Vedanta: The Manual of Life
The ancient philosophy of Vedanta can help us thrive inside our modern lives, explains A. Parthasarathy.
Vedanta literally means ‘culmination of knowledge’. Veda means knowledge, anta means end. The knowledge of your real Self – the Self within that is supreme, and presently obscured by your body, mind and intellect. You are aware of the body, mind and intellect but not your real Self. Vedanta helps you unfold your Self and discover the true nature of your inherent Being. For your real Being is divine. The Abode of absolute peace and bliss.
Humanity is unaware of the intrinsic wealth within oneself. People seek wealth and enjoyment in the external world, and governed universally by two motivations – to acquire wealth and to enjoy what is acquired. Thus is the life of human beings propelled by these two forces. Few realise that there can be no satiation or fulfilment through acquisition or enjoyment. Through external pursuits.
Life is defined in Sanskrit as anubhava dhara, a stream of experiences. As long as experiences flow, there is life. When the flow ceases, life is extinct. An experience is therefore a unit of life, made up of two factors – subject and object. The individual, you, is the subject. The world, the object. When you contact the world, subject meets object, you gain an experience, and the flow of experiences is life.
One class of thinkers worked upon the object world to provide humanity with greater peace and happiness. They were the scientists. Science has made a colossal contribution for human welfare. It has developed the world to near perfection, with press-button comforts. Nevertheless, people are not as happy as they should be. In a perfected world there seems to be only worry and anxiety, suffering and sorrow everywhere. This is a paradox.
Another class of thinkers investigated the cause of the paradox. They were the ancient sages living in the Himalayan ranges. These great philosophers analysed the anatomy of an experience. And discovered that the subject, the individual, was unattended and neglected to a point of fault. While the world was well taken care of by science. Consequently, the unprepared individual lived in stress and strain in a world of plenty and prosperity. So the sages focussed their attention on the subject, the individual. And gave out the sublime philosophy of Vedanta. The knowledge designed to rehabilitate the individual to perfection.
Subjective development prepares the individual to meet the challenges of the objective world. Human beings alone are faced with the dilemma of choosing their action. They need to exercise their choice of action every moment of their life. All other creatures have a computerised, pre-set programme of action. They do not have the problem of choosing their action. A tiger cannot become a vegetarian. Nor a cow become a meat-eater. They are constrained to follow a course of action to suit their particular nature.
Vedanta equips you with the knowledge to make the right choice of action. It also provides you with the technique of action. A technique you can apply in your home, in your business, in society, everywhere. It gives you a practical way of life to satisfy your material and spiritual needs. Following that course, you enjoy prosperity with peace of mind.
This is an extract from A. Parthasarathy’s book Vedanta Treatise: The Eternities.
Vedanta classes at Ananda in India
You can attend fascinating Vedanta classes twice a day led by a member of the Vedanta Academy as a guest of Ananda in the Himalayas, a comfortable and cosseting destination spa in India. The Vedanta Academy also runs annual retreats in India each year, and there are Vedanta centres that offer talks and workshops all over the world. Find out more at Vedanta World.