Enlightenment in Vedanta

I sometimes speak about the ideas of Vedanta on this blog. For those of you who are not familiar with Vedanta, I want to provide a brief orientation. Vedanta is an Indian spiritual tradition based on the Vedas, and more specifically the Upanishads (the last hymns of the Vedas).

The Vedas are the oldest spiritual teaching still in practice today, dating back over 3500 years. The Vedas are hymns written by Sages, called Rishi. The Sages capable of profound states of meditation. The Vedic Sages practiced a form of meditation they called dhi. This was a type of visionary meditation. The Sages understood the world to filled with conflict and strife, as represented by the battles between the deities and the goods, as well as the cosmic wheel. Yet through meditation, the Sage relaxed the primordial Oneness of Being (Ekam).

Vedanta means the “end” or the “goal” of the Vedas, and refers to a set of spiritual teachings called the Upanishads. One could say that the Upanishads offer an interpretation or consolidation of the knowledge presented in the Vedas. The teachings of Vedanta seek to reveal the primordial Oneness of the Self. In Vedanta, this Oneness, is often spoken of as “not two” or “non dual” (advaita).

In the 8th Century AD, the philosopher Adi Shankara offered discussed the meaning of the Upanishads. He says,”the word Upanishad is formed by adding the upa (near) and the ni (with certainty) to the root sad, meaning, to shatter or kill, to attain, to loosen.”

The knowledge offered in the Upanishads ‘loosens’ or ‘shatters’ the seed of illusion. The knowledge is obtained by those who meditate on the innermost Self (Atman). Understanding the true nature of the Self leads to a release from the bondage of illusion: “Knowing that, one becomes freed from the jaws of death”.

The Upanishads teach of the true nature of the Self. The fruit of this knowledge is release from the bondage of illusion. In enlightenment, the egoic “me” and “mine” mode of Being dissolved and one becomes one with the primordial Oneness of Being.