consciousness” — in duality — by the delusive mind.

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Mind that in Advaita philosophy “a person” is considered “a separate entity,” that is, an object in consciousness, one among many other objects, “a thing” that one can be aware of but which has “no independent existence” (outside of consciousness). So, of course, the Guru is not a person, not a separate object, because enlightened Advaita Gurus have realized their “divine oneness,” which is the integral totality of consciousness and their awareness of it.

The Guru is aware of everything — is Absolute Awareness (but not as a person) — and is not Enlightened. The Guru gives Satsangs (meetings and discussion events) during which the attendees are told that they cannot become Enlightened either. Yet, strangely enough the people in the room (or whatever gathering place) are there to become Enlightened.

But why? Well, although Advaita Gurus often claim not to be Enlightened, it’s generally understood that that’s the real sign of being Enlightened. In fact, in a certain way Gurus do hint at the fact that they are Enlightened (or perhaps rather awakened or liberated), but not in the usual way of how people think Enlightenment is. Real Enlightenment is rather a kind of Non-Enlightenment.

Because it works something like this: Spiritual Enlightenment or Self-Realization doesn’t exist in the subject-object sphere (in phenomenal consciousness), and running after it (which only a person can do as being the “doer”) will at best bring you self-believed Pseudo-Enlightenment. The thing is that Advaita Gurus persistently assert not to be an individual person (or Ego), because that would bring them straight back into duality, and let’s be clear: Advaita Vedanta is about the living experience of being in non-duality.

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So, having intellectually worked through all this, one should drop the whole search for Spiritual Enlightenment (says the Guru) and then you will be Enlightened (or Liberated), what you actually already are (but not as a person). Thus, yes, Spiritual Enlightenment exists, we are that already (we have it, in a way), but that what we think we are — the person — cannot have it, get it, achieve or become it.

In fact, it doesn’t matter what the Advaita teacher asserts or not asserts, or if he or she is fake, self-deluding, or authentic. In the end, the Advaitic message is about attaining (or realizing) the living Non-Enlightenment experience, which is not really an experience according to Advaita because that would again introduce duality in the form of an experiencer and that-what-is experienced.

As it is, spiritual seekers shouldn’t have been there in the meeting (Satsang) anyway. If they just would have stayed home, eating a pizza and watching Netflix television series or whatnot, and not think about this whole Spiritual Enlightenment thing, well, that would have been surely the best. Because a real Enlightened person (sorry, need to use the word “person” for convenience) doesn’t want Enlightenment, doesn’t look for it, doesn’t know what it is, or even that it exists, and just goes about his or her daily business.


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