a little Vedanta

What is Vedanta?

“Vedanta rep­re­sents the philo­soph­i­cal por­tion of the ancient scrip­tures of India, the Vedas. Specif­i­cally, it refers to the final por­tion of the Vedic lit­er­a­ture, the Upan­ishads, but it also includes the Bha­gavad Gita, the great epics of India, as well as the Puranas, as well as many other texts, hymns, and writ­ings.
The basic teach­ing con­cerns the ulti­mate iden­tity of the indi­vid­ual soul with the Supreme Soul. The goal of Vedanta is for the seeker to have the direct expe­ri­ence of his or her true nature, and it is held that each and every one of us is qual­i­fied to have that high­est illu­mi­na­tion, if we are will­ing to put forth sin­cere and intense effort.
From the very ear­li­est period, Vedanta has preached the har­mony of reli­gions. We find this in the ancient words of the Rigveda, ekam sad viprā bahudhā vadanti(“Truth is one, sages call it by var­i­ous names”) as well as in the real­iza­tions of the mod­ern day saint, Sri Rama­kri­shna (“The sub­stance is One under dif­fer­ent names, and every­one is seek­ing the same sub­stance; only cli­mate, tem­pera­ment,  and name cre­ate dif­fer­ences. Let each one fol­low his own path. If he sin­cerely and ardently wishes to know God, peace be unto him. He will surely real­ize Him.”)
Accord­ing to Sri Rama­kri­shna, God is both form­less and with form, the Per­sonal God of the devo­tee as well as the Imper­sonal Absolute of the philoso­pher. We can call on God in any num­ber of rela­tion­ships, but, Sri Rama­kri­shna believed, to look upon God as one’s mother and one­self as Her child is a very pure and effec­tive means to real­ize God.
Vedanta also teaches that we are all mem­bers of a sin­gle fam­ily and that our dif­fer­ences are merely super­fi­cial…..
The Vedan­tic teach­ing that the Lord dwells within in all beings was given spe­cial mean­ing by Swami Vivek­a­nanda through his doc­trine of the “Liv­ing God.” For him, the high­est form of wor­ship was to see God dwelling within all beings, and espe­cially in the poor and under­priv­i­leged. To serve the poor with the atti­tude that we are serv­ing God was to him the great­est wor­ship of God.”(Thanks to http://vedantadc.org what-is-vedanta)

According to what is written above, Looking at Mother Teresa, I would say she was also a saint of that teaching. During an interview on Canadian TV several years ago, she was asked as to how a woman of her age could do the work she did.

She replied that 1) every morning she meditated for one hour and in that hour she received the necessary grace and 2) she said that when she was on her knees tending to someone dying in the streets of Calcutta, it could be a Hindu, a Christian or Buddhist or whatever religion, she did not know but as she looked into their eyes, she saw only the Christ she worshipped.  For her, there was no difference.
Many of the popular teachers today are of this school. Among the best known, was Ramana Maharshi who lived in Tiruvanamanali and who made a very profound impression on the life of Fr. Henri Le Saux and we also read of Papa Ram Das and Mataji and I mentioned Nisirgadata Maharaj, and in our times, alive and teaching, of the same school is Mooji.
All these teachers have their own ways of expounding the same realities of Vedanta leading to the experience of our true Self or God within. It was the same truth that the early Christian monks of the dessert sought and wrote about. Their writings have come down to us and translated from the books called “Philokalia” Here is one of the writings from St. Nicodemos The Hagiorite:
“God, the Blessed nature, The Transcendant Perfection, the Creative Principle of all good and beautiful things, Transcendentally Good and Beautiful, having from eternity destined according to His Divine Idea to deify man, and having from the beginning, within Himself set this purpose, created man at a time when He was well pleased. Making the body out of matter and placing inside it a soul which He created, He set man as a sort of a cosmos, great by virtue of the soul’s many and superior powers, in a small cosmos.. He placed man as a contemplator of Visible Creation…..” (The Philokalia, translated from the original Greek. edited by Constantine Cavarnos ISBN 1-887429-79-7))

I was inspired and encouraged to visit Arunachala and Tiruvanmali and the home of the great saint of Vedanta, Ramana Maharshi.

The holy mountain Arunachala

Manifestation of Shiva

Home and guru of Sri Ramana Maharshi

I arrived by train one day and went to the address which was given to me to seek a room close to Ramana Maharshi’s Ashram for a week or so. There was hardly any room and I was allowed to leave my things there while I went to visit the ashram.
Although all the rooms in the ashram were occupied, the darshan room which held the couch that Ramana Maharshi sat on during the interviews and talks, was very quiet and I found myself alone sitting very close. There was a very large picture of him on the couch, in the place where he sat. I looked at it for some time and then closed my eyes and enjoyed a very peaceful meditation.

I could not help wondering about Fr. Henri Le Saux and from his writings of his meeting and how it changed his life completely. So many things had happened and changed the lives of so many people all beginning in this place.
On coming out I met a young lad from France and he asked me if I had just arrived and if I found a place to stay and he offered to show me one, so I followed him. It was in walking distance and not very far away. This little village was very quiet at this time of the year.
The young man lived in a cottage surrounded by a large yard with flowers and trees and the place he proposed was a small hut in the garden next door. The place was owned by a wealthy woman from Switzerland and she was away for several months and her gardener was able to lease the hut to me.
It was a simple space with a cot and in the back of the yard was toilet and also a spot for me to shower, with the garden hose. I liked it and so I paid for the week and settled in for the night.
The next morning after my shower, I was going to my hut when the guy next door called out to me as he was tending a fire, cooking something in the garden. “Would you like a bowl of porridge?” he offered and I politely thanked him explaining I don’t eat porridge, just cant, after eating it all the days of my youth!. He then invited me to accompany him to visit a saint in the area, a man they called “The beggar”. I accepted.  later on, we were on our way and stopped at the market to get some gifts for the “Beggar” as was the custom. I was buying some fruit but my companion insisted Instead, that I buy a few boxes of cigarettes. “Strange” I thought, but he insisted! and so we arrived at the home of the Beggar with our boxes of cigarettes and waited in the corridor our turn to go in.

Eventually a young lad came and called us in. It was a large room with a high roof and large windows and the Beggar sat in the middle, on a mat and next to him was a big child’s potty which he used as an ash-tray! I was rather surprised. after welcoming us he asked from what country did I come and when I mentioned “Quebec, Canada” he exploded with laughter. He said “that country wants to be free!” and he chuckled.

“Would you sing the mantra for us” asked the lad, and the Beggar began to sing “Om Sr Ram Jai jai Ram….” and he said “Papa Ram Das gave me” It was quite an experience hearing him sing this and it reminded me so much of my stay at Papa Ram Das’ ashram.

I do not remember all that was said afterwards except when It was time to leave, the young French guy said “It is so nice to be here. The time passes so quickly, why is it I feel so sad to leave?” The Beggar looked at him and taking a puff at his cigarette, said, “You like it here, because of my Father”.

“I have difficulties believing in the Father” said the lad and again another puff and looking directly at him, he said “Whenever you are hungry, do not say “I am hungry, but rather, ‘this body is hungry” and you are tired, say, ‘this body is tired’, If you do this, one day, you will know the Father.”

We were now out in the streets and the lad looked at me and said, “we must find a shop, I am so thirsty!”  “Already you forgot what he told you, Say ‘this body is thirsty’”

I never took his address but sometimes I wish I did so I could ask him “Do you now know the Father?””

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