This heavy and ripe volume consists of Alexander Smit's oral responses to over 500 questions constructed around the meta-themes of what the natural state is, what reality is, what or who the "I" is. These talks mostly took place in the Eighties, prior to the Internet generation.
Smit, who died in 1998, barely 50 years old, was a student of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj. Smit speaks from experience and requires his questioners to speak from their experience. This condition keeps the dialogue unfettered by philosophical, theoretical, intellectual distraction. It also keeps Smit free of cultishness.
He says, "Self-realisation has nothing to do with the ideas we may have about it." Same may be said for him and for you. The constant cleaning out of your concepts and your projections upon him, makes for healthy relationship, reason enough for recommending the teaching of Alexander Smit. "Young lady," he says at one point, "please do not project your own situation onto me in order to show me how I am experiencing myself."
Smit's student Philip Renard writes a useful foreword in which he lays out and talks about Smit's main themes. Renard also talks about his relationship with Smit, about whom he says, "I had learned of such expressions as, `I am Consciousness only,' or `This mind is nothing but the Buddha,' but never had I seen anybody demonstrating it."
EXAMPLES OF TOPICS DISCUSSED:
Smit addresses many different topics. I'll mention a few of them along with a brief quotation so that you get a feel for the scope of this book. However many of Smit's responses are discourses, fairly lengthy and full of solid wondrous stories.
The guru: "One condition is that the guru himself must have reached the end, and that he himself has covered the road completely. Otherwise it will be a comedy."
Boredom, loneliness, and the fear of death: "There are but few who are prepared to face these three obstacles, for it requires courage, passion, and intellligence to face your own life."
Hope, belief, and love: "He who builds his life on these ideas will experience their stifling effect."
Self-realisation: "The only problem with Self-realisation is that you insist on experiencing that state as an `I," as a `person,' as an `experiencer.'"
Men, women, and enlightenment: "As soon as a man becomes enlightened, the first thing he will do - he can't wait for five minutes - is to gather at once disciples around him and start explaining things. Whereas a woman will simply sit down and enjoy it, that's all."
In March of 1985, Alexander Smit said, "Advaita [nonduality] will never become very popular." The reason, he explained, is that consciousness or your real nature cannot be located, experienced, or perceived, and there's nothing you can "do" with abstractions.
Advaita or nonduality is popular. What Smit did not see is that people would not be frustrated or frightened by the inability to speak the Truth, or by the non-existence of Truth as an object. People are okay with it, and they know how to prattle about the Truth, which is all Smit, Nisargadatta, or anyone can do.
On the other hand, Smit makes a good point: "You can use advaita vedanta in such a way that you actually won't have to see the truth, just as you can use any religion, any philosophy, any enlightened man as a system of thought in which you will know how to fit your own thinking - your wasted life." Yes, that's true, too.
Smit is as bottom line as any authentic teacher. His book is like a pantry chock full of nonduality. It's more diverse than a lot of the newer books on the topic. With shades of orange on the cover and nearly 400 pages stuffed with very readable teachings, this is an ideal book by which to define your Autumn.
I also want to congratulate Andre van den Brink for translating the text from Dutch.
I'll let Smit have the final word here: "A summing-up is to organize anew the confusion, which should be seen and transcended instead."