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‘I’ Is a Door: The Essence of Advaita As Taught by Ramana Maharshi, Atmananda & Nisargadatta Maharaj

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Item Code: HAQ963
Author: Philip Renard
Publisher: Zen Publications
Language: English
Edition: 2017
ISBN: 9789385902666
Pages: 93
Other Details 9x6 inch
Weight 122 gm
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Book Description
About The Book

Isn't it amazing that our most commonly-used word, 'I', has been used so adeptly as a pointer to the Ultimate Truth by the greatest Advaita teachers?

The three teachers discussed in this book Ramana Maharshi, Atmananda and Nisargadatta Maharaj - steer clear from all religious dogma, therefore making their teachings especially suitable for both westerners and easterners. These three may be considered as 'the Big Three' of the twentieth-century Advaita Vedanta. They are the ones who distilled Advaita to the heart of the matter: direct recognition of your true nature. All three of them used the word 'I' as an integral term to point to the Ultimate Principle: the first two spoke in terms of 'I-I' and 'I-Principle' respectively, and Nisargadatta offered his two-step approach of 'I am' and 'I, the Absolute' With this they showed that the way is a direct way in the first place, a way that cannot be found anywhere else than within you, with the direct experience of 'I' Probably no other teacher or writer, from East or West, has investigated the truth of what 'I' really is, as thoroughly as these three spiritual giants.

About The Author

Philip Renard was born 1944 in Amsterdam. After a period of studying the original teachings of Chan Buddhism, he started practising his spiritual life in Subud (a Java based brotherhood), in which the surrender practice called latihan gave him a foundation for all further insight, that is: freedom from concept or method.

After an intensive period of fruitful influence from the American teacher Da Free John (later called Adi Da), Philip was for some years closely associated with Dutch Advaita teacher Alexander Smit (a pupil of Nisargadatta Maharaj and indirectly of Atmananda). During this period Philip came to a point when belief in all concepts was shed, so he could apperceive who he always already is. In the following years he also (gratefully) made use of Dzogchen teachings, especially those of Tulku Urgyen.

Philip has published six books and more than twenty articles in Dutch. In English he has published articles in Mountain Path and Journal of Indian Philosophy.


One of the expressions often heard on the path of Self- realisation is 'letting go of the ego'. What is actually meant by this?

It is of course not about the commonplace form of ego which everybody recognizes as egoism or selfishness, because it is clear that selfishness is in fact rejected by everybody, being on a way of liberation or not. Letting go of this 'gross' kind of ego is not enough if you really want liberation.

The ego as mentioned by teachers of the Vedantic and Buddhist ways of liberation as being the primary obstacle, is a thinking activity, in which you identify yourself with an external figure which consequently can be seen and judged. A figure which could be imagined as being 'higher' or 'lower' than other figures.

This ego in fact consists of acts of comparison. It could also be called 'self-consciousness', with all its implied inhibition of spontaneity or aliveness. It refers to the built-in split, a habitual groove in which one looks at another part of the same ego from a critical point of view, and bombards it with conflicting opinions. A principal characteristic of the ego is the attachment to the opinions about oneself. That is to say, a self-image has been built that does not want to dissolve and would rather continue as it is. This is what we call the 'person'; it is the maintenance of a self-image. When it comes to the 'person', each conscious activity of the body-mind involves the supposition that there is an 'I' doing something, and that this 'I' is a continuous, enduring entity.

I prefer to call this 'the I', rather than 'ego', because this is easier to recognize as being something more subtle than the 'gross ego' mentioned earlier, even though the two flow into one another. The main difference, one could say, in the case of the 'gross' ego it is others that bother you and are bothered by you, whereas in the case of this subtle 'I' it is you being bothered by yourself.

Both Buddhists and Vedantists agree that this subtle 'I' should be given up if you want liberation, but disagree about the terminology and how belief in this 'I' can be annihilated. Buddhists say: "There is no entity at all, no 'self' or 'I', just a sequence of causatively conditioned psychic and physical processes. For the rest they do not talk about an 'I'. They even disapprove of talking in terms of 'I', for instance in a statement like "When we regard the nature of this knowing as being 'me' or 'T', and hold onto that concept - this is a small view, and it is confused, mistaken."

Nevertheless in Dzogchen, the radical non-dualistic core of Tibetan Buddhism from which the last quote originated, a number of texts have been produced in the past in which the term 'I' is used, even with emphasis, to point out the highest principle, as being the 'majestic creativity of the universe'.

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