Perspective Shift-Non-Duality-Part I
Updated: Dec 23, 2022
" An unexamined life is not worth living" - Socrates
Out of all the philosophy classes I've attended in India, one really stood out and stuck with me. Today I’d like to share the philosophy that made the most impact on my life from The Upanishads-Advaita Vedanta.
Throughout the 20th century, philosophy became much more inward-looking than in the past, with philosophers specializing in certain fields to such an extent that one needed to learn an extensive vocabulary to even hope to be able to participate.
Things weren't always this way, however. Instead, it was an essential part of daily life, everyone was bound to take a critical eye on even their own deepest-held principles.
I hope to offer you a different perspective that formalizes the thought process which already exists, giving you both the tools to deal with questions that keep you up at night and inspire you to formulate more of those questions.
Beyond the current platitudes, remember that such simplifications often miss the point. Please don’t mistake the finger pointing to the moon for the moon itself. Respond from the heart instead of reacting from the mind.
The promise of the spiritual path is that it’s possible to find the deep and profound meaning of life.
Broadly speaking, there are a few different paths to spirituality.
In the path of yoga and meditation:
The problem is the restlessness of the mind. The solution is the concentration of the mind. The technique is yoga and meditation. If the scattered mind can be calmed through meditation and yoga, then truth will reveal itself.
In the path of devotion:
The problem is a lack of faith in God. The solution is surrendering and believing in God. This is more or less the path for most religions.
In Advaita Vedanta, there’s the path of knowledge:
The problem is ignorance, and the solution is knowledge. The path of knowledge is that you understand the world is only an appearance. Your inner self is the ultimate reality. The problem is that we don’t know who we are.
To understand the philosophy of Vedanta, we must first become familiar with how it wants us to receive its teachings. There are many schools in Vedanta. Traditionally in Advaita Vedanta, sessions will be divided into three parts.
The first part- the teaching-Listening (shravana)
Upanishad- students sit down near the teacher, ready to receive spiritual knowledge.
What was said?
The second part- Thinking (manana)
Think about what you have heard and contemplate the teachings.
Did I understand it? If I don’t understand it, what are my questions? Invite clarity by asking questions.
The 3rd part- Meditation (nididhyasana)
Contemplate and meditate on what you have heard and abide by what you have thoughts about.
Abiding in what you understood. Stay with it and learn how to apply it to yourself.
Now we have established how Vedanta wants you to experience its philosophy. In my next blog, I’ll be sharing some of the texts from Panchadasi which was written in 1896 CE by Vidyaranya. Stay tuned!