3.6) Some guiding questions
I haven’t mentioned any particular names of neo-Advaita teachers, but I believe I gave you the tools to tell the difference between traditional Advaita and New Age Advaita. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself, to help you discern.
Does the teacher…
- Imply that no spiritual practice is required, apart from attending satsang and listening to him?
- Say or imply that virtues, self-control, and ethics are “just illusions”, and thus also justify his own misbehavior?
- Look down on other forms of spiritual practice, such as meditation and devotion?
- Say or imply that he is enlightened, or that there is no further awakening for him?
- Function only in an impersonal, dry, nihilistic way, and is unable to connect at a more human and compassionate level?
- Charge disproportionally for the satsangs or other products?
- Seem to be more interested in other benefits of being a teacher, rather than just the growth and awakening of students?
- Never mention, recommend, or read from traditional Advaita texts?
- Get irritated, uneasy, evasive, or in any way affected, when asked about his personal life or when pointed out flaws?
- Expect you to “give up the search”, or “declare yourself awakened”?
The more “yes” you give, the clearer it is that you are facing neo-Advaita.
These are not absolute criteria, but interesting questions to ask yourself.
Not all modern teachers of Advaita are neo-Advaita; as mentioned, there are many shades of neo. Hopefully, these questions and remarks will help you discern which forms of teaching are more helpful/authentic than others.