‘Vedanta Tells You That You Do Not Lack Anything’

Dhyana Eva Reuter, a spiritual teacher, is the disciple of Swamini Atmapraksanda and Swami Dayananda Saraswati. She conducts various courses on Advaita Vedanta, Jnana yoga, satsanga, workshops for conscious relationships and trainings in Germany with her husband Franz Reuter.

Dhyana delivers lectures at telesummits and is a speaker at international conferences. She helps troubled couples improve their lives. She helps them adopt a Vedic lifestyle. During an e-interaction, she tells Pratyasha Nithin about permanent happiness and how Vedanta leads to it. The interview has been conducted with inputs from Nithin Sridhar.

Please tell us about your life before your introduction to spirituality.

My first profession was a good preparation for Vedanta. When I was young, I worked as a director on scene at the theatre. Let me explain this. Most of the good German plays discuss the question, what is right and what is wrong behaviour. There was a need for this discussion, especially after the Holocaust and the Second World War. What is in conformity with universal values and what is against them? An inner conflict is shown on stage. How to overcome the inner weaknesses, shortcomings, greed, hatred, power or money issues? How to develop inner strength or maturity? If the people in the play do not succeed in developing a mature value structure when they act against Dharma, we can watch how those people get defeated or how they finally destroy themselves. Good literature is always discussing these themes. Is it possible to overcome our inner conflicts? Is it possible to develop compassion and peace of mind? How can we heal our torn souls? People enjoyed the way I was working and I was happy with my profession. At the same time, something was left unfulfilled. This was the spiritual pursuit. Hence, I started to meditate, to travel and to read spiritual books.

How has Advaita Vedanta helped you in finding the answer to “Who am I?”?

We have hypnotised ourselves into believing certain things about ourselves. This process starts very early in childhood due to ignorance of who we are. We believe that we are inadequate, that we are limited or mortal beings. We do not like ourselves very much. Vedanta shows the way to de-hypnotise ourselves and also helps us to recognise our true nature. All the false beliefs about ourselves get destroyed in this process. The self hypnosis has to be removed by de-hypnosis. This process will finally lead into the recognition “I am limitlessness, I am fullness”, or like Vedanta puts it: “aham purnaha, I am sat-chit-ananda-atma“, into the knowledge of the truth of who I am.

Tell us about your gurus Swami Dayananda Saraswati and Swamini Atmaprakashananda.

My husband Franz and I met Swamini Atmaprakashananda and Swami Dayananda in Arsha Vidya Gurukulam in Coimbatore. We were invited to participate in a retreat and were given the opportunity to study there for some time.

For me, Swamini Atmapraksanda is the best teacher. She always has a sense of what is understood by her students and what is not clear. Carefully, she unfolds the teaching, so that our minds are able to grasp the vision. She is always with us and is guiding us step by step until we are able to understand.

How is God perceived in terms of Vedanta?

Is there anything which is not God? We never do not perceive God, but we cannot perceive Him or Her directly. Is there anything which is away from that God? No. There is only God. This fact has to be understood carefully.

First, we should see what the individual is. Vedanta emphasises to shift the attention from the always-changing to the changeless. We finally arrive at Atma, which is one partless whole, which has no attributes, which does not come and go, which has no beginning and no end, which is never born, will never die, which is of the nature of consciousness. This Atma is to be recognised as the truth of myself, the individual.

How can we then arrive at the truth of the universe? Let us take the following example to illustrate it. Wave is water, every single wave that we see in the large ocean is water, and the entire ocean is also water.  Wave and ocean, both are water. Both have the same essence and we can now equate both to each other. Wave and ocean are water, wave and ocean must be essentially identical. The form is different, the essence is the same.

Brahman is a technical term for the truth of the universe. The truth of the universe is the same as the truth of the I. There are innumerable things which constitute this incredibly large universe. There are moving and non moving beings, living and inert things, and so on. When we ask ourselves: Out of which is one given thing made? It exists in the form of a form, the corresponding name, the corresponding function and an underlying, unseen existence. The object “is”. When we take non-existence, there will be an underlying existence or is-ness to that non-existence.

When we take name, form and function, nama, rupa and karmatmakam away from that given object, when we remove them cognitively, what will be left? There will be the existence, a non-negatable existence, which does not belong to that given object itself. More than that, it lends existence to the object itself, and we can regard the object as having a borrowed existence.

Now we have to take the next step. We can ask, In which form does the existence of the universe appear?  In which form appears the existence of the wave or the ocean? The existence of the wave and the ocean is in the form of water only. Similarly, the existence of the whole universe, the existence of everything, appears in the form of consciousness. Without water, there is no ocean or wave. Without consciousness, the universe is as good as non-existent.

We can recognise God in everything, as the truth of everything, as existence and consciousness. The universe is God, I am God, but God is not the universe and not the individual.

When finally the fact of non-duality is known, duality and multiplicity will disappear. Normally, we are identified with our organs of sense perception: seeing or hearing power, power of touch, smelling or tasting. This identification is not true. We are that, because of which the perception of the sense organs is known. We are that consciousness, which illumines the sense perceptions. All the differences and duality itself will disappear and finally they are resolved in one consciousness, in knowledge alone.

If these differences are resolved, there is no question of perceiving God, because nothing else is perceived.

Tell us something about the ‘Heal the inner child’ course.

This workshop will help participants to gain emotional maturity. When we want to develop “shama”, the sameness of the mind, as it is described in the Bhagavad Gita, we have to integrate our emotions. We have to become a whole person. A person, who is “together”.

Anger, hatred, fear and jealousy occur only in an unconscious mind. When they are not integrated, they have an existence of their own. Sometimes they get triggered by our husband, wife, our children, friends, employees and so on. Out of a sudden, they disturb us, they disturb our peace of mind and they start managing us. In fact, our lives are managed by emotions, by fears and desires.

We cannot get rid of the emotions. But we should understand what they mean. If anger gets triggered, there is always an angry person in us, mostly an unseen child. This child has to be recognised. When fear gets triggered, we have to search for the fearful child. There are conflicts underneath the emotions, that have to be understood. All this has to be seen. We can learn from every single emotion. This process of understanding will lead to a cheerful mind and to a relative shanti — peace.

On one hand, you conduct classes to improve the love life of couples, and on the other, you teach Advaita Vedanta, which basically promotes renunciation. Comment. 

There is a Vedic lifestyle recommended for couples. It has deeply transformed my own life and that of my husband, too. We can support each other as husband and wife, as man and woman in our growth, in our development to gain inner strength. Man and woman can start to acknowledge each other the way they are, serve each other and love each other in a non-demanding way. This love is dispassionate. It will lead us to freedom and inner peace. Is there anything to renunciate? Yes, there is. We have to withdraw ourselves from our likes and dislikes, from what we desire and what we fear. This will lead us to objectivity towards the partner, our husband or wife and towards life itself. We need a spiritual pursuit in our lives, even as a couple. This will free us from the ever demanding person, which is deeply hidden within the psyche and forms of our personality. In fact, we mix our own methods, body work, inner awareness skills, breathing exercises, communication skills, psychological work, etc. with the ancient wisdom of Vedanta.

Your advice to people who want quick results:

The mind of a samsari, someone who is caught in his likes and dislikes, wants quick results. Most people are seeking experiences, samadhis, bliss, peak experiences, to raise their kundalini, they want to feel good. They want to meditate and achieve the self to feel oneness. This is due to a lack of understanding, because the self cannot be achieved. You are already the self. There is never a time, when you are not the self. People who want quick results are not ready for Vedanta. They will not give up their misunderstandings. As Krishna says in the Gita, there are only a small number of people who are seeking moksha in terms of knowledge; and only a few of them are really prepared for this pursuit.

Can Vedanta lead to permanent happiness? How?

People all over the world are seeking fullness and happiness. This is a natural urge. The ajnani, the ignorant person, who does not have the knowledge of the self, has a sense of inadequacy, a sense of want, centred on I. The I itself is lacking of something. That “I lack” is the problem. I is the lacking person. And I want to get rid of this “I lack” centered on myself, I want to be free from this “I lack”. In fact, all desires stem from this “I lack” alone. But desires cannot fulfil this “I lack”. Most people are stuck with this. They try to fill the sense of “I lack” by objects, but it does not help. The inadequacy and the want still remains, because it is centred on the I itself.

Vedanta tells you that you do not lack anything. Now and then, people who hear about Vedanta begin to see and understand themselves free from this “I lack”. When they see themselves as something so beautiful, it feels like heaven inside. Now they have two versions of themselves: One is the sense of “I lack” centred on I, and then the heavenly self. At this point, a doubt may arise about their conclusions about themselves and they will start to inquire into that I.

And subsequently, they will want to hear more about themselves, about atma, the truth of everything. The beauty of Vedanta is so cogent and so convincing, that people, provided they are ready, will search for a competent teacher, like Swamini Atmaprakasananda or Swami Dayanada are, to continue their studies.

What are the benefits of Satsanga? Tells about the Satsanga sessions  in Germany.

Satsanga takes care. Satsanga prepares and Satsanga connects. To whom does it connect? To oneself. To the self. People suffer because of a false life pursuit, because of false values and the lack of knowledge of who they are. Satsanga prepares. In Satsanga, people start to hear about Vedanta, about their life pursuits, about Brahman and Iswara, about moksha, atma, about the non-demanding person, ahimsa and about universal values.

People react in different ways. The first thing most people want to achieve is to get rid of their problems. Most of them do not develop the necessary commitment for a more intensive study. But, they begin to be interested. Some of them will come back if they realise that the fundamental problem is not the world, but their wrong notion about themselves.

A verse from Advaita Vedanta which inspires you the most:

There are so many verses. They all reveal the truth of myself and are very beautiful. How to chose one of them? In our German Bhagavad Gita study group, we ended with verse 22 of chapter 6. It is about our nature, the atman, and says: “yasmin sthito na duhkena gurunaApi vicAlyate”. It translates into: “established in which, one is not affected even by a great sorrow.” If you know yourself, there is no more fear or sorrow, because there is nothing away from you. No situation, no event in life will cause you anxiety, worries or fear, because you are established in the truth. The Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita lead you step by step to the knowledge of yourself which lets you recognise that you are already free and that your nature is happiness.

What should be the ideal goal of life?

Life has to be lived. We are born into this life, into this family, into these circumstances, culture and so on. We do not really have a choice. The aim of the life is not death. Vedanta teaches, that there is no such thing like death. There is nothing to fix, to hold on, to control, and you need not make life more secure or pleasurable.

The goal of life is life itself. To live a life free from conflicts. How can this be possible? I have to understand that nothing really belongs to me. When we study the Gita, the lesson that we learn is, Bhagavan is everything and Bhagavan is the owner of everything. That means that I do not own anything. People and things are temporarily given to me for my use and growth.

If I cannot be with what is, I will start to live in my own world, like a dreamer in a dream world. I will be surrounded by toys like money, name, fame, big cars, watches, relationships and so on. Nothing is bad with this, but I have to understand, that this is a highly subjective world. I will be carried away by fancies, desires, anxieties and fears.

The goal of life is becoming real. To become objective with what is and to realise the simple person, that I already am. That simple person has an appreciating and cheerful mind. Simple here means not stupid. It means, I am free from inner conflicts, from likes and dislikes, I am free from a sense of ownership. I am a highly objective and at the same time simple person. What is the nature of that person? The “I” knows: I am of the nature of consciousness — chit svarupoham aham.