What is Vedanta?
Vedanta, a philosophy and science of the spirit, is as profound and mysterious as India, the country of its origin. Its four yogas of devotion, service, meditation, and knowledge are found in Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and the practices of all who seek peace and joy in the oneness that uplifts and unifies us.
When you explore the depth and breadth of the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita, you realize you’ve heard these ideas before. And you have.
The more you understand the elegant truth of the Unity of Existence as expressed by Vedantic seers, the more you understand how writers like Thoreau, Eliot and Keats were deeply influenced by its wisdom. You will feel it in the poetry of Whitman, Rumi, Hafiz, and other mystical poets and it will be self-evident in the observations and writings of Plato, Thomas Merton, Einstein, Thomas Jefferson, Eckhart Tolle and other influential thinkers of the past and present.
“Vedanta is one of the six main schools of philosophy in Hinduism. We don’t hear very much about the other systems of thought in the West because they are not as exportable, not universal enough to have made the passage to the West. Only Vedanta and Yoga have successfully made the passage from India to the West….
“The Vedanta system of thought is unique in its unequivocal approach to Truth. It postulates the following:
“Nothing exists except the Divine Being, or Brahman…. As the essence of all, it pervades, supports, and explains everything. The doctrine of the Spiritual Oneness of Existence follows from this.
“Truth is One; Sages call it by different names. Prophets differ in their interpretation of religion due to their cultural backgrounds, and the need of the people, but not in the essentials, so that the various religions are different paths to the same goal.
“The very nature of the Soul is divine: the Cosmic Self manifests as the individual Self or Atman as it is called in Hinduism. Therefore, as heirs to the Divine Self, we truly are all Children of Immortal Bliss.
“The primary goal in life is to realize, through direct personal experience, the divine nature within our own self.
“…. No one person founded it. Every other faith, religion, or cult has been founded by an individual who established the principles of that religion. But one of the many unique features of Hinduism is that it has had not one divine incarnation, or avatar, but many on which the philosophy of Hinduism was built….
“Buddha was raised a Hindu, and was a Hindu all his life, except for his later years when he became a reformer and founded a new faith called Buddhism. One could say Buddhism is the major sect of Hinduism; it has much in common with Hinduism, just as Protestantism and Catholicism are more alike than not….
“Vedanta accepts the personal God, although its approach is essentially impersonal. Divine incarnations are considered embodiments of the universal and eternal truths of Vedanta.”