"Each soul is potentially divine. The goal is to manifest this Divinity within by controlling nature, external and internal. Do this either by work, or worship, or psychic control, or philosophy -- by one, or more, or all of these -- and be free. This is the whole of religion. Doctrines, or dogmas, or rituals, or books, or temples, or forms, are but secondary details."

Swami Vivekananda, From Raja Yoga

What Vedanta Teaches
Significance of Swami Vivekananda's Message
Why Vedanta Is Practical
Making Vedanta a Transforminig Force in Our Life
Sri Sarada Devi's Example
Vedanta Resources

What Vedanta Teaches

In the highest sense, Vedanta means knowledge of God or the Absolute Reality, as recorded in the Upanishads, the final section of the Vedas. This knowledge is not acquired by education, nor by adherence to scripture. Instead, Vedanta declares that it is the goal and birthright of every individual to obtain this knowledge through direct experience.

To reach this goal, Vedanta gives us principles which can guide us in our approach to life, in affirming that

  1. The universe is a manifestation of one Spiritual Reality.
  2. Within each person this Divine Essence is at the core of his or her innermost being.
  3. Thus human life becomes an opportunity to unfold and manifest this Divinity from within.
  4. All religions are valid paths which can lead one to the realization of these truths.

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Significance of Swami Vivekanada's Message

Just as his master, Sri Ramakrishna had affirmed that each of the world's religious traditions offered true and valued paths for spiritual growth and realization, Swamiji held Vedanta as the foundation and uniting focus behind any spiritual effort. By applying the universal principles of Vedanta to one's own circumstance, one could become not only a better Christian, a better Jew, a better Hindu, and so forth, but a better person in every respect.
Just as there is no one true religion which everyone must follow, neither is there one spiritual practice which is right for all. In the summary given above, Swami Vivekananda tells us we may use our natural tendencies to reach the Goal. He refers to what is called The Four Yogas, four broad highways of spiritual practice which address our need for physical activity (Karma Yoga), emotional expression (Bhakti Yoga), inquiry or knowledge (Jnana Yoga), and mental control (Raja Yoga).

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Why Vedanta Is Practical

Because they are based on Truth, which we can all experience, learning to live according to the principles of Vedanta might be considered the core and essence of practical Vedanta.

When we try to live according to these teachings, they color our approach to life.

Thinking that the world is a manifestation of divinity, for example, can awaken within us a reverence and respect for Mother Earth and her resources. Similarly, if my own true nature is divine, the same divinity that is within you, then how I relate to you is transformed. The more we come to see the divinity within ourselves and others, the less important our apparent, or outwardly visible, differences become.

Never let anyone say to you, "I can have the experience of my own divine nature, but you cannot." This notion that some can realize these Truths, and not all, cannot be! Being honest, we know it takes time -- often lifetimes. But it is possible for each of us. More than just possible. According to Vedanta, to realize our own divinity is our highest purpose in life.

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Making Vedanta a Transforming Force in Our Life

We all begin by facing the same challenge: How do we make the these ideals genuine forces in our lives? We feel the truth of the teachings, and wish to build our life around them. However, as we encounter the demands of the world around us, we often find there is a gap between our ideal and how well we can apply it. Our sincerity is great, but our responses are not the ones we are aiming toward.

Learning to apply the principles of Vedanta in our daily life is partly a function of our spiritual growth. The more we realize the Truths illustrated in Vedantic teachings, the more these serve as our natural frame of reference.

We can, however, assist in this process by developing a lifestyle which reinforces the ideals of Vedanta -- driving a wedge, so to speak, to loosen the hold of our old thoughts and habits.

Some ways to do to begin driving your wedge include: regular spiritual practices, studying the lives of saints and holy persons, reading spiritual texts, and talking with fellow aspirants.

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Sri Sarada Devi's Example

In the life of Sri Sarada Devi we can see the principles of Vedanta applied in everyday living. This makes her example and teaching especially meaningful.

As Sri Ramakrishna and Mother would say, we acquire the fragrance of spirituality by handling the flowers of holiness.

May our consideration of Holy Mother imbue us with the scent of her wondrous Mother Heart!

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Vedanta Resources Holy Mother's Cyber-Tantu Homepage

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