Thursday, April 12, 2012

Advaita- Non-Dualism


A small boy accompanied by his father is on a hiking trip. As they approach a cliff, the boy suddenly trips a stone and falls down and is hurt. He shouts, ‘Ahh!’ Out of nowhere the same words are heard, ‘Ahh!’ The boy is perplexed, he shouts, ‘Who is it?’ Back come the same words, ‘Who is it?’ The boy is angry, he shouts, ‘You fool!’ The voice responds in the same words, ‘You fool!’ The father who is witnessing this tells his son, that it is his own echo that he is hearing. He asks his son, to say, ‘I love you!’ The boy does so and back comes, ‘I love you!’ The boy is surprised at this marvelous phenomenon of echo. The father explains, ‘That’s life in real, what you give out will always return to you in same measure, when you give out hate, anger, jealousy, you will be returned with same. When you give out love, joy, enthusiasm you will experience the world to be a beautiful place.’
The above story reminds me of Jesus’ words in the New Testament, “Do unto others what you would have them do unto you.” That verse is known as the golden verse. It almost sums up the message of all religious texts and teachings. When I start treating others as I treat myself, the world will be a better place. Imagine everyone living with that philosophy! Won’t we experience Utopian dream on this earth! This brings to the question why do human beings fail to follow this? Why do I hate others, have jealousy for someone or abuse and mistreat somebody? Is it not because of the illusion of Dualism? In simple words, our minds trick us into telling that the other person is different from me. It will go on to add physical evidences of color, caste, creed, culture, habits and so on and so forth. At physical level this may seem to be true. But truth many times eludes us when our perspective is limited to the physical. Let’s take the example of the horizon where you see the sky kissing the earth. Is it really so? When you go further the horizon runs farther. If you are travelling in the desert, you may notice a place of cool water few feet away from you, but as you go near you know it’s a mirage! So what I am advocating here is that we should not limit our perspective in life to the physical but graduate to the meta-physical, the spiritual to see the truth of life.
At the spiritual level we know that we come from the same source we all dearly refer to as God. God created this universe and everything in it, so the universe is not separate entity from God, nor are human beings who are the created ones! When you know that we all come from the same source and identify each other as brothers and sisters, we understand that harming anyone is, harming ourselves and loving others is, loving ourselves. Like the story above, it echoes back to us. What I do unto others comes back to me. I am reminded of another quote by Rabbi Hillel, he said, “Do not unto others what is hateful to thyself this is the whole of Torah the rest is commentary.”
In the world of today, we are so busy in segregating things, people, communities, nations. Our minds make us believe that the differences we see at the physical level should be the basis on which we separate one from the other. So we distinguish between  the rich and poor, the fair and the dark skinned, the intelligent from the average, the male child from the female, one race from the other, one nation from another and the list is endless. We separate God as a different being than we are. We put him in the holy of holies and fear to approach his presence. We have religious leaders who make a fortune in making us feel miserable about how separate we are from God and other fellow beings because they do not follow our religion or sects. What’s the result? We have hate, jealousy, wars, crimes, acts of terrorism all done all in the name of religion! At the time of this writing India is shocked by a father killing his own infant daughter because she was a born a girl and not a boy! Aren’t we fooling ourselves?
Some may object to my proposition by saying that this is blasphemy. We do need dualism when we separate the good from the bad, the evil form the righteous, the sinners from the holy and God from the human. My question is, are we by separating the above entities really hitting at the root of the problem or just hacking at the leaves? Why do people exist whom we are compelled to label as bad, evil, unrighteous and so on and so forth? Is it not because the crimes that these people committed were because of the illusion of duality? I mistreat others and commit crimes of hate because I am bent on believing that in some way he or she is separate from me and by harming him or her, I will be promoted in my ulterior motives. Is this not an illusion? Many of us regrettably realize of late that by harming others we have harmed ourselves.
So finally friends, it is time that we understand the importance of adhering to Advaita or Non-dualism. I am not advocating a religious philosophy. But being a student of philosophy and religion, I am using this philosophy to understand the truth. For ‘you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.’ Let us be in the driver’s seat and not run by the whims and fancies of our mind. Let us go beyond dualism and our habits and culture of segregation to understand the basic inherent unity in all. Dear God, ‘Lead us from darkness to light, from untruth to truth, from death to eternal life and from dualism to non-dualism! 

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