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Perfect Blatant Silliness
on 17 June 2013
I can't speak highly enough of this book: it's the height of self-delusion and self-indulgent verbosity. Carse is enlightened and if you don't believe it that just shows how little you understand. In fact he comes across all too clearly as just one more pitiful example of someone who has convinced himself he is enlightened and is desperate to prove it to the world, whilst at the same time going to great lengths to explain that actually there is no one to be enlightened or to prove it to. They are coming out of the woodwork these days. The trouble with advaita is it's so simple that parroting the teaching is easy.
A more blatant self-indulgent ego-rant than this book one could scarcely imagine, and so needlessly repetitive and sloppily written it makes very tedious reading indeed. It is totally devoid of inspiration, insight or aphorism (not to mention editing), the only memorable lines consisting of quotes from other writers, to have to resort to which is a sure sign of one`s own lack of insight. More importantly, it is devoid of compassion (the surest sign of all that any enlightenment worth the name is lacking). The story of how Carse just stared at the crippled little beggar who clung to his rickshaw until he dropped off, without being moved to give him anything, is appalling in its blind arrogance. Of course Carse thinks he is not staring but making meaningful eye-contact, transmitting his profound understanding to the poor wretch, of far more help to him than mere money, and it doesn't matter anyway because the whole scenario is illusory--to the uncrippled Carse, that is, safely beyond destitution.
Carse really does not want to tell his story--so he insists at the beginning--and yet he tells it anyway. He has seen through the illusion of the person, "the david thing", and yet he defends it like crazy. The depth of his self-delusion is illustrated in his telling of how he eventually fell out with his revered teacher Ramesh Balsekar. Carse, so apparently convinced of the unreality of the person and liberated of it, and constantly telling us that "nothing matters", can yet take such a personal, mattering stance as to fall out big time with another (equally unreal) person over mere opinions! Completely failing to see the contradiction here, he relates this story to justify himself (the falling out was apparently public) and demonstrate that he is right and Ramesh is wrong! You couldn't make it up. Beyond the individual self? (the book's subtitle). Afraid not: as mired in it as anyone, indeed more hopelessly so for imagining himself not to be.
"Nobody home" he keeps telling us. If that really were the case, and he really were immersed in "perfect brilliant stillness", he would never, could never, have written such a busy, repetitive, self-justifying, self-glorifying book--insisting the while that he didn't want to write it! Perfect Blatant Silliness more like it.
The one piece of advice in this book worth taking seriously comes right at the beginning, where he says "I would encourage any normal person not to buy this book." By normal he means of course the vast majority with no interest in or capacity for such "teaching", but as someone with both, I would include these people too. This book is so bad I had to send it back--both because I really don't think Carse deserves to profit from it, and because if anyone visiting me (a "normal" person) had picked it up I'd have squirmed with embarrassment.
If it's genuine Advaita you want, and you haven't yet completely exhausted the potential of Nisargadatta and Jean Klein (impossible anyway), my advice is: don't waste your time on anything else. With these two genuine masters you have the true teaching in all its profundity, expressed with total originality, in language of breathtaking beauty, with the purity and power to genuinely transmit as you read. In comparison, the current bandwagon of self-proclaimed Advaita masters are but self-deluded parrots.
But anyway, why Advaita, as opposed, say, to Buddhism? One of its chief attractions in this quick-fix age, which the current trend of neo-advaita books positively fosters, is that it can seem to be a wonderfully convenient and easy way of escaping your personal problems by allowing you to deny the reality of the person who suffers them and the persons you have caused to suffer. Sorry to be a party pooper but it doesn't work. Eventually you will come crashing back down to earth, no less screwed up and miserable than before, with no more insight into your conditioning or control over your emotions and your ego as real and solid-seeming as ever. Spiritual bypassing, in John Welwood's memorable phrase.
The neo-Advaita bandwagon holds out the promise of unshakable bliss, beyond all life's pains and problems, in a one-off flash of understanding and transformation, without any demands, no working at it, no self-discipline, no moral or social obligations. Enlightenment for free! That's the thrust of books like this. And what could be more appealing to people weighed down by bad memories, remorse, anxiety, sense of failure... and money problems to boot. Appealing, however, only to the desperately naïve and credulous. Pure--no, impure--fantasy. On the back of which these so-called spiritual teachers make good livings. (Not that David Carse does, by all accounts, nor does he teach... And yet he did go to all that trouble to publish his book...)