Advaita Vedanta Vs Dvaita Vedanta Creative Writing Sample
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Similarities and Differences
Advaita and Dvaita are two different branches of philosophy inherent in the schools of Vedanta. While Advaita creates a framework of non-dualism or absolutism, Dvaita provides a framework for theism. Advaita emphasizes the concept of a transcendental God, who is embodied as pure consciousness. This pure consciousness is subjective. Everything that is objective and material in the world is discarded as an illusion, ‘Maya’. Advaita could be summarized through the quote: "There are no two. There is only One. I am not the body. I am not the mind. I am the Self. Aham Brahmasmi. I am that transcendental consciousness (nirguna parabrahman - without attributes) that stands as the basis for all creation (maya) yet beyond everything that is created."
Dvaita, on the other hand, provides a distinction between God and other souls. The individual is separate from God, thus creating a framework for dualism. While the Universe is a material identity, the souls are spiritual in nature. The souls, though separate from God, cannot exist without God. Their existence is dependent upon God. Souls enjoy the material world in the overarching presence of the Supreme Being. Thus, the material world and the souls relate to each other under the overall influence of God.
While Advaita and Dvaita differ in the frameworks of monoism (Advaita) versus dualism (Dvaita), both the schools of philosophy acknowledge the presence of a Supreme Being. While the Supreme Being transcends all and is omnipresent in Advaita, there is a distinction between the material world, the souls and God in Dvaita.
My Experiences in the Phenomenal World
Given the differences between Advaita and Dvaita, it would be instructive to observe my conceptions of the Universe and the framework in which I relate to the world.
Empirical Framework. Western culture is built upon rationality. There has to be a proof for everything. This is essential to avoid arguments over generalities professing the precedence of faith over all other ways to countenance reality. Through the times of the Renaissance, thinkers have tried to find concrete reasons for attributing reasons to anything. There was a time when the earth was considered to be the center of the Universe. Only when Copernicus came up with the heliocentric model did the world come to accept that the earth is only a planet in a small part of the universe. This spirit of scientific enquiry is inherent in my way of thinking. Therefore, I am intrinsically attracted to the idea of dualism. While there may be an overarching God that has created the Universe, man is unique and different from God. Man uses his unique faculties to devise the physical world around himself. Whatever man creates or whatever is present in nature, therefore, is different from a unifying entity.
Ethical Viewpoint. Intrinsically linked to the concept of dualism is the concept of Good and Evil. If everything in the world was One with no distinction, then it would follow that there would be no difference between Good and Evil. In such a framework, it would be difficult to distinguish between a savior and a murderer. We would not be able to call Hitler a mass murderer. Hitler and the millions of Jews he exterminated would be one entity and therefore indistinguishable. In the same fashion, there would be no incentive to lead a righteous life. Therefore, from the ethical framework, it is essential that the concept of dualism be held so that society can follow rules, and maintain a sense of justice in the world.
Science Transcending Duality. While renaissance and Newtonian science stresses upon cause and effect and duality, modern advances in science are going contrary to established frameworks. The concepts of wave-particle duality stress that all electron waves are probability waves. Extending the logic, it could be argued that nothing in nature is absolutely certain. In the philosophical framework, this would translate to a blurring of boundaries between concepts of Right and Wrong, because according to wave-particle duality, what is right could also be wrong in a different set of circumstances.
The Indications from Old Age. Diametrically opposed to the frameworks espoused above are concepts stressed by old age. As people become old, they tend to see things more holistically. There is a tendency to forget past injustices. There is a growing acceptance of all people, events and things without distinction. Such a framework of the old is generally called ‘wisdom’. It is possible that experience over a lifetime gets a human come closer to a realization of the ultimate truths of non-distinction.
The material world that we live in requires a framework of justice, of Good and Evil. Without such a framework, society would collapse. Therefore, I aver that the world in its present state of consciousness needs to follow the framework of Dvaita.
However, as enlightenment increases in the world, it is possible that human being evolve from their current state of violence and competition. In a world where there is greater harmony and lesser need for comparative justice, there may be room for the flowering of the framework of non-distinction with an Ultimate Being.
Thus, Advaita is a natural progression in the stream of consciousness from Dvaita. Theism is a construct that is essential in the world as it exists today. When there is greater philosophical progress in humanity and greater enlightenment, there would be scope for the concept of Advaita to be universally accepted as a norm.
Personally, while I appreciate the overarching concept of non-distinction with a Superior Being, I would tend to continue to believe in duality and Theism so as to retain a sense of ethics and righteousness that is essential for the world to progress ultimately to Advaita.
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