Guru Of The Universal God
File under: The Siddhi of PR
As we were trying to scrape something up to write about, we saw an ad with this Melissa Etheridge blurb: "A commonsense approach [leading] to inner peace." The link led us to God Without Religion, a website and a book written by the seemingly very learned and well-disciplined Sankara Saranam:
After living as an ascetic for nearly two decades, engaging day and night in sophisticated methods of sense-introversion, and eventually coming to an inner understanding of how the human sense of identity manifests, I felt burdened by my discovery and needed to share what I'd found.We believe we know how the human sense of identity manifests, too! It's all about significance, how the mind ranks its catalog of memories, ideas and emotions. But let's get back to Sankara. We're admittedly a bit envious of his credentials. He's also:
... formally studied engineering, music, Eastern classics, and comparative religion in universities, and [has] lived as a monk.It sounds like he's almost ready to walk on water! And we do like the idea of God beyond religion. That's pretty much how it has been all along. That's why a Muslim, a Hindu and a Christian can all have authentic religious experience and yet believe each other to be in league with demons. As Ramakrishna said: "As many faiths, so many paths."
But our lurve went swimming with the penguins when we read this:
The sense of self, or identity, can expand to include all of humanity, regardless of nationality, beliefs, ethnicity, race, gender, or lifestyle.Sankara's namesake, Adi Shankara, would beg to differ on that point. The sense of self, whether limited to an individual or seemingly containing the whole world, is still a limitation of who we really are. It is illusory from the regard of that truth.
This "expansion" of the sense of self is simply a manipulation of the ego. That's not to say it's wrong to identify with others. Empathy and compassion are good for you and the world. But stretching your identification to include your experience is like smearing yourself into your surroundings, and this is one of the occluding monsters in spiritual culture. Self-realization does not result in feeling identified with one's surroundings. It can only result in one thing, recognizing that one has always been the Self, which has connection only to itself and lies completely in, and yet completely outside the phenomenal world.
We sent Sankara an email through his site asking what such a statement has to do with self-realization. We'll share his answer if he gets back to us. Until then, we can't really recommend Sankara Saranam and his book as a source of information about self-realization. But we always recommend that everyone start their own religion. We all have that anyway, so we may as well be as freestyle as we wanna be, yo!