ABOUT ADVAITA VEDANTA
Advaita is a Sanskrit word that literally means “not two”. Synonyms of Advaita are non-duality (nonduality, non duality). Advaita is not a philosophy or a religion. Non-duality is an experience in which there is no separation between subject and object; a “me” and the rest of the universe; a “me” and God. It is the experience of consciousness, our true nature, which reveals itself as absolute happiness, love and beauty. Consciousness is defined as that, whatever that is, which is aware of these very words right here, right now.
A sage is one who knowingly lives as consciousness. Since awareness is impersonal and universal, there is only one sage beyond the apparent distinctions of race, gender, age, etc. A sage is not necessarily a spiritual teacher, and a spiritual teacher is not necessarily a sage. Ramana Maharshi, Krishna Menon and Jean Klein were such sages who taught in the 20th century. Ramana Maharshi used the self inquiry method with his less advanced disciples. The student who practices self inquiry keeps his attention focused onto the source of the I-thoughts and I-feelings, whenever they arise. Once enlightenment has taken place, the process of self inquiry continues effortlessly. The attention spontaneously reverts to the source at the end of each thought and feeling and there is no need to focus the attention any longer. More advanced students can be taken directly to the experience of their true self by hearing the truth from the lips of the guru and/ or through his silent presence. This is called the direct path, the path used, among others, by Ramana Maharshi, Krishna Menon and Jean Klein. The process of self realization continues spontaneously until the body-mind-world firmly abides in peace and happiness. Everything that can be said about the experience of non duality is, at best, a pale approximation at the level of concepts, a mere pointer. Zen Buddhism uses the metaphor of a finger pointing to the moon: although the finger points to the moon, the finger and the moon belong to two different worlds.
Advaita transcends all religions, philosophies and nationalities. It doesn’t divide, but rather unites. Fanatic members of different religions can never agree about their concepts of God, but sages from different backgrounds can never disagree about their shared experience of non duality. The founders of all great religions were sages. Nonduality is at the core of Hinduism, Sufism, Zen Buddhism, Kashmeeri Shaivism and of the teachings of Christ:
Hinduism: “That which is not (the objects as separate from the Self) never comes into being, and that which is (The Self) never ceases to be”. (BaghavadGita)
Hinduism, Kashmeeri Shaivism: “Oh Marvel! This illusion, although expressed in multiplicity, is no other than consciousness-without-a-second. Ha, all is but pure essence aware of itself.” (Abhinavagupta)
Sufism: “There is nothing but God”
Zen Buddhism: “Question: When a sound ceases, does awareness cease?Answer: Awareness never ceases” (HuiHai)
Hinduism, Kashmeeri Shaivism: “The universe awakens when You awaken and vanishes when You withdraw. Therefore the totality of existence and non-existence is one with You.” (Abhinavagupta)
Christianity: “Jesus said: “I” is the light (of awareness) that shines upon all things. “I” is the All from which everything emanates and to which everything returns.” (Thomas, 186)
Enlightenment is the sudden recognition that non-duality is, has always been, and will always be the reality of our experience. Duality is an illusion. Consciousness is not private and personal, but impersonal, universal, and eternal. There is no limited personal entity, no conscious ego. The ego is a perceived object, not the all perceiving awareness.
Self realization is the subsequent stabilization in the peace, happiness and freedom of our natural state. The world, seen in the light of impersonal awareness, reveals itself as a permanent miracle, a divine display that celebrates its invisible source.
A living guru (spiritual teacher) is, in most cases, necessary to facilitate both enlightenment and self realization. Although the karana guru (the guru whose role is to help the disciple trough the last stages of realization) appears to the disciple as a seemingly separate human being, he or she is knowingly established as universal consciousness. He sees the disciple as his own Self. Consciousness in the disciple, being recognized for what it truly is, resonates with the silent presence of the guru. The mind of the disciple becomes gradually and mysteriously quiet, with or without the use of words, until the student has a glimpse of the causeless joy of his natural state. A relationship of love, freedom and friendliness that leads to the eventual spontaneous stabilization of the disciple in happiness and peace gets established.