022. James Braha

After thirty years of seeking liberation, James Braha had nearly given up on finding fulfillment. His mind began to change, however, when he encountered the Hindu/Vedic philosophy of non-duality. Upon reading “Sailor” Bob Adamson’s book What’s Wrong with Right Now Unless You Think About It, James immediately invited Bob to come from Australia to share his knowledge with Americans.  For five glorious weeks in the summer of 2004, Bob and his wife stayed with the Braha family at their home in Florida. Spiritual talk with arguably the greatest non-duality teacher alive continued from morning till night, as James’ dearest friends and spiritualists from around the country joined the investigations into the truth of reality versus the illusion of appearance.

James Braha’s Site

Sailor Bob’s Site

Interview recorded 5/19/2010.

Video and audio below. Audio also available as a Podcast.

Video also on Facebook in 20-minute segments.

61 thoughts on “022. James Braha

  1. David,

    Segal was not a seeker at the time. I’m talking about a seeker, who is in the process of practicing TM or neo-advaita, coming to a crossroad. I think its ok. Segal didn’t know what was going on, but, she did eventually find someone to help her. She was also able to write a cool book about the experience. Was she really in fear? I can’t believe that. It would have been to exhausting to be in that much fear for so long, no? Either way, all turned out to be ok. That’s my point, being stuck is no different then having an itch on your leg. Nature will take care of its self in these cases.

    Isn‘t the point of enlightenment to end suffering? If not, what do you consider the point of enlightenment?

    Everyone has a problem clarifying their understanding. Not just TM people.

    How are the neo advaita folk path ending to soon? Do you think they won’t continue to develop? Where will a TM’ers map lead them?

    Each person has an opinion of how they woke up. But who do you think really knows?

    I don’t know if it possible to assign quality to teachers. Really it is a matter of opinion. Or do you have a standard? When Rick interviewed Igal Moria he said when he was with Marishi inner circle he noticed that there weren’t many enlighten people there, so please clarify what standards you are going by.

    What are Vedantic experiences?

    Who are these teachers that have help few? Are they all neo-advaita guys? Are there not any useless TM teachers?

  2. Ah but the perceived is none other than That so is also inherently awareness.

    This is the point I am trying to make. Huang Po was right at one stage. But more deeply, there is a higher truth.

    Truth evolves as our sense of self deepens. If we see it as one truth, we have lost the highest knowledge and beauty of it.

  3. Poe
    I disagree entirely. Segal had a long practice. She refused to believe what had happened when it was pointed out to her. It took 10 years before she was willing to listen.

    You like the book but don’t believe she was in fear? This is classic ego struggling not to let go.

    See my comment to Brian on why too soon.
    The TM map is based on Vedanta. Even if it might be misunderstood or held too rigidly, it will hold up much longer.

    It becomes clearer how awakening takes place when you more deeply become That. If you understand the larger picture of the process, you soon can see where a teacher is speaking from. This is not about quality, just where they will hold value for you.

    But I disagree that teachers don’t have variable quality. They are human like everyone else.

    The people around Maharishi were not the teacher. Some taught mediation but thats about all. All teachers are surrounded by the unawake. Thats often why they’re there. After they wake up, they often leave.

    Vedanta is end of the Veda. It includes knowledge of the Veda itself. Vedantic experiences are experiences of totality, true non-duality.

    I’m not interested in getting into saying this teacher or that is useless. I’m just saying the neo-advaita approach doesn’t meet my standards for a philosophy to recommend. I’m not picking on them – you raised the issue. There are only a few I recommend. Unless it reaches true unity, it is not the path I’d want to follow. Why start the journey with a car that will run out of gas?

    I tend to recommend teachers from Zen and Vedantic approaches.
    Theres not much more I can suggest to say.

  4. Of course perceivable is none other than That. But understanding “I am not this” is the end of the road. No more to be done. Once you realize that you are not perceivable, the idea of free will vanishes. There is nobody, nothing you can attribute a free will to. If someone has a free will, it certainly is not me, for I am not perceivable. Therefore all of the happening goes on by itself from then on, without effort or need of modification. Mind falls effortlessly into its natural state, since it no more tries to alter the perceived in false conviction that it can change it. Deeds happen, mind may claim doership aferwards, but always without effect. Who misses what? Many things may be realized, but these realizations do not belong to anybody. The concept of belonging is just that – a concept. If you understand it thoroughly, there is no need for further effort.

  5. Do you “understand” it while you’re fast asleep? If you lose awareness during sleep, you’re not Awake. Adyashanti says that Zen masters carried sticks to whack students who were too caught up with the notion that there is no person. Whack! Who felt that?

  6. David,

    So, a true teacher can only teach if they have experienced enlightenment via meditation? However, there are of course exception (Ramana, Tolle, Katie), right?

    TM will hold up much longer compared to what? Neo advaita?

    So you understand how awakening happens? And how to facilitate it in others?

    I think it’s impossible to experience true non-duality, because they will always be experienced through the instruments of a person. Please tell me if you think it’s possible to experience without this reference point.

    OK, no picking on those teachers. That’s fair, but explain what standard you feel aren’t being met by neo advaita, please.

    “Why start the journey with a car that will run out of gas?” All cars have the chance to run out of gas. Neo Advaita, as well as TM. Or, is there a sure shot?

    I recommend people follow there heart. I believe that true sincerity can’t go wrong. Do you think this is faulty advice?

  7. Hi Brian
    This is the essence of the whole point here.
    “I am not this” is NOT = to “I am That”
    I am not this but That is just the first step. NOT the end of the road. If you pull over then, you have missed the whole magnificence of Vedanta. You have not even begun to taste it.

    And you find out what has free will. And where what happens arises from. And it has nothing to do with personal mind.

    If you understand it thoroughly, you will not stop or think it’s over. I am not advocating a seeker here. This has indeed ended. I am advocating a looking. An inquiry, if you will. From whence does this arise? Who is doing if not I? And so forth.

    You are of course welcome to be satisfied. But you’re missing the best stuff. 😉

  8. Hi Poe

    You are welcome to say whatever you think, but please don’t put words in my mouth. I did not say this and I am not in the box you seem to think I am. TM has been my vehicle but I have my own outlook on all this. I am simply trying to explain the broader picture outside of TM and other boxes. The result is well past the practice.

    Anyone can teach if they want to. But if a teacher has not experienced what they teach, I would not consider it as valuable. How they came to experience that varies widely. And if they have the personal skills to be able to teach is another matter I’ve already touched on.

    The TM practice and model will hold up through a persons spiritual journey further than many others. This is not true of everyone of course, but in general, this is what I’ve seen. The understanding will have to be reevaluated periodically but that is part of the persons understanding, not the underlying value. Going to the original Vedic teachings would have greater value but they’re much less accessible.

    I’ll give an example of what I’m talking about. A friend of mine had a very deep Self realization. But he had no model of what was taking place. We took some time going over the process we’ve been talking about on another interview. He was then able to surrender more deeply into it and had his Unity switch the next day. He’s now giving satsangs and has helped a number of people to awaken.

    How awakening happens, I now understand as I’ve seen it happen dozens of times. How to facilitate it I’m still clumsy with.

    It is easy to experience true non-duality but hard to conceive of it. The trick is that at that point on the journey one is experiencing from the cosmic being, not the apparent person. The reference point has changed, just as it has in awakening. In fact, at a certain point, we are no longer even the point. We recognize ourselves to be that which contains all points.

    I’ve already spoken to neo-advaita enough. it does not hold up to simple tests like the 3 laws.

    yes, all cars will run out of gas. But some will take you to where you don’t need cars. And some require numerous tradeins. And some are lemons.

    Following the heart is good. Better if the heart is founded in being though and not ego. And when the heart awakens, there would be a very different conversation.

  9. Hey Rick
    Please explain your point in more detail. Do you expect that if there indeed was no person, then the body would not feel pain when beaten with stick? Why? What does pain have to do with this? It is perfectly natural that body feels pain when beaten, no? Does it somehow convey the information that there is a long lasting separate entity called person residing in/as the body? I don’t think so. I must be missing something profound here.

  10. I’ll concede that point. It might work on someone not very well established, but in someone who has completely ceased to identify with the body, perhaps no amount of pain would reestablish identification. As Maharishi put it, “Christ never suffered.”

    But let’s try this one. You said, “But understanding “I am not this” is the end of the road. No more to be done,” and you seem to imply that such understanding is fairly easy to arrive at. Are you suggesting that you and others who have arrived at this understanding are seeing the world from essentially the same perspective as Christ, Buddha, Ramana, and other great masters, or would you acknowledge that beyond the realization you describe, there might be many degrees of clarity or depth yet to attain? I suspect you wouldn’t, but as David has been pointing out, “I am not this” is a preliminary awakening. You know who you are (or aren’t), but you don’t know what “this” (the world) is. Or do you? Remember Shankara’s three points:

    1st law – Brahman is real (Self is)
    2nd law – the world is not real – doesn’t exist (the half truth)
    3rd law – Brahman is the world

    Do you see the world as Brahman, or do you just see that you are not the world (the body)?

  11. “I am not this” is NOT = to “I am That”
    Why not? Once this obsession with the body goes, you will revert to your natural state, spontaneously and effortlessly.

    Question: What do you see?
    Nisargadatta Maharaj: I see what you too could see, here and now, but for the wrong focus of your attention. You give no attention to your self. Your mind is all with things, people and ideas, never with your self. Bring our self into focus, become aware of your own existence. See how you function, watch the motives and the results of your actions. Study the prison you have built around yourself by inadvertence. By knowing what you are not, you come to know your self. The way back to your self is through refusal and rejection. One thing is certain: the real is not imaginary, it is not a product of the mind. Even the sense ‘I am’ is not continuous, though it is a useful pointer; it shows where to seek, but not what to seek. Just have a good look at it. Once you are convinced that you cannot say truthfully about your self anything except ‘I am’, and that nothing that can be pointed at, can be your self, the need for the ‘I am’ is over — you are no longer intent on verbalising what you are. All you need is to get rid of the tendency to define your self. All definitions apply to your body only and to its expressions. Once this obsession with the body goes, you will revert to your natural state, spontaneously and effortlessly. The only difference between us is that I am aware of my natural state, while you are bemused. Just like gold made into ornaments has no advantage over gold dust, except when the mind makes it so, so are we one in being — we differ only in appearance. We discover it by being earnest, by searching, enquiring, questioning daily and hourly, by giving one’s life to this discovery.

  12. Rick: “Are you suggesting that you and others who have arrived at this understanding are seeing the world from essentially the same perspective as Christ, Buddha, Ramana, and other great masters, or would you acknowledge that beyond the realization you describe, there might be many degrees of clarity or depth yet to attain?”

    There may be degrees, but those are not worth striving for. Look for that which is permanent and does not change whether it is in Christ, Ramana, Hitler or Stalin. You are looking at the shape of the gold, while it is the gold itself for me, no matter if it is in powder or a beautiful ornament…

    Ramana Maharshi: “What is got afresh, will also be lost. So it will be impermanent. What is not permanent is not worth striving for.”

  13. Hi Brian
    Why Not? Because ‘I am not this’ is the first discovery. Some experience it as ‘no self’. Somewhere in there we discover I am That. I am Self.

    But you’ll note there is a duality in this experience. There is Self and not-self, the world or Maya.

    We have yet to discover Thou are That and All this is That. Or, the third law: The world is Brahman.

    This is a much deeper realization than “I am not this”. If you refuse to see the possibility of it, you have lost the greater reality, I’m afraid. This is why some harp on this so much.

    But it remains your choice, oh yee of no free will 😉

  14. Brian said, “There may be degrees, but those are not worth striving for. Look for that which is permanent and does not change whether it is in Christ, Ramana, Hitler or Stalin.”

    What makes you think the further attainments David and I are referring to aren’t permanent? I’d suggest that there are many stages of development beyond the one you’re referring to, such as God realization, and each of them is permanent.

  15. Rick: “What makes you think the further attainments David and I are referring to aren’t permanent?”

    The word “permanent” as I use it, means “that, which has no beginning and end.”

    Ramana Maharshi:
    “That which is born must die; that which is acquired must be lost.”

  16. Call it a gut feeling, and call me cynical, but James does not strike me as truly realised. Perhaps in oneness, but not all the way there. The astrology, silver and gold investing, and weekend warrior waking with Sailor Bob (also not convinced) doesn’t help that feeling either.

  17. Not sure what James would say, but my attitude is that few if any people have reached a stage beyond which there is no possibility of further development. I wouldn’t say that involvement in “astrology, silver and gold investing, and weekend warrior waking” indicates one way or the other how “awake” one might be. I’d have a hard time accepting that a child pornographer was awake, in any sense of the word that I would find meaningful, but the activities you mention seem pretty innocuous.

  18. It does seem a bit silly now that I read it.
    But one of the most common and pressing questions seekers have is where to find genuine realised teachers, and how to know they are.
    Based on many examples, it seems what is said is not always a barometer. It seems what is done (occupation, activities etc) is not always a barometer. It seems how they act and treat people is not always a barometer. Nor is charisma, energy, looks, book knowledge, how softly they talk, how peaceful they may appear……. And yet, there is a teacher who directly or indirectly (does it really matter which?) acknowledges realisation, and there is a student who believes this to be true, and surrenders and acts and gives due to this very assumption/belief/conviction/hope. How nice if the universe made all genuine fully realised teachers turn glowing purple – so that there simply was no doubt!
    Rick, if I may, what (if any) reasoning do you use to gauge if a teacher is realised or not?

  19. The truth manifests itself in infinite multiplicity and remains forever hidden; yet, do not be fooled, the truth does not hide. Rather, it is hidden in super-simplicity within the manifestation it exists in, arises from, shows itself at all times from. The purpose of mind is to imagine truth so that truth will always be beyond it (for truth is ever before it). Such efforts of seeking bring one to the very ends of themselves, in time. In that way a path of living as the manifest forever leads back to the truth, the true substance (called non-substance), the absolute. This is the wisdom of truth. It tests itself. It proves itself. It rejoices in itself. It is purity beyond purity, yet common.

  20. referring to 1:15 to 1:18 Brilliant…”The intellect imagines duality for the sake of Devotion”…Indeed the Creative Intelligence Being No-thing did indeed project light/life in order to experience itself…although I can see how this can be interpreted as speculative and intuitive …this just happened to be one of things revealed to me in motion picture like clarity during my own personal kundalini awakening experience….Rick you are right on track by not allowing people to disregard the body as just an illusion for it is indeed a part of the whole… We are multi-dimensional Being… Life without end

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