"What is Vedanta?" by Randall Friend
Vedanta is a "non-dual" tradition of Hinduism. It is similar in many ways to other non-dual traditions such as Zen or Dzogchen Buddhism, Taoism, Christian Mysticism (Gnosticism) and Sufism of Islam. The Advaita is a "section" or branch of the Vedanta which says that there is a singularity of reality, a "Unity" or an essence that underlies everything that appears to be.
Advaita means no-dos. This is not a path, nor a practice. The Advaita is a direct description of reality as it is.
Vedanta means the end of the Vedas, the end of all knowledge, unlearning, non-knowing. Through research on the nature of reality, called "knowledge of Being," the seeker comes to the realization of the non-dual nature of Reality.
Vedanta Advaita does not intend to impart a new set of beliefs, but to leave us without the support of all beliefs, all assumptions, including the assumption that there is an individual entity or person that exists, that is born and then will die.
In the direct recognition of Reality as it is, the seeker disappears as the root or foundation of all false translations (of Reality).
Our problem is that we feel limited, we feel isolated and small, temporary and insignificant. So we try to fill that gap, either with things from a material point of view or with states from a spiritual point of view.
However, it is this inherent sense of limitation that we can not escape. The belief I have about me is that I am limited, therefore when I look for the unlimited it is always very frustrating. If my belief about me is true, if I really am limited, if reality is really composed of separate existences, then spirituality is really a fantasy. This means that slavery and suffering is the truth of existence.
However, there is another possibility. That possibility is that, to begin with, I have never been limited, reality has never been composed of separate existences. If this is the case, then the only problem is my own ignorance of myself, ignorance of the truth of reality as a whole. This ignorance can only be corrected by the knowledge of myself, of reality as it really is. Vedanta is a means of knowing to know myself.
The "seeker" and the "realization" can not coexist. As a seeker, I see myself as an individual "part" of the Universe, I have established a situation that has everything to lose. A seeker can never find the Oneness, because it is the same idea of a seeker that automatically excludes the Unity as a possibility. It is the concept of a person who is, by definition, the core of the limitation.
So to ask what I can do, as a seeker, to realize the Unity, is useless. It will always be useless. We could say that "Seeker" and Unity are mutually exclusive. It is only when the very root concept of the individual, the seeker, the person, is questioned, that opportunity can come for Unity or realization.
The Subject "I"
The Vedanta asks nothing of the seeker except to inquire in the sense of the "I", the subject, the Atma as it is called (in the Vedanta). Is the "I" the world? What is the world made of? How does it appear before you? It is presented through objective experience, as sensory information. However, is not the same thing with the body? Is the "I" the body? And with the thoughts? Are "I" thoughts?
No. The body is not the subject, because the body appears in the subject - "I". The thoughts are not the subject, the thoughts appear in the subject - "I". Any feeling, memory, emotion, sensation, perception, concept, idea - all are objects contained in the subject - "I", which is what you are.
So what IS that subject- "I"? Any sensation is not. Any perception is not. Therefore, that subject - "I" has no form, is not objectifiable through any experience. However, it is always there - without a doubt. You are always there in any and all experiences. That subject- "I" is, in fact, neither a body nor a thought. It is the realization of the body, the thoughts and the world.
Therefore this subject - "I" is pure, without attributes, without form, size, color - without any dimension in space or time. What you truly are, in real experience, is not something that has some objective content, yet it is the most intimate aspect of all experience.
Another word for the "subject" is knowledge [of knowing, realizing ].
The dissolution of the search engine
The goal or goal of spirituality according to Vedanta is not the achievement of the enlightenment of the seeker, but the liberation of the seeker. That Unity or unique essence is really what you are - it's just that you've limited yourself to the idea of being a limited self. By questioning this idea, you get to know yourself as you really are - the whole, the whole, you no longer imagine yourself as limited. This is the only goal.
However, since you are already that totality, this limitation or slavery is only conceptual - the so-called veil or "maya" is only composed of concepts. There is no real separation or limitation in that one essence, even when it appears as everything.
Therefore, enlightenment is simply the recognition that you are already that one essence, and you have never been limited at all. You are only being as you are. Free, perfect and complete.
If I say "I am seeking" I am affirming myself as an individual existence. I take my existence as having begun on a certain day and moment. When I say "I" I really refer to "a separate existence" - I assume as real that existence is separate, that there are "things" that exist by themselves, apart, on their own account. What I really mean is that each "apparition" has its own existence, that its existence began and that it will end. My main idea of reality is that it is composed of an infinite number of existences. This idea is what is called "slavery".
Vedanta calls the Mithyan " appearance " . Mithyan means that which comes and goes, what appears, what has no existence by itself. A "thing" is only one thing from a particular point of view, it is only available through a certain medium of knowledge, a certain means of measurement. If that medium changes, the appearance changes. If that appearance changes, nothing happens to the "existence" of that "thing". Existence is Sat . Sat means that which is . Sat only means "is" . There is what is - Sat - and that appears in various forms depending on the means of knowledge or measurement.
There is only Sat , mithyā depends on Sat although Sat does not depend on mithyā - what seems is Sat . Sat is Brahman - truth and reality, the "only existence," which appears or expresses itself as everything.
Therefore what I am is Sat -that is, that unique existence-a single reality that appears as everything. I can find no fundamental division between what I am and what appears, unless I take mithyã as the absolute reality.
The realization of who I really am is expressed in the equation - Tat Tvam Asi - Tu Eres That. The realization is that what is called "Brahman" is all reality and if I am something , I am Brahman . I am that same unique reality.
The gold chain is suffering — it is seeking peace and happiness — it really tries to know what it is. She meditates, hoping to have some vision or special experience of Gold. Her essence. Visit a Guru , asking for guidance to know what it is.
At the beginning many ideas are formulated about Gold, how it should be, feel. He desperately seeks to know his essence of this unit called "Gold".
However, at every step comes frustration. No vision or experience arrives, or if it always comes through. No lasting realization of Gold arrives.
The Guru says to him, "What you are is Gold, you can not mock it because You are it". The chain is baffled by this paradox, and downplays this wisdom, and continues to seek one Guru after another. One book after another.
At some point the chain has exhausted all the routes, it has consumed all the concepts about Gold. Gold can not be found, no matter what efforts it makes. No concept brings the desired Peace and Happiness. The chain is lost without any point of support, Gold is nowhere to be seen.
However, the Guru only smiles. Because there was never actually a chain form out of the same Gold. There was never a chain searching. The chain was a form of Gold, a manifestation of Gold itself. The unique existence of the chain was only a concept - the reality is that it was always Gold itself. The chain could not find the Gold after all.
It was not the chain that realized that it was Gold. It was Gold that realized that it was never "chain".
At this point, you are the whole itself, the only essence - which has taken itself as a limited entity, just like the chain. As that entity you feel limited and you need to search the totality. However, that entity you believe to be is only a name, only a form, only a manifestation of that One Essence.
Therefore, this "I" can never find anything. The "I" can never find that essence. It is that essence that realizes that it was never that limited "I".
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