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And what is mind And how is it recognized? If I clearly draw In sumi ink, the sound Of breezes drifting through pine Is all that is seen.
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Advaita | Advaita Vedanta
A Discussion with James Swartz
Advaita (pronounced aahdwaituh) is a Sanskrit compound that means ‘not two.’ Although it can refer to anything, it is a particularly important word in the Vedic spiritual tradition because it indicates an important fact about the nature of consciousness, the Self. The portion of the Vedas that deal with the topic of enlightenment is called Vedanta. Vedanta contends that reality is advaita, ‘not two.’ This means that the subject-object distinction that is the most salient feature of what unenlightened individuals consider to be reality, does not actually obtain, although it seems to. This is a very important fact about existence because it is the subject-object distinction that is responsible for much of the existential suffering that characterizes human life. It causes all manner of emotional turmoil because taking the subject-object duality to be a fact puts the individual at odds with objects.
In duality, the subject, the person I have been conditioned to believe I am, takes his or her self to be limited and incomplete. Because of this fact, he or she feels he needs objects…a house, a job, a relationship, children, etc…to eliminate the sense of incompleteness associated with his or her status as a subject. He or she must develop strategies to obtain desired objects and to avoid undesirable objects. The pursuit and avoidance of objects accounts for considerable suffering. Because both the subject and the objects are subject to change, in so far as they are in time where duality obtains, it is difficult to obtain and keep desired objects. Time, the most salient feature of duality, puts considerable stress on the subject too. His or her desires are constantly changing. When an object is obtained, a change takes place in the subject that causes his or her relationship to the object to change. The constant friction caused by the interaction between the subject and the objects inevitably leads to loss of energy and death.
Vedanta contends that duality is merely a belief brought on by ignorance of the nature of reality, not a fact. In fact, reality is non-dual. This means that the subject-object distinction does not actually obtain. The subject is not different from the objects. Both the subject and the objects are apparent manifestations of the non-dual self or consciousness. Enlightenment is the freedom from suffering that arises when the non-dual nature of the self is fully appreciated. When you no longer take yourself to be separate from the world of objects…yes, people too are objects in duality…conflict dies and the subject is free of the desire to obtain and maintain objects. Vedanta is a time tested means of inquiry into the nature of reality that ultimately resolves the subject-object duality by revealing the non-dual nature of the Self.
See a full discussion on Subject/Object Analysis by clicking here.
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