3 January, 2012, Tiruvannamalai. The popular classes on Advaita Vedanta started today. This year they are in a new and better facility, at Sunshine Guest House.
Here is a photo of James Swartz. He is also known as Ram, or respectfully as Ramji. James has been coming to Tiruvannamalai since the 1970s. He was introduced to Self-inquiry on his first trip to India as a young man. He has taken the time to study the classic teachings of Advaita Vedanta, and now gives classes in this. He teaches, not as a guru, but as someone well versed in Advaita.
Here is James Swartz, before the start of the first day’s session.
It is being held as the Sunshine Guest House, a new guest house about 1.4 km down Perumbakkam Road, west of Ramanasramam.
Here is Sunshine. It is quite a nice place to stay.
Upstairs, on the roof, is where the sessions will be. It is a very pleasant space, with views of Arunachala and Samudran Lake on either side.
This session will be based on a text I had not heard of, Panchadasi, by Vidyaranya, a 14th Century Swami. The text can be downloaded here. (Note it is about 100KB.)
Since I was unfamiliar with the text I looked into it. It seems deep and direct and comprehensive in terms of its presentation of Advaita Vedanta. It is intended for those who already have some spiritual maturity, not necessarily for one just starting out. It will be a good basis for this class.
The first day, James set the stage for the class and spent some time on what is needed to make one ready for this advanced text. The first is the knowledge that the source of happiness is really within. The next are what is called Sadhana Chatushtaya, or the “Requisites for Realization.” This includes viveka – discrimination, virāga – dispassion, sampatti — the sixfold qualities including peace of mind, self-control, faith, fortitude, etc, and finally Mumukṣutva — the desire for liberation. Starting on Friday, 4 January, 2013 he will start on the text, Panchadasi. The sessions will continue until the middle of February.
I guess there are 70 people here. There is room for many more. James’ voice is strong, so there is no trouble hearing.
This chart sits in front, by James. It shows Maya existing within Awareness. By the time the class is over, you should know what all this means.
View of Arunachala from Sunshine Guest House.
I think this will be a good set of classes. If interested, join them soon, so you will not miss much of the introductory material.