It seems that Dennis Waite and his fellow Traditional Advaitists have been challenging the validity of something they have decided to call “Neo Advaita” or, it has to be said, their particular interpretation of it!
I have been asked to comment because The Open Secret communication seems to have been their main target and so, of course, there can only be a response from this apparent “perception”.
So right away I am puzzled at any attempt to make a comparison between two perspectives which simply do not meet. Dennis Waite’s works are an excellent expression of the fundamental principles that generate the majority of traditional and contemporary dualistic teachings. They are, in simple terms, rooted in the belief that there is something called a seeker (one) that can attain something else called enlightenment (two). The Open Secret recognises the relative as the absolute appearing and form as formlessness . . . there is not two! And so, everything is already the unconditional expression of wholeness, including the belief that it isn’t.
Traditional Advaita is a teaching of becoming, The Open Secret is not, but it exposes the one primary misconception that is the mother of many others. It also attempts to describe the nature of “what is” rather than teach what should be.
It seems that Dennis Waite does not recognise the difference and continuously confirms his belief that there is an individual who can attain enlightenment.
So, I will not respond to these criticisms with any counter arguments, but will only try to demonstrate the futility of comparison.
Presuming that Dennis Waite accurately represents something he calls Traditional Advaita, he confirms his belief and experience in the reality of the constant existence of an individual with free will and the ability to choose and bring about consequence.
The Open Secret recognises that the belief and experience of a central “I” or a “me” or a “self” is an assumed inconstant state. Out of this one adopted belief in individuality arises many other beliefs, including self-autonomy, the story, time, purpose, destiny, deity and karma. Individuality is the transient appearance of wholeness seeming to be part of itself that feels separate from wholeness and can only apparently seek to be whole. But a part can never know the whole. It is a metaphor.
Dennis Waite believes and recommends that, in order to resolve the real and constant sense of separation and become enlightened, the individual should choose to follow a progressive spiritual path.
This path involves practice, meditation, self-enquiry and the eradication of ego and ignorance through a clear understanding of the scriptures and the guidance of a teacher.
The Open Secret recognises that the above beliefs and recommendations are generated out of an assumed and inconstant sense of being a separate individual who needs to attain something called enlightenment. It is also recognised that an investment in the above recommendations can reinforce and maintain the assumed sense of being an individual who can resolve its sense of being separate.
Dennis Waite confirms that enlightenment is something that can be described in words, and attained and known by the individual mind when it acquires the knowledge that there is only a non-dual reality.
The Open Secret recognises that there is no such thing as enlightenment or liberation, or an individual that can become enlightened or liberated. These are all ideas that come and go within the individual story. When the assumed sense of being separate seems to collapse, already there is only the constant and unknowable wonder of being.
The Open Secret perception is that there is no such thing as a “mind”. Thinking seems to happen and sometimes thoughts formulate into belief systems which are still experienced sporadically by the apparent individual in what seems to be a story in time. Absolute clarity also arises within the story and is transient.
Traditional Advaita appears to make proper use of logic, reason, belief and experience, rational explanation, truth, and traditional wisdom, all directed towards helping the seeker along the path to their enlightenment.
The Open Secret’s apparent communication is illogical, unreasonable, unbelievable, paradoxical, non-prescriptive, non-spiritual and uncompromising. There is no agenda or intention to help or change apparent individuality. Its resonance is shared energetically, not through the exchange of ideas. It is prior to all teachings and yet eternally new. Belief is seen as married to doubt, and experience as a fluctuating personal state. The Open Secret does not recognise anything as being “the truth” nor does it see how something called Traditional Advaita could be anything other than a complex collection of ideas.
Traditional Advaita is a teaching about that which can be known. The Open Secret illuminates the myth of separation and points to that which can’t be known.
Surely an unbiased view of these two “perspectives” would immediately recognise that they do not meet. However, it seems obvious that Dennis does not recognise the difference, and is also unable to comprehend, even intellectually, the principle and implication of individual absence. One of his recommendations is that the aspiring so-called spiritual teacher should ask themselves if they are truly enlightened?! How can he see any possible connection between this idea and The Open Secret communication? He probably still believes that these differing perspectives are “ours” and that Tony Parsons is an individual who tells other individuals that they are enlightened, and so there is nothing to do.
Either there is resonance or not and, because the ineffable cannot be understood and therefore controlled, it can seem threatening to the apparent seeker. Consequently any attempt at expression of the indefinable has to be rejected or misinterpreted. What often emerges is a reconfiguring which can be believed, and is safe, and which offers hope and purpose to the seeker.
Dogmas, doctrines and progressive paths which promise eventual enlightenment, or Nirvana, or the Kingdom of Heaven, through sacrifice, discipline, refinement and purification of the self, appeal tremendously to that within the seeker which feels unworthy. Hence, the power of classic religion and teachings of becoming. Traditional Advaita is just another one of these.
Of course, for any apparent seeker who believes in self-autonomy and the seeming reality of needing to climb a spiritual mountain, Dennis Waite’s work seems a logical, sound and reassuringly complicated instruction manual to follow. However, what does devalue this apparent testimony to “the truth” is its seemingly prejudiced portrayal of so-called “neo Advaitans” which appears to be mainly based on hearsay, wishful thinking and the misinterpretation of quotations taken out of context.
Of course there is a lot of dualistic nonsense broadcast under the non-dual Advaita banner. A relentless regurgitation of the idea that there is “no-one”, or that everything is fine because it is only arising as “all there is”, is nothing more than a replacement of one set of beliefs for another.
Words can only ever point to the inexpressible, and anyone who is concept-bound can nit and pick and tut their way through every word of this response with the sole purpose of seeing nothing more than that which they believe to be “right or wrong”.
It is what happens . . . apparently.
Isn’t it wonderful that all of this is already only the unconditional expression of wholeness appearing as much ado about nothing.
Most of the recent "traditionalist" responses to my TA versus NA essay clearly confirm again that there is no recognition of the one fundamental difference between these two perspectives, and this renders any further debate futile.
The relentless need to set right against wrong very successfully demonstrates the incomprehension of a message that points to that which is beyond both.
Painting of Tony Parsons by Fred Schley