Robert Powell



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Fast Facts
robert-powell.png
Function: 
Writer
Traditions: 
Advaita, Navnath Sampradaya (Nath Sampradaya)
Main Countries of Activity: 
USA
Date of Birth: 
1918
Place of Birth: 
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
In His/Her Body ("alive"): 
No
Date Left His/Her Body: 
2013

Biography

Robert Powell was born in Amsterdam, the Netherlands in 1918.

After obtaining a doctorate in chemistry from the University of London, he pursued a career first as an industrial chemist and later as a science writer and editor in the UK and USA.

Robert Powell’s exploration of spirituality began in the 1960s. His quest for deeper self-discovery led him to Zen and later to a number of spiritual masters including J. Krishnamurti, Ramana Maharshi, and ultimately Nisargadatta Maharaj.

He edited three books of dialogues of Nisargadatta Maharaj that took place towards the end of Maharj's life: The Experience of Nothingness, The Nectar of Immortality, and The Ultimate Medicine (ebook versions of these books are attached at the top of this Guru Profile).

He actually never managed to meet Nisargadatta Maharaj. He had planned to visit him the very year Maharaj passed away.

He was respected internationally as an author of deeply insightful books on self-inquiry and spiritual exploration, including Discovering the Realm Beyond Appearance, Why Does God Allow Suffering, and Dialogues on Reality.

He is considered as one of the few pioneers who helped to spread the teachings of nonduality (Advaita) in the West.

Robert Powell spent the later part of his life in quiet retirement, with his loving wife Gina, in La Jolla, California.

He passed away in 2013.

Teachings

Ebook versions of the books of Nisargadatta Maharaj edited by Robert Powell are attached at the bottom of this Guru Profile

Robert Powell about realizing Advaita (taken from his interview by the Claremont Forum):

In Advaita you come to a vision of yourself and the world in which there is Oneness; each of us is the Totality in which there is no scope for separate entities or “individualities.” The only way to arrive at such an insight is to turn inward and find out who you really are — not what you have imbibed from your parents, educators, the world at large and your heritage. For all that is merely conceptual, based entirely on hearsay that one has absorbed without questioning. Therefore, what is needed is a revolution in one’s outlook, which in turn may lead to a corresponding revolution in one’s functioning.

In India the guru-disciple relationship is an empirical system, which has been developed to facilitate this end and which was found to have certain results. Ideally, the relationship may lead to a transfer of understanding and Grace from the teacher to the student. And Grace is always necessary to convert the newly acquired understanding of the student into actual transformation of his self. However, a warning should be issued here. For, in extreme cases where the student is blindly attached to the guru, this can actually act as a hindrance in bringing about the required revolution in consciousness. One can see this happening quite a lot, especially with Westerners who don’t quite understand the mechanism of the guru-disciple relationship. For example, when the disciple develops a strong personal attachment to the guru, it may inhibit him in coming to that inward turning.

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Books & Media

Recommended Books: 
Cover image

The Nectar of Immortality: Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj Discourses on the Eternal

by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

(Paperback)

Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj (1897-1981), a revered master of the Tantric Nath lineage, is an inspiring example of an ordinary family man who attained complete realization of the Infinite. Living the absolute nonduality of Being in every moment, he taught that true freedom is a possibility open to every one of us. He drew disciples from all over the world to his humble loft in the tenements of Bombay.

Even on the written page, Nisargdatta’s words carry a special potency. They subtly push us beyond the ego to our original, pristine and blissful Self, to the rediscovery of Oneness and authentic liberation in our Source.

Cover image

The Experience of Nothingness: Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj's Talks on Realizing the Infinite

by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

(Paperback)

With this, the final volume of a trilogy, Nisargadatta clearly demonstrates that logic and spirituality do not necessarily stand in opposition to one another. In a chapter after which this book has been titled, Nisargadatta relentlessly pursues a logical argument with his visitor to its very end, showing that until there is transcendence of all thought, logic remains fully valid and should be pursued rigorously.

Cover image

The Ultimate Medicine: Dialogues with a Realized Master

by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

(Paperback)

The Ultimate Medicine is not for those who like their spirituality watered down, but for serious students searching for awareness. Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj (1897-1981) lived and taught in a small apartment in the slums of Bombay. A realized master of the Tantric Nath lineage, he supported himself and his family by selling cheap goods in a small booth on the streets outside his tenement for many years. His life exemplified the concept of absolute nonduality of being. In this volume, Maharaj shares the highest truth of nonduality in his own unique way. His teaching style is abrupt, provocative, and immensely profound, cutting to the core and wasting little effort on inessentials. His terse but potent sayings are known for their ability to trigger shifts in consciousness, just by hearing or reading them.\"The point is that man freed from his fetters is morality personified. Such a man therefore does not need any moralistic injunctions in order to live righteously. Free a man from his bondage and thereafter everything else will take care of itself. On the other hand, man in his unredeemed state cannot possibly live morally, no matter what moral teaching he is given. It is an intrinsic impossibility, for his very foundation is immorality. That is, he lives a lie, a basic contradiction: functioning in all his relationships as the separate entity he believes himself to be, whereas in reality no such separation exists. His every action therefore does violence to other \'selves\' and other \'creatures,\' which are only manifestations of the unitary consciousness. So Society had to invent some restraints in order to protect itself from its own worst excesses and thereby maintain some kind of status quo. The resulting arbitrary rules, which vary with place and time and therefore are purely relative, it calls \'morality,\' and by upholding this man-invented \'idea\' as the highest good–oftentimes sanctioned by religious \'revelation\' and scriptures–society has provided man with one more excuse to disregard the quest for liberation or relegate it to a fairly low priority in his scheme of things.\"

Cover image

Path Without Form: A Journey into the Realm Beyond Thought

by Robert Powell

(Paperback)

In Path Without Form, Dr. Robert Powell invites the reader to accompany him on his own adventures in self-exploration–a journey that spanned several decades and eventually led him to the ultimate teaching of the non-dual nature of reality.

“The ultimate teaching is the seeing of the entire world in not even a grain of sand, but a single point—and a point that is dimensionless. That mystical ‘point’ then serves as the entry into an entirely new dimension—the world of the truly spiritual... However, for the individual embracing this ultimate teaching, the vision of the non-duality of reality does not mean that he has arrived. On the contrary, it is a mere beginning and the understanding has to be constantly tested in life’s experience, so that each moment is a new reality. This process of learning, from moment to moment, is a never-ending movement. But without that vision of the wholeness of things, nothing is of avail; we cannot begin to travel on the spiritual path...” —Robert Powell

Cover image

Discovering the Realm Beyond Appearance: Pointers to the Inexpressible

by Robert Powell

(Paperback)

“The meaning of your existence is primarily to realize your true nature, that you are not just an ‘individual,’ so that your life may stand in service of the world as a whole and make it a little less miserable. All else is mere entertainment, without ultimate meaning, as Nisrgadatta put it so poignantly.

“But once you have realized your true nature, when individuality has been seen for the illusion it is and so has been transcended once and for all, there is only one Totality. Now where could the Totality go? It is at once everything, completely fulfilled–it is fulfillment itself. Therefore, the question of meaning cannot apply for one, or more accurately, for That which has realized Itself. We can only talk of ‘meaning’ when there is intentionality, direction, a movement from here to there, from incomplete to complete, applying to a fragment, the false image of an ‘entity.’ It could not possibly apply to that which by definition is Everything, Complete and Perfect in Itself.”

- Robert Powell

Cover image

Beyond Religion : Meditations on Our True Nature

by Robert Powell

(Paperback)

What is the need for religion, for a so-called spiritual orientation in life, at all? If living is a natural function, like breathing, then why interfere? Why can we not continue in our naturally more or less hedonistic way? This would be true if our minds were still functioning in their natural ways, free of complexity, flowing with life. This assumption, as we all know, is no longer valid—if it ever was. Our minds are heavily conditioned, fragmented and deep in contradiction. This deep conflict in the mind leads inevitably to conflict in society, and thus to chaos.

True religion or spirituality is nothing other than the reversal of this whole process of chaos, conflict, to a state of simplicity, naturalness, and therefore order.

—from Beyond Religion

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The Nectar of Immortality - Misargadatta Maharaj - by Robert Powell.pdf1.33 MB
The Ultimate Medicine - Nisargadatta Maharaj - by Robert Powell.pdf1.66 MB