Advaita Vedanta, A Philosophy for Living in Harmony with Ourselves and Each Other
(Santa Fe, NM, USA)
Karuna, writer and promoter of The Gathering, A Spiritual Woodstock
The need for people to raise themselves to the point of Self-Awareness is completely apparent when we look at the way we treat ourselves, each other and the world we share. Many people are living in fear as a result of old belief systems, what mass media projects to be true and their perception of reality. Others are unhappy, over-medicated or abusing a substance to numb themselves from the reality. Selfishness is abundant and as a result not only are we suffering but also our environment and the creatures living there as well. Every generation seems to be living under the expectation of a “dooms-day” threat. However, there are techniques that teach coping skills for these stresses and teachers who are living enlightened lives. We can learn from them, creating happier, more fulfilling lives if only we knew where to turn, what to study and how to live. Advaita Vedanta is but one philosophy of how to do so.
Self Awakening is the natural state of being human! We all have this birth-right and we all desire to live happy, safe, fulfilling lives. I have learned through my own practice of yoga, meditation, self-reflection and spiritual studies that we can actually re-program the way we think, so to speak. In learning to do so, we begin to redirect any negative patterns our minds repeats and create a profound change in the way we feel and move in our lives. This re-patterning of our mind can happen either spontaneously, (if we are truly blessed and graced with luck) or it can be developed with the guidance of a teacher who is living by example in an awakened state.
I have been blessed in my life with the guidance of such teachers. My guru, Shubhraji, is a living example of what I strive for in my life in the ways she projects humor, faith, honesty and her teachings of Advaita Vedanta. The essential message is that of Universal love for all beings and Oneness. These teachings spread the true values of Universal Consciousness and techniques for right living which is crucial in our lives. It is a practical philosophy, not a religion, as is often misunderstood, that helps us reach a deep understanding of our own True nature which is the essence of the Absolute One.
Before I learned about the teachings Advaita Vedana had to offer, I felt like I was living on an emotional roller coaster. I was feeling victimized by the circumstances in my life and as a result, I felt stressed, depressed and numbed myself by using substances to avoid these feelings. However, my coping skills were not working for me and I felt even more hopeless! It wan’t until, I discovered yoga that I began to turn my life around a full 180 degrees for the better. The more I practiced yoga, the more I wanted to learn about it. The more I learned, the deeper into the practice I delved, discovering the benefits of meditation and the teachings Advaita Vendanta offered. These offerings, were a new technique, a new mind-set for living my life to my fullest potential.
Throughout my 9 years of studying with Shubhraji, old belief systems that were ingrained in me since childhood began to fade away, being replaced with a system of thought that was logical, comprehensive and easily understood. These teachings are
based on several ancient texts that have withstood the test of time and remain relevant to this present day! Universal teachings, means that the teachings relate to every human no matter what race, religion, culture or background we come from. It is a beautiful experience when we realize we are all the essence of the One.
We are taught to self reflect, to look deep within ourselves to understand our patterns. The patterns or vasanas as they are called are habits we continue to perpetuate. When we see our habits we can begin to shift those which are not working for us by exhausting them. It is a way of “growing up” spiritually. We recognize the patterns the mind takes us and realize that ultimately we are on control of our minds, not vice vera. We do not have to be victims to our thoughts!
As taught in the Hindu text, the Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna, the warrior who initially does not want to fight the war he must, is taught by Krishna, who represents God, to harness his thoughts in his mind just as a charioteer must take hold of the reins to guide his horses on the correct course. We too, must “harness” our minds and lead our thoughts toward correct and pleasant thinking. It takes practice to re-wire our thought patterns but it is not impossible! We must become the “warrior” within, not in a harsh manner but as a spiritual warrior of truth and consciousness which will reward us with feelings of bliss!
Speaking the truth with kindness and consideration for the feelings of others and noticing how our words deeply affect ourselves is another technique to practice daily. Words can be used as a means to express thoughts, feelings and our needs but can be used as weapons and armor and as well. When we are careless in our speech our words can hurt others. This is the stem of all violence in the world. Loving, truthful communication is a skill to be developed and nurtured. There has been extensive studies on Non-Violent Communication and how this manner of speaking can bridge misunderstandings, arguments and violence. Becoming mindful of our speech is another way to develop higher states of conscious awareness within ourselves. It is an act of becoming mindful.
Taking time to sit quietly to reflect on some of these Vedantic teachings opens our hearts, the doorway to more subtle layers of ourself. Self reflection and study helps us to understand ourselves more intimately as if we were scientists in laboratory examining something under a microscope. We begin to “peel” away layers of self to ultimately reveal our True Self. When we can see ourself for who we are we can sit comfortably in silent meditation, which transcends our awareness even more deeply.
These are just a few techniques that help us to move from the untruth, to the Truth, from the darkness into the Light and from living unconscious lives to the manifesting full Consciousness in our daily lives. When we set our minds to practicing daily, with devotion, we begin to live the lives we were meant to live; harmonious, happy, fulfilled, peaceful, transformed, AWAKE.
The Gathering, A Spiritual Woodstock is a historic event designed to guide people to understand that enlightenment is attainable right now in this moment! For more information, please visit, http://spiritualwoodstock.com/spiritual-awakening/