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Core Ideas

Oneness of Everything

The essential idea behind Vedanta is that there is one God and he literally is everything. Each one of us is a part of God, as is the food we eat, the chair we sit on and book we read from. Everything is God; he is not up in the heavens, although he also is there. God is everywhere and everything, and we are God but do not realize it. By extension we are everything and everyone. We are our neighbor, we are our mother, we are the book we read.

God also can be thought of as love, and on the quantum physics level as the energy that makes matter. God does not need to be defined as something supernatural that defies science.

Covered by a Veil of Ignorance

If God is us, then we are everything. But we don’t realize we are God; we’re stuck thinking we are a separate being, this little “I” with a name and a mind and a body that was born and will die eventually. And the body was born and will die, but we actually are everything and we existed before this little “I” and will exist after our body dies. The goal in life is recognizing our infinite nature and reconnecting with our larger self, which is something we can do in the here and now. The goal is getting beyond maya, the veil of ignorance that keeps us from our infinite self.

Many Paths to Realization

Science, humanism and all world religions are but different approaches to the same end: Communion with God (or love, or understanding, or whatever you want to call it). Just as people differ, there must be different ways to find realization. Each approach is valid and appropriate for some, with a different emphasis and different strengths and weaknesses. The key is finding the right approach for a given person, whether Christianity, Buddhism, Islam or another comprehensive system, then putting it into practice (just showing up is not enough).

American Vedanta focuses on realizing our higher nature through Vedanta, which outlines four broad paths to find God: Intellect (known as Jnana yoga), love (bhakti yoga), work (karma yoga), and meditation (raja yoga).

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