Only inside oneself can the door to God be discovered, and only by going inside and one know one’s essence. By going within, becoming more and more aware, a person discovers that he begins to disappear, and God, on the contrary, manifests Himself more and more strongly. Therefore, Maharshi tried to direct any questioner inside, to knowing and experiencing his essence – no matter what that meant. As a goal, the concept of Self-hood or the higher “I” was used, of which the seeker should tried to become aware. It was implied that the true “I” was Atman, which presented itself as pure, stripped of attributes, Consciousness, pervading everything in the world. But Maharshi’s Atman was identical to God, and here the confusion begins which all mystics usually fall into, trying to combine all concepts in general, in order to express the inexpressible. With Maharshi, conversations on the topic of God usually end with the claim that everything is God and “there is no ‘everything’ separate from God in the Divine Fullness.” Only He in fact IS (“Be who you are.”) Undoubtedly, this saying is both truthful and simplified. There is little sense from such words for the seekers, however, although they do express one of the aspects of higher experience. Possibly, due to the “uselessness” of the idea of God for propaganda of non-duality, modern Advaitists dropped it entirely.
Ramana Maharshi became an icon for modern Advaitists, who brought Advaita to total degradation. For starters, they rid themselves of God. Now non-dual perception is a matter of consciousness which exists on its own, and that’s all. I would say that the majority of current teachers of Advaita known to me are hidden atheists. Moreover, now the entire search for the state of non-duality of perception is completely transferred to the sphere of the mind. Maharshi constantly speaks of the Heart, in which the seeker must immerse himself, but in the modern Advaita there isn’t any mention of the Heart at all. Modern teachers of Advaita do not know at all what a person’s internal space is, and speak only about how one must renounce the stereotypes of the mind, thoughts of separation of oneself from everything, and so on in that vein. Like Krishnamurti, they describe the state of non-duality of perception as it should be, in their opinion – and they stop with that, essentially. They call for simply becoming aware of the source of their thoughts here and now, arranging conversations during which, with answers to the questions of sufferers, they seem to push them inward, toward the awareness of consciousness. They try to create the miracle of their interlocutor’s turn within, but all of the effect occurs only at the level of the mind, because none of them have the level of being of Maharshi. They also refrain from the practice of questioning “Who am I?,” since in previous years, it has not brought visible results.
Some of them speak of the state of awareness – as a rule, rather unconvincingly. In the description of the state of non-dual perception, they repeat one and the same formulas, which have already turned into clichés, and practice one and the same approach toward communicating with people – holding meetings at which they answer questions. When they reply within the limits of their beloved formulas, everything sounds derivative, but not very stupid; if they are asked a question that requires going beyond the framework of their customary topics, then most often we see a lack of even worldly wisdom, let alone a vision of the Truth. People go to these meetings with two purposes – first, to see a living enlightened person, and secondly, to acquire enlightenment themselves with minimal efforts. But the modern teacher of Advaita does not even come close to enlightenment, because both the first and the second purpose of visitors of these satsangs and darshans are unattainable. Still, they obtain a pumping up of the mind through certain ideas, and for a time they manage to maintain a somewhat different attitude toward the world than what they had before. A kind of self-hypnosis takes place – after hearing his fill of beautiful words about how one must regard the world and oneself, a person keeps it in his mind as long as he can, then everything returns to the way it was, and then one has to go to a new meeting for a new “pump-up” of the mind. For that reason alone, the modern Advaitists may hold their meetings several times a week; after all, in order to maintain the mind in a seeming non-dual perception, their follows require repeated “pump-ups” of the mind by the same ideas. And if the teacher also possesses great charisma, then it is a double pleasure.
Ramana Maharshi was an ideal, real holy man. Mystical and miraculous events did happen around him, and the effect of his presence was strong and obvious. And no one can say anything bad about him. Nor can we speak of whether Maharshi’s mission was fulfilled, since he did not have a mission. He achieved what he achieved, and did what he did. There is a certain beauty and a certain grandeur in this. His fate is also unique; what else can you say. As for Advaita, there is the hope that yet another mystic will appear, yet another real holy man who will inspire in it a new life. Like Maharshi, who in his day appeared out of nowhere, so possibly someone else will come and explain the true Way to that state which now is sold as a product of the activity of the mind, and not as a consequence of a spiritual transformation that took place. But all of that is, as is said, in the hands of the Lord, and those who seek the state of non-dual perception, I would advise to remember this.