A Brief Overview of Vedanta
Vedanta is the awakening from unreal to Real, from ignorance to bliss. It teaches that anything we can experience with our senses only exists in our mind, which also doesn’t exist. And yet, in realizing that nothingness, Vedanta opens the door to a freedom beyond anything we can imagine. Vedanta is our journey home.
Somewhere, hidden deep within us is the little spark of memory of our true Self. When we start our spiritual journey, Vedanta is the breath of wisdom that fans that spark, eventually bursting it into flame, to become the fire that consumes our ignorance and opens our inner eye to the joy of Enlightenment.
In mythological times, Brahma the Creator saw the ignorance and confusion of humankind and in his infinite compassion sent his sons to restore the wisdom of Divine Consciousness and alleviate suffering. This wisdom became the Vedas, and Brahma’s sons became the Great Vedic Rishis.
The four principal Vedas (Rig, Sama, Yajur and Atharva) and their supporting texts contain the spiritual knowledge encompassing all aspects of life. However, the essence of each Veda is contained in the parts known as the Upanishads. Upanishad literally means “to sit close by.” So these “hidden” teachings were reserved for those select students deemed ready for Higher States of Consciousness. While the Vedas prepare us and bring us to the door of Enlightenment, the Upanishads lift us over the threshold into the magnificence of Self-realization. Thus, as the culmination of knowledge, they became known as Vedanta, the “end of the Veda.”
Over time, the wisdom of Vedanta has had several interpretations and revivals and has been expressed in texts such as the Bhagavad Gita, Brahma Sutras and Yoga Vasistha. Its different forms have been taught from the Himalayas to California, and the commentaries by the 8th century Saint Adi Shankara, are the foundation of much of the Chopra teachings. However, through all its interpretations, the basic premise of Vedanta remains, that there is one Truth and the individual soul is one with Brahman, the Ultimate Reality. TAT TWAM ASI, Thou art That.
Vedanta teaches that we are already Enlightened but we have covered it by layers of self-made illusion or maya. It describes our spiritual obstacles as dullness, distraction, attachment and satisfaction with inferior states of bliss. Its remedies are discrimination between the Real and unreal, non-attachment, self-control and a single-minded longing for Truth.
Vedanta doesn’t pretend that the journey is easy -- it calls it the “razor’s edge” -- but offers us four Yogas or paths to Enlightenment and tells us, “to set our resolve, our ideal and fill our mind with nothing else.”
• Jnana - the path of knowledge, understanding and self inquiry.
• Bhakti - the path of love and devotion, the simplest path which can be followed by anyone.
• Karma - the path of selfless work, where all action is seen as an offering to the Divine.
• Raja - the ‘Royal Path’ of meditation, mantras and techniques, including the disciplines of the Eight Limbs of Yoga.
Ultimately, Vedanta is the path to Silence. The Silence which reveals itself when we transcend everything else. The Silence of God’s language where we hear the whisper of our true name, Brahman. _______________________________________________
About the Author - Roger Gabriel, Master Educator
According to the Nadi Jyotishees, Roger spent his last life living in Kerala in South India. But, as a result of certain misguided deeds, it became necessary for him to reincarnate, this time in England, where he spent his formative years. In an attempt to rectify his accumulated karmic debts, he decided on a more service-to-humanity lifestyle, this time around.
Roger first learned meditation in the early 70’s, which instantly became his passion and he soon trained to be a meditation teacher with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
In the early 1980s, Roger began studying Ayurveda the ancient Indian system of healthcare. While helping to establish centers for Ayurveda and meditation in the US he met and become friends with Deepak Chopra. Over the next 18 years, Roger assisted Deepak with numerous seminars and workshops, taught over ten thousand people on all continents to meditate and trained hundreds to be teachers of meditation and Ayurveda.
Roger has met and studied with great teachers in India and the West. In 2006, Roger was very fortunate to be initiated by both Sai Maa Lakshmi Devi and His Holiness Satuwa Baba Maharaji in Varanasi, India. Receiving his spiritual name of Raghavanand, he became part of both the Shiva and Vishnu lineages of the Vedic traditions.
Roger has traveled extensively in India, and offers seminars and workshops to share his experiences and the knowledge he has gathered over the years. As time permits, he involves himself with charity programs in India and takes like-minded seekers on tours to some of his favorite pilgrimage sites there. When not traveling, he lives in Boulder, Colorado.