Neil Dalal on Vedanta & Self-Inquiry (#104)

About the Guest

Neil Dalal is Associate Professor of South Asian Philosophy and Religious Thought at the University of Alberta, where he teaches in both the Philosophy Department and Religious Studies Program. He received his PhD in Asian Cultures and Languages from the University of Texas at Austin where he specialized in Sanskrit and Indian philosophy, and an MA in East-West Psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies. Dalal’s interests explore philosophy of mind, contemplative psychologies, and meditation practices found in classical South Asian Yoga systems. He grounds this research in classical Sanskrit texts and commentaries as well as their living traditions. Dalal’s current research focuses on the intersections of contemplative practices, textual study, and embodiment in Advaita Vedānta. He is the co-director of “Gurukulam” (The Orchard/Sony Pictures), a sensory-ethnographic study of a contemporary Advaita Vedānta community, co-editor of Asian Perspectives on Animal Ethics (Routledge Press), and has published articles in venues such as the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Journal of Indian Philosophy, and Journal of Hindu Studies. Dalal is also a teacher within the traditional lineage of Śaṅkarācārya Advaita Vedānta. He spent several years living a monastic lifestyle in India while studying under the direct guidance of the renowned Advaita Vedāntin, Swami Dayananda Saraswati, who gave him permission to teach in 2002.

In this episode, we discuss:

  1. Neil’s documentary film, “Gurukulam”, which explores a living Advaita Vedānta lineage through sensory ethnography
  2. What brought Neil to his path
  3. Triple process of study for knowledge – listening, logical reflection, contemplative understanding
  4. Experienced hunting, the need for a teacher and reflections on the current state of “Gurus”
  5. The Western concept of Karma yoga vs. the way it is traditionally defined
  6. Cultural appropriation, academia, yoga practitioners, the market of yoga and how we are manifesting these issues
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