Advaita (Oneness)

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Dvaita means "dual,” and advaita means "nondual." The material world is a world of dualities—heat and cold, happiness and distress, up and down, black and white. According to the Vedic literature, however, the Absolute Truth is free from all such material dualities. It is called advaita.

Some philosophers hold the view that because the Absolute is free from dualities, it must be totally impersonal and devoid of qualities. According to this view, known as Advaita Vedanta, in the Absolute there can be no desires, thoughts, or perceptions, no sense of personal identity, no forms, qualities, or activity, but only undifferentiated spiritual oneness. This being so, whatever we now perceive is illusory.

But this view raises a question which Advaita Vedantists can't answer, "If nothing really exists but one undifferentiated Absolute Truth, where does the illusion of variety come from? How can illusion exist (or even appear to exist)? And if truth and illusion both exist, how can there be oneness?"

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Our view is that the Absolute Truth manifests itself in unlimited diversity. The Absolute is void of material characteristics, but that doesn't mean that it has no characteristics at all.

The Absolute Truth is understood to have a multitude of energies. But because the Absolute is spiritual, these energies are ultimately spiritual, too. In this way, there is oneness between the energies and their source. The varieties we perceive are not illusions; they are energies of the Absolute Truth, the Personality of Godhead, Krishna.

Our vision may also be enlightened by truth or bewildered by illusion, according to our own desires. This, too, is made possible by Krishna, through His energies. As parts of Krishna, we are naturally meant to serve Krishna, and when we do so we are in perfect oneness with the Absolute Truth. But when we separate ourselves from Krishna we plunge ourselves into illusion and duality. We attain liberation from illusion and duality by surrendering to Krishna, accepting Him as advaita, "one without a second."