Question of the month: January 2018

Question:

What is the difference between “Truth” in Buddhism, “Brahman” in Advaita Vedanta and “God” in the traditions that use this concept? (I know this is more of an intellectual question, but I would appreciate an answer anyway.)

Nukunu:

In Buddhism they call the truth “The Nature of Mind”, and everything that we can experience is called “The Everyday Mind” or “Samsara”. In Advaita Vedanta the truth, or the absolute, is called “Brahman” and the world we experience is called “Maya”.

Samsara is not seen as the real truth because it does not have an independent nature. It is impermanent and all phenomena are without a permanent nature. And in Advaita Vedanta tradition they say, “Maya is not real”. This is why both these religions claim that there is no duality between the absolute truth and the manifest world that we experience. There are not two; it only appears to be two! To get lost in the duality means ignorance and pain.

Now there are traditions that call the truth “God”. Some of these, for example the Mystics of Islam and Christianity, also have this non-dual perspective. But many other religious communities believe that the world we experience is “other than God” and these traditions are illusive.

In the Gospel of Thomas Jesus says, “Me and my God is one”. But has the Christianity that we know today really understood this? No! Instead there is the claim that God and the creation are two.

It does not matter what you call the truth but there is only the truth and nothing else. This truth appears as millions and millions of forms – perceptions, feelings, thoughts, bodies etc. Think about this the next time a difficult feeling or state of mind arises and say to yourself “This too is God.” You can also say “That which I truly am is now taking form of this” because the real you is one with the Divine and all its manifestations.

So if you call the truth God then try to remember “This too is God”. If you follow the path of Buddhism you can think “I know that this too is The Nature of Mind”, and in the Advaitan tradition you can use ”This is also Brahman”. But remember that it can never be fully described in words what God is, neither what the Nature of Mind nor Brahman really is.