Is Vedanta Only For Philosophers?

Q:  Is Advaita Vedanta only for philosophers? How can the average person practice Advaita Vedanta in his or her daily life in a way that it is easy to follow and not be drawn other ideologies?

Vishnu:  No. I don’t consider myself a philosopher and I’ve studied and “practiced” Advaita Vedanta for over a decade. Don’t take my word for it though. Just go to an Advaita Vedanta satsang and see for yourself. Spoiler alert: It is going to be filled will average, everyday people. Why? Because everyone is looking for truth, not just philosophers.

You practice Advaita Vedanta in your daily life by:

1) Living a life committed to dharma (in this case, dharma means right living).

2) Consistently applying the teachings of Advaita Vedanta to your mind until they help you directly realize your total non-difference from brahman, the non-dual absolute reality. After that, there’s nothing to practice. Sure, you continue to live a life committed to dharma.  But once you’ve seen the truth of your own nature, it’s not something you can practice. It’s just what you are.

Advaita Vedanta is not there to convince you to follow it’s teachings. Rather, it says you’re just fine as you are (but you just don’t know it!). If what Advaita Vedanta has to say appeals to you, you won’t need to be convinced to commit to it.  Nor will you look for answers in other ideologies (not that Advaita Vedanta is an ideology).

So if what Advaita Vedanta has to say speaks to you on a deep, inner level, then you’ve found the right teaching. If not, start looking for the one that does!

All my best – Vishnu

Steady Wisdom: Day 48

Steady Wisdom:  108 Verses On Changing My Thinking

DAY 48

Untouched by suffering, beyond all illusory appearances and free from doubt and indecision, I am all-pervasive; I am not the body which is unreal. 
-Aparokshanubhuti V.26
Meditation

I am not the body nor the mind, both of which are illusory appearances projected onto myself, the one, all-pervasive reality.  Because I am not the body or mind, I am free from doubt, indecision and suffering.  I am the one, limitless reality.  OM. 

Read Series Introduction

 

Steady Wisdom: Day 47

Steady Wisdom: 108 Verses On Changing My Thinking

DAY 47

I am immutable, formless and unperturbed consciousness.  I am unaffected by the appearance of the body and mind. 
-Ashtavakra Samhita 1:17
Meditation

What reveals the forms of the body and mind?  Me, pure consciousness. Does consciousness assume the forms that it illuminates?  No, therefore I am formless.  Is consciousness perturbed by the forms it illuminates?  No, therefore I am unaffected by the appearance of the body and mind. OM. 

Read Series Introduction

Steady Wisdom: Day 45

Steady Wisdom: 108 Verses On Changing My Thinking

DAY 45

I have no parts.  I am actionless.  I am the self of all.  By nature I am eternal and self-evident.  I am the immortal, changeless self.
-Brahma Jnanavali V.12
Meditation

I am one alone, free of all divisions, despite the appearance of the body, mind and world, the same way that water is one alone, free of all divisions, despite the appearance of ripples, waves and foam.  Like an actionless movie screen onto which a film is projected, I am the actionless “background” of pure existence onto which the false universe is projected. OM.

Read Series Introduction

What are the Primary Texts of Advaita Vedanta?

Q: What are the primary texts of Advaita Vedanta?  

A: There are three primary texts of Advaita Vedanta. Together they form what is called the prasthana traya, the “three means” or “three foundations/pillars” of Vedanta.

The first primary text is actually a group of texts called the Upanishads. In turn, the revelations of the Upanishads form the basis of the other two primary Vedanta texts, The Brahma Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita. The Brahma Sutras are an attempt to systematize the teachings of the Upanishads and harmonize their internal inconsistencies. The Bhagavad Gita takes the essential teachings of the Upanishads and puts them into a story form that is easier for people to relate to and learn from.

A note:  There are many Upanishads but the ten most commonly cited by Vedanta are:  Aitreya, Brihadaranyaka, Chandogya, Isa, Kena, Katha, Mandukya, Mundaka, Prashna and Taittiriya.  These are considered to be the mukhya (primary) Upanishads because they were commented on by Shankaracharya, Advaita Vedanta’s greatest teacher.  Shankara also supposedly commented on the Svetasvatara Upanishad but because the style of this commentary differs from his commentaries on the ten other Upanishads (as well as the style of his commentaries on the Bhagavad Gita and Brahma Sutras) it is widely believed to be spurious.  Some, however, claim that the Svetasvatara commentary was originally an authentic work of Shankara but was later heavily re-worked by other authors to arrive at its present form.  As such, it’s still thought of as a useful tool for teaching Vedanta.  But it’s not considered to be a reliable guide to Shankara’s interpretation of Vedanta. 

Another significant Upanishad, despite not being commented upon by Shankara, is the Kaivalya Upanishad.   

Hope that helps – Vishnu