Advaita Vedanta (अद्वैत वेदान्त), is based on the concept that the higher or the true Self is identical to the Absolute Reality (ब्राह्मण). It talks of a path to arrive at the cosmic truth of universal soul and our place in the cosmos – a spiritual realisation, so to speak. Advaita Vedanta propagates the nonduality of the spiritual life principle of the Universe (आत्मन) and Brahman (ब्राह्मण), The principle is that Atman is not distinct from Brahman.
It has its historical beginning with the 7th-century-philosopher Gaupada, author of the Mandukya-karika (माण्डूक्य कारिका). There is ultimately no individual self or soul, only the आत्मन (universal soul), in which individuals may be mapped in for a finite period, just as the space in a jar isolates itself from the larger space around it. When the jar breaks, the individual space becomes part of the larger space again. The understanding of this identity is, indeed, liberating.
A thin veil that divides my world from that of spiritual realisation can’t really be traversed in thoughts but in practice. It is difficult to fathom and even more difficult to practice.
Life is laden with immense loss, experiences of pain, upheavals, misunderstandings and insensitivity. The realm of the spiritual, though a road less travelled, and a concept, that requires a mature mind, is closer to divinity and peace.
I have felt such divinity around me more often than not. The travails and reading of Advaita Vedanta has helped me mature with time. It teaches me patience, positivity and understanding of fellow human beings. I have learnt to empathise, decode vibes and detach myself from negativity.
The part of the mind which expresses individuality, dominated by the forces of nature, is the ego. The ego and the self, stand at two ends of the spiritual journey. The journey begins with the ego and ends with the realisation of the self. The ego has to be trained to dissociate itself from whatever ideas of attachment come into the mind, through spiritual identification. It’s a gruelling prospect but evolves with time.
In a nutshell, the self is the center of the whole universe. It is the center of all individuals. Knowledge of the all-comprehensible Truth, the self, gives a person the highest satisfaction. Chandogya Upanishad (छांदोग्य उपनिषद्) says that the person of Self-knowledge finds that the Self is the all-pervading Consciousness. This means that the Self is the Substratum (ground), not only of the individual personality, but also of everything that we experience. Bringing us back to the principle of nonduality.