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There are many so called enlightened teachers in the West who are offering satsangs, courses and retreats and James Swartz is one of them. That is just another big joke ; He is teaching the traditional Vedanta and he was a disciple of Swami Chinmayananda in India. I am completely aware that trying to find out if somebody is enlightened is not going to help me towards my own liberation. But this post is somewhat like a question; I am not saying any conclusive statements about his enlightenment.
I just find it questionable. I also want to stress on the fact that a person who is not enlightened cannot really help others towards realization; It will be like a blind man leading other blind men. At the same time, one must be aware that if he or she is a true seeker and have a real thirst to know the truth, being with a false Guru or unenlightened teacher is not going to be a problem.
Also, there is also a well known saying: A Guru will appear when a disciple is ready. It will automatically happen. But, there are people who get impressed with the talks of so called enlightened people who are not really enlightened. And, usually, there is really no way to tell if a person is enlightened or not; Only a true liberated person can recognize another liberated person. But there are some signs which may indicate that somebody is not enlightened. In India, so many books are published on Vedanta and thousands of people read them.
So, there needs to be a presence of a realized Guru to guide the people. Now, Let us get back to James Swartz. The first thing that I want to talk about is the enlightenment quiz that he has in the website. It has 34 questions and just by answering the quiz, he says, will give you an idea if you are enlightened or not.
Then I answered the quiz and scored 87, which means that I am enlightened. But this seems to be a big joke and utter nonsense. If you are a little intelligent and if you read some of his articles, you can score above 90, especially if you are good in answering quizzes.
The quiz only tests your ability to understand things and your memory. Why would a real enlightened person will have such an unnecessary and misleading quiz in his website? James also says in an interview that he comes to know about at least a number of enlightened people every year based on this quiz. So, I assume he says that based on the emails he might be receiving from people who answered the quiz with a score more than 80 or Also,when it comes to the usage of words, each and every person might use a word in different sense.
For Vedantins , everything is Self but for Buddhists, there is no self at all. So, even if somebody who is truly enlightened takes the quiz, he still might not pass the quiz because he might be using the words mentioned in the quiz in a slightly different sense. I found a lot of criticisms by James Swartz against Osho.
But a lot of things he says about Osho is completely incorrect. Rajneesh perverted the tantric concept that the essence of every experience is Awareness. Tantra is a very broad concept that applies to every conceivable kind of experience and insists that its practitioners enjoy the same qualifications as those practicing Vedanta sAdhana. Zorba was not a bad guy but was he emotional!
He was the original party animal: lusty and enthusiastic in his pursuit of pleasure. As is well known the Buddha was a holy ascetic. First of all, Osho didnt pervert the tantric concept. Osho has talked about all techniques of Vigyan Bhairav Tanra, which includes various techniques and only about 5 or 6 techniques talk about sex. Many people misunderstand Osho as a sex guru and James is criticizing Osho based on the incorrect public opinion.
But people understood it the wrong way and thought that Osho was preaching people to do more sex. That notion is completely wrong. Even in that book, Osho teaches the way to go beyond the sexual desires by bringing awareness to it. When we become more and more alert and aware, the desires stop by themselves. In all the other books of Osho, he covers a wide range of topics from different traditions like Yoga, Zen, Vedanta, Buddhism, Christian mystics, Hasidism, Sufism and more..
Osho said that it is not completely necessary to abandon the family, renounce everything and stay poor to realize ones true nature. He says that one can be rich both in the inner and the outer world. For example, King Janaka, the father of Sita in Ramayana was a realized being but he was the king of a whole empire. Osho simply says that one can be like Janaka or Zorba and can still realize their own self. Zorba is just a way to exaggerate his point on this.
He picked up the extreme example of Zorba in a poetic way. In my opinion, when Zorba and Buddha is brought together in a man, he actually gets balanced in the middle. He is actually asking people to follow the way of Buddha without suppressing the part of Zorba who is in each and every individual. He will have a life, but he will not know who he is. He will not know the meaning of existence.
He will never come to experience the deathlessness of life, the eternity of his existence — that he has been here always, and will be always; only forms change. He will never enter into his own center. He will always remain in the cyclone, very busy, concerned with everything except himself. And the center of the cyclone is the most ecstatic experience, the ultimate experience of human consciousness.
Beyond that there is nothing; you have arrived home. You can arrive home, you can be at your center — what prevents you from laughing? In fact, you should be the only one who can really laugh, can become laughter; who can really love, can become love itself — where the lover disappears and only love remains; one who can dance and dance to such abandon that the dancer is completely gone, there is only dance.
That will create a unity in you; your body and soul will have a unity. If you are one, you would like to dance in the open air under the sun. That will be your real prayer. Nothing is said, nothing is asked, but you are showing your gratitude to existence.
Zorba the Buddha will not only destroy the split in man, it will destroy the split in society. There is no question of escaping from anything. Every moment everything has to be enjoyed without any guilt, without any inhibition. But all the religions have been against it. I proclaim with this manifesto a totally new sky for religious consciousness: the sky of completion, the joining of the inner and the outer, of the material and the spiritual, of Zorba and the Buddha. James is not only criticizing Osho but many other teachers.
The transmission between Buddha and Mahakasyapa is a perfect example. In fact, it accords Upadesa Saram the status of an Upanishad. However, Ramana was not a teacher. He said so himself. He spoke to whomever was in front of him according to the understanding of that person. Nor does it mean that either statement is untrue, given the context. But when you put them together they seem to contradict each other. So there should be a way to resolve these apparent contradictions.
This clearly shows that James is trying to stick to an organized teaching where as a true enlightened master will really talk to a seeker according to his level. What is the use of reading some mere information and committing them to memory from an organized teaching alone? James may say that he is already doing that, but from what I have observed he only seems to give more importance in just the load of information alone.
In fact,from what I have seen, a realized Guru gives an organized teaching only a secondary importance. A realized Guru always speaks from his own authority and he only uses the information available in an organized teaching as an additional device. While James Swartz dismisses most of the so called spiritual teachers as self-deluded May it is true, but I am pointing out that his desperate interest in doing this only shows his interest in showing himself superior , he himself has authorized some of his students to teach and declared them as enlightened.
I think it is very easy to convince James that you are enlightened, you just have to parrot what he says but show some confidence on what you are saying and act as if it comes from your own understanding. If what you say agrees with what he says, then James Swartz will probably declare you as enlightened.
Because, from what I have observed, how much of what you say is aligned with traditional Vedanta is the only criteria that he will use to decide if you are enlightened or not. His enlightenment quiz is a perfect example for that.
In that excerpt, Ted comments about J. Krishnamurti and Ramesh Balseker. Krishnamurti is a liberated person and he is also a great orator who has been admired by a lot of people for his clarity and wisdom. I can say, however, that while both gave voice to the non-dual nature of reality, neither employed a teaching methodology that systematically unfolded the implied meaning of scriptural statements or utilized any of the traditional prakriyas i.
In addition, neither offered any practical means of preparing the mind for the assimilation of self-knowledge.
Though the apparent reality is entirely dependent on pure awareness for its existence, pure awareness is entirely free of and uninvolved in the apparent reality. Moreover, in terms of the law of karma, the whole purpose of the apparent reality is to provide an arena in which limited entities execute limited actions and enjoy limited results.
Thus any attempt to impose such principles as limitlessness, attributelessness or actionlessness on the limited entities that exist within the dualistic context of the apparent reality, whose very existence is defined in terms of distinguishable attributes and discrete actions, is completely untenable.
In short, in their best moments both Krishnamurti and Ramesh Balsekar spout the highest truth, yet fail to provide any viable means of assimilating it. This again shows the same interest of their whole group in putting down other teachers, especially people like J. Ted goes on saying that J. Krishnamurti had a confusion in understanding absolute reality and relative reality.
How to Attain Enlightenment by James Swartz
Overall, I found this to be a valuable and insightful discussion on nonduality, Vedanta, enlightenment etc. It was clear, concise, and interesting to read. There is some excellent discussion on what Not bad. I read it once then put it up for resale on Amazon.
James Swartz: How to Attain Enlightenment
James Swartz – A Review and Critique by a Seeker
How to Attain Enlightenment: The Vision of Non-Duality
James Swartz often criticizes other teachers and their teaching. Although not criticizing the person, but the teaching. According to James, it is part of the vedanta tradition to oppose and criticize wrong ideas. Hopefully this is in line with such an attitude. In other words, nothing personal. In fact I like James. I spent 3 years listening to his teaching daily.