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Article XCIII: Practice vs. Philosophy

"If I were asked to define the Hindu creed, I should simply say: search after Truth through non-violent means. A man may not believe even in God and still call himself a Hindu." M.K. Gandhi (Hindu Dharma, pg 18)

The philosophy of Vedanta and Hinduism can be described as profound, intense, complex, abstruse, and even nebulous or obscure. Nonetheless, hundreds of millions of people across the world identify themselves as Hindus. Although a number of Hindus may not appreciate the intricacies and nuances of the underlying philosophy, those people absolutely have great potential to follow a path to enlightenment. Those who do not have knowledge of the philosophy may still aspire to enlightenment just as those who do have knowledge of the philosophy. Only the path to enlightenment differs.

As the above quote from Gandhi illustrates, both beliefs and actions are important in Hinduism. For example, a person may be athiest, with no belief in the Divine in any form, but that person may still live a life of selfless, nonattached, righteous actions, which propels that person along the path to enlightenment, regardless of belief in the Divine. The world consists of numerous conditions of human existence, some of which preclude exposure to philosophy, religion, or God. Moreover, infinitely many paths exist to enlightenment, and paths may differ for each individual, depending on their condition. Regardless of one's condition, past actions, and tendencies, appropriate paths always exist to enlightenment.

In order to benefit from a computer, one does not need to understand the details of processors, operating systems, encryption, and networks. One can send an email or browse the web without knowledge of any of those internal components that function seamlessly as one device. Occasionally, knowledge of the details enhances one's use of a computer, but other times, knowledge of the details makes no difference whatsoever. A computer can be used efficiently and effectively by a wide range of people from children to computer scientists. Analogously, one need not understand the underlying philosophy of Vedanta in order to utilize Vedanta in life to achieve greater peace, and ultimately -- enlightenment. One does not have to believe in Vedanta, or even have exposure to Vedanta, in order to live the life of a Vedantin. Actions can speak louder than words, and actions alone can allow one to follow the path to enlightenment.

East-West Counseling & Meditation -- Modern Psychiatry Integration -- Himalayan Philosophy -- Penn & Stanford Medicine
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