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In Search of Sacred India, Pt. 6: The Movie

This film chronicles EnlightenNext founder and spiritual teacher Andrew Cohen’s trip to India in late February and early March 2010. On his journey through this fascinating and diverse country, where ancient mystical spiritual paths coexist with a rapidly modernizing population, Andrew spoke about the progression from traditional enlightenment teachings to the new Evolutionary Enlightenment that he advocates. Hosted and narrated by myself and my fellow editor Joel Pitney.

If you have trouble playing the video, access it directly on YouTube here.

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Filed Under: EnlightenNext Editors’ Blog


About the Author

Tom Huston is the Senior Online Editor of EnlightenNext magazine. Follow him on Twitter @KosmicTom.

Comments (22)

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  1. Aliya says:

    “When God decided or chose to become the material universe, he chose to enter in a creative process of becoming… he stepped out of his/her inherit perfection”

    It is quite amazing for me to even have the idea that God can ever step out of Itself! Where else can God step if not into Itself? And where this out could be if not God Itself? And what is the need for God to be perfect or imperfect? Who is setting the idea of perfection for God – another God?!
    To think in the terms of perfection and imperfection means to be still in the mind, to be still dividing existence to dualities.
    There is no need at all to be bothered by perfection. Instead we should replace the word ‘perfection’ by ‘totality.We should not think in terms that we have to be perfect, we have to think in terms that we have to be total. Totality will give us a different dimension.
    And there is a tremendous difference between perfection and totality.
    Perfection is a goal somewhere in the future, totality is an experience here now.
    Totality is not a goal, it is a style of life. If we can get into any act with our whole heart, we are total. And totality brings wholeness and totality brings health and totality brings sanity.

    • Tom Huston says:

      But isn’t criticizing “diving existence into dualities” also dualistic? You’re saying nonduality is better than duality, which is true up to a point. But I think a real nonduality includes, and honors, the realm of the distinctionless and the realm of distinctions. They are not-two.

      • Aliya says:

        The realm of distinctions is not real at all. I would not call it a realm, I would rather call it a mental projection. The same way as “dividing existence into dualities” is a pure mental projection and has no substanciality, it is non existential, it is illusory. And that is where I am bringing more awareness. My words are not criticizing mental illusions – what is the need for me to criticize something of no existence? My words are simply eye opening, bringing awareness in the matter of fact, so that truth is clearly seen, without the veil of the mind.

        • Tom Huston says:

          But mental projections are part of reality, too. In this manifest universe, there are mountains; there are rivers; there are thoughts. Just because all things are ultimately “made of” pure consciousness doesn’t mean they aren’t real. Smashing all distinctions into a nondual blur of no-distinction doesn’t make things “more” nondual.

          As Sri Aurobindo said,

          “All that is in the kinesis, the movement, the action, the creation, is the Brahman; the becoming is a movement of the being; Time is a manifestation of the Eternal. All is one Being, one Consciousness, one even in infinite multiplicity, and there is no need to bisect it into an opposition of transcendent Reality and unreal cosmic Maya…. If the Reality alone exists and all is that Reality, the world also cannot be excluded from that Reality; the universe is real…. Even if the universe is only a phenomenal reality, still it is a manifestation or phenomenon of Brahman; for since all is Brahman, phenomenon and manifestation must be the same thing: the imputation of unreality is a superfluous conception, otiose and unnecessarily embarrassing.”

          • Aliya says:

            Dear Tom,
            Thank you for bringing Sri Aurobindo here, however, let us not forget that he himself never became enlightened, even though he was a great intellect, a great mind.
            As far as mental projections are concerned, they are part of reality only if they are seen as mental projections and not as the substitute of reality itself. Or to say it in other words, mental projections’ real nature can be seen only when one have transcended one’s mind and have reached the state of pure consciousness or No – Mind.
            As far as rivers and mountains are concerned, they are the so called maya, which does not mean they are not existing, but your perception of them is relative, not the absolute one. Therefore maya means the world which almost exists, looks like existing for us.
            To talk in terms of distinctions means to be still in the mind, to talk in terms of time, space, form. That is our own human mind created way of perceiving things. When the mind is transcended and one becomes pure consciousness, then all distinctions, differences, similarities, etc. just fade away. Even you are no more. Only the One is, only God. Because when God is, nothing else can be.

            • Tom Huston says:

              Hi, Aliya. I think a lot of Aurobindians would take issue with the claim that their guru wasn’t enlightened. :) In our article “Why Sri Aurobindo Is Cool,” we quoted Aurobindo’s description of his enlightenment:

              To reach Nirvana was the first radical result of my own yoga. It threw me suddenly into a condition [in which] there was no ego, no real world . . . no One or many even, only just absolutely That, featureless, relationless, sheer, indescribable, unthinkable, absolute, yet supremely real and solely real. . . . What it brought was an inexpressible Peace, a stupendous silence, an infinity of release and freedom.

              But the article goes on to say explain how he realized that his perception of the world as maya, as an illusory play of consciousness, wasn’t the complete picture. There’s a deeper level of nonduality, referred to in some of the traditions (such as in the 10th Zen Ox-Herding picture), that pertains to the realization that Emptiness is all Forms–even in their apparent duality and multiplicity. And it’s that deeper recognition that Aurobindo’s evolutionary nonduality — and the evolutionary nonduality espoused by Andrew Cohen and EnlightenNext — is based on.

              There’s an introduction I wrote to an article a few years back that you might find interesting, in which I describe some of the limitations of the traditional Advaita view. You can access it here, and here’s an excerpt:

              …I was only sixteen when I injected my first dose, and I’ll never forget the first time I felt the intense euphoria of its fast-acting high. Within days, even hours, of injecting that nondual bliss, the whole world took on an ethereal, dreamlike appearance, as all distinctions and dualities melted before my eyes, and I became firmly convinced that everybody around me was completely insane. I have vivid recollections of walking through the halls of my high school near Seattle, Washington, with an inner smile bubbling away as I looked upon everyone and everything as nothing but an illusory display of light and energy. Nothing was real, nothing was important, for all was nothing but a timeless dance of purest Consciousness.

              • Aliya says:

                Dear Tom,

                It is really pleasant for me to discuss with you as you apparently have much been seeking into the world of divine reality.
                Thank you for bringing here the story of the 10th Zen Ox-Herding picture. This is my favoritepicture:) This picture has been kept hidden for centuries even by Zen monks, because it has not been understood. Actually the ten Zen pictures display the stages of one’s reaching enlightenment and finding back one’s own soul – symbolized by the ox in the picture. After finding it, after reaching enlightenment, one is back to the normal life, enjoying and delighting it in the last 10th picture. That picture describes what Osho has called also the state of being beyond enlightenment, of being back to ordinary life, of being Zorba the Buddha – enjoying and celebrating life as Zorba the Greek and understanding life’s reality and divine wisdom like Buddha. That state of beyond enlightenment is the highest achievement according to Buddha as well.
                However, this state of Buddha hood described in the 10th Zen Ox – Herding picture in no way affirms non – duality as being dual or multiple. There is either non – duality or duality, is not there? Dual and multiple is our perception, only. And our perception is relative, not absolute.
                The same way our perception of enlightenment can be relative. Because mind is very cunning and trickery. Mind can provide the best ever description of enlightenment, but it is still a description, not your own experiencing. The same way as drugs can provide you with the feeling of being enlightened. But this feeling is just phony, not the real one. Because when the drugs are no more in your body, you are back to your misery. The really enlightened being is never more in misery, such a precious being is full of bliss, of truth, of supreme understanding and that cannot be phony and cannot be claimed about. It radiates from the being with the rays of truth, compassion and bliss.

                • Tom Huston says:

                  Hi, Aliya. I definitely agree about your last point–that sophisticated descriptions of enlightenment, or an intellectual understanding of nonduality, is definitely not the same as the real thing. Otherwise, there would probably be a lot more genuinely enlightened people around than there are!

                  I agree also that the 10th Zen Ox-Herding picture doesn’t specifically speak of the reality of multiplicity and duality, but I think it does support it implicitly, because it affirms that there is some benefit to returning to the world of multiplicity. In other words, there is some positive benefit to “returning to the marketplace with bliss-bestowing hands…spontaneously liberating all sentient beings.” If those beings weren’t real, if they were nothing but the Absolute already, then why return? Why have compassion for illusory people?

                  In any case, as far as I am aware, none of the ancient traditions knew about evolutionary nonduality in the way that both Aurobindo and Andrew Cohen speak of it. But some of them (like Zen) were pointing in the right direction, in terms of the need to embrace the world fully, even after one has realized that at the deepest level, it has no self-nature. The point of an evolutionary nonduality is to realize that “traditional” enlightenment (awakening to the truth that all is God, and the universe is a dream) is just the beginning. “Real nonduality” means that both the traditional understanding of nonduality and the manifest world of duality are equally real (and that manifest world is evolving in time). This is what Ken Wilber and Andrew have spoken a lot about in their Guru and Pandit dialogues in EnlightenNext. Nonduality and duality can coexist, because if you just have nonduality vs. duality…then that is still dualistic. In this article, Beatrice Bruteau called this higher version “qualified nondualism,” which is a good way to describe it.

                  • Aliya says:

                    Dear Tom,

                    Please note that your interpretation of the returning of a Buddha to the world for some reasoning that “there is some benefit to returning to the world of multiplicity” is done by your level of consciousness and understanding. We should not forget that Buddhas live in a much higher realm of existence, the realm of no-mind and pure consciousness and we should not project our own mind determined perception of reality on them. Or to say it in other words, Buddhas live on the 15th floor of existence while we are still on the ground floor and we cannot have their perspective of view.
                    When a Buddha returns back to the world enjoying and celebrating life he returns not because of some imagined benefit (what benefit can have an enlightened being who has just gained the whole existence and why would he wish to benefit when he has got everything at once?!)
                    A Buddha simply understands the beauty of life and is grateful to the whole, to the Organic Unity called Existence about this wonderful gift. Now for the first time he will start savoring life and enjoying every single moment of it. But he will know how to do it only because he left far behind all dualistic thinking of two “equal realities dual and non dual”, of right and wrong, of love and hate, of traditional and contemporary, and so on and so forth.
                    No Buddha on this Earth has ever said that “Universe is a dream and people are illusory”. No Buddha has claimed they are not there. What is unreal, illusory is our common mind perception of them.

  2. Bjorn Saw says:

    This no mind of yours is no different than this one mind of mine. In it I see distinctions like heaven and earth, pain and happiness and goodness and evil. Thanks to this never-changing reality I discover over and over again how new things appear on a daily basis. How then can I not make informed decisions about this and that? If we have language why not make use of it? The word was in the beginning and it goes on to say it was God himself. How extraordinary is that?
    When God is, everything is.

    • Aliya says:

      Yes, when God is, everything is, because God is in everything, God is all pervading. When you start seeing God in everything, then you will see only Him. And then language will fall short to describe Him, because language is your own mind creation, created for your social convenience. But still language remains partial and cannot describe the whole, the Absolute. Because your mind is partial, it is an instrument given to you by the whole. And never a part can ever know and describe the whole, the totality.

      • Brent says:

        The Prasangika Madyamikas rejected all descriptions of ultimate reality because descriptions are still based in the realm of language, the source of duality and also the source of the concept of non-duality as well. If there is more to ultimate reality that the awareness that our perception of the world is dualistic, can we perceive that moreness or are all our perceptions conditioned by dualistic mind, unavoidably so since human consciousness is so inextricably joined with concepts and dualism?

        It seems to me that we can chose to perceive the ultimate reality of the universe however we choose to do so and call it what we like, God, Luminous Clarity, etc. What the ultimate reality of the universe truly is may not be knowable to Gods, Buddhas, or humans.

        • Bjorn Saw says:

          Ultimate Reality is before your very eyes.
          When we realizes that I am that, we come to see the unknowable mystery that is ever within our grasp, closer to us than our own skin. Ramana would never bow to anything else. But if you read his rarely seen poetry you will discover his relationship to this Absolute as a love affair with its human doubts and pleads. Absolute human, absolute beautiful.

          Me and my father is One. Father and son; the only difference being that father is not son and son not father.

          When we come to see our ultimate relationship through our devotion and surrender to our guru, we come to realize it’s never a one-sided affair. As on earth, so in heaven.

          Advaita taken to its limit results in Bakthi, devotion to the One. When the one takes up residence in you, the words you use will come from that oneness and it will be empowered and spirit filled. If you have ever experienced the One speaking through you you will have to drop to your knees in awe. Once you experience this One conversing with another to himself, it will blow your mind. This is the natural evolution of spirit manifested through many together.

          It’s all well to say that the Absolute is the sole reality because it’s true, but if it becomes your fortress and you forgo the truth that lies just beyond; embodied reality, where one has become two, three or four without ever loosing its unity. How awesome is that! Then, distinctions fulfill their role in distinguishing things. Enabling us to exercise true discrimination and, god forbid, true judgment. And then the awful reality hits home; you are seen just as you are. Your words and acts reveals who you are. Nothing is hidden from another, and everybody knows.

        • Aliya says:

          The Ultimate Reality cannot be reached and perceived by the mind at all – neither dualistic not non – dualistic mind. Mind is a mind and cannot see or imagine the ultimate reality, because whatever mind sees or imagines will be its own product. Mind is a bio – computer and can “see” things only according to its programs/conditioning installed in the past.

          That is why mind is so confused by the latest discoveries of quantum physics whereas it is revealed that we human beings are observers of the universe and by being observers we influence the things we observe by determining even their physical appearance and positionning. Buddhas have called this observing witnessing (Osho), self – remembering (Buddha).
          This is exactly what the state of No – Mind is – to transcend your mind and all its judgmental and prejudiced attitudes and to go beyond it in the state of pure consciousness, no – mind. In this state we are nothing but observers, witnesses of what is – without appreciating or judging it, without getting entangled with what we observe.

          • Bjorn Saw says:

            Mind is Buddha. This mind of ours is really nothing wrong with, and it’s not even limited. Our mind is infinite and contains everything. Thinking is not limited. Thinking is activity of total freedom. Where is there a limit to your thinking? Mind is really un-graspable. It is the most mysterious of all the secrets. Mind is Buddha, and you are using mind every day and you are using Buddha without even knowing it. It has infinite capacity. It has no shape. The only mistake you make is to postulate an “I”. This is pure mind. -Not tainted by ignorance.

            Real Time. Mind exists within real time. Real time is the arena of mind. Real time is the lifeblood of the Buddha.

            • Aliya says:

              A Buddha is the the awakened one, who has realized the wholeness and totality of his Being. A Buddha is whole and holy. To be holy means to be whole and to act out of your totality. To be whole is to be sane.
              And mind is partial and limited, because mind is a bio – mechanism, subject to programming through conditionning.
              To me, mind is that part which has been given to you. It is not yours. Mind means the borrowed, mind means the cultivated, mind means that which the society has penetrated into you. It is not you. Consciousness is your nature; mind is just the circumference created by the society around you, the culture, your education.

              Mind means the conditioning. You can have a Hindu mind, but you cannot have a Hindu consciousness. You can have a Christian mind, but you can’t have a Christian consciousness. Consciousness is one; it is not divisible. Minds are many because societies are many; cultures, religions are many. Each culture, each society, creates a different mind. Mind is a social by-product. And unless this mind dissolves, you cannot go within; you cannot know what is really your nature, what is authentically your existence, your consciousness.

              There is nothing “wrong” with the mind, as far as you do not identify yourself with it. Because mind is a beautiful instrument given to you by Existence to serve you, it is your servant. But when the Master, your inner Being is fast asleep, then the servant is alone in the house and you are in danger. Because mind constantly projects itself around and misleads you with its limited capacities.
              Time, space, ego are some of those mind projections which try to keep you enclosed and separate, cut off Existence, to keep you unrealized and partial.

              • Bjorn Saw says:

                In real time history becomes an explosion in motion. The past is the manifestation of God. All time is lit up at once as an exploding fuse wire.

                This is the time of freedom! Being no one. Having achieved no thing. Time and space are real. Freedom is always in time. There is no intermediary. There is no second hand. Real time is always. There is no going back and forth. Everything always happens in time. You never get a second chance.

                Real time is the lifeblood of the Buddhas.
                Time is the blood and space is the body.
                As blood runs through the body, time runs through space.

                Now we can begin to intimate the meaning of the body and blood of Christ.

                • Aliya says:

                  Buddhas are timeless. So is Crist.

                  • Bjorn Saw says:


                    Deep time shifts layers of self,
                    whose memories hold no information
                    bar its own.

                    Standing upon a thin sheet of glass,
                    dissolving, my feet falls through.
                    Reaching the very beginning of the universe.

                    How we all stretch from beginning to end,
                    endlessly now.

                  • Aliya says:

                    We are Buddhas, too, each of us. And we do not have a beginning and we do not have an end. We are eternal, timeless.

  3. Bjorn Saw says:

    The Buddha is revealed only to free living beings. This is the motivation. This is the Bodhi-citta. That is its purpose. The Messiah appears only to save humanity. That is its function. That is his mission.

    Establishment of the bodhi-citta. Establishment of the will to the Supreme. This is the norm. This is the standard. This is the function. This is the criteria. This is its purpose. This is ones motivation, ones intention, ones will. Ones will to the truth. This is taking upon oneself the full responsibility for being a human being. It is everything. Having sole responsibility for the welfare of every living being and having sole responsibility for the planet as a whole.

    You can save history by taking responsibility for our heritage. By taking full responsibility for everything that ever happened you redeem the wrongs and the pains of the past. You in fact redeem the world, and save the dead as well as the living.

    It is not difficult to show the truth, because it is self-evident. You only need to point out the obvious. No need to look for anything. Therefore it is so beautiful. Therefore it is so full of love.

    If there is the will to the truth it is already accomplished. All these pointers are only for the ones who have the will to the truth.

    Only God is good.

  4. Bjorn Saw says:

    There is, there is not. Positive, negative. Views and convictions. All create proportional emotional experiences. As you view life so it appears to you, and so it will respond to you, affirming your view. Your view projects itself outwards and like in a mirror is reflected back in precise detail. And you say, “-See, I was right!”