by Tarun Sardana
Advaita is the traditional and stepwise teaching of nonduality. If you’re looking for a brief book about Advaita that you can fall in love with, get Dissolved.
Dissolved is a delightful-to-hold-in-your-hands, attractively designed 90 page book. It is a dialogue between a seeker and a sage.
Dissolved is a gently told Advaita: a study of mind; a question of illusion; an enquiry, “Who am I?”; a surrender to the Guru, to the Self; a dialogue on spontaneous action, pre-determination, fearlessness.
This is an easily received Advaita, too: a questioning of the world of duality and reactivity; a confession of living in the world when established in the Self; an addressing of pain and sorrow.
Dissolved is a practical Advaita: impermanence; the nature of happiness; renunciation, diet, helping out the world, alcohol and drugs; all these topics enter the dialogue and are crisply addressed.
Dissolved is a full Advaita: in the end there is the dissolution into Self through surrender to the Guru and via self-enquiry.
Dissolved is filled with stories and metaphors, some of which you may have heard and all of which are heard freshly once again.
In the following fragment, the Guru plays the role of seeker and the seeker Vivek plays the role of Guru; this is done to test Vivek’s knowledge, or perhaps the reader’s knowledge, or perhaps it is a pure demonstration of the play of Self:
Guru Ji: But still how can [the Self-realized being] meet people, who give him hatred and abuses, with love?
Vivek: What happens when one throws a stone in the ocean?
Guru Ji: Water gets splashed.
Vivek: Does the ocean splash back stones in return? No. The ocean only has water to give. No matter what you throw it, it will only throw water back. Similarly, a Self-realized being is an ocean of love. He has only love to share. No matter what you throw in, you will only get love. There is nothing else in there.
Guru Ji: Still … How is this possible? I know, you will say they don’t see anything separate from them, they see only the Self, etc., etc.
As the dynamic between Vivek and Guru Ji plays out, the reader eventually joins to make a trinity. Sometimes the reader takes the attitude of seeker, sometimes the sage. In this way, the reader eventually becomes another character, merging with, dissolving into Guru Ji and Vivek, so that all three characters become one.
In the beginning, the seeker Vivek asks his Guru for help in understanding who he is. In the end, there is dissolution into the Self, into consciousness. Dissolved, therefore, is a full-cycle, concise version of the teaching of Advaita.
Whether the reader dissolves into Vivek and Guru Ji, or dissolves into Self, or sits back with a cup of tea and dissolves a spoonful of sugar into it, this book serves up many levels of rewards.
Perhaps you are seeking a beginning education in Advaita, or further practice of self-inquiry, or maybe you only want to enjoy the dialogue, the stories within, the story at large, the teaching, the expression. In only 90 pages of gentle dialogue, poetry, and storytelling, Dissolved offers all this, all you could and could not imagine.
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Purchase “Dissolved” from any of the following places:
Interview with Tarun Sardana
Photo: Tarun Sardana
How about a brief bio?
I was born in May 1979. I stay in Delhi, India with my parents, my wife and my two and a half years old son. I started my career as a software professional in year 1999 and was working as a project manager with an MNC before KnowI was founded.
How did you stumble into Truth? Any childhood stories?
My Grandmom and mom are spiritual followers from as long as I can remember. They used to go to the satsangs every Sunday and would also take me along with them. We had a scripture at home called ‘Satvastu ka Kudrati Granth’ which means ‘Sacred scriptures of Satyug as revealed by the nature’. They used to read it daily and share with me and my younger brother their spiritual experiences. That was how I was initiated to the truth. While in school, we were taught the history of Sikhism as part of our curriculum as it was a Sikh school. The curriculum was about the ten Sikh gurus, their encounter with the truth and their brief biographies. The biographies really interested me. I always wanted to understand what is ‘that’ which every scripture points at. I used to lock myself for our hours in a room meditating and seeking that truth, seeking God until one day when I came across one of Ramana Maharishi’s article on web which changed my direction of the search from finding God to finding the one who is seeking God.
How did Dissolved come about?
‘Dissolved’ is a book that came as a spontaneous expression as part of my own spiritual journey.
What Advaita teachers do you recommend?
I believe all the teachers are good, it really depends on the seeker which pointers suit his temperament the best. My introduction to Advaita was through Shri Ramana Maharishi’s and Nisargadatta Ji Maharaj’s teachings. Though, I have not met anyone of them in person. I did visit Shri Ramana Maharishi’s ashram in Tiruvannamalai back in 2007.
Why did you write this book as a dialogue?
Before the silence takes over, this is how a conversation happens in one’s mind – in a dialogue form. Therefore the book was written in a dialogue form.
How do you create an effective pointer to truth?
Usually the truth that one experiences is inexpressible in words, so to communicate one tries to relate it with the closest example from life. It happens as a spontaneous expression rather than a thought out one.
On your website, www.knowi.org, you speak about workshops and trainings. What are you offering or planning to offer? How would Dissolved be used in such an offering?
KnowI has been formed to serve as a platform to facilitate knowing the “I” through various mediums like publications, articles, workshops, talks… etc… Dissolved plays an important role in such offerings as it covers most of the aspects of the so-called spiritual journey.
I don’t think you use the word “surrender” in Dissolved and yet this book is certainly about surrender. Why did you decide to describe surrender rather than speak directly about how to surrender, as you did with self-enquiry?
‘Surrender’ is the only way to the Self. Surrender means admitting one’s powerlessness and this can only happen when one clearly sees its powerlessness. And self-enquiry does the same. It reveals the powerlessness and non-existence of the mind separate from the Self and thus leading the mind to surrender. Therefore, the book talks about the Self-enquiry, letting the mind to see the truth and thereafter surrender to follow naturally.
How did you want the reader to respond to Dissolved?
As the book says, “Dissolved is the result of every Self-enquiry, which is dissolving of the non-existent ego-self in the Self.” The book expects the same to happen. Dissolved moves as a journey from Vivek (a character in the book) to no-Vivek. If while reading they can make the same journey, the book will achieve its purpose.
What are you doing to change the educational system to a transformational institution founded in truth and awareness?
The current education system is being followed and practiced since ages. The employment sector and everything else is completely based on the present education system. Therefore, sudden transformation of the system may not be possible. Realizing that, KnowI has started an initiative called KnowI Education, which attempts to provide a supplement to the current education system i.e. not making changes in the current education system but providing a supplement to what lacks there.
More details about KnowI Education can be found at:
by Tarun Sardana
Purchase “Dissolved” at any of the following places:
Review and interview by Jerry Katz