How to Attain Enlightenment

The Vision of Non-Duality


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Enlightenment has been eagerly sought for generations as a means to remove the limitations that compromise one’s happiness. Vedanta, the science of self-inquiry, has been described as the grandfather of all enlightenment traditions. James Swartz explains and unfolds the methods of Vedanta in his direct style, while unraveling the myths and mysteries behind the enlightened state. But How to Attain Enlightenment does not simply present one more set of spiritual techniques; it presents a comprehensive body of knowledge and practice that has successfully directed the inquiry into the nature of reality by the unsung thousands of enlightened beings.

The author starts from the point of view of any individual seeking happiness and logically walks the seeker through the whole spiritual path. The book explains how self-inquiry affects the lives of those who practice it, including its effects on personality, relationships, and the mind. How to Attain Enlightenment considers the qualifications necessary for enlightenment as well as the obstacles encountered on all spiritual paths, unfolding proven methods. The ancient teachings of Vedanta, once available only to those who could receive them directly from the sages of India, are now accessible to anyone with a hunger for freedom and enlightenment.

James Swartz is also the author of The Essence of Enlightenment.

DVD from James Swartz Now Available:

Introduction to Vedanta: James Swartz

Watch Part 1 of the interview with the author from Conscious TV

Part 2
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Part 5
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Formerly a personal assistant to the revered Indian Mahatma Chinmayanda, James Swartz now engages his Western audiences with a mixture of mirthful straight talk and clarity. His topic is the ancient wisdom of the Vedanta as taught over two thousand years ago through the Upanishads, the Brahma Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita.

Designed specifically for a Western audience, in this video James clearly explains all of the principles of Advaita Vedanta. His approach is contemporary; James’s great gift is to approach his audience with images and examples they can immediately grasp and appreciate.

Buy Introduction to Vedanta for $19.99 or get 20% off Introduction to Vedanta and How to Attain Enlightenment when you buy them together for $28.00.


Praise for How to Attain Enlightenment 


Sentient Publications presents its next best-seller, How to Attain Enlightenmentthe Vision of Nonduality by acclaimed author James Schwartz, who offers his ample wisdom on the ancient teachings of “Vedanta”.

In Hinduism, Vedanta is a system of philosophy that further develops the connotation in the philosophies that add to the theology of ancient Hinduism.

In his first chapter, Inquiry into Object Happiness Schwartz holds the key to what it means to discover enlightenment… rather, a higher sense of awareness and consciousness to receive guidance and be in unison with the power of the Universe:

“What we call reality is governed by the uncertainly principle,” writes Schwartz, “Because our source of food, animal or vegetable, is unconcerned about our need to survive, we are forced to either pursue it or cultivate it. Shelter does not simply happen on its own but requires effort to obtain.” The same principle holds true in what he further elaborates that even when material needs have been met, individuals often find that they are still not completely fulfilled or satisfied in their livesthis is where having and maintaining a state of Vedanta helps soul seekers to be at one with the self and with the Universe, regardless of life circumstances.

If you are on a quest for wisdom and are ready to manifest a heightened state of consciousness so that you can become liberated and freed from the limitations that negate your personal and spiritual happiness, then gain the knowledge you need that Schwartz offers in his book How to Attain Enlightenment through a vast array of teachings, meditations, and more.

—CarolAnn B


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How to attain enlightenment: The vision of non-duality by James Swartz presents the ancient science of self-knowledge known as Vedanta in a way that it easily accessible and which can be readily understood by everyone. That’s not to say that this book is in any way lightweight or undemanding. It is very likely that it will be quite challenging for most of us. The science of self-knowledge is not the spiritual equivalent of a fast food meal, so it’s not necessarily something that can be immediately assimilated and digested by anyone. It would appear that it really does require time, effort and perseverance to fully understand and live the message that is presented in this book. It’s not that Vedanta is difficult to understand, but rather that for many of us our spiritual and cultural conditioning might make it harder to allow this teaching to fully flower in our lives.

James Swartz has given the world a great gift by writing this marvellous book. With How to attain enlightenment he has managed to distil the world of Vedanta into one single very readable volume that seems complete in itself. This book may very well prove to be the last or only spiritual book you’ll ever need to read. The philosophy and methodology of Vedanta are clearly explained and unfolded, and the way it’s presented leaves the reader in no doubt about the supreme importance and efficacy of this ancient spiritual teaching. It should be noted that James Swartz is no spiritual neophyte. He studied and practiced extensively under the personal guidance of such spiritual luminaries as Swami Chinmayananda and Swami Dayananda, who were two of the 20th century’s greatest exponents of Vedanta and non-duality.

Vedanta is a genuine and thoroughly tested methodology for self-realisation and enlightenment, and stretches far back into the distant past. James Swartz is true and faithful to this great tradition throughout this book, yet at the same time he presents Vedanta in a way that will have great appeal to people in our own time, or at least to those who are qualified and ready for it. The book is written in a clear, straightforward and accessible manner and presents all aspects of Vedanta in a logical and appealing way. It is divided into 16 chapters, although the last two chapters could possibly be seen as forming an appendix to the book rather than being part of the main body of the book. The first of these final chapters is a very interesting and illuminating discussion about the teaching of Ramana Maharshi while the second one is a quite convincing critique and dismissal of the so-called neo-advaita movement.

How to attain enlightenment is a tremendous achievement, and a book of such strength, conviction, integrity, wisdom and clarity that it deserves to be regarded as one of the greatest books on spirituality of our time. It really ought to be mandatory reading for anyone who is at all interested in Vedanta, non-duality and enlightenment. A true classic!

Laughing Buddha Books

Though based on the ancient wisdom and knowledge of Vedanta, it comes as a breath of fresh air. A biased outlook may regard this information as old and musty, but the modern perspective display’s a new approach to this gleaming and invaluable treasure.

Any worldly and material knowledge is incomplete, for it is merely a miniscule part of the whole Universe. But self-knowledge, which emphasizes oneness and the non-dual, presents knowledge which is complete and whole.

This book goes through the entire gamut of topics covered by the Vedas, making use of yoga, detachment, the ego, karma, dharma, love, meditation and much more, to bring about an inner growth, wherein is visible the enlightened and luminous self.

—East and West Magazine

In the introduction James Swartz states that these are not the philosophy, beliefs or opinions of himself or that of some mythical sage but the ancient science of knowledge.

In that respect you are not going to learn it all in one reading, you need to treat it as a reference book, as a bible of self knowledge, therefore, you will need to go back to it time and again to assimilate and digest the concepts involved. The book is subtitled The Vision of Nonduality, that is the combination of object and subject that merge into one experience that is going to last for some time.

If I have any criticism of this excellent book it is that I expected a full chapter on what this concept actually meant, however, it is fully explained throughout the book. It is important to grasp this principle in the early on in the book in order to fully understand the following chapters.

I like the way the book explains the means by which we acquire knowledge, the qualifications needed and the obstructions that existence within ourselves and the society in which we live. James Swartz makes a point in many other spiritual philosophies that we need to deal with the ego to achieve any state of enlightenment or be of any use to others. The book is not all philosophy; there is a very useful chapter on practicing meditation practice.

There are two things that puts this book in the realms of ‘reality’ by anyone’s perception of what that means are firstly, lifestyle and in particular diet and lifestyle. On these issues James Swartz offers some very sound advice from a spiritual perspective that can really help people live a full and active life particularly in their later years. He makes the point that enlightenment is not just in the mind, you have to live it and do it as a fundamental human right.

The second, is the concept of ‘enlightenment sickness’ a symptom of this is where people feel the need to” live the wisdom of love each moment”. What made me smile was the comment, “If you believe that your words are gospel and that your deeds, whether or not they correspond to common sense and reason or whether they are in harmony with dharma and tradition, are a teaching stratagem, you need help.”

This book or what I would describe as an enlightenment seekers bible is essential reading for anyone going down a spiritual path, for it is both enlightening and grounding. I am pleased that I received this book for review as it is something that I will read many times over. 5 stars and highly recommended.

—Trevor Mayes, owner and founder of The New Age Blog

Would you like to learn how to attain enlightenment? Well regardless of the semantics of whether enlightenment is something to be attained, welcome to the review of How to Attain Enlightenment by James Swartz.

This really is a handbook of enlightenment. He covers what enlightenment is not, such as not an experiential state, and then gets into what enlightenment is. He talks about qualifications, or a background of spiritual maturity the seeker needs to have. And he explains what self inquiry really is.

Swartz also spends time debunking enlightenment myths and exposing the inaccuracy of the teachings of neo-advaita (primarily western) instant enlightenment spiritual teachers.

The book reminded me of how it is to enter a relationship. It started off well, but then you reach a point where you ask yourself whether you want to go on. There was a period where I was wondering what kind of point he was trying to make and if it was actually going anywhere. Like weathering a relationship through the tough times, I went on, and I’m glad it did.

Swartz is very funny in parts of the book, and it was refreshing to see a guy write in a fashion that uses descriptive terms that don’t have you reading the words consciousness, awareness or pure being in every paragraph. There are too many spiritual books full of that crap, and Swartz is a very pleasant departure from that.

The writer has a very keen understanding of self inquiry and other methods on the spiritual path, and he discusses the benefits of each. Swartz spent considerable time in India learning self-inquiry and has a chapter dedicated to questions about Ramana Maharshi. Swartz’s teacher was not a Ramana follower so there are areas where he differentiates from Ramana. He also discusses how one’s lifestyle has a major impact on enlightenment and he differentiates terms awakening and enlightenment as being two different things.

Overall, if you can get through the slow parts, this is an excellent and comprehensive book. You’ll realize when you get through it that slow parts actually were part of a plan and have importance. highly recommends this book, and gives it an 8 out of 10 on our infinity scale.


How to Attain Enlightenment explains and focuses on Vedanta, the science of self-inquiry, and considers the myths behind the state of enlightenment and its connections to happiness. The ancient teachings of Vedanta form a foundation of knowledge and practice that has questioned the nature of reality itself, and this survey of love, lifestyle, experience and more offers a fine survey perfect for new age libraries.

Midwest Book Review

How to Attain Enlightenment explains methods of Vedanta in his survey of spiritual techniques, pairing theory with practice and explaining the myths and realities behind an enlightened state. From reflections on moving to a larger living space and clutter to assimilating experiences, How to Attain Enlightenment is a powerful survey any new age library needs.

The Bookwatch

James Swartz was born in Butte, Montana in 1941. He grew up in Lewiston, Idaho; at 17, he left for a military prep school in Minnesota. He spent two years in a liberal arts college in Wisconscin, and then attended University of California at Berkeley in ‘63. Six months short of graduation he ran off to Hawaii to start a successful business. But something was terribly wrong; at 26 he had ‘become an alcoholic, was a chain smoking gluttonous adulterer and life in every respect was not worth living’. One day in the Post Office in Waikiki he had a life changing epiphany that put him on the path to freedom.

Q. In your talk at the Science and Nonduality Conference, you said that the words ‘Advaita’ and ‘Vedanta’ don’t really go together. So could you define precisely what they mean?

Advaita means nondual. It’s an adjective that describes consciousness. It is not the name of a particular school of Vedanta because if Vedanta is properly understood, it is not a philosophy that can be broken up into different schools. In fact Vedanta is a dualistic method that removes ignorance. The only thing that is nondual is consciousness.

Vedanta means the knowledge that ends the search for knowledge. This knowledge is enshrined at the end of each of the four Vedas. Once you have this knowledge you don’t need to know anything else ever again. It refers to knowledge of yourself as awareness. It does not mean that you know every fact in existence.

Vedanta is a prananaa means of knowledge. Because knowledge doesn’t happen on its own, it requires a means. The Self is not going to be known by the ordinary means that we haveby our senses, mind and intellectbecause they need objects. But the Self is not available for objectification.

So, the means at our disposal is unsuitable and therefore Vedanta has evolved. It removes ignorance about the nature of the Self. It destroys the beliefs and opinions and ideas that you have about yourself that stand in the way of appreciating who you truly are.

Q. Ramana Maharshi likens knowledge to a stick that stirs the funeral pyre and once the Self is understood, you throw the stick in as well.

Yes, that’s right. Vedanta is a throw-away. Once the self is known for what it is, you do not need to know it again. You cannot forget it because the Self is always present. It is not an object to be remembered, like an experience. You can forget something that is not present, but once you know the Self you cannot forget it because it is you. Try to forget you. It is impossible.

Q. So the apparent self embarks upon a spiritual journey, uses the knowledge to reach a point of understanding and then it’s over.

That’s right. The mantra that people are chanting everyday is, I am small, I am inadequate, I am incomplete, I am separate. It is a steady drone in the back of their minds all the time. This is how they think and this is the point of view from which they are thinking.

Those thoughts need to be neutralised because they are not in harmony with the nature of reality. This method of teaching is called pratipaksha bhavana which means applying the opposite thought. It’s called enquiry but you are not asking a question like who am I? You are seeing what kind of thought is in your mind…the thought behind your thoughts and neutralizing it with the truth. The same thought is always in the mindthere’s something wrong with me, I am missing something, something is lacking, I need something. It is not true. You don’t need anything. Nothing is missing.

Shankara calls it the jnanabyasa, which means the application or the practice of knowledge, and it requires a certain degree of faith. It is why faith and devotion are qualifications for enlightenment. Even though I don’t feel that I am whole and complete, I have to fake it till I make it! I have to pretend that I am what I am. It sounds ridiculous, but it works.

Q. Assume a virtue if I have it not …

Yes. I have to assume that this is true; then I have to operate from that assumption and see if reality does or doesn’t confirm the truth. Because when I start thinking like this, when I start seeing myself in this way, I suddenly see a transformation in my life, things start to turn around, and I get this confirmation over and over again from my experiences, from the people around me.

Q. Why is it there this inherent paradox that only a few embark upon the path to Self knowledge? It’s ludicrous!

Yes, it is ludicrous from the point of view of the intellect, but it’s not really a legitimate question because the one who is asking it is a product of self ignorance. It’s like flashlight bulb saying, ‘I’d like to know what electricity is, why am I shining, and where is my light coming from?’ It can’t know because it is a gross transformation of a subtler energy and a gross thing cannot understand something subtler.

‘How’ ignorance works, we can say – that is a legitimate question. But there’s no actual ‘why’ to this because the one who wants the answer is incapable of understanding that he or she is awareness.

When you see that you are awareness, the idea of asking ‘why’ doesn’t come up. ‘How’ is relevant because it is a process we can describe and indicate. It is subject to analysis and investigation.

But there’s no ‘why’. It is just the nature of the Absolute.

Q. There’s diversity in the unity. That’s the paradox.

Yeah, in maya, everything is a paradox – it’s a zero-sum game. It’s all set up to frustrate you completely.

Q. In a way, it’s like very advanced mathematics – the paradox is an exquisite arrangement.

Absolutely. It’s totally conscious, it’s total purposeful, it’s aesthetic and it’s humorous. How can something that doesn’t have a problem, imagine that it has a problem, create a whole universe in order to solve its own problem and get out of it again… Ha!

Q. But it’s the jivas (individuals) that have the problems because of their self-ignorance?

There are no jivas apart from awareness, so awareness under the spell of apparent ignorance imagines that it has a problem. The ignorance is apparent and the knowledge is also apparent. The knowledge of Vedanta is an apparent knowledge because it operates only in maya and it’s only useful until it’s solved its problem. And then we throw in the stick, we throw the knowledge away. I don’t need the knowledge because it has already neutralised the ignorance.

You are giving the jiva some kind of independent existence.

Q. But to say that awareness has a problem to me is like saying Brahman has a problem. But Brahman doesn’t have a problem because Brahman just is.

Yes, but if there is a problem, then only Brahman could have that problem because there is only Brahman and so what kind of a problem is it? It’s not a real problem, it’s only an apparent problem.

In other words, the problem is all mithya (apparent), it is not satya (real).

When Brahman (consciousness) associates with maya (Ignorance) it seems to become a jiva, an individual. Pancadashi and other texts are very clear about this. The jiva, the individual, is Brahman or consciousness with a gross, subtle and causal body, i.e., ignorance. And that’s what makes Brahman seem to be an individual, when in fact it is not an individual.

This is a linguistic problem, two different words referring to the same thing. You can’t have a problem if there is only Brahman. If there is a jiva, it would have to be Brahman. Jiva would have to be another word for Brahman. But if jiva is different from Brahman you have a problem. It contradicts non-duality.

So Vedanta says it is an apparent problem that belongs to Ignorance and can be removed by enquiry. If it’s a real problem, then we’ve got a situation where Brahman who is limitless and jiva who is limited have the same degree of reality. How would we determine which is real? When Ignorance enters the picture one thing seems to be two different things.

Q. This brings me to Neo Advaita… As I understand it, Neo Advaita says I don’t exist, all is One, there is no separate self. This is opposed to traditional Advaita Vedanta teachings that say there is an apparent self, all is apparent diversity, there is an apparent separate self. Neo Advaita seems to miss that paradoxical subtlety. So I just wonder how it is that Neo Advaita is flourishing so much?

Well, it’s not exactly opposed because the traditional texts also say that there is no separate self. But what this means is not understood properly by this raft of so-called enlightened people who teach Neo-Advaita. People want an easy path and this seems to be a very easy way to solve the problem. But it does not solve the problem. Neo Advaita doesn’t have a way out of the apparent reality apart from its mindless denials. It has no guru, no teaching, no teacher – even though these guys are functioning as teachers, who are disseminating ignorance. There’s no way you can get from where you are to Brahman. There’s no path for them.

Vedanta is a complete path and provisionally accepts you as an individual and then it gradually, slowly, works you out of the problem of limitation, showing you as you go along what the Self is, what ignorance is.

Enlightenment in Vedanta is called atma-anatma viveka and it means discrimination between the Self and the apparent self.

So, I need to get that very clear – what the ‘not self’ is and what I can do in this relative apparent reality to get the kind of mind that’s capable of appreciating the fact that I am non-dual awareness.

There’s no way the Neos can get their minds prepared for enlightenment, so they just have to believe that they don’t exist on the basis of faith.

Q. So Neo Advaita is a faith?

Yes, it’s pure religion. These guys are the latest religious snake oil salesmen. And these people want to believe and belief is easy, until you start thinking. Once you start thinking, it screws up your beliefs.

The bloom is off the Neo-Advaita rose. I am getting a lot of people who realize how hollow it is and are coming back to the traditional teachings.

Q. So the understanding that there is only Brahman only comes when the mind is ripe to understand it. What Neo Advaita teachers are doing is taking people straight off the street and giving them the final teaching in a MacDonald’s happy meal, when in fact they’re not prepared.

Absolutely, instant enlightenment, yes! ‘I’m not really here, I’m just playing in the maya, nothing is really real, that’s why I am robbing you and cheating you and telling you all sorts of stories!’

In Vedanta, we have a concept called adhikara which means qualification. The way that these qualifications were arrived at was by looking at enlightened people, because all enlightened people basically have the same kind of nature and qualities in their minds – discrimination, dispassion, clarity of mind, devotion, forbearance, and so forth and so on. If you do not have these qualities, enligtenment will not be within your reach. Once you have developed them, then you are ready to be taught.

In Vedanta, you don’t get the teaching until you are qualified. For the people who are not qualified, who can’t get it, we teach them karma yoga and bhakti yoga, the three guna yoga, etc., which are subsets of Vedanta, and we also teach them how to use their minds properly and how to meditate until their minds become clear.

If you look at the Bhagavad Gita for example, the chapters up until chapter six are basically about karma yoga, although in the second chapter the Self is also presented.

Arjuna doesn’t get the Self teaching because he’s not qualified; he’s rajasic, an extrovert. So he needs karma yoga. Once he has understood karma yoga, he is ready for more, for meditation and self knowledge.

You cannot just walk in off the street and ‘get it’ as they advertise. They call it satsanga (keeping the company of truth) but it’s all about the sanga and not about the sat, although they talk a lot about it. It’s talk about it, it’s not the Self talking. It’s all a feel good thing. They get high on the group energy and perhaps some herbs. It produces a a lovely kind of intoxicating feeling, which they imagine is spiritual. It’s a nice social event, you get your long attenuated hugs with the other people who are there, perhaps you get the phone number of a cute girl or guy and well, it’s so cool…

Q. You said earlier in your talk today at the SAND Conference that Vedanta is the one and only system that provides everything you need for knowledge. What about the mystical paths, for example Sufism, Gnosticism, the Kabalah – are they just as profound?

I don’t think I said, ‘only.’ Vedanta is not profound and it’s not mystical. It’s purely common sense, logic and reason, direct experience and investigation. The thing about Vedanta is that it has a complete cosmology, a psychology, there’s a complete description of the Self, plus there are methods that you can use to transform your mind to make it meditation-worthy, to make it qualified for knowledge.

I don’t see that in other traditions. I see they only have bits and pieces of it

Q. So you’re saying Vedanta is the complete toolbox for Self-knowledge.

Yes. It’s called Brahma Vidya, which has several meanings, but one of them is the science of Brahman.

Q. So it is something that you can trust.

Absolutely. And it’s been confirmed over and over again and it’s never changed. These teachings have never changed and these methods have never changed. They remain true to the tradition forever because it is the truth and it works.

Q. Some people, I find, who are interested in non-duality, even in traditional teachings themselves, will say that any kind of teaching regarding the order of the creation, the nature of the mind, is somehow unimportant; in light of the fact that the apparent knowledge must be sublated or dissolved or let go in order to understand that everything is Brahman, what is the point ultimately in devoting so much time to such knowledge?

It’s true from the Self’s point of view, from awareness’s point of view, that there is no creation. It’s called ajatawada, non-creationism. Everything is the Self and the unborn. Therefore there is no creation.

But who understands it that way? Who actually gets that?

But if people who find themselves here in the creation, as jivas, as individuals with lives, bodies, minds and problems and want to grow toward that understanding, they first need to understand their milieu, the environment in which they find themselves and see how they relate to it.

And Ishvara or God is a name for the rules and laws and forces that are operating in the field and the one who operates these laws. The field of existence and the knower of the field is consciousness.

Q. The jnani knows that Brahman is samsara and samsara is Brahman, satyam is mithya and mithya is satyam.

Right. But this highlights the problem with Neo Advaita. They intellectually understand that all is Brahman and yet they dismiss the field of existence before they even know in what sense it is Brahman. So they continue to behave exactly like the fools they were before they they got the knowledge of Brahman. So you’ve got to ask, what kind of knowledge of Brahman is it?

You know, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. It’s how you live, it doesn’t matter what you say. You know whether a desire or a fear is motivating you. If you know it’s all Brahman, and that you’re Brahman, you’re not motivated by desires and fearsyou stand apart from them.

The only way you can really tell with those people is not what they say, but how they live.

The tradition teaches what mithya is, and the tradition teaches what satya is. You don’t need to do anything about it, you just need to know what they are. Once you are clear about mithya and satya, then you won’t confuse them. Freedom is knowing which is which. Things will continue as they always have. The world is not going to suddenly merge in consciousness never to be seen again. Nor are you going to end up floating around in some blissful transcendental sky, free of everything.

Q. What comes to mind is Shankara’s three statements…

Brahma satyam. Jagan mithya. Jiva brahmaivah naparah.

Brahman alone is real. The world is an apparent reality. The individual and awareness are one. Or, the individual is limitless awareness.

Brahma is the truth, awareness is what’s real, what is true, what is always here and always present. Jagat, the world, is apparent. It looks realit’s a very convincing dream and Ishvara has created a really cool dream that easily fools you. You can easily mistake it for reality, but it is only an apparent reality. You need to investigate and contemplate the meaning of these words, and then you can see though it.

Q. And what do you come to, arrive at? What is the answer to the ultimate question, who am I?

You arrive at the understanding that nothing is missing in you. That you are not lacking in any way, you see?

All this seeking is based upon the idea that something is missing.

Q. That ache that never seems to go away?

Exactly. And what you discover is that ache, that longing, that searching is not valid. You see that nothing is missing.

As Swami Dayananda says, you are whole and completepurna is the word in the Vedas.

And therefore, my getting and keeping are no longer relevant to me. I am not hanging onto anything, and I’m not trying to obtain anything. However it is, is fine with me.

I feel adequate to deal with whatever is happening because I am awareness and awareness can handle anything. Nothing can affect me and I know this for certain. Not because I am a person who knows that I am awareness, but because I am awareness.

If it’s a person who knows that they are awareness, that’s a little different situation. You could call that self realization, or something. But there is still someone there who has a conviction that they are awareness.

But at a certain point, that conviction dissolves into the hard and fast understanding that I am awareness and then there’s no more discussion about it at all. And then it’s just I AM.

Q. I know Ramana Maharshi talks about two very distinct points – there’s an initial point where there is ‘self realization’ but the vasanas are still active; then there’s another point where the vasanas have burnt out and there is only I AM.

Absolutely. And you no longer assume the point of view of a jiva or an individual. The tension has gone.

One of the great gods in India is called Sri Ram and he appears as a deity with his bow, the bow is always unstrung; the bow being a symbol of the jiva, the ego.

And why doesn’t it have a string on it? Because there’s no tension in it! He’s totally free of tension and that’s the meaning of that symbol. The tension is borne of the belief that I am limited and incomplete and I’m in relationship to this world and I’ve got to negotiate my way through, avoiding this and gaining that, which basically wears you out and doesn’t provide you with any real peace.

—Paula Marvelly, Nonduality Blog

about the author

James Swartz

James Swartz grew up in Montana and graduated from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin. He briefly atended University of California at Berkeley before finding his niche in the world of business. He saw great success as a businessman, but in 1967 he experienced a major epiphany that turned him away from that path. Instead, he traveled to India on a spiritual journey, searching for the path to enlightenment. It was here that he learned of the famous Indian sage Swami Chinmayananda, whose knowledge and teachings proved to be the means to set James free.

Now a disciple of the sage, James travels extensively to cities in America, Europe, and India to hold seminars on Vedanta, the science of self-inquiry. He has previously self-published two non-fiction books: Meditation: An Inquiry into the Self (1998) and The Mystery Beyond the Trinity (1998).

James Swartz's website is