Summary of Vedantic Metaphysics

The student: What is the cause of this world?

The master: Ignorance.

The student: What is ignorance?

The master: It is confusing the seer with the seen.

The student: What is the seen?

The master: Everything.

The student: What is the seer?

The master: You are the seer.

The student: Who is confused?

The master: No one.

The student: Then, why is there ignorance?

The master: There is no ignorance.

The student: So how come there is a world?

The master: There is no world. What from afar appears to be the world from near is realized to be the Truth. “The face of Truth is concealed by a golden vessel.”*

The student: But I can see and hear the world!

The master: That Truth is that very seeing and hearing in which you find yourself  wrapped in a world. The seen and the heard are naught; they are like the waves in the ocean, just water like the rest of it. Only water is real; wave is mere name and form, i.e. conditioned emptiness.

The student: Who am I then?

The master: You are the unconditioned Reality, the Knower of that emptiness. You are the answer to your own question. Don’t seek; see!**

The student: Whatever.

The master: Exactly. At once drop all notions and be happy; you are already perfect: You are unconditioned Reality. Notion is condition.

*Isha Upanishad

**Swami Vivekananda

4 thoughts on “Summary of Vedantic Metaphysics

    1. Thanks dimvisionary. I don’t believe so but I agree that most people use spirituality as a means of escape; but that wasn’t the goal, particularly in Vedanta. If you don’t mind I’d like to offer a perspective:
      In Vedanta we are invited to understand the world-phenomenon as it is; not to deny or escape it but only to understand it, and then deal with it in better terms, without fear and trembling. But in order to gain that understanding one must do certain practices that kind of isolate the world or minimize its presence; this is just a technique and a means to an end. Exact same procedure is in all sciences. For instance, a physicist experimenting on something must isolate that experiment from unwanted external influences; he must control it so he gets the correct results. We cannot say in doing his job he is escaping the world; yes, he must be in dark, isolated lab, but that’s what it takes for the time being. True spirituality must be this way too; but true spirituality cannot come without practice or effort, occasional meditation/isolation, etc. But that’s the method; yet without this method no one will understand the nature of things. And until then, men will remain fearful and cowards. A realized man knows the unity of all things so he has nothing to fear, and he must fully participate in the world; yet one shouldn’t altogether dispense with knowledge and just jump in the world. Without that knowledge and understanding all acts in the world are in vain because they are motivated by the individual and not the universals.
      So I do agree with you very much that escape is no solution; but I’d say if religions appear to be that way it is in their method and not doctrine, of course except Christianity. So the imperative in Vedanta, say in what I posted, is not to escape the world but to escape your false understanding of it. Worldliness in all spiritual traditions really means a false attitude toward the world. It is a matter of seeing things rightly instead of escaping them. And this isn’t my view; it is what the founders of these traditions have preached. Lazy people misinterpreted it; so theirs is a lazy spirituality. At the end of the day, Samsara is Nirvana.


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