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Vedanta/Advaita

To: soc.religion.eastern
From: Roger Adams (radams@cerritos.edu)               
Subj: Vedanta/Advaita (0000.vedanta.ra)
Date: unknown

Warning: This post has the approach that there is Truth and the various
great religions have emphasized some portion of this Truth , and none
of the great religions such as Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism
have a monopoly on this Truth and none are without some portion of Truth. 

So what doctrine, dogma, and magnaminously pompous religiosity must I be
following in order to have this viewpoint? Is it Undoism? Swami Satchidananda
says that he is often asked "What religion are you? You talk about the
Bible, Koran, Torah. Are you a Hindu?" and he replies "I am not a Catholic,
a Buddhist, or a Hindu, but an Undo. My religion is Undoism. We have done 
enough damage. We have to stop doing any more and simply undo the damage
we have already done" :-). Actually this view is from the point of view
of Vedanta, a kind of universal religion in that all the various religions
are taken to be various sects and not fully self-contained (ie. no monopoly
on Truth).

Speaking of the very ancient Vedanta philosophy which came from India, 
Swami Vivekananda said: "This Vedanta philosophy has certain peculiarities.
In the first place, it is perfectly impersonal. It does not owe its origin
to any person or prophet. It does not build itself around one man as a
center. Yet it has nothing to say against philosophies which do build them-
selves around certain persons. In later days in India, other philosophies
and systems arose, built around certain persons - such as Buddhism, or many
of our present sects. They each have a certain leader to whom they owe
allegiance, just as the Christians and Mohammedans have. But the Vedanta
philosophy stands at the background of all these various sects, and there
is no fight and no antagonism between Vedanta and any other system in the
world."

Swami Vivekananda used terms "Advaita" and "Vedanta" interchangeably. 
He refers to Advaita as "nonduality, oneness, the idea of an Impersonal God".
On the subject of the history of Vedanta in India and touching on Buddha and 
Buddhism, he said: "Advaita was never allowed to come to the people. At first 
some monks got hold of it and took it to the forests, and so it came to be
called the 'forest philosophy.' By the mercy of the Lord, Buddha came and
preached it to the masses, and the whole nation became Buddhists. Long
after that, when atheists and agnostics had destroyed the nation again,
it was found that Advaita was the only way to save India from materialism.
Then Shankaracharya arose and once more revivified the Vedanta philosophy.
He made it a rationalistic philosophy. In the Upanishads the arguments are
often very obscure. Buddha laid stress upon the moral side of the philosophy,
and Shankaracharya, upon the intellectual." [I quote this from _Vedanta
Voice of Freedom_ Swami Vivekananda].

This last may cause some disagreement as Buddhists these days would not
see atheism or agnosticism as an misconstruction of the teachings of Buddha 
but rather fully consistent with it. Whatever your opinion, Vedanta has no
problem with it but I do feel that although Truth is beyond words, it
is not beyond realizing and this Truth is God and nothing is apart from
That. According to Swami Vivekananda who came to U.S. in late 1800's and
early 1900's to preach Vedanta, the Buddhist concept of Nirvana is exactly
the same as the Vedantist concept of Brahmin [from same source previously
cited]. He was bold enough to make this claim from his own realization and
not theory or just high philosophy as I might be correctly accused of if
I made this claim. Take it any way you like but I prefer to see Buddha
in the context NOT of "Hinduism" which seems to be rather confusing with
all its sects but in the context of the pure Advaita Vedanta that Swami
Vivekananda introduced to America at a time that one might consider to
have not been a very receptive time :-). One can be a Buddhist, Christian,
Muslim, Hindu, or whatever and still adhere to Vedanta philosophy but this
might make you unorthodox especially in religions like Christianity but in
no way any less a Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu etc.


        Roger Adams
        radams@cerritos.edu               To those in whom love dwells,
        Cerritos College                  the whole world is one family.
        11110 Alondra Blvd                             A Hindu Proverb
        Norwalk, California 90650
        USA                               292 Dwapara :-)
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