In today’s world intelligence is valued over intellect. The manifestation of this is the acknowledgement of somebody being more successful than the other as per the worldly yardstick. This thought when delved into deeper will explain the reason why selfishness is prevalent even in the most unselfish act. The moment we begin to compare or start fixing reference points in the external world or in other people, for measuring our success – we start unconsciously acknowledging ourselves as different from the other. This idea leads to people becoming more attached at the physical and emotional level.
In the last week’s post we spoke about a fundamental concept of advaita philosophy called SELF or ATMAN. Advaita means non-duality. The idea when believed that there are no two makes living life extremely simple and easy. But believing in the concept and living it is seems unimaginable. It is very rare to find people who act selflessly for a higher cause. Even the so called renunciants of the world let go only of things that do not matter to them anymore. The moment we start seeing US in others it becomes very difficult to act selfishly. While practice of overcoming selfishness, being more empathetic, giving charity, sharing with others thereby giving up things is not only difficult to sustain but almost unimaginable. This is because running towards these qualities is the same as running away from them. It is just a shift in direction.
The only way to live peacefully and be most productive in life is by making the effort to develop one’s intellect so that the concept of advaita can be understood and internalized. It is only on internalizing this concept that it will become natural for one to start seeing the one BRAHMAN manifested as number of ATMAN. The moment we let go of relative comparisons amongst individuals enables the human being to focus on their purpose on earth; and thereby make their fullest contribution.
The beauty of Vedanta lies in its tolerance towards world view. In relation with realization of the eternal truths – there are not one but three broad perspectives that find place next to each other. When observed superficially they not only seem unique but many a times contradictory to each other. However these three schools of thought have been in existence and have been recognised and followed by a large set of believers.
The first school of thought is that of Advaita as propounded by Shri Adi Shankara. This school puts forth the thought that man, god and universe (objects) are all manifestation of the same force. It talks about non-duality. It talks about the ONENESS of atman and Brahman. In essence it says ‘You are God’
The second school of thought is that of Visishtadvaita, qualified non-dualism wherein Brahman alone exists but is characterised by multiplicity. It realises the independent manifestation of Ishvara in the sentient (Jiva) and the Jagat (insentient). This school of thought as put forth by Ramanujacharya, considers matter and souls are real and are creation of God. Both these manifestation are eternally real and distinct.
The third school of thought that finds its place in Vedanta is Dvaita or dualism. This doctrine by Madhavacharya considers a strict distinction between GOD and his creations. This school of thought considers GOD to be a supreme power with substantial distinction from Jiva (soul) and Jagat (material energy). Ishwara is independent while the other two are dependent entities.
As one looks at the expanse one can see the canvas with strokes from thought of absolute oneness to one that talks about marked separation.
However each of these schools of thought perfect within themselves the method of realising one’s inner SELF. A follower from any school can reach fulfilment and realization.
It is surprising to note that while these three different approaches are independent and complete, none of the schools of thought seem to be indulging in corrective action on the others. There is a healthy co-existence amongst the principles that allow acceptance of alternate world-view even if it sounds contradictory to one’s beliefs. The magnitude of openness practiced by the founders of these paths – to further their individual thinking while allowing others to experiment theirs is something that you seldom find in the ‘REAL’ world among the lesser mortals!
When one studies Vedanta to pick up lessons on life, one also gets touched by these lessons for life that makes life not only complete but more enjoyable!