Advaita Vedanta (The Experience of Oneness)
Advaita Vedanta can be called the most influential among all Hindu philosophies. It informs that the universe is actually composed of one real thing, while everything else is an illusion. Advaita is closely linked with the yoga of knowledge (jnana yoga). Advaita also goes by the names monism, nonduality and mayavada.
The Main Themes of Advaita
Advaita says that only a person’s innermost part is aware. This part is called atman, which is termed the soul in Western philosophy. Advaita informs that the soul is one with the absolute reality of the universe. This absolute reality is called Brahman, or God. Brahman is not a powerful person or entity, it is what the universe actually is. Thus, your inner self is God.
Maya or Illusion
Advaita says only the Brahman is real. Other phenomena are unreal, because they are impermanent. We limit our thinking to our bodies, thoughts, desires etc. These are just maya, not the essential “me”. The real “me” is imperishable and part of Brahman. Maya tricks us into believing that the phenomenal world is everything.
The Importance of Advaita
When you try to understand advaita, you are actually practising the yoga of knowledge. Focus your mind on your thoughts. You are filled with fears, desires, hopes and feelings. But, advaita says these thoughts are not the real “you”. This sort of mind examination is termed discrimination, or viveka. Diligent practice of discrimination will help you transcend your ego and mind. Eventually, you will realize that your ego is a mere illusion.