Advaita is the clearest and most systematic expression we have found of the common philosophy that lies at the heart of many of the world’s great religions and philosophies. Meaning ‘one without a second’, it is a universal philosophy of great breadth. Its most central tenet is that everyone and everything are in essence the expression of one consciousness, irrespective of geography, race, religion or creed.
A true appreciation of Advaita allows life to be led more fully and happily, conferring greater freedom on the individual and those around him or her. It is designed to bring out the best in everyone, whatever the part they are playing.
Is it a religion?
No. Advaita does not stand in the place of religion. Rather, as many students in the School of a religious disposition have found, it has the capacity to expand and deepen an understanding of their own religion, whatever it may be. It is equally valuable for, and applicable to, those who practise no religion.
What is its history?
Advaita was first taught by Shankara, one of the greatest figures in Indian philosophy, who lived in the eighth century AD. He never claimed it as his own, rather proclaiming it as an eternal tradition.
The School was introduced to Advaita by a leading modern exponent in India, Shri Shantananda Saraswati.
Is Advaita effectively the main subject taught in the School?
Yes, for students who decide they wish to continue their studies in the School for more than 2-3 years. It has been found to be an inspiration and reference point for other studies. For example, one result of studying it can be an increase in clarity of mind and observation. As a result, it has helped to promote a flowering of interest among some of the School’s longer term students in other subjects, including art, architecture, astronomy, dance, education, medicine, music, poetry, renaissance studies, Shakespeare, business ethics, Plato, Sanskrit and Vedic mathematics. These are generally carried out in specially formed study groups, or are offered as lectures and workshops to the general public.
These studies, together with economics and other philosophical lines of enquiry such as Plato, are continually related back to the study and practice of Advaita philosophy as the source of the underlying guiding principles.
Does Advaita form the basis of the Introductory practical philosophy course?
The introductory course is inspired by the principles of Advaita, but the course is quite general, covering a wide range of philosophical ideas throughout the ages. It is designed primarily to arouse and foster a love of wisdom.