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ESP: ExtraSensory Perception
Tackling The Subconscious Mind
Neurophysiology of Meditation
Samkhya and Vedanta
Advaita Vedanta as Quest for Knowledge
Training The Mind
Articles on Indian Philosophy and Religion
What is Hinduism
Religion In India Today
Six Systems of Indian Philosophy
Religion of Sri Ramakrishna
Basic Point About Philosophy
Avidya and Maya
Religious Social Movements
Necessity and Problems of Holding on to Spirituality
Articles on Upanishads and Yoga
Introduction to Upanishads
Tat Tvam Asi
Yoga Part 1
Yoga Part 2
Tantra and Kundalini Yoga
Karma Yoga In the Gita
India's Contribution to the World
Science Vedanta and Samkhya
Swami Vivekananda and His Relevance
Training the Mind
Prayers and Worship
Harmony of Religion
The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna
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Be and Make
"Be and make," this is the essence of Vedanta, separating it from other creeds, dogmas, or institutional religions. The emphasis is on praxis; practice to realize what one claims to have conceptually accepted as true. For instance, the concept of 'divinity of each soul' is often put forward as the main pillar on which Vedanta keeps its head high. Real grasp of Vedanta exhorts the person to experience or realize for himself (or herself) this divinity within. This is "becoming".
As with any other concept, the concept of Vedanta also seems to evolve and grow from person to person and in the same person from time to time. The expression of the concept is self-evident in a saint, while a lower sadhaka exhibits it in parts, as values, that we can point as spiritual. This manifestation of spirituality is the basis of Vedanta. Every religion is fundamentally concerned with spiritual dimension of human soul, but over a period the spiritual aspect is relegated to background and instead pops up ritualistic narrowness. This is because the capacity of an individual to reflect the divinity is limited. Limitation does not concern the Divinity, which is all encompassing and infinite, it relates with the matter as bound by the 'name and form'. "To be& is to try to go beyond these limitations and express more and more purity and divinity of our nature.
Of course, one may masquerade or feign such expressions, but it is not long before such hypocrisy is exposed. Then, to some extent it is true that it becomes difficult to differentiate a person progressing on spiritual path from the other who has stopped, or has not undertaken the practice in the earnest. Therefore, one should reassess a spiritual aspirant or a religious institution from time to time for certain signs of growth and life activity. Has the individual, or the organization, become all encompassing and broad based in its outlook, has it outgrown the feeling of separateness, has it given up idea of abhorrence of 'other religions'? All such questions must be explicitly put and answers sought.
Such an analysis or a study may be attempted in individual capacity or as a group. Reliable literature like scriptures and commentaries, and studies based on the research works of scholars should be accepted as authentic. The same consideration should be given to the life stories and spiritual experiences of mystics and saints. This cuts down waste of our energies and time.
Once having studied the concept on these lines, one may form a working hypothesis for the march towards experiencing the truths therein. Vedanta philosophy if studied from this point of view surely stands the rigorous test in every respect. On these verifiable tenets, one can easily proclaim that Vedanta has necessary ingredients to become the foundation for universal religion. All other religious currents are inherent in it and merge into it as background substratum.
One can engage oneself in spiritual practices to realize this unity and solidarity. This we call becoming a true Vedantin. Then the fellow obtains a sort of a 'badge' - an authority to "make& others see the truth he has already realized. However, this proposition is extremely difficult as at this juncture of human evolutionary stage true "seers" of the Truth are born once in a century or still less often. Thus there is every chance of humanity remaining ignorant or deprived of the Universal Truth for decades and centuries. A Christ, a Buddha, a Ramakrishna or a Vivekananda is born rarely. Then on whom should one base his hope of seeking supreme knowledge? It would be unjust for the whole humanity to wait for another spiritual giant to arrive and illumine them. Meanwhile generations would be denied even glimpses of the Truth.
To overcome such predicament the spiritually great souls bring with them a few disciples who understand their message with unusual clarity and precision. These disciples give respite to the masses during such period of dullness and uncertainty. They, as true followers, spread the life-story, words and message of their Masters as far off as possible. Moreover, art and literature, paintings and sculpture, folklore and dramas all these also act as vehicles to transfer and integrate the truths realized by great saints and prophets.
Religious crusades and wars, missionaries and missionary works, conversions and threats may also be seen as the means to spread the basic teachings; though sectarian, misdirected, and misguided in their extent and appeal. The followers cannot express the fullness and totality of the message the founder Soul has established and exhibited, but that does not diminish their importance. However, it warns and insists upon us to be critical when dealing with the followers. One should be aware of the limitations of both, the followers and those who are followed!
If various aspirants accept such limitations then hatred and ill feeling would fade away amongst followers of various religious and spiritual thoughts. Many religious and spiritual institutions would, in fact, be seen as a multi-pronged attack at the root of ignorance that begets corruption and evil.
C S Shah