Advaita Vedanta is a school in Hindu Philosophy that talks about spiritual realization. As the name suggests, it means non-dual or having no second. The philosophy proposes that the true self of the individual or the inner spirit (Atman) is the ultimate reality (Brahman) or the only truth, and the phenomenal, transient world we live in is just an illusion.
Hence, it is described by the term oneness as well in some scriptures. It emphasizes Jivanmukti, which means the idea of ‘Moksha’ is achievable in this life itself. It is a stark departure from other philosophies that emphasize Moksha after death.
According to Vedanta principles, people can attain Moksha by recognizing that this whole world is nothing short of an illusion. By acquiring knowledge (vidya) of one’s true identity (Atman), which alone is the universal truth.
Roots of Advaita Vedanta
Put simply, Advaita is nothing but the philosophy or ‘Oneness’ or Monism. It traces its roots to the Upanishad. The Vedic principle has three basic schools:
Dvaita or Dualism
This philosophy means that the individual soul and the supreme soul (God) are two different identities, and there cannot be any relation between the two. He is all-powerful, one who is the creator, sustainer, and destroyer of the universe. We are all nothing but his subjects.
Vishishta Advaita or Qualified Monism
According to this principle, the individual, God, and the world, i.e., Jiva, Jagat, and Jagdish, are all one and the same. Just as an individual has a body and soul, God also has a body and soul, and we individuals are an integral part of his soul.
Advaita or Monism
This philosophy dictates that there is no such thing as God or the supreme power. Good and evil are not separate, but two sides of the same coin, just as saint and sinner are not two different individuals.
It differs from qualified monism in the sense that there is a whole divided into parts, and each of us is complete with all the good and the bad in the world surrounding us. The divine exists in our souls. And most importantly, the ‘Maya’ or illusions of the world veil our understanding of the soul’s divinity.
The Implication of Vedanta in Today’s World
Advaita’s primary doctrine believes that no higher power or God is sitting in heaven, and our Consciousness is the only reality. There is God in each human being, and the purpose of human birth is to understand this truth of self-consciousness. This philosophy takes us on a path of self-realization. There is no superpower in heaven to bless or punish us.
Self-Realization Is the Goal
The philosophy of non-dual identity further says that good and bad are within us. When a person attempts to attain self-consciousness, values are born. A person becomes calm, collected, and matured.
Love, compassion, and selflessness become his second nature. The person begins to perceive others as well in the same light. He doesn’t harm or be jealous of anybody because he begins to understand all worldly things are only an illusion and that our soul is the only thing that remains when the end comes. Pure Consciousness begins to reflect on his personality.
Advaita philosophy underlines the fact that the world is inside you. The world consists of conditions/situations, people, and objects. Once you begin to place too much importance on the world, you get stuck in the world’s ignorance and get detached from the self. You forget about your powers and abilities.
Passions, desires, Aspirations, Karma is Maya, and people suffer in the grip of these desires. One way by which they can set themselves free from all ‘Maya’ is through meditation. Meditation lets you concentrate on just a single thing- yourself, and everything else, like the environment and surroundings, take a backstage. This is enlightenment or liberation.
We become truly free from the chains of worldly thoughts and desires and attain Moksha.
The Bottom Line
Our conscious experience is a continuous experience of how the world is not how we perceive it. We imagine our world to be divided into objects, material things, people, situations, etc. However, the truth is that the world is but our soul, and it is whole.
The fragments like people, conditions, and objects are just what we make up in our minds. Once we understand that there is no good person or a bad person and that all of us are ‘one’ and the same, we will be able to wipe out ill-feelings of hatred and jealousy from this world.