Blueprints for Awakening
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Reviews

Film-Book-Project

FILM
BLUEPRINTS FOR AWAKENING

Wisdom of the Masters

A TRULY BEAUTIFUL DVD! Great questions are posted to great teachers. This is a DVD that I will watch again and again because there is so much information and I will learn something new each time I watch it. The teachers seem sincere and honest. Most seem to be in agreement when answering the same question. EXCELLENT experience watching this DVD.

K. M. Coleman (KMC)


I more or less stumbled into "The Teaching". I have seen the film many times. The Indian Masters always touch me in a very soft and warm way. They are sparkling, vivid and sweet, and I can feel, this is the basis of true wisdom. Each Indian Master has his own expression, but they are all connected to this nameless Oneness. Even if you are not familiar with Advaita, you will find out, that by watching this film and reading this book you will be amazingly impressed by silence and vitality.

Astrid Bonfigt


The first time I have seen the Indian Masters film was together with friends and I was so touched that I bought it for myself. This it is really an amazing compilation of Indian wisdom that Premananda and his film crew have assembled here. Although I didn't know anything about Ramana Maharshi or Nonduality, I was totally fascinated by the interviews and watching the film, I felt somehow like coming home. Since then I have watched it maybe ten times, not so much because of what is spoken but rather because of the atmosphere. I can recommend this film (and also the book) to everyone who is interested in Nonduality or India's wisdom tradition, it brings it directly into your living room.

Vitoria


You can read many books about Advaita, Non-Duality, or Enlightenment, or perhaps take your search to the original land of much of this material, India. This DVD took me directly to this tradition, and to this powerful and sacred place without me having to take a 20 hour flight. The film is a series of intimate dialogues with Indian sages, gurus, masters, and also just normal people who have awakened to their nature.

I could really feel the essence of each person as they speak about a variety of topics, all of which relate directly to the teachings and sayings of the great Indian sage Ramana Maharshi. There are 16 people interviewed throughout the film, all of which create their own unique space, and have their own profound answers to questions such as; 'Who are you? What is enlightenment?

The questions asked in the dialogues are direct, simple, and very much to the heart of what we are looking for upon the 'spiritual path'. For example, there is wonderful moment when a woman states that the very title of the film denies the reality of enlightenment, that there are no blueprints, it just is as it is in every moment. This is direct from the heart of India, very special.

The DVD is interspersed with images of rural and everyday life in India, creating a lovely atmosphere and background to the words of the speakers. There could be more footage of the actual masters going about their day, but it's more important that we hear their words, and this is the main focus of the film.

A wonderful DVD.

Atmana


This dvd sends a very clear message on the illusions of enlightenment and allows space for understanding the deeper truth so that it may allow a person back to their original nature. I am very grateful to both the interviewer and the many wise people he has interviewed.

M. Patel


"This DVD is a call to awakening. The masters portrayed here have a profound message for all of us - We are already that which we seek. The range of masters is impressive and their contributions immense. Some of the questions that Premananda asks seem either a little obvious or else illustrate a lack of understanding of the what the Masters are saying, so I feel that there could have been some even deeper questions. However, they would probably have produced the same answers, as there is only ONE answer (or NO answer if you take things to their conclusion). Regardless, this DVD is a very significant contribution to our understanding and well done to Premananda for completing this project.

P. Cottingham


"The best film that I ever watched is called Blueprints for Awakening. Different spontaneous responses to a few fundamental questions by 16 indian masters/teachers, it is like different tones forming one great symphony – the symphony of awakening, of truth. If you simply listen, you cannot pull away of your own true self. You simply resonate with the music. Much Love, and thank you for your precious work!" April 5, 2009

Dhyani Maria


"I want to thank you for making the film "Blueprints for Awakening". Thank you so much. It was like I hold the holy grail in my hands. When I watched the film, I had to cry loudly the whole time. It touched me more then anything I've ever seen. In the last weeks, I have to cry a lot. Suddhananda said in the film: "The one who starts looking at himself, is like a river that changes direction and is vulnerable like a snake skinning itself." It's exactly the way I feel at the moment." March 27, 2009

Premgeet


"I saw the movie this evening with friends. I found it really beautiful. I love the way it is "open" without any given answer just taking masters are they are: masters. Thanks for the things you’re doing by producing film like the one you made. Thanks from the bottom of my heart. God bless you." February 16, 2009

Paola Furlanetto


"Get the DVD - watch it - and you will become still!!! What a wonderful film and book. I have red the book twice and seen the film 7 times and I look forward to do both again." November 27, 2009

Lakshmi


"Great job! The provocative interviews in the book and film can both inspire and provoke the readers and viewers to actually enquire into themselves and wake up and find out first hand who they are, prior to concepts, ideas, and beliefs. Thank you" November 26, 2008

Krishna


"Premanandaji , Congratulations to the manifestation of "Blueprints for Awakening". I just finished waching it after I walked 7km through the snowcovered landscape under a starry winter night sky to the postbox last nite to find the DVD. Thank you. It really touched me deeply specially Radha Ma, Sachinanda, Swamini Pramananda, Kiran & Swami Suddhananda . But of course all of them are very special. Heartlight from Kailash" November 24, 2008

Kailash Kokopelli


"A beautiful book and an incredible film! Even after 35 times watching it, it is still very touching. Such a treasure to see and feel these Indian Masters and their playfulness and joy." November 24, 2008

Mahima


"The films are so interesting and I understand, learn such a lot from them. Blessed the maker! Thank you Premananda. I hope to meet you sometime in Belgium. I really enjoy watching . I want to study more, to understand more and this is made possible by this film." November 18, 2008

Mana Betty Gorissen


"I love the trailer. I feel touched and so glad that such people exist. Looks like Premananda has done a great and very worthwhile job. Excellent. Lots of love and appreciation. This is good enough to be a life's work." November 2, 2008

Paul Lowe



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Film-Book-Project

BOOK
BLUEPRINTS FOR AWAKENING

Wisdom of the Masters

Premananda is one of the many Osho sannyasins who found a safe haven after their master's death at the bosom of Papaji, a direct disciple of the illustrious Ramana Maharshi.

Papaji was a friendly man, a lot more open than Osho to declare each and everyone 'enlightened' - among them dubious characters like Andrew Cohen and Arjuna Ardagh- and sending them out in the world to give satsang. But whereas most other Westeners often had a rather arrogant attitude to the tradition and the philosophy they are supposed to represent, British-born Premananda clearly has respect for the Indian roots behind Ramana and the vedantic spirituality.

In this book he has the brilliant idea to travel around India to find and interview Indian Masters on their views about the basic concepts of Ramana. To question them about their experiences and their philosophical and existential outloooks. And their views on enlightenment, spritual practice, meditation, reincarnation.

Some are disciples of Maharshi, others are well-known spiritual figures like Ramesh Balsekar and the late Ajja. There is also an enlightened Osho-disciple Samdarshi, whereas the radical nihilism of U.G. Krishnamurti is represented by Kiran. But above them all shines the gorgous Radha Ma, a truly 'natural born mystic' whose spontaneous and fresh answers stir the heart and soul.

All this makes very compelling reading. You meet some powerful human beings and get lots of stuff for thought (and no-thought!). A profound book that can enlighten your life.

Bodhi Heeren


An excellent idea, brilliantly realized by Premananda in this book, was to ask a number of acknowledged Indian teachers essentially the same set of questions. This enables one directly to compare the differing styles of teaching and the extent to which they are able to communicate the truth about the Self and the world. He chose to use, as his set of questions, those addressed in Ramana Maharshi's booklets `Who Am I?' and ` Self-Enquiry' and these are key elements in the understanding of Advaita.

Accompanying the book is a DVD showing short extracts from the interviews and there is a longer version that can be purchased separately. These are useful to gain a sense of the `aura' surrounding these teachers, their `aliveness' and sense of humor etc. But the book itself contains the complete material and there is no danger of distraction by such aspects as struggling to understand accents or grammar.

The significant advantage of a book such as this over the typical `satsang transcription' type of book common in the West is that, here, we have an informed questioner rather than seekers with varying degrees of prior understanding. Premananda is able to tease out valuable explanations of key points, thereby avoiding the potential for confusion.

The main aspect that struck me was the widely differing levels of ability to transmit understanding, regardless of whether or not these teachers are truly enlightened. What is said ranges from what I would term `mystical mumbo-jumbo' and the neo-advaitin views common in the West, through the simple faith of the more traditional bhakta style to the deep and reasoned understanding, and ability to communicate this to others. One tends to have the notion that perhaps few Western teachers are both enlightened and able to communicate well; that maybe most are probably not enlightened and tend to speak in unsubstantiated, psychological or mystical language, with many using the absolutist and totally unhelpful pronouncements of neo-advaita. And again one tends to think that the `real' teachers, who both know and are able to pass on that knowledge, are all in India. The interviews in this book show such a belief to be unjustified.

In mitigation, it must be recognized that the teachers are answering Premananda's questions in the latter's presence. So, although the understanding may be there (for both parties), the audience is not. The audience will be the readers of the book. They are unable to ask further questions for clarification and the teacher is not in their presence so as to be able to gain feedback and make an appropriate response. The only way around this problem is to take explanations step by step, beginning from a certain ground and using reason to advance to the conclusion, so that the reader is certain to be able to follow. (This argument applies equally to Western satsang books, of course.)

The clear message that I derived from reading the book is summed up by Swami Dayananda: "Go to a teacher who is very well informed, who has teachers. If someone says, `I have not studied anywhere', leave him alone - don't learn from him." And he is referring to sampradAya, here [the tradition or established doctrine of teaching from master to pupil through the ages]. It is necessary to acquire the skills that have been passed down for generations - the stories, metaphors and their meaning; and the systematic methodology of traditional Advaita - so as to be able to represent the truth to the seeker. Knowing the truth on its own is not sufficient.

This book is therefore something of a revelation in that, whether intentional or not, it demonstrates that (assuming the selection to be representative) India is pretty much in the same situation as the West! It does seem common to very many teachers that they make `pronouncements': "This is the way things are (because I say so and I have realized the truth). Just accept it and maybe eventually you will realize it for yourself (perhaps if you keep coming to my satsangs)". This sounds very harsh but shows up in sharp contrast to those teachers in Swami Dayananda's lineage, for example, where statements are always backed up by solid reasoning so that you feel you have understood at the end, even if you cannot yet really `take it on board'.

I suspect that Premananda is not going to agree with me on this. And this may be because he actually met all of these teachers and knows that they are sincere, selfless etc. And I am not suggesting that this is not the case - just that in some cases, on the strength of their responses to the questions, they are not good teachers!

In fact, it occurs to me that `Blueprints' provides an excellent companion to my own book `Enlightenment: the Path through the Jungle'. The latter provided theoretical justification for the assertion that traditional, sampradAya teaching is superior to satsang and neo-advaita. The book under review seems to provide the practical and anecdotal evidence for this!

Dennis Waite, author of Back to the Truth: 5000 years of Advaita


I truly appreciate the marvelous work done by this author. All sixteen masters are remarkable and very inspiring indeed.

BlessMe


This book is a beautiful and profound collection of interviews. Some of the wisest souls and purest minds are interviewed in a way that asks simple and penetrating questions. 'Who are you?' 'What is Enlightenment?' It's so amazing to see all these beautiful teachers sharing what is a timeless wisdom, to know they are alive, and that the truth they are sharing is possible in any lifetime for anybody. Thank you for this.

Edward

This book was really interesting for me as it comes from a Westerner's (Premananda) vision of mapping the spirit of Indian Sages, from the intial inspiration of Sri Ramana Maharshi. As such the questions asked really get to the heart of what a lot of seekers want to know; like 'What is enlightenment, Who am I, etc....

Very beautifully in this book, the speakers create a sense of grace around all these subjects. Ajja, Ramesh, and Radha Ma ( I don't like to pick them out usually ) especially speak with such directness and clarity, that it doesn't matter if you get something from them, for the words themselves take you to that place of silence, and the mind is simply quietened.

Sometimes I got the feeling that the Western perspective was quite oppressive on the Indian Masters, but that's just another challenge. How great that the two old divisions, West and East, are meeting like this in dialogue.

The varied teachers present their responses to the questions in different ways, so it is always a change in the next chapter, with the new flavours of these enlightened people. The message, however, is always the same, they are pointing to the truth of who we are, the truth of Oneness.

It is a delight to receive the wisdom in this book, to hear the advice, or just to enjoy the conversations and the pointers to wisdom.

A beautiful book.

Atmana


BLUEPRINTS FOR AWAKENING, INDIAN MASTERS, Compiled and Edited by Premananda. Open Sky Press 2008, 360 pgs.

This is arguably the best and finest introduction to the hallowed teaching of Advaita Vedanta that has ever appeared. Sixteen enlightened Indian Masters are skilfully interviewed by the gifted western Advaita teacher Premananda. He asks each chosen Sage, the same twelve pertinent questions, which penetrate straight to the core, examining the vexed question of `What Is Enlightenment?' and how does one reach that exalted state? Fortunately for the reader the great Masters selected are Indian, deeply steeped in their country's magnificent Advaitic Tradition . A tradition which has blessed India; and has been her great gift to humanity, since the days of the ancient Rishis.

The modern Masters who Premananda painstakingly interviewed and filmed over several years, reads like a roll call of the renowned modern Masters of Non Dual wisdom. This finely printed and beautifully designed book is lavishly illustrated with striking portraits of all the Sages who are questioned.

The book commences with Sri Hans Maharaj, who opens this Grand Satsang with a clear message of Refined Spirituality, Peace and Love. He stresses the need for ardent determination to probe inwards to the centre of one's Being, so as to find one's own Truth, behind the veil of accumulated tendencies. Then there is the aged, highly respected and wise Sri Ajja from Karnataka who emphasises the great efficacy of Self Enquiry. Next, we move on to Mumbai, home of that eloquent pupil of Nisargaddata Maharaj, Ramesh Balsekar, who fundamentally attacks the mistaken notion of `personal doership', out of compassion for the thousands of seekers and devotees who knock at his ever open door.

Then there is the young Sri Brahman, who can often be found sitting in the Jubillee Hall at Ramanasramam and is ever willing to help enquirers in their search for a Guru to help them on their way. He urges the need for finding Inner Peace before the serious sadhana of Self Enquiry can commence. Then comes Swami Dayananda, perhaps the most traditional of modern Indian Masters. He is steeped in the wisdom of the Vedas and Upanishads and teaches the time tested, traditional approach to this whole question of `Awakening'. Also from Tiruvannamalai is that great soul, the eloquent Sri V. Ganesan, grand nephew of Sri Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi, whose teaching he has scrupulously followed, and practiced since his youth.

He is followed by D.B. Gangoli, author of many important books on Vedanta, and once the senior sports writer for the Times of India! He masterfully teaches the way of the householder. Then we have Kiran, a former industrialist, a pupil of Osho, and great admirer of the late, radical teacher U.G.Krishnamurti. Next comes Nannagaru, who has a vast following in Andhra Pradesh. He is a devote of Ramana Maharshi, and now thanks to his master's grace exhibits the amazing power of that Silence, which can evoke a sense of the Real Self in the fortunate recipient of his Grace. The first woman Master in this book, is the youthful Swamini Pramananda, a gifted pupil of Swami Dayananda Saraswati. She also teaches the well tested, traditional approach to this whole question.

A new and radiant face on the scene, also from Tiruvannamalia, is the gracious Rhada Ma, who occasionally gives satsang in Tiruvannamalai , and has several devotees studying there, in her Advaita Monastery. Then we have Samdarshi from Kanpur, who teaches the well known `Osho Seven Steps to Enlightenment Programme'. Next, in this inspiring galaxy of spiritual masters, comes Swami Satchidananda, a pupil of the celebrated Swami Ramdas, the Sage of unconditional love, who now runs his Master's former Ashram.

A third feminine Guru is the venerable Ma Souris, who like her father was an earnest devotee of Ramana Maharshi. Her teaching can be found in her book `A Memory'. Next we have an interview with Swami Suddhananda, a pupil of the esteemed Swami Chinmayananda, also a world traveller teaching his Master's pure Advaita Vedanta. Finally there is the venerated Thuli Baba, also from Tiruvannamalai, and a pupil of his father Sri Gurudev, both father and son were devotees of the legendary Ramana Maharshi.

The twelve questions that Premanda asked these Masters were skillfully designed to unfold and explain the teachings of Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi as set out in his original, seminal Essays `Who Am I?' and `Self Enquiry'. The full text of the invaluable `Who Am I?' essay, is given at the close of this book. Ramana Maharshi has probably been more than anyone else, responsible for the Advaita Renaissance , now sweeping India and the Western world.

This book is a marvellous collection of authentic sage wisdom-teaching, perfectly designed to give the correct pointers to Self Realisation for to-days seekers after essential Truth. Premananda, himself a gifted teacher of Advaita, is to be congratulated on his dedicated work in interviewing these great Sages so capably, and eliciting from them, the fruit of their practical experience. This book is strongly recommended as a superb introduction for all those, who find themselves, drawn to this great inner quest, to discover their True Nature of who they really, really are! As an added bonus the book also contains a delightful DVD sampler, for the complete film that Premananda made, while he was interviewing to-day's principal Indian Masters.

Alan Jacobs President Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK


"Just finished reading your book, Blueprints for Awakening. Loved it! Would recommend it to anyone seeking peace of mind. Reading was a very smooth circumambulation around the mountain of Silence. The circumspection and ever-fresh modern nomenclature are very affirming. The format is beautiful and the pictures are immaculate. Great job!! Five Oms." April 25, 2009

John Troy


"Dear Premanandaji,

Just wanted to tell you that I loved the Blueprints for Awakening book. Reading the interviews is a wonderful complement, yet it is clear that the presence of those who speak which gives juice and texture to the message really comes through in the videos, that is what is important, it brings the message alive. It is the closest thing to a live darshan. Also, for the discerning eye, so much can be revealed. The film was awesome as well as the interviews on the website which I got to watch here. Surely you could get a great review in the Mountain Path magazine, the readership there could really appreciate it, as well, as it clarifies so much for devotees of Bhagavan! 

I also checked out your website and watched some of the short clips of the Masters, this is also fantastic, that you put this up!  It is really important that videos of Sages be available to all seekers, finders, and lovers of Truth. I will watch more when I have more time, and recommend the site, book, and DVD to many. It is an excellent job!! Good work.

Sw. Satchidananda was a real jewel. On my first trip to Anandashram in 1982 I met him, he was running the office, and even then he was a being of purity and Light. At that time, Mataji Krishnabai was alive, she had a huge impact on me, she had so much light I would often be in tears as the benediction she carried would pour through every cell of my being. Later on, after Mataji Krishnabai passed away, and I visited Anandashram, It was clear that Pujya Swamiji too carried the blessings and grace that came through Mataji and Papa Ramdas.

Love and Total Liberation NOW!!!"
Krishna


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