Wrong understanding of the term Advaita

suzi's picture

Average: 4.8 (8 votes)

Many here and elsewhere use the term nonduality for various sweeping interpretations while swiftly concluding the negation of everything as an illusion.


Advaita which translates to "Nonduality" is not the negation of the duality of subject and object but was originally introduced by Adi Shankara as a concept suggesting that Brahman (God, the absolute) and the Atman (soul) are the same. and not two different things.

From this, the other non-dual conclusions are not straightforward and not trivial as they might seem to some.

Omkaradatta's picture


Too many folks are jumping on the bandwagon of a quick/easy spirituality, in particular a Westernized version of the traditional teachings known as Neo-Advaita, which involves negating everything in a shallow sort of way.

True advaita is the deepest spiritual teaching, and apprehension of the nondual reality requires transcendence of the mind, both in its verbal and nonverbal (imaging) aspects. At minimum, this can take a great deal of sincerity, devotion and willingness to surrender (i.e. "putting God first"), or even decades of spiritual practices. Hearing a teacher say "there is no me" and typing it on a Yahoo forum has no effect on one's spiritual state at all ;-).


Omkaradatta | Fri, 08/29/2008 - 03:21
seeker's picture

i agree but

i agree with you but...

I know people who once the teacher mentioned that they were not the body, instantly realized this completely. For most of us, full of conditionings, it doesn't happen so.

"decades of spiritual practices" - though usually true, we should be careful with such statements as the mind likes it to be a never-ending process, to have the change tomorrow not now, in other words, never to have it.

seeker | Fri, 08/29/2008 - 06:38
eputkonen's picture

True, advaita/nonduality is

True, advaita/nonduality is misunderstood – but sometimes negation helps a great deal to see through the illusion (if a process is needed). But once the void is reached, the void is voided and there is a voidless void.

“not the negation of the duality of subject and object” – this is debatable…if “you” are the subject and Brahman is the object, it very much is the negation of duality of subject and object…for they are not two (and subject and object implies two).


~ Eric Putkonen

eputkonen | Thu, 09/11/2008 - 20:36
dank's picture

great to have you back

hey eric, great to have you back, haven't seen you here for some time.

dank | Thu, 09/11/2008 - 20:42
Phroggy's picture

See, here's the thing.

Well, see, what I was wondering was....I mean.....you know.....what eggzakly does this mean? :)

But once the void is reached, the void is voided and there is a voidless void.

Phroggy | Fri, 09/12/2008 - 02:43
eputkonen's picture


Nonduality...no otherness.


~ Eric Putkonen

eputkonen | Fri, 09/19/2008 - 19:20
Uzen's picture

A realisation...yes

It's the goal, the quest, the realisation...

Peace and Grace,


"And the glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them, that they may be one, even as We are one:
I in them and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one."

Uzen | Thu, 05/21/2009 - 08:10
Omkaradatta's picture

Voidless void...

... is what I mean too by 'absence of absence'. This is 'something' the mind can't grasp, that has to be directly experienced.

It means also that "the void" (absence of the 'me') has no empty or void-y qualities, does not feel like a lack, like a 'missing tooth'.


Omkaradatta | Fri, 09/19/2008 - 19:50
Quantum's picture

Why I stopped attending meditation classes.

"But once the void is reached, the void is voided and there is a voidless void."

Stuff like that.

Hey Proggy wanna hear a joke? No? OKay here it is:

Q: What did one solipsist do when another solipsist made him angry?
A: He hit himself.

The original version I heared in Philosophy class was a tad edgier, so I toned it down for this forum.

Quantum | Sat, 09/19/2009 - 05:57
Phroggy's picture

HA! I'm always ready for a

HA! I'm always ready for a joke, my friend.

I heard one recently. If I mentioned it here, sorry for the repeat.

What happened to Discarte when he stopped thinking?
He disappeared!

Phroggy | Sun, 09/20/2009 - 03:31
genep's picture


the 5000 year old Hindu concept of Monism, Non-duality, alias "Advaita" came from the Supreme Science: "the use of meditation to study thoughts."
From the Supreme Science these Hindu sages came up with everything Modern Physics gives us 5000 years later.

The problem with Adviata that started of as pure "Monism" ... its original meaning has been abused by all sorts of intellects over the ages just to make "reality" look better.

While Modern Physics gets the "impossible" message: "the Observer determines the Observation" ... these Hindus of old explain this impossibility with the only possible explanation: the Observer determines the Observation because the Observer is observing him-Self.

genep | Fri, 05/01/2009 - 22:23
Bruben's picture


The term advaita means "I" and God are not two separate things, but ONE. It is tehre in every religion. Since I am a christian I'll speak from a christian point of view. In the bible Christ says I am the way.. I and the father are one .... Christ is the higher soul.. We all can achieve christ hood .... first you hav to achieve christhood in order to achieve god realization... Different religions use different names.. basically it means soul realization.. and as we speak all of us are one with GOD... even a thief or a rapist is one with God. But the degree of realization or awareness varies.. I would like to quote one example given by my master here "Suppose there is the central government.. there is different levels of governemtn like central, state, district, city, panchayat, county etc... " same way even God has different levels.... but they all are one and the same.... and if a citizen of a country says I am The government .. There is a degree of truth in it.. because the government is made up of him also.. the same way if the President of that country says I am the government .. that is also true.. but the degree varies... Teh same principle is applicabe for advaita also...

Bruben | Sat, 05/23/2009 - 01:52
Phroggy's picture


"I" and God are not two separate things, but ONE."

"God has different levels.... but they all are one and the same"

So there are not separate things, but there are separate levels? What occupies these various levels?

Phroggy | Sat, 05/23/2009 - 17:43
Bruben's picture

lets take the example of the

lets take the example of the government... In a democratic nation, its government consists of the citizens of the nation. Suppose an ordinary citizen and the president of the country says that "I am the government" .. Both of them are true to an extend.. Qualitatively they both are right. But quantitatively there is a degree of difference.. The same way ... Everything that we see around us are part of God... But the degree of oneness varies from person to person.. A person who's in the path of spirituality will have more divinity flowing to him. A person who is a rapist or a thief will also have divinity within him.. but the degree of realization varies.. The supreme being of Supreme God is highly subtle ... The energy we see around us are gross.. The more we become subtle, the more we become closer to the supreme being...

Bruben | Sun, 05/24/2009 - 12:02
Phroggy's picture


I know what you are saying and I don't entirely disagree. It's true that "degree of realization varies", but it is not so that there are "degrees of Oneness" or that some are "closer to the supreme being".

If Oneness is the Truth, realizing or not is the only variable. How can there be degrees in Oneness? How can One be close or far?

Phroggy | Sun, 05/24/2009 - 18:35
Bruben's picture

Lets take another example...

Lets take another example... lets take water.. where does water comes frm ..?? Ocean right? Even a drop of rain water ultimately goes to the ocean.. rivers, rainwater etc .. all form of water ultimately goes to the Ocean... Their final destination is the Ocean... Can we call a single drop of rain water the same as Ocean??? or one with the Ocean? why not .. even that comes from the ocean right?? How about river/?? and how finally how about the waves in the ocean??? They are one with the ocean... But when u look at it.. even the rain drop is one with the ocean.... eVerything comes from the Ocean and goes back to the ocean.. But here the degree of oneness varies... I think the same can be applied to God and achieving oneness with the supreme being..

Bruben | Mon, 05/25/2009 - 19:18
Phroggy's picture


The analogy breaks down. Oneness is not like that. What is it that's actually trying to achieve Oneness?

Phroggy | Tue, 05/26/2009 - 02:52
Quantum's picture

A drop of rain

A drop of rain is physically separated from the ocean. It is cut off from the ocean by spatial distance.

I think in the spirit realm, realm of pure potentiality (gads, I'm tired of making up names for it), quantum field, there is no physical distance or separation as we know it in three dimensional sense.

The drop of water analogy makes sense when the drop of water is reuinited with the ocean. I prefer to use the analogy of a cup inside the ocean. Water inside the cup (which is in the ocean) would be like our soul.

Another analogy would be like the vine and the branches. The vine would be God, and the braches would be each one of our souls. I think Jesus used this analogy.
I think Jesus even went so far as to say that if the branch was separated from the vine, it wouldn't fare very well.


Quantum | Sun, 09/20/2009 - 06:37

A dorp of water is water

In reality we were never separated from all mighty, all pervading, supreme consciousness which is hereby pointed out as 'water' in view of merely with the purpose of understanding because sometimes examples make the abstruse subject easily understandable. Adiguru Shankaracharya referred for the quoting-----
Maayaa is the power of God which projects undivided the supreme consciousness as divided (illusion) on account of the Desire of God who desires Himself to be many, many. Due to this desire many, many souls from Him emanated from the all pervading supreme consciousness; who were as perfect as He was Himself.
there are many, many pitchers filled with water and all these pitchers have been in ocean (water). water in pitchers and pitchers are in water; lo, pitchers are broken and waters go into great water the ocean. This is called "TATTVAMASII" in Brahma Sutras (vedanta).
bubbles made of water filled with water have been in the big water (ocean); either happily or painfully (if visualized; as individualized entities of consciousness) have been floating on water. Let the bobbles, the bodies of bubbles break then there is no other option except the merging of waters with the great water; so accordingly, without option, we all of us have to return to Him (to merge with the God) from Whom we were dropped out under His Divine Play.
in continuation to this, there is one example of two birds available in Upanishads but actually there were not 2 birds but for one. This is called non-dualism in vedanta.
there are 25 elements of nature (prakriti) which is called Maayaa and out of them; 4 are---- EGO, CHITTA, MIND, INTELLECT and all the 4 are without consciousness. these 4 make the pitcher of soil, bubble which unite with a very small part of the supreme consciousness and so such way unconscious becomes the conscious entity (individualized) which is called jiva (soul) whose end is to merge with the over-soul on account of which the cycle of birth & death will be ended, finished forever.

NIDHI PARKASH | Tue, 09/22/2009 - 14:28
Quantum's picture

Meditations tootaa kumbha?

A regular and consistent practice of meditation breaks, or dissolves, the pitcher? Is that what is happening? If so, then while the effects of my meditation seem to come about more slowly than the effect of Christian prayer, or listening to a church hymn during communion, the effects of meditation will linger longer than the effect of listening to a church hymn.

Quantum | Tue, 09/22/2009 - 20:44
dhorai's picture

advaita can be dangerous to a dvaitin

advaita is good when their no software stealing...

whereever i go for last 14 years they have exploited by advaita then otherwise it may have some refrence to christ ministry...

but stealing is stealing...

all good koranic men have stolen by advaita said as greek thiefery...

except lord sankara none seemed to have used advaita rightly...

its sad

i feel dvaita is far better then advaita...

for u can hardly match god in his splendour..

and it needs to be supported by anukoola bhakti..

with love

dhorai | Mon, 05/25/2009 - 14:56
madan_gautam's picture


Advaita is nothing but the expression/out come of Nirvikalap Samadhi, but the difficulty starts when one try to explain that state in words due to love,compassion or for teaching and letting know about it.But actually it can never be said as words are always short for that one,but still it is being tried/hinted for the benefit of others, so that others also reach to that state. One try to express that state but words has limits and the confusion starts in analyzing those words as who is analyzing these words has no experiences.This is like that some one has never seen and tasted mango and other is trying hard to express its shape,color,size and taste.Then who have not seen & tasted mango will go on analyzing with much fantasy and with different versions of mango. But when one see it and taste it only then he will be able to understand it and then just enjoy it and not analysis it,as then there is noting to analysis.One can put comments,argue or discuss about love but can not know it without falling in it.We have to experience that state/to reach that state only then the right meaning of Advaita can be understood until all understanding will be wrong

madan_gautam | Tue, 05/26/2009 - 13:13
K.Venugopal's picture

Living in our own light

Advaita only says not two. It doesn't exactly say one. Because there is no one at that stage to do any counting. Logically, only one is possible after a negation of two. But the one of Advaita means undifferentiated. Differentiation starts at two. But one also has a shade of differentiation, because it is countable. What is countable (singly or in groups) is an object. Advaita is about the subject. When we reach the state of the subject (as opposed to being among the objects), we have become the totality or Brahman and are no longer fragmented. Which again does not mean annihilation of objects per se, but only to us, who have become Brahman. Henceforth, instead of living on borrowed light, we live in our own light.

K.Venugopal | Thu, 06/25/2009 - 17:41
Phroggy's picture


Well, it may be just semantics, but I think you can see how nothing actually becomes Brahman, or One, since this is already the case. Nothing is 'borrowed' by something or somebody, there's just a present delusion that Oneness is not already the case, and that delusion falls away. That's all.

Phroggy | Fri, 06/26/2009 - 19:03
K.Venugopal's picture

One-ness or is-ness?

Is it truer to describe Truth as "is-ness" rather than "one-ness"?

K.Venugopal | Sat, 06/27/2009 - 04:57
Phroggy's picture


It depends on what we're trying to say about it. Isness doesn't address whether or you and I can both have an Isness. Isness is a way of talking about the emptiness of Being. Oneness says Isness is singular.

Phroggy | Sat, 06/27/2009 - 18:18
genep's picture

right understanding of Advaita

NO – Advaita has ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with “Nonduality,”
it also has nothing to do with Monism, which implies one-dimension.

Exactly like the timeless dimensionless "Now,"
Atman, Brahman, Self has NO dimensions, NOT-ONE,
the correct term for Advaita would be more like None-ism, Zeroism, or Voidism.

Really Really, REALLY.

genep | Thu, 08/13/2009 - 20:11

advaita the one

These are three---tretavaad (vishista-advaita), dwetvaad and advaita.treta is jiva, maya, brahm.dweta is jiva and brahm (saadhaka and ishtdeva).advaita is brahm.upto the period not following the path of spirituality (as well as the time to which kundalini hasn't awakened), there may be three- --nature, conscious entities, the God.maharshi Dayananda advocated this theory on the basis of vedas designated as 'I', 'you', 'he/she/nature/maya'.after entering the spiritual arena (consequent upon kundalini awakening);there remains only two---god and soul and this remains during the period when the aspirant has been struggling between the chakras from mulaadhaar to aagya chakra.in this dweta at first maya and god becomes one remining the god; there is ishtadeva and saadhaka designated as 'I'and 'you'.when kundalini advancing to sahastraar chakra relieves the aagya chakra and remains nothing reachable then all becomes one in nirvikalpa samaadhi which is designated as 'One' the absolute---existence, knowledge, bliss.
It is totally the matter of experience and only the person who have experienced nirvikalpa samaadhi may speak about 'advaita' such as our the most revered swami vivekananda'.
aadiguru shankaracharya spoke it as---'aekobrahmdwityanaasti'---there is none except the one (brahm).

NIDHI PARKASH | Mon, 09/07/2009 - 16:57
soul's picture


Form IS emptiness, emptiness IS form.......

soul | Wed, 11/04/2009 - 03:53