The Nirvana Fallacy, or Meji and Ramji 7. (the article Neo-Advaita by James Swartz [re-]visited)

Dear James,

In my second last writing to you I shared with you that I found the core wound in me that made me react so strongly on the nagging of other teachers that you do.
In your answer you mentioned your good arguments for doing this nagging.
In my last writing to you I said that I would, for the first time,  take a look into your arguments for what you yourself called ‘Neo-bashing’ and I did.
It took a lot of time and effort and the report of this informative journey has become a long story.

Recently I underwent the so called sonic return Tomatis Listening Training.
It is the first half of a series that was intended to bring me back to the prenatal.
Next month I will do the so called Sonic Rebirth. (See Tomatis wiki).

Maybe related to this the following came up about ‘the relationship we don’t have’.
I decided, almost two years ago now, that it felt just not okay for me to be in your audience any longer and I stayed away, yet went on doing inner and outer research on what was going on for me. Energetically I stayed in touch. There was an invisible connection, a kind of umbilical cord that kept feeding me and stimulated the going on of the search. The visible result is the series of posts on myblog of which what I send you now is possibly but not necessarily the last: Ramji and Meji 7.
Yesterday it dawned on me that in a way existence has put me in relation to your for others apparently safe teaching cave  in a extra-uterine position.
In a way I am your ectopic neo renunciate sannyasin ready to be born soon.

Almost yours,


“If by eternity is understood not endless temporal duration but timelessness, then he lives eternally who lives in the present.” Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, Proposition 6.4311Copyright Dudley Museums Service / Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Source of quote and pic.









To make this report look a bit like politics, which it is in a way, I will not speak directly to James Swartz aka Ramji. I will address myself to one of his humble students in his also fictive role of our chairman, and will use his accidently by Ramji created filmstar name Derek.

Dear Derek,

An era ago, somewhere back in 2012, I wrote about James this: “I see him sketch out a caricature of what others supposedly are doing, silently implying that the sketch is veredical and judges the palavered teaching as incomplete based on the sketch.”

Recently, when James defended himself by saying that he is giving good arguments I told him that up till now I had not looked at his arguments at all. I only have been pointing out that he makes fools out of the other teachers that he critisizes and shared with him that that hurts in me.

And in Meji and Ramji 5 I promised to take a look at his arguments for a change.
What a promise!
Arguments are hard to find and giving the term Neo advaitins or Neo Vedantins a place in history is hard work. I have been reading into this the last few weeks. The thingy goes back to just a bit after the year 1800. And the idea is forming that James is in fact just coming from a old fashioned rather orthodox and even nationalist Hindu standpoint.
The list of what I have read so far will be added as ‘The list of what I have read so far’.

But let us slow down things a bit.

The place to go for the promised arguments is the article Neo-Advaita by James Swartz.
It is here on the web and it has also become Chapter 16 in his book ‘How to Attain Enlightenment: The Vision of Nonduality’.

The longer I look at James’ text, the more it becomes clear that it has a strong hermetic quality. It has the appearance of a watertight proof, yet it is a collection of vague referrings, as-if statements and bold overstatements.

For instance, about Poonjaji James speaks thus: “When Rajneesh, who rechristened himself Osho to avoid the bad karma his notoriety produced, died, his devotees, ever on the lookout for the next master, ‘discovered’ Papaji, by this time an old man languishing in Lucknow, a hot, dirty noisy city on the banks of the Gomati river, a tributary of the Ganges.”

Here James offers, in one single sentence, a whole bunch of severe judgements and sneering remarks.
Let me take a few minutes to list them:
*Sri Rajneesh was a man who created a lot of bad karma, says James.
*Rajneesh was aware of the fact that he had created a lot of bad karma by his
notoriety   (=the state of being famous or well known for some bad quality or deed),
says James.
*Rajneesh seriously thought that changing his name to Osho would disconnect him
from his karma, says James.
*It was for that reason that Rajneesh changed his name in Osho, says James.
*The sannyasins of Osho were ‘ever on the look out for the next master’, says James.
*Only when Osho died Papaji was discovered by Osho’s sannyasins, says James.
*’Papaji, by this time an old man languishing in Lucknow, a hot, dirty noisy city’,
says James.

Derek, James’ text is very hermetic; It is constructed in such a way that you have to break it down in tiny blocks and question those separately.
You see how much work this is.
For more information on the by now deceased but by the time that Osho passed away ‘old man languishing in Lucknow’, this hot, dirty and noisy city, see the three volume biography that was written about him by David Godman: Nothing Ever Happened.
From my own knowing I can assure you that already quite some sannyasins of Osho were visiting Poonjaji way before Osho passed away.
Yet, that in general Osho’s sannyasins were ‘ever on the look out for the next master’
is part of the tendentious way of how James speaks about those he is going to so called criticize.
It is the drawing out of the to be attacked cartoon.
Actually and to be honest Derek, it looks more and more as if the drawing of the cartoon is the criticism. But let us take another look.

Thus far we have looked at the last sentence of a paragraph, you have to begin somewhere. Here is the next paragraph, consisting of 6 sentences:
Papaji, like Osho, was a clever man with an outsized personality. He was a shaktipat guru with a super-abundance of ‘spiritual’ energy which some people claim he transmitted to his disciples. After the transmission, Papaji informed them that they were enlightened. He should have known better-and perhaps he did-because there is only one Self and it has always been enlightened. But this distinction was definitely lost on his followers. As it so happened, many got high on ‘the energy’ and imagined themselves to be enlightened, a condition known in yogic culture as manolaya, a temporary cessation of thought, or if you prefer an English term, an epiphany.

The first thing that jumps out is the term outsized personality.

When I google for images on it (Like this: “outsized personality”), I get the feeling of the term confirmed. Images of dictators pop up.

You see Derek, James the caricaturist is constantly at work to first demonize the people that he is so called criticizing; Poonjaji the Nobody, a unknown (and as far as not unknown completely forgotten), languising in a hot, dirty and noisy city, with a outsized personality, admittedly clever like Osho, but now watch how he uses his cleverness to manipulate dumb seekers ‘ever on the look out for the next master’:

James makes a statement about Papaji first: Papaji was a shaktipat guru with a super-abundance of ‘spiritual’ energy.
Then James mentions hearsay about what Papaji does with this outsized amount of spiritual energy: “which some people claim he transmitted to his disciples.
Then James takes this hearsay by ‘some people’ as a factual statement and goes on:
“After the transmission, Papaji informed them that they were enlightened.”
Quod erat demonstrandum?
Then James goes on with ‘He should have known better’, suggesting that Papaji did something stupid. And adds to that ‘and perhaps he did’, suggesting that Papaji was cheating people consciously.
And then comes the proof in just a dozen words: what Papaji supposedly did was stupid,”because there is only one Self and it has always been enlightened.”

Sorry Derek, I only see a cheap use of the eternal paradox that there is no one to be enlightened then the Self and that has always been enlightened.
Here is the Self taken into the realm of dualism with a feature attributed to it.
Or bluntly stated: a debating trick is performed.

Derek, now for another entrance into the Land of Hermetics.
Recently I happened to see Shinzeng Young being interviewed by his student Stephanie Nash.
She asks him to describe how what he teaches is different from what other people teach. He then says: First I want to emphasize how what I teach is simular to what the other people teach. Because, you know, there is lumpers and there is splitters. You ask me to split, but I prefer to initially lump.
I understood what he meant and was immediatly interested because what James does obsessively is splitting. But never a trace of lumping. Why?
Because, as the people that keep going to his lectures despite what he himself calls ‘neo bashing’ keep repeating after him: His teaching is the ultimate teaching.
His whole story/article has this as its main assumption.
So for James there is no set of people outside of the classical advaita vedanta that are teaching anything that comes even close to simular of what he teaches.
That set of people (set in the mathematical meaning) is empty.
And anybody who claims to belong to a set of people that teaches something simular, must per definiton be empty themselves. Hence neo bashing.

Derek, let me tell you another story.
Last year during my stay in India there was this outbreak of collective furious indignation about a rape in a bus in Delhi. I was following this in the Indian newspapers, the ones in English of course. On  03rd January 2013 I read the column  ‘Incompetent government?’ in the New Indian Express written by M. N. Buch.
What struck me was that this man was giving the behaviour of a English general, an occupier of India, as an example of strong, good and honest leadership.
I never before had had the idea that the English also could have been appreciated for things they did. (I mean I do, because this whole country is now basicly speaking English, which makes it easy travelable). I wrote the author an email.
(See below, under the list of what I have read so far).
I asked him for literature and he wrote: “I suggest you start with a book by Philip Mason bearing the title, “The Men Who Ruled India”. This will give you a British view of how they governed India.”
I have read this book. It gave me the beginning of an idea about how more barbarian India probably would have been without the influence of Englands presence there.

Derek, you ask me why I am telling you all this.
Well, because in my search for the origin of the term new vedanta, I learned that before the by James mentioned Vivekananda, there were others introducing the term. They were pioneers thinking about modernizing Hinduism. One of those men was Rammohan Roy (1772-1833).

I read about him in ‘The Neo-Vedanta of Swami Vivekananda: Part One’, written by
One of the things that is mentioned about this man is this: Perhaps his most famous campaign opposed the practice of “suttee.”

And here we are with my mail to this columnist.

The example he gives of being straighforward is that of general Sir Charles Napier.
When Brahmins came to him to complain about the fact that they were not allowed to
perform suttee, while they had agreed that local rituals would not be forbidden, this was Sir Charles Napier’s answer: “It is your custom to burn widows. Go and collect wood for the funeral pyre.  Our custom is to hang people who burn widows.  I have instructed my carpenters to erect the gallows.  Let each nation follow its own customs”.

In the mail to this columnist I mentioned that I also just had learned about ‘rice christians’. Rise christians? Yes indeed. How so? From what I knew from Hinduism I had the impression that kind of everything spiritual or religious is allowed and incorporated in it.
So, I asked someone from Quo Vadis in Tiruvannamalai what christianity had to offer to India. And then came the simple answer, the story about the rice christians: one of the absolute unhumane trades of Indian society is the existence of the untouchables.
Lots of them were converted to christianity, because that was a way to escape their lowest status and they were given rice for food.

Why this stories here?
Because the downside of the absolute great spiritual story, for instance of the advaita vedanta, is that the same culture brought forth a few trades of deeply ingraned interhumane indifference: suttee and the untouchables.
And Rammohan Roy and others were pionering in opposing those horrors.
I give us a in the context of this article a rather long but according to me very relevant quote of Kelamuni:
Rammohan regarded the Deism of the rationalists as the supreme theology. In regards the Indian traditions, he viewed the Vedanta as particularly authoritative. In an attempt to bring the two together, he came to understand the monism of Advaita Vedanta as the expression of a “pure monotheism.” As for Rammohan’s readings of Shankara, they are rather forced. For one, the stringent requirements of “qualification” (adhikara) set out by Shankara are systematically avoided by Rammohan in his commentaries. Indeed, Rammohan sought to do away entirely with the notion of caste-based “qualification”; unlike Shankara, he understood ultimate truth as accessible to everyone. Rammohan also sought to relate the teachings of the Upanishads and Advaita Vedanta to “practical” and utilitarian concerns, such as the achievement of social ends. But in the classical Vedanta of Shankara, the domains of worldly means-and-ends, on the one hand, and salvation (moksha), on the other, are sharply demarcated. As Shankara says at the end of his introduction to Brhad Up 3.2.1, “means and ends constitute bondage (sadhya-sadhana-lakshano bandhah).”

Here Shankara, the advaita hero of James, is connected with the notion of caste-based “qualification”. And with the classical idea of the ultimate truth not being available to everyone.
And I can’t help thinking of this when I hear James fulminate against the neo advaitins, sneering about democracy (“Neo-Advaita is burdened with an understandably democratic ethos, …..”) and making those who bring the truth to the common people seem stupid assholes.
Just found a fantastic yet for me new fallacy: the nirvana fallacy.
A fallacy is a nirvana fallacy when solutions to problems are rejected because they are not perfect.
More and more it is clear to me that James considers what he is teaching as so supreme, that the only thing left to do is point out that the rest is useles nonsense.
(In the third last paragraph he concludes about it thus: “Although the truth is eternal and has been known forever, the comprehensive, systematic and refined teachings that crystallized into the science of Self Inquiry over twelve hundred years ago are obviously the last word in the enlightenment business. There is no need to reinvent the wheel, nor is an adaptation for the benefit of modern world necessary. Yes, Self Inquiry can always benefit from a linguistic update, but that is all. The teachings stand on their own.”
Yet, when he would look to what the despised stuff brings to people (apart from the common misunderstandings that occur all the time, everywhere where people start digging in the source of the miracle that we are and try to point others to this) he would be mild.
Yet, he sees no perfection, so what is left is neo bashing, and out of lack of arguments he does it ad hominem and ad nauseam.
(Wiki’s List of fallacies).

Derek, we could stop here, yet we have only covered two paragraphs.
And there are about fifty. Let me go on for a while.
Wait, there is stil a sentence left from the first paragraph I quoted:
“Rajneesh, the horse’s mouth concerning the topic of enlightenment for Westerners for many years, was a particularly clever man who created a very large following by wedding two largely incompatible concepts, sense enjoyment and enlightenment. His ‘Zorba the Budda’ idea gave a whole generation of rebellious disaffected community-seeking Westerners good reason to party hearty on their way to God.”

In the third paragraph it goes: “It so happens that Osho’s followers, in spite of the fact that most of them spent long periods in India, had virtually no knowledge of Self Inquiry even though they called themselves ‘neo-sannyasins’ which translates as ‘new renunciates.’ Renunciation is a tried and true Vedic spiritual idea, but in their case it is not clear what they actually renounced. Buddha was certainly a renunciate, but it would be a stretch to expect Zorba to renounce anything that interfered with his enthusiastic celebration of life.”

And of course, seen from the perfect, idealized, fully and voluntarily renunciated sannyasin from the romantic spiritual past, Osho’s sannyasin will fail the James Swartz test.
Yet, the whole suggestion that Osho was one vague dumb blond playing guru, is in fact so just a fallacy ad hominem, that it feels almost stupid to remind us of the fact that Rajneesh/Osho spoke very often about Advaita Vedanta (some twenty books on the subject are available) and also about Sri Ramana, which may explain why many of his sannyasins already during his lifetime also went to Poonjaji.

And the whole construct, the rant against the possiblity of combining Zorba and the Buddha, does not even consider the possibibility of Osho having a strong idea about what he is doing.
Okay, one Osho quote to illustrate this: “Renunciation is the enforced dropping of things. And whenever you do anything with force, nothing really drops away. It simply goes deeper into your unconscious. It becomes more of a problem than it was before. Now it will try to come up in different ways, garbs, masks, and you may not even be able to recognize it.” (Just one syllable out of more here).

I keep pointing out and naming the ad hominem remarks in James’ article.
To get this over and done with, here is a list of ‘m all.
Watch the sketching of a cartoon:
*Bhagawan Shree Rajneesh, the notorious ninety-three Rolls Royce guru
*Rajneesh, (…..), was a particularly clever man who created a very large following by
wedding two largely incompatible concepts, sense enjoyment and enlightenment.
*…..Rajneesh, who rechristened himself Osho to avoid the bad karma his notoriety
*Papaji, by this time an old man languishing in Lucknow, a hot, dirty noisy city
*Papaji, like Osho, was a clever man with an outsized personality.
*Papaji informed them that they were enlightened. He should have known
better-and perhaps he did-
*Papaji, (…..)introduced them to Ramana Maharshi, who he claimed was his guru,
thus giving himself a golden, nay platinum, credential

Take the ‘new advaita’ and its followers as a person and this will  be the list of ad hominem remarks:
*Although there was a strong spiritual hunger in the West, it was not really prepared
to assimilate the essence of Self Inquiry.
*Materialists are doers and enjoyers and the idea of experiencing enlightenment is
good enough for them.
*(Osho) his devotees, ever on the lookout for the next master.
*Osho’s followers, (…..), had virtually no knowledge of Self Inquiry.
*On the surface Neo-Advaita, which has no worthwhile methodology, seems fairly
*This teaching causes a problem because it does not take experience into account.
*Presumably, an enlightened Neo-Advaitin in dire financial straits might attempt to
pawn a handful crow poop and sweep his lump of gold into the garbage can.
*Neo-Advaita does not accept the view that ignorance, which shows up as a lack of
discrimination, is the problem, because it says that ignorance does not exist.
*Another popular teaching, ‘being present’, is unskillful because it does not take
the vasanas into account. It is the vasanas that keep the mind worrying about the
future and obsessing about the past. Desire needs to be addressed, not repressed,
with the technique of ‘being present’. The absurdity of such a teaching is evident
when we look at it from the Self’s point of view too. When are you not present? For
you to know that you are not present, you would have to be present. If you were
absent, how would you know? The karma yoga view is a simple and obvious
to this problem, but Neo-Advaita has not discovered it, even though it is as old as
the hills.

[I admit that the last three (and probably more to come) are rather strong opinions
about ‘new advaita’ that are from my long experience just untrue statements, but
feel like ad hominem fallacies].

*Because Neo-Advaita is a nihilistic denial of the obvious, it has no methodology
apart from its mindless negations.
*A further teaching, an injunction actually (sic!!), informs the non-existent seeker to
‘drop’ his or her suffering.
*Another glaring contradiction found in Neo-Advaita is the claim by the teachers that
their statements stem from their own experience.
*To avoid the sticky question of a teaching and a teaching methodology and its
abysmal ignorance of the tradition of Self Inquiry, Neo-Advaita uses the argument
that their titular inspiration, Ramana Maharshi, gained enlightenment without a
teaching and a teacher.
*Perhaps the best way to approach Neo-Advaita is not by what it teaches as by what it
does not.
*Probably the most obvious omission is the notion of qualifications necessary for
*Neo-Advaita is burdened with an understandably democratic ethos, …..
*Because Self Inquiry defines enlightenment differently,     ????????????
*To my knowledge no Neo-Advaita teacher espouses this view. The reason is obvious:
he or she would have no one to teach.
*Perhaps the centerpiece of Neo-Advaita teachings is the idea that there is no-doer.
*It has achieved considerable popularity in the Neo-Advaita world because it appeals
to the something for nothing mentality.
*’You mean I can get enlightened without doing anything? Where do I sign up?’
*It also dovetails nicely into the idea of enlightenment as the absence of ego.
any spiritual work, I am strengthening my ego, or so the logic goes.
*This teaching, as is the case with all dogmatic statements from the Self’s point of
view, contradicts experience.
*If a teaching denies my existence, it condemns me to remain as the doer I think I
*Traditional Vedanta agrees that you cannot do anything to be what you are, but it
suggests that you allow the science of Self Inquiry to help you remove your
ignorance of who you are, because enlightenment is a matter of understanding, not
action. (This last one is in this list because of the implied suggestion that outside of
James’ box there is zero, nothing, zip, nada knowledge and practice of what he calls
‘the science of Self Inquiry).
*Karma Yoga is not taught in the Neo-Advaita world because it is for the doer.
*Furthermore, it requires discipline and considerable patience, qualities not in
evidence in people seeking instant enlightenment.

Importance of Karma Yoga for Self Inquiry

It would be impossible to underestimate the importance of Karma Yoga for Self Inquiry. Karma Yoga is not taught in the Neo-Advaita world because it is for the doer. Furthermore, it requires discipline and considerable patience, qualities not in evidence in people seeking instant enlightenment. It also requires continuous monitoring of one’s motivations and reactions to events. Additionally, it requires a willingness to change one’s attitudes. Finally, it demands a pure lifestyle because the vasanas continually divert attention away from the Self. None of this is possible if I do not exist. And if I do exist, it is hard work.
[This whole sub chapter is basicly of a good stand up comedy quality. It goes on on
the erroneous notion that people when they have become aware that life is living
itself and that in that sense there is no doer,  they go on believing that they don’t
exist. James keeps having fun with this, and rightfully so: it is funny. And yes,
people have made this mistake and yes, people keep learning. And, as we, all of us,
even new advaita ones, do exist, it is hard work, I agree].

So far the list.
Now this sentence comes: “Not doing will not create karma, good or bad. But,
because it is impossible not to do, the idea that there is nothing to do means that
the entry level seekers will just continue to do what they have always done. No
blame, but the idea that there is nothing to do will not result in enlightenment or

This is one of those hermetic ones; the longer I look at it, the more it looks like a small Gordian knot. And it is simple, I think, after some gazing: No one claims that the idea that there is nothing to do will result in enlightenment or growth.
It is just suggested that neo advaitins, this creepy invisible subspecies of the seeker genre, are claiming that an idea, any idea, will result in enlightnement.

And it goes on and on: “To fill the non-doing void, Neo-Advaita, thanks to
Rajneesh’s Zorba the Buddha idea, keeps the seeker hooked with an apparently
positive injunction, ‘celebrate life.’ “

It is noted that the Neo Advaita consept is being decorated like a Christmas tree
apparantly with the intention to make it look as horrific as a conseptual tree can get. Yet no word on how ‘Neo-Advaita’ is keeping seekers hooked with ‘celebrating life’ doomsdays.
The stand up comedy goes on with iron logic.
After first having suggested, insinuated, that there is a non-doing void being filled,
the fatal stab follows: “How celebrating is not a doing is difficult to understand,
  but intellectual contradictions rarely stand in the way of an immature seeker’s
desire to have fun.

There is a dozen or so more paragraphs to go.

Yet, time to do a bit more about the beginning paragraphs of James’ article.
Meanwhile we can have a laugh in between, you can do it as a doing or just let it happen. You can label it stupid or as celebrating life or both. It does’n matter.
I found the mentioned above Shinzen Young when I searched on youtube for a laughter meditation. I found a woman presenting it, and she appeared to be a student of him. Laugh along:

Jeez, that was fun.
Now for the history of new advaita or new vedanta.

Derek, the concluding sentence of the intro of James’ article is this one:
“For some reason Vivekananda put his own spin on the traditional teachings, emphasizing Yoga at the expense of Vedanta. It is possible that he felt that the West was not properly prepared. Whatever the reason, the Vedanta he introduced to the West was not strictly traditional and became known as New Vedanta or Modern Vedanta, a contradiction in terms if ever there was one.”

I had the feeling that in a way Vivekananda is sketched out here as someone who  kind of stands at the cradle of a movement away from the real stuf, the one and only classical advaita vedanta.And as a possible maybe for this going astray, James suggests that Vivekananda may have judged the West not ready for the real stuf.

When I started looking into this, it became very soon clear that it would be more to the point to say that Vivekananda was on a mission directed toward India and that he was trying to reform the situation in his homeland that he considered to be ready for and in need of this reformation.
We could go on about this forever. But that is not what I’m going to do.
I’ll give some quotes ands associations based on what I found thus far.

The term neo vedanta is not so new to begin with. And it has more to do with a reform movement of Hinduism itself than with anything else. The term neo vedanta and neo Hinduism are in the beginning basisly the same.
The beginning of it goes back as far as 18
A quote to see it a bit together:
A noted scholar of the classical Indian tradition, Hacker was also interested in the relation between Indian traditionalism and modernity. Hacker proposed the term “Neo-Hinduism” to refer to various Hindu modernists and nationalists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, authors and political leaders such as Bankim Chandra Chatterjee (1838-1894); B.G. Tilak (1856-1920); Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1947); Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941); and Vinoba Bhave (1895-1982). Other writers and religious leaders, such as Debendranath Tagore (1817-1905), Dayananda Sarasvati (1824-1883), and Keshab Chandra Sen (1838-1884) are considered “forerunners” of Neo-Hinduism by Hacker, since the theme of Hindu nationalism remains undeveloped in their works. Hacker also occasionally used the term “Neo-Vedanta” to refer to the writings of religious thinkers and writers within Neo-Hinduism whose orientation was more specifically Vedantic, figures such as Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902), Aurobindo Ghose (1872-1950), and the noted intellectual historian and statesman, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (1888-1975). (I follow the articles of Kelamuni here).

It was rather enlightening to discover that those intellectuals in Inida were fully known with the Western philosophy, they studied Jeremy Bentham, for example, but they were also familiar with David Hume, John Stuart Mill, August Comte and Herbert Spencer.  And Vivekananda travelled to the West and stayed there a few years even. Those people were aware of the advantages and disadvantages of the Western world. But also by those of their own world. Christianity had brought a fresh culture and several things were clashing. An example is for instance this sentence:
” Christianity with caste would be no Christianity at all“. (Find source on www).

A quote of Vivekananda illustrating his take on the West and his own country:
Nonetheless, there are a number of features of American and European civilization that Vivekananda comes to admire. He admires its technical expertise and science; he admires its industry, vigour and work ethic; he admires its social order, in particular the organization of its educational systems; he admires its ideals of equality and liberty; he admires its traditions of philanthropy, altruism, and cooperative action; and perhaps above all, he admires the self-confidence of the West, to which he attributes its strong sense of national identity.
Upon returning from his travels abroad, Vivekananda founded the Ramakrishna Mission, the principle aims of which were to be practical philanthropy and education. In his speeches, Vivekananda himself says that his establishing of the Ramakrishna Mission was directly influenced by his life in America. His opening statement at the inaugural meeting of what will become the Ramakrishna Mission begins thus:
The conviction has grown in my mind after my travels in various lands that no great cause can succeed without an organization. “Conversations,” Selections, p. 343.

I can not see any relation between the neo Hinduism and tthe neo advaita of those men and the term that James Swartz is using to point out what he calls the ‘neos’.

He uses terms as ‘the standpoint of the absolute’, while it is clear to me that from the moment that there is a standpoint, there is dualism.

And he speaks about a whole movement in the West, that he narrows down to one dead guru, Osho, and one ‘languising’ old man from Luknow, Hariwansh Lal Poonja,
(by now also dead), suggesting that this man looked those poor seekers deep in the eyes and then declared them enlightened.

The bashing is from all times, so much is clear.
I even found an example of Descartes bashing.
Even one by a pope. Here is the pope quote:
And here it is called Descartes-bashing:
In both places it is explained that the pope had misunderstood and misinterpreted Descartes.

What I have seen and heard around me, from many sources, is that more people than ever before come to see that they are it, that they are consciousness, Tat Svam Asi.
And yes, there is apparently a chance from one in a billion that someone falls in that fully and survives it. (U.G. Krishnamurti always kept referring to his moment of falling into This as the calamity).

And yes, there is a lot of nonsense around.

And yes, there is a lot of learning happening in what James calls the neo advaitins.
Not just India needed and still needs a lot of reform. Also the Western world is going through a huge transformation: after two world wars and a almost complete loss of trust in the organized religions, I see a slowly slowly yet unstoppable spiritual movement going on. And as far as I can see, (there is so much opportunity for feedback nowadays), the chances for this to grow archaic are smaller than ever before.

So, to round this up, I remind us about the fact that a few things have happened since the last few thousand years. People seem to have a vast interest in spirituality.
People seem to have less interest in believing and following rigid systems with all the rigmarole that comes with that.
India has a lot of old wisdom and a lot of superstitious nonsense going around.
The Western world and especially Europe has tumbled over the edge of blind faith.
(Churches have turned into carpet malls on a massive scale).
After the second world war with its devastating holocaust, there is slowly slowly  a proces of learning going on into the direction of a new spirituality.
All the old mistakes will be made again, possibly, and some new ones too. Yet the  inevitability of a movement into the direction of more self inquiry is clear to me.

And as always there will be a call for restauration and a call for modernisation.

For pragmatic reasons this will be the end of this report.
I wanted to add some video material, suggestions for thinking out of the box.
Also for pragmatic reasons I will make that a separate addendum.
Title: addendum ex arca archa.


PS Derek, thanks for having been chairman, that was helpfull.
PS 2 Also Derek, there is this yet unfinished report (part one and part two) about my stay in a temporarily guruless gurukulam, where they teach the classical advaita vedanta and where they want to keep the old tradition intact even by mimicking their idea of the teaching style of the past, thereby denying any progress that has been made by humanity and in teaching as such. I was reminded of the way they teach sanskrit there when I saw this video on how to acquire a language.
PS 3 L`histoire se répète, Derek. Once I told James that I should have walked away from my family and he simply asked “Why didn’t you? Well, I had to write them all those letters first, I guess. That is how it works for me, how it worked for me up till now. The same happened with James. Apparently.



Read in preparation about neo or new or modern advaita and more:

The Men Who Ruled India, Abridged, March 1, 1985, by Philip Mason.

The Ochre Robe: An Autobiography by Swami Bharati Agehananda.
University of Washington Press, 1962.
Quote from here:
“Neo-Vedanta” and “Neo-Hinduism”… are simply abbreviations for important developments and changes which took place in Indian thought since the period around 1800, i.e., the relatively unprepared opening to foreign, Western influences, the adoption of Western concepts and standards and the readiness to reinterpret traditional ideas in light of these new, imported and imposed modes of thought.[6]:307

“Though it is primarily through the work of Hacker that the term “Neo-Vedanta” has come into its current usage, the term itself predates Hacker’s work. A Bengali work from 1817, for example, speaks of the “new Vedanta” (abhinava-vedanta) of Rammohan Roy.”

“Indeed, Rammohan sought to do away entirely with the notion of caste-based “qualification”; unlike Shankara, he understood ultimate truth as accessible to everyone.”

Getting Clear About Enlightenment
Not Just a Book Review of Arjuna Ardagh’s The Translucent Revolution: How People Just Like You Are Waking Up and Changing the World
by Tom Huston
(This is the only non James Swartz place on www that contains “Post-Neo Advaita”)

On Dr Kuldip Kumar Dhiman’s book THE ULTIMATE ICONOCLAST
Understanding Rajneesh Osho’s Revolutionary and ‘Dangerous’ Ideas

Non-dualism and Western Philosophers by Greg Goode, Ph.D.


My email to Mister Mahesh  Buch, dated 22-01-2013:
Dear Sir,

Hope you do not mind me mailing you out of lazyness.
I feel like quoting your column in the New Indian Express (Chennai friday 4 januari 2013).

I follow since I am in India the discussion that has rightfully unfolded and unfolding in the media after the Delhi rape.

I was kind of surprized that you gave the English government in India as an example of being straightforward.
I like to quote your quote of Sir Charles Napier.
And having your text in a digital form would make that easier, so the question if you can send me a copy or if it is also online somewhere.

I was surprized, cause before I did not give this side of the presence of England in India much thought.
As a regular traveller to your country I am aware of how handy it is that English is spoken all over, but deeper it did not go till now.
And during this trip I learned about ‘rice Christians’.
Is there any book or article about the influence of Englands presense on India’s thinking etc?
Please feel free to enlighten me on the subject.
Thank you in advance,



Ramji and Meji 1
Ramji and Meji 2
Ramji and Meji 3
Ramji and Meji 4
Ramji and Meji 5
Ramji and Meji 6
Ramji and Meji 7
Ramji and Meji 8
Ramji and Meji 9
Ramji and Meji 10
Ramji and Meji 11





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3 Responses to The Nirvana Fallacy, or Meji and Ramji 7. (the article Neo-Advaita by James Swartz [re-]visited)

  1. Derek says:

    As a humble chairman I would have liked to interrupt you with the question ‘What is this all about? ‘.

    Honestly, my own simple analysis is that you just feel rejected by Ramji, since
    he declared you not qualified for Vedanta.
    My humble suggestion is that you finally you dig up this famous/notorious list and start checking point by point whether he might be right.
    Actually nobody is ever fully qualified and this list serves only as a checkup for knowing where work has to be done.
    Then start the work to be done by turning your attention inward instead of outward, this will save you a lot of trouble.

    Good luck!

    • Hans van der Gugten says:


      You take up your role as chairman and you want to know what this is all about.
      The answer is simple:
      I wrote a review on the article Neo-Advaita by James Swartz.

      • good one Hans, enjoyed it, gave me a few laughs…
        Self is already enlightened, there is nothing to do… unless you are making name for yourself as an Advaita teacher, HA

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