Advaita Vedanta and Nonduality
Whether you believe the entire Universe emerged from a single indivisible sub-microscopic singularity exploding into existence and creating an ever-expanding Universe or that consciousness is the substratum of all existence, and it is from this unlimited and indivisible consciousness that the entire Universe arose; both theories agree that everything in Universe is connected.
In the depths of meditation, this unity of all things is perceived an appreciated. This recognition of this oneness is not unique to Hinduism and is present within contemplative or meditative sects in all major religions. For example, the Sufis, a sect within the Islamic faith or the Kabbalah within Judaism. There are a number of Christian Saints whose teachings were nondual in their understanding, but the content was 'toned' down, concessions made to a highly authoritative Church. The Catholic church all but abolished the contemplative traditions by the 16th Century.
The Advaita Vedanta name comes from Advaita, meaning not two or nondual and Vedanta which translates as the end of the Vedas, the sacred text of Hinduism.
Advaita Vedanta has always been taught as a philosophy and not a religion and categorically states that to find God, one does not and should not follow religious rituals and convention blindly. The philosophy is free from religious dogma and in its essential content is identical to every other nondual teaching from traditions around the world; that we are unique expressions of an indivisible, unlimited universal consciousness.
Rather than to consider it a religion, it would be more accurate to call Advaita Vedanta the science of consciousness and as such is regarded by many scholars as one of the greatest philosophies ever recorded in the history of mankind.
Pictured are some of the great teachers of Advaita Vedanta philosophy and even today the teaching is thriving with enlightened teachers such as Mooji, Adyashanti and Rupert Spira.
I have added some recommended reading. If you would like to discuss any of this further, then please don't hesitate to contact me via the Centre for Nondual Awareness website*.
Essence of the Upanishads - Eknath Easwaran
The Bhagavad Gita - Translation by Eknath Easwaran
The Dhammapada - Translation by Eknath Easwaran
The Heart of Awareness - A Translation of the Ashtavakra Gita
Be As You Are - The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi.
Edited by David Godman
I Am That - Nisargadatta Maharaj
Out of Your Mind - Alan Watts
Perfect Brilliant Stillness - David Carse
Waking Up - Sam Harris
The Transparency of Things - Rupert Spira
The Nature of Consciousness - Rupert Spira
Adi Shankaracharya (c 800CE) caused a resurgence in Hinduism at a time when numbers were falling in India through the teaching of Advaita Vedanta. Painting by Raja Ravi Varma
Swami Vivekanada (12th January 1863 - 4th July1902) was one of the key figures bringing Hinduism and Vedanta philosophy to the west in the late 19th century. He wrote books on the four paths of spiritual self realisation; Karma, Bhakti, Raja and Jnana Yoga. He later founded the Ramakrishna Mission, named after his guru, one of the great Indian saints and mystic of the 19th century Paramahansa Ramakrishna.
Ramana Maharshi (30th December 1879 - 14th April 1950) was a revered saint of Modern Day India. He brought Advaita Vedanta to the public mainstream. He taught a method of spiritual self-inquiry that required no renunciation of daily life. This became known as the 'Direct Path' of Advaita Vedanta.
Nisargadatta Maharaj (17th April 1897 - 8th September 1981was a later teacher of Advaita and in his later years, drew large crowds of western spiritual seekers to his home in Mumbai, India. His 1973 book 'I Am That' is considered a classic of modern spiritual literature. Photo by Jitendra Arya - http://www.acornpressonline.com/, Attribution, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12874225