Children of Immortal Bliss
A New Perspective on Our True Identity Based on the Ancient Vedanta Philosophy of India
by Paul Hourihan, edited by Anna Hourihan
208 pages, 7.5“x 5.5” (Quality paperback)
$16.50 Retail Price
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In this clear introduction to the Vedanta philosophy of India, you’ll discover a new perspective that can bring inner peace, inner strength and improve your relationships for a happier life. This spiritual book written by Paul Hourihan, an American, introduces these ancient teachings in a way that Westerners, in particular, can easily relate to and understand.
Why learn about the teachings of Vedanta?
- According to Vedanta, ignorance of our real nature is the cause of our suffering and grief. The practical application of this philosophy is the means to Self-discovery, integration and inner peace for those of all faiths and those with no particular faith.
- By stressing the universal truths common to all religions, they provide a unifying basis for mutual understanding and peace in a world increasingly fragmented by opposing beliefs.
- They provide a foundation for understanding the necessity for moral and ethical life.
- With this knowledge, we can move toward realization of our true identity as Children of Immortal Bliss.
Using the teachings of the Upanishads, this study covers the main principles of Vedanta and the core concepts that flow from them. It also provides an overview of the mysticism of India, of which Vedanta is an integral part. It gives a summary of the Yoga system of thought, as well as the Bhagavad Gita, another key Vedantic scripture, and covers the important subject of meditation. The last section reveals the universality of these teachings through confirmations of great mystics from other traditions including Plotinus, Lao Tzu, Meister Eckhart and the Sufis of Islam.
Vedanta, one of the six main systems of thought in Hinduism, advances inner peace, harmony among all peoples, and respect for all life. It is the means to realizing our true identity as Children of Immortal Bliss.
“… Amidst the plethora of books on spirituality, Children of Immortal Bliss is a rare and compelling find…. a consummate companion for the journey within.” (Read full review: Children of Immortal Bliss-Book Review in PDF)
– Laura Ramirez, author of award-winning Keepers of the Children: Native American Wisdom and Parenting.
“I gladly recommend Children of Immortal Bliss for general Western readers looking for spiritually uplifting and emotionally fulfilling ideas of basic spiritual life.”
– Swami Tathagatananda, Senior Minister, The Vedanta Society of New York
“It can happen when first encountering Hinduism that it seems somewhat like traffic in India: chaotic. There are so many strains, variations, opposing views and interpretations that it is difficult to discern the wheat from the chaff. Sri Ramakrishna said that the scriptures in India are like a mixture of sugar and sand, that one should take the sugar and leave the sand.
“Mr. Hourihan’s book helps the student of Indian religion to discover and enjoy the essence of Hinduism. In an informative and readable way he presents the cream of Indian thought. Both the novice and those familiar with Vedanta will find much to enrich their understandings in Children of Immortal Bliss.”
– Brother Simeon Davis, Light of the Spirit Monastery
Hear, O children of immortal bliss, you are born to be united with the Lord.
“Paul Hourihan, the author of Children of Immortal Bliss, has himself heard this call to realize that blessed state where the spiritual aspirant attains complete absorption in Brahman. This illumined introduction to Vedanta not only covers the essential foundational teachings of this sublime philosophy, but articulates these teachings in a uniquely accessible fashion. Beginning students will appreciate the heartfelt clarity and contemporary sensibility with which the author not only explains but also transmits the ancient teachings….
“This introduction to fundamental Vedanta truths will serve to inspire the reader to realize and make these truths his or her own.” (Read full review: Children of Immortal Bliss-Book Review in PDF)
– Anurag Neal Aronowitz, Nectar of Non-Dual Truth, Issue #27, April 2012
“Children of Immortal Bliss is a splendid introduction to Vedanta for the average person, presenting this Indian tradition simply, and with the use of ideas and illustrations that will make sense of it to a wide audience. I particularly liked the frequent referral to American writers like Thoreau, Emerson, and Whitman who also drew from Vedanta. Such familiar names will reassure educated readers that this way of thinking has a noble heritage in America as well as Asia. No less valuable is the concluding presentation of convergent lines of thought in Plotinus, Lao Tzu, Eckhart, and the Sufis, showing that under one name or another the ancient wisdom called the Vedanta in Hinduism is in fact the way of the wise across the earth.
“I hope this little book finds the wide audience it deserves, and touches the hearts of many for good.”
– Robert Ellwood, author and Distinguished Emeritus Professor of Religion, University of Southern California
“Vedanta, a still little-known school of Hindu thought, may be said to have reached its apogee in the first quarter of the 20th century. Modern Vedanta, as interpreted by Swami Vivekananda, emphasizes peace between and among various sects and religions, as well as meditational practices rooted in ancient Hinduism. Hourihan attempts to reintroduce Vedanta to the public, reinvigorating its ideas for a modern audience.”
– Library Journal, March 2008
Excerpt from Chapter 5 – The Swetasvatara Upanishad:
It is the Vedantic view that the human soul, the Self, the Atman, is identical with Brahman, the Godhead. In fact, the soul’s experience in mystical realization is the ecstasy of discovering its oneness with that from which it had thought itself so distant. That is the ineffable experience, according to Vedanta. The sages found the One, the Godhead, the transcendental reality called Brahman, dwelling within, indivisible—neither existence nor nonexistence—something indescribable.
Excerpt from Chapter 8 – The Chandogya and Brihadaranyaka Upanishads:
INDIVIDUALITY AND MYSTICAL EXPERIENCE
Individuality is really a myth. It is so changeable that we don’t know just what it is at any point in our life. If we lived to be 100 and were asked when our individuality was truly in flower we wouldn’t know when to choose because every decade it changes—our ego-conception of individuality, that is, which, the sage reminds us, is not a true conception at all. The truth is that we don’t know what our individuality is. Something that fluctuates so constantly, at the mercy of so many phenomena and creature influences, cannot be a satisfactory possession.
… The individuality that we know now is separatist. That is what we cling to. It is egoism responding when we protest: What will happen to my individuality in mystical experience? However righteous it sounds, that is the ego speaking, loving divisions and differences; whereas, the spiritual element in us is trying to find unity and oneness.
We want to develop and polish our individuality, but keep it intact, apart from other entities. We want to develop it, not lose it. In mystical experience, however, we lose the egotistic sense of individuality and gain a different consciousness entirely. It is like explaining to a boy of ten about the joys of married life. He doesn’t believe there are any other joys except the ones he knows. So we think our idea of individuality is the ultimate when it is only the beginning. There is something much beyond that….
We have to keep training our minds not to think that [mystical] experience has anything to do with annihilation, as we all tend to believe at first. It is simply the dissolution or extinction of the ego-power. Therefore, will mystical consciousness cause us to become nothings and lose our individuality? Quite the contrary: It will expand us to include the universe.
The individuality we hug close is trapped in a kind of shell, like the caterpillar in a cocoon. Just as the caterpillar goes through metamorphosis to break free from its cocoon to achieve the next stage of development and become a butterfly, so we have to break the encasement of the ego-consciousness. After we do this, the Infinite will not be alien to us, although it is now. The feeling of exaltation and bliss that accompanies the experience, universally attested to, is the sign of coming into our true realm.
We’re attracted to the Infinite, but we’re afraid of it, too. When we don’t have any direct experience of something, we are a little estranged from it even as it lures us on. This is what undergirds our fear that we are going to lose our individuality. But all the sages declare that the Infinite is our actual self. The discovery will be like suddenly coming home to ourselves in a flashpoint of awareness, consuming but a single moment. It will be like illuminating a dark room—after the light appears we don’t wonder where the darkness has gone, it seems never to have been. The moment the light is on, we don’t conceive of darkness any longer.
This is how it is with the experience of the true self. The old self, so afraid to develop beyond its known limits, is magically wiped out, and we don’t think of it any longer—just as we don’t recall the darkness, which has not so much been changed as somehow fallen into nonbeing. Our true nature is Light.