Thursday, March 19, 2009

Advaita Ad on Facebook


Across my foundering deck (aka Facebook) has flashed this ad: 10 Week Course in Practical Philosophy. Sounds intriguing, I thought. Wonder what they mean by "practical" philosophy, I thought. Wonder if they need any online instructors, I thought. So I hit the icon. Then I read:

This course is for anyone who’s asked themselves ‘What am I doing here?’, who wants to expand their world, their thinking, and the view they have of themselves.

Discussions are underpinned by the philosophy of unity, or Advaita, a universal, non-denominational teaching literally meaning ‘not two’. This is Eastern in origin, but of universal application because it points to the unity underlying all things....


Advaita is a universal non-denominational teaching that points to the unity underlying all things. The key principle is that within each of us there is something that is common to all and is unchanging, pure and free.
Many people believe the concept of Advaita is implicit in Western teachings and philosophical works including the Bible, Plato, Shakespeare and Emerson.


The School believes this philosophy to be of real value in dealing with the problems that arise in our everyday lives, and also with the conflicts between communities and nations.

The approach to teaching philosophy is essentially practical, based on the notion that the only way we can really know something is to observe or experience it for ourselves. Participants are therefore asked neither to accept nor reject the ideas put forward for discussion, but instead to put them to the test in practical experience, and use what is found to be valid and helpful.


Does anybody know anything about these people? It sounds like quite a racket, if not something worse. Are they affiliated with these people?

(from the FAQ's:)

Who are the instructors?
Following the principle of learn and teach, instructors are appointed on the basis of having a firm understanding of the philosophic principles. They have attended the School for a number of years and demonstrated an appreciation of the practice of philosophy in their daily lives. All instructors remain students as well since the learning process never ends. No remuneration is received for tutoring in the School.

How much does it cost?
In New York City, the cost is $175 for the 10 sessions with a price of $85 for full-time students. If claiming a student discount, you will need to register in-person with your student-id. Check the Locations/Register page for details on other locations.


For distance learning:
The fee for this course, will be $100 for the ten sessions. In addition, we will schedule a one-on-one session prior to the first class to check out the technology and make sure you are comfortable with and capable of joining the web-conference.

Some final thoughts:

1) It's stuff like this that makes Christians suspicious of all philosophy, and interpret 1 Cor. 1:18-25 to be prohibiting it. But that is exactly what the Enemy wants. If he can't get us to hold a worldly philosophy, then he wants us to reject philosophy altogether. Anything but having the mind of Christ!

2) "Many people believe the concept of Advaita is implicit in Western teachings and philosophical works including the Bible, Plato, Shakespeare and Emerson." How many of us would be able to engage in a discussion with the instructors, to challenge the idea that the Bible is consistent with Advaita?

3) Since the economic collapse, I'm noticing that people are more open, seeking answers to these perennial questions: "What can I trust?" "What is real?" "Is there some one thing which underlies and unites everything, or is what is real just a lot of diverse, individual things?" "Is everything changing, or is there anything that is unchanging?" "Is it spiritual or material?"

Christians are the only people who can give a both-and response to these questions, rather than take one side against the other. This is because we believe God is Trinity. We need to be able to communicate the Father, incarnate the Son and be led by the Spirit, so as to provide the waters of Life to those who are metaphysically thirsty.

4) I'm remembering Steve's sermon last Sunday, where he preached on this very passage, as he works his way through Corinthians:

"What Paul is trying to get across to us is that we must never expect Christian faith, especially the message of the Cross at the center of our faith, to be justified by popular practical wisdom. Whenever we think that our faith can be justified in terms of what the world wants and values, then we’ve abandoned real Christianity, abandoned the message that the world in all its seeming wisdom just can’t understand."

Our faith can be justified, though, in terms of Christ's power to transform us, to make us into the people we really ought to be. May we live out our faith in Him, not only with our minds, but in our hearts, souls, bodies and relationships with others.

3 comments:

Ann said...

Beth, I noticed this in the Advaita ad wording: "Participants are therefore asked neither to accept nor reject the ideas put forward for discussion, but instead to put them to the test in practical experience, and use what is found to be valid and helpful."
ISTM that life is FAR too short for us to accept every idea put forward and test each one in practical experience. We'll be dead before we get a clue, particularly if we trust in our human wisdom (cf. Steve's sermon!) to guide which ideas we test first!

jerry said...

I'd be suspicious too, if no names of teachers are given. The Christian Bible has all the great teachings within it, so no reason to look elsewhere, unless you are intellectually curious.

Beth B said...

5/24/09 Since I wrote this it looks like the Advaita folks have taken down their site. All the more reason to be suspicious...