Those following various schools of Hindu philosophy must be aware of the concept of Advaita. As per the IAST, it translates, literally, into “non-secondness.” As per the vision of Advaita philosophy, there are three planes of existence; paramarthikasatta (absolute existence), vyavaharikasatta (worldly existence), and pratibhāsika (illusory existence).
People seeking self-awareness are turning toward Advaita Vedanta. The practice is, however, difficult to embrace in everyday lives. It conflicts with many concepts in our daily lives and can make one want to give up. Here, understand the conflict that Advaita philosophy poses, how it can be overcome, and steps to embrace everyday life practice.
When you study this mythological concept in the context of your daily life, it is riddled with conflict. It is a philosophy that preaches oneness, while everywhere we look, there is duality. The roots lie in the ancient Hindu Upanishads, and you need to be guided by a qualified teacher.
This is where the first conflict presents itself. This principle is a way of life, a philosophy. It preaches non-duality, and the concept of teacher and student is dual. But, you ask, “How do I learn the practice?”
Overcoming the Conflict
The solution is to look inward. When the mind has gained the strength of one-pointedness, through self-inquiry, you can overcome this conflict. Do this by forgoing all things perishable. It requires you to be detached, dispassionate, discriminating, and renouncing. You will have to give up your attachment to the body and worldly things, such as relationships, belongings, and comfort (rajas and tamas).
Rajas and tamas surround present-day lives, and renunciation can be difficult. Philosophers have come up with a middle path that allows you access to both worlds and gives you inner peace.
The first principle that one needs to adopt when striving for Advaita Vedanta is a lifelong commitment. For those going through a phase, turning to this philosophy is useless, because attainment only comes with commitment. It requires Sadhana, self-discipline, and a Sattvic way of life to attain the purification necessary for enlightenment.
The path to purification is a long and challenging obstacle course. It takes years of perseverance and practice. The beginning is the most difficult, but the path becomes a little easier if you can overcome the initial urge to give up. Your body and mind will reject the notion of such an intense transformation. It is difficult to abandon old habits, and there is a constant battle between the Sattvic mind and the impure one.
Therefore, beginning the Advaita Vedanta journey requires tremendous perseverance, steady determination, forbearance, sincerity, courage, and an undying thirst for the truth.
The next step is self-inquiry. Every day, when you take time out, remove all other thoughts, and focus on one single thought, “Who am I?”Now, you have begun your journey towards non-duality. Dwell deeper into the origin of the sense of “I.” For example, your hand doesn’t tell you they are yours. Your thoughts don’t tell you that you own them. When you start questioning these aspects of your thought, you are on the path of true self-discovery.
Find Some Quiet Time
Getting away from your routine is necessary. You need to set aside some peaceful time when you can reflect and ponder about the inner-self. Focus on the “I” by thinking about your mind, body, thoughts, and the source of those thoughts. You will have to ignore all distractions and center your thoughts on where the sense of “I” arises from. When you can do this, the ego is transcended to another level, beyond the earthly one.
Set aside at least 45 minutes every day to meditate. In a wakeful state, it becomes difficult to achieve a state of unity; you can only imagine it. It will be difficult initially, but you will have to rise above your ego to achieve this state of mind. Pause all thoughts and identify your existence with that of the universe. When you continue to follow this practice every day, you will achieve a higher level of self-awareness.
Adi Shankara, too, may have found it difficult to practice the philosophy of Advaita. This is evident in his scripture Soundarya Lahari. The entire work is composed around describing a goddess, her beauty, body, and powers. You may wonder, how can I achieve a state of complete self-awareness when Shankara himself may have not.
The idea behind Advaita Vedanta is to help you rise above the petty and small thinking. You should be able to rise above that level to view the world from a holistic viewpoint. It will help you appreciate your uniqueness and move forward on the path of unity, tolerance, acceptance, and harmony.