Yes Vedanta purpose is to preserve and share the original message of Advaita Vedānta sampradāya (tradition revived by Ādi Śaṅkarācārya) – by revealing the depth of their evergreen non-dual teachings contained in texts (sourced from last section of Vedas called jñāna-kāṇḍa) like: Upaniṣads, Bhagavad Gītā, Brahma Sūtras, Vivekacūḍāmaṇi, Nārada Bhakti Sūtra, Aparokṣānubhūtiḥ, Pañcadaśī, etc.
Advaita Vedanta is not a philosophy, not a school of thought, not a system of ideas, not a set of contentions. It is a means of knowledge (pramāṇa) for something that has to be understood rather than believed. It is a means for revealing the nondualism nature of Reality. It does so, not by replacing one set of notions with another – but by showing the error in mistaken ones.
Content taught in class is based on Traditional Vedānta (originally 100% in Sanskrit), but it’s simplified in basic English, while also making use of Sanskrit words when necessary, so essence is strictly preserved.
Yes Vedanta is not experience-oriented. It is for those who seek Self-Knowledge, not mystical experiences. We listen to the teacher, reflect on what has been taught and ascertain it through contemplation.
Also, we’re not an institution, nor a business, nor donation-dependent. Teacher is self-supported financially.
No commitment of attendance or academic qualification is needed, and no race, gender, religion or nationality is excluded.
“ Moving to Australia at age 17, a world of knowledge opened – lacking that privilege previously in South Africa. Thus gleefully said I, “Yes please – show me how to __, because it’s obvious I don’t know anything!”
At this stage self-help, general prosperity, and human psychology was a full-time glad pursuit. So was reselling goods online for healthy profits.
However decent success up until 23 raised suspicion in form of inquiry. A gradual recognition of impermanence of money, friendship, intimacy, security, social status, self-help, ecstatic states of consciousness – was overwhelmingly noticeable.
Noticed it was, there is no end or finality to anything performed or experienced… no matter how efficient, good-hearted or brilliant effort may have been invested into work/life.
Thus escalated from a whisper to a professional orchestra called “compositions of endless inquiry”:
“ What is this strange feeling of finality I’m craving? What is finality? Finality to where? What is this end I’m seeking? End to what?
When will I stop (end) asking questions? How is it that I am aware of these question being asked? To whom are these questions directed?
Am I the one asking questions OR the awareness of the questions asked? If I am awareness, then WHO is doing the question-asking? How is it that I know of both entities simultaneously? Could I be both or just one or neither? Which one am I then! ”
This sort of enquiry directed majority attention inwards whilst life continued outwards.
Hence began journey of seeking TRUTH. (Finality/end – as later discovered – means the end of the unresolved doubt every human is eventually confronted with to solve, “What is my TRUE identity?“)
So next 10+ years, majority of day was invested into investigating, comparing, mastering and implementing hundreds of known methodologies, religions and instructions to “Knowing Thyself”.
Pilgrimages explored, countries traveled, Sages seen, certificates in various arts obtained, hundreds of hours reading, breathlessness achieved (nir-vikalpa samādhi), Ayahuasca, Cosmic Orgasms, various forms of Qigong, Kriyā Yoga, Chanting names of God, Prayers, Mantras, affirmations, hypnosis, etc…
Just passing experiences – cultivating only the intellectual-ego (meaning adding onto the Spiritual resume of Transcendental experiences). Yet still Ignorant of WHO I AM… and awed by the words of the scriptures (Vedas, Bible, Kabbalah, Buddhists texts, etc) and wise sages.
Further distracted by fact that in stage of Ignorance (not knowing Truth of “I”) – nearly every ‘guru’ seems convincing and worth listening to!
Then as it goes, when the aspirant has demonstrated enough zeal (one’s every breath is ONLY for sake of Liberation, willing to die for it) – then teacher/guru crosses his-her path. It’s the same story heard before.
And so it was…
After Vedānta teachings by James Swartz – and sticking with the program (meaning self-inquiring in light of what’s been heard)… Self-Knowledge was-is firmly and permanently established… without again sporadically confusing “I” with what I am NOT. No more lights going on-off. Permanent clarity ensues.
The uncomfortable pressure of seeking, sage-fascination, concerns to improve, desires for worldly accomplishments, Love-validation from others, intimidation by authority-gurus, fear of ‘not-becoming’, worries of dying-rebirth, motivation for connection/intimacy… thankfully dissolved.
It is still bewildering how the simplest, most obvious, never-not-present can possibly be missed. Good news is – with patience and perseverance – one’s success is absolutely predictable. For example…
Imagine trying to describe to a 3 year old boy why it’s right to share with his sister. Best of luck! Student-child’s capacity isn’t ready to accept nor fully comprehend.
(Similarly for the spiritual aspirant. At beginning, goal of mokṣa [Freedom, Liberation] is something far away, mysterious and hard to grasp, only enjoyed by the “special few”.)
Thus, teacher-parent continues loving and educating… contributing to student-child’s comprehension.
One day, sharing is the new normal for the adult and gains much joy from giving. Who then is grateful he/she succeeded because of (1) right knowledge imparted by teacher-parent, and (2) willingness to continually LISTEN and CONTEMPLATE on the knowledge.
Hence Yes Vedanta purpose is to educate the student’s mind in light of the highest knowledge (brahmavidyā). Thus establishing clarity of (a) who-what you are (satya; non-changing), (b) who-what you are not (mithyā; changing), and (c) not confusing a and b.
When distinction of a and b is absolutely clear… the final Reality (Brahman or Consciousness: Vedic | Father: Christian | Emptiness: Buddhism) is directly comprehended as NOT apart from a nor b. Meaning…
All is Consciousness. And YOU are THAT (tat tvam asi).
This is the highest purpose-accomplishment of human life.
Maybe we’ll meet someday.
In Service to Lord,
Andre Vas (AV)
(I’m basically a devoted, life-long student and teacher of Sanskrit and Vedānta. Immersed in Upaniṣad/Vedic texts 6-8 hours per day.)
Random pictures with Vedānta teachers:
uttiṣṭhata. jāgrata. prāpya varān nibodhata
“Arise! Awaken! And Realize the Truth!”
– Kathopanisad 1.3.14