The concept of nonduality given by the Advaitins seems impossible to grasp and to accept to the normal Western mind and quite rightly so. This impasse must exist unless and until the situation is clarified and the only way to do so lies through mentalism. The human mind normally functions in a dualistic manner--that is, it identifies itself as a subject with an object of its consciousness outside. This dualism penetrates the practices followed on the Quest and the knowledge gained as a consequence of them. It cannot be got rid of until both subject and object are thrown into and unified by the pure consciousness--Mind--in which, from which, and by which all happens. In this connection a further point must be established. I have written admiringly of two great souls--Sri Ramana Maharshi and Shankaracharya of Kanchi, the spiritual head of South India. Now both these are strict followers of the original, the first Shankaracharya, who lived more than a thousand years ago, and they quote from his writings very frequently. Whoever studies those writings will discover that Adi Shankara, meaning the first Shankara, in his arguments against the Buddhists--especially those of the idealistic Yogacara and Vijnana schools--seems to reject idealism which is an incomplete form of mentalism. But let us not forget that Shankara was engaged in a campaign to reduce the power of Buddhism and increase the power of Hinduism. Let us not forget too that Buddha himself was not bound by any such bias; he was a free thinker and he did not hesitate to question the authority of the Vedas which Shankara followed and accepted. The Buddha rejected animal sacrifices and futile religious rituals, for instance. It is to Shankara's credit that he gave out the Advaitic teaching of nonduality--which is impossible for a Western mind in all its rationality to accept unless it falls into mysticism and yoga. Both the living Shankara and Ramana Maharshi were upholders of Hinduism. As I have said, the doctrine of nonduality is quite acceptable when presented with a mentalistic explanation or through a mystical experience, but not otherwise.
-- Notebooks Category 15: The Orient > Chapter 2: India > # 355
-- Perspectives > Chapter 15: The Orient > # 53