9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enlightenment: The Path Through The Jungle
In this book, Dennis Waite seeks to provide (1) A counter-argument to the modern 'neo-advaita' perspective, and (2) An in-depth explanation of the background to the traditional 'Advaita' teaching - as it was, and as it is.
Many enthusiastic students of contemporary non-duality teachers may be under the illusion that what they are hearing is the authentic...
Published on 26 May 2008 by Roy Whenary
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lack of breadth
I have read most of the books by Dennis Waite and on the whole have found them to be quite informative and well written. Though Dennis is clearly knowledgeable about the Advaita Vedanta tradition, I feel that with "Enlightenment: the Path through the Jungle" he has revealed his lack of breadth regarding other approaches to nonduality.
A few main points:...
Published on 14 May 2008 by R. Haigh
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enlightenment: The Path Through The Jungle,
This review is from: Enlightenment: The Path Through the Jungle (Paperback)In this book, Dennis Waite seeks to provide (1) A counter-argument to the modern 'neo-advaita' perspective, and (2) An in-depth explanation of the background to the traditional 'Advaita' teaching - as it was, and as it is.
Many enthusiastic students of contemporary non-duality teachers may be under the illusion that what they are hearing is the authentic 'Advaita' teaching. But, Dennis points out very clearly that this is not the case. Many of these contemporary teachers have gone on record as completely dismissing anything slightly resembling traditional Advaita. In its place, they appear to have created what is, to some, a teaching without real substance.
The trick is, really, continuing to have the depth of the traditional approach, and the light spontaneity of 'neo-advaita'. It is my feeling that both qualities are necessary in order to truly comprehend the nature of reality. It doesn't have to be just one or the other. Life is not only black and white - there are many shades and colours in between.
With the traditional teachings, I feel that there is very much a danger of being caught up in too much knowledge, but knowledge cannot be denied, and it can also be inspiring. A fact is a fact, and the fact is that the key aspects of the 'neo' argument have been contained in the scriptures since the very beginning. Anyone who doubts this should read Shankara's 'Viveka Chudamani' (also known as the 'Crest-Jewel of Discrimination' and written some 1300 years or so ago). But there is much more than this, because when we study Advaita, we have the benefit of the wisdom of many of the great sages from history. This wisdom is not nonsense, and anyone who suggests it is, I would say, is very much lacking in humility.
In reviewing Dennis Waite's book: ENLIGHTENMENT, I would strongly urge the doubting reader, and any 'born-again' 'neo' non-dualists to just take a careful look at each section of this book (it is broken up into 559 short numbered paragraphs). Give time and space to fully receive all the implications of each paragraph, rather than just quickly glancing through and dismissing it as nonsense. Then, perhaps, you may not be in denial of the need for a more rounded view of the history of Advaita.
I am not saying that we should all study the subject to the extent that Dennis Waite has. It takes a peculiar skill and an admirable dedication to do that, but within the pages of this book: 'ENLIGHTENMENT:The Path Through the Jungle' there is a rich and rewarding invitation to Open Your Mind ... it is in truth, an Open Secret.
Roy Whenary (author of 'The Texture of Being')
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Necessary Addition to Everyone's Library,
This review is from: Enlightenment: The Path Through the Jungle (Paperback)Dennis Waite's book "Enlightenment: The Path Through the Jungle" is a necessary addition to everyone's library because it can serve as a checklist against which they can test their understanding. Have you ever had the experience of trying to do something new, struggling with it to no avail, and then someone comes over to you and shows you what you have been doing wrong and suddenly - voila! - you understand? This book is that someone. Dennis has collected together over 500 `pointers' and categorized them under aspects of understanding Enlightenment, going to great pains to clarify the meaning of words used in nondual writings, the purpose of and need for practice, and the necessary value of scriptural teachings and guidance from an experienced teacher within Advaita. This makes it easy to find the pointers needed when questions arise for you - you can always find what you are looking for in Dennis' Index, if not in Reality!
While there will be some that take his assertions about the necessity of effort on the part of those who wish to find enlightenment and end their suffering, and his criticism of certain "neo-advaita" teaching methods, as negative, I feel it is worth the time of everyone to read what he has written and pause to digest these gentle assertions and see if they do not ring true. There is that old adage: "You get what you pay for," which, if you see your efforts to reach understanding as the payment, holds just as much in this realm as in any other.
Of course there will always be those who are in too much of a rush to "queue up," and they don't listen to anyone anyway. This book isn't for them.
There is a disturbing current finding favor in modern Nondual circles, which Dennis points to, which I characterize as anti-Intellectualism. Concepts, more and more frequently of late, are considered to be wrong in all cases. And it is this judgment that leads to teachers today presenting an understanding of ultimate reality as requiring nothing more than a short tagline, such as "you are That!," to achieve. As Dennis explains, this is the reason that effort is rejected and scriptural authorities are ignored. But it isn't that easy to dispel ignorance, and if you spend the time to contemplate the good feelings of being together with your satsang and how you were before, you will see that all you have done is replace one misunderstanding of reality, coupled with whatever suffering, or dis-ease, this brought on, with assertions that you really don't understand when you try to make sense of them, coupled with the good feelings of companionship that one finds in satsangs. And it is this failure to make sense of these assertions that is today esteemed because it means that one is not "lost" within concepts. Yes, but one is also bereft of understanding!
You are That, and nothing needs to be done to change you, but until you understand what that little tagline means you are not enlightened. It is the conceptual wisdom of a long tradition like Advaita that has proven effective in moving individuals like you and I to this understanding. It is the ignorance that must be dispelled, as Dennis points out, and that does require effort. Understanding is not like coins in the pocket - something that you have - and you do not get $200 for just passing "Go". Understanding is something that you are, and this book will help you realize what you are "doing wrong" to become that!
An Introduction to Awareness
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lack of breadth,
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This review is from: Enlightenment: The Path Through the Jungle (Paperback)I have read most of the books by Dennis Waite and on the whole have found them to be quite informative and well written. Though Dennis is clearly knowledgeable about the Advaita Vedanta tradition, I feel that with "Enlightenment: the Path through the Jungle" he has revealed his lack of breadth regarding other approaches to nonduality.
A few main points:
Firstly, the term Neo Advaita. None of the communicators who have been given this label wish to be associated with it (as far as I know.) Since they do not acknowledge the category, its construction and subsequent dismissal as a teaching that falls short of traditional Advaita Vedanta methods seems totally unreasonable. These direct communicators have never set themselves up as being some sort of new movement of traditional Vedanta.
Secondly, this type of direct pointing is in no way exclusive to the new wave of satsang teachers. It can be found in a wide range of communications from Huang Po to Longchenpa, from Alan Watts to Wei Wu Wei, Krishnamurti to Sailor Bob and so on. And of course, direct pointing can be found in the work of Ramana, Nisargadatta and Krishna Menon (not to mention: Rumi, Lao Tzu, the Hsin Hsin Ming, the Avadhut Gita, etc... etc...)
Thirdly, the central inference of this book is that "enlightenment" is less likely from exposure to 'neo/satsang' communication than from traditional progressive methods. [Blatant nondual incorrectness aside] there is absolutely no evidence that a progressive time bound method would have any such advantage. It is not unreasonable to claim that there may be some apparent benefits to a progressive teaching, particularly in the context of providing a stable framework to allow a student to assimilate the teaching at an intellectual level (thus producing a more psychologically balanced experience over a greater span of time.) Yet there can also be problems with this (despite the counter claims.) It could actually act as an obstacle as the student becomes somewhat seduced by the trappings and `culture' of Advaita resulting in an enhanced sense of a 'self with advanced capabilities'.
"Enlightenment: the Path through the Jungle" makes some well observed points (especially regarding confusion generated by failure to distinguish between empirical and absolute truths) and Dennis is on firm ground with his knowledge of Vedanta. But the failure to truly acknowledge and appreciate that there are powerful and valid approaches to nondualism other than traditional Advaita, ultimately makes this book a one-sided and unsatisfying read.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THIS BOOK WILL GET GENUINE SEEKERS ON THE RIGHT PATH,
This review is from: Enlightenment: The Path Through the Jungle (Paperback)This is a bold attempt by Dennis Waite to layout the fundamental differences between traditional teaching and that of the proponents of direct path and to dispel the myths regarding Enlightenment. In this respect it is unique and bound to arouse much discussion/controversy. However the statements made in the book are not personal opinion of the author but reflect the core teachings of a long established , proven and verifiable (alas , this requires considerable effort) methodology set out in Vedanta and Mandukya Upanishad. In this respect, it will be of immense benefit to seekers if read with an open mind. Vast majority of misconceptions and confusion arise due what is termed as "Level Confusion" i.e. whether the statements regarding the absolute reality "Brahman" and Enlightenment are made from the viewpoint of the Non-Dual Reality or from the viewpoint of the Duality which is dependent and relative reality (Mithya), same goes for questions asked and answers received during satsangs. This message is embodied in the passage 343 of the book. This single concept is at the heart of confusion, controversy, misconceptions and paradoxes facing an aspirant and not fully grasped by the Neo-Advaita teachers and warrants further indepth study and investigation on the part of the reader prior to coming to any conclusions regarding the contents of this book.
Vedanta at the outset proclaims "Thou Art That" which is what the Teachers of One announce to the seekers also, however, than the latter go on to advise that since one is already enlightened, there is really nobody there, nothing to be done, no effort , no training of the mind, i.e. no preparation of any kind is required. This obviously is appealing in this age of instant gratification as it unfortunately caters to our inherent tamasic (inertia) tendencies. Many of these teachers have no doubt gone through some spiritual epiphany which has been mistaken as genuine Awakening having failed to grasp the fundamental difference between Experience and Knowledge. Hence before we embrace that, we need to examine experiences in our real life and inquire , are there any easy paths devoid of hard work and effort to achieving anything in life in a legitimate way, e.g. say graduating as a Quantum Physicists, or a brain surgeon, or becoming a successful businessman, obviously the answer is "No", then how can we expect the highest goal of human existence to be accomplished without the required effort and mental preparation.
The locus of ignorance of our Real Nature is in the mind (in the realm of Duality), the "Non-Dual Self" that we are, does not require any Enlightenment. This is the crucial message of the traditional teachings and have to be understood at a deeper level and which sadly is totally missed and wrongly interpreted by those who preach the "no path, no seeker, no practice" message. Mandukya Upanishad provides ample examples of such ignorance arising from illusions (mistaking a rope for a snake in dim light,, mirage etc). No amount of prayers, rituals or statements dismissing what is being observed, can remove this ignorance, only relevant and valid means of knowledge.
Hence in the traditional teachings, after having stated the Ultimate Truth "You are That", the student then is instructed to embark on a "Systematic, consistent study of scriptures for a length of time under the guidance of a competent teacher" The Vedas do not dissuade seekers from attending satsangs, in fact communal rituals, prayers, pujas, meditation etc are encouraged as they tend to trap the mind and focus attention, however this is just the initial step. A student who aspires to be a Physicist, joins classes with other students first in a school, then college and finally University, however during all these phases he or she has to go back home and revise, cogitate to remove all doubts and understand what was taught in the class and finally to assimilate. The same processes or stages are emphasized in the scriptures, i.e. listening, discussing, reading (sravanam), removal of doubts (mananam) and assimilation of doubt free knowledge (niddidhyasana).
Ramana Maharishi who was well versed in the traditional scriptures(as reflected in his own teachings) has also highlighted these stages in his Self Inquiry. Infact Self Inquiry leads to Self Knowledge which in turns leads to elimination of Self misconceptions. For this an appropriate instrument or valid means of knowledge is required just as colour knowledge requires eyes, sound knowledge requires ears, We have to keep in mind that even after his death experience, Ramana Maharishi spent nearly 20yrs in a cave in contemplation of this experience until eventually he was able to establish himself permanently in the SELF (effort). During this period he also acquired a sound understanding of the traditional teachings against which he was able to verify his own awakening. .
In the light of the above, this book should be approached with a totally open mind and a willingness to delve deeper into the subject matter.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Expert Scholar of the Philosophy of Advaita,
This review is from: Enlightenment: The Path Through the Jungle (Paperback)Dennis Waite, author,"Enlightenment," is also author of "Meet Yourself," "Back to the Truth" and "Book of One."
Without participating in the generalized, categorical divisions, I recommend this book as an Advaita resource for those who want to explore the philosophy and its methodology.
Dennis is a master scholar of Advaita and the book is well written, organized and intelligent. He begins with key definitions, so that we are all 'on the same page' when he approaches the core of the book's subject matter. Since Sanskrit terms are used frequently throughout, a convenient glossary is at the end of the book, as well as a helpful Bibliography. Finally, the complete Index allows readers to reference particular subjects of interest.
The primary basis for this recommendation is for his overall presentation of what enlightenment is and what it is not according to the traditional definition. Dennis' concern for the student's direct seeing is important, so that they may directly and consciously recognize that they are beyond their present perception. The remaining delusions are then systematically and progressively eliminated as they surface. If these misperceptions are not made conscious, they will resurface again and again for eradication.
I enjoyed the Foreword by Greg Goode, author of "Standing as Awareness."
I applaud Dennis for the depth of his study of the philosophy of Advaita that is a pointer to the very Heart of Advaita.
Katie Davis, Author, "Awake Joy"
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Important to know, albeit a little dry,
This review is from: Enlightenment: The Path Through the Jungle (Paperback)This is an important book in understanding the inadequacies of "new-age" style teaching methods & understanding how & why the traditional Indian teaching methods are much more effective.
dennis is probably one of the 1st writers to really strongly critique such "new-age" teachers, & such a critique I feel is important since so few in the west are qualified to write such a critique!
It can, however, be a little fry to read at times - but still i feel an important book to read for the western or new-age audience intersted in non-duality.
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Enlightenment: The Path Through the Jungle by Dennis Waite (Paperback - 29 April 2008)