Advaita is the expression of the common philosophy that lies at the heart of many religions and philosophies. It means ‘one without a second’. Its most central tenet is that everyone and everything are in essence the expression of one consciousness, irrespective of geography, race, religion or creed. It can be found not only in the East, where it was first taught, but equally at the heart of many western philosophical and religious teachings. The Bible and the works of Plato both express this idea in many places. The works of Shakespeare, too, present aspects of Advaita with extraordinary beauty and clarity.
He is me and I am him.
Here is an excerpt from Thích Nhất Hạnh’s discourse:
I asked the leaf whether it was frightened because it was autumn and the other leaves were falling.
The leaf told me, “No. During the whole spring and summer I was completely alive. I worked hard to help nourish the tree, and now much of me is in the tree. I am not limited by this form. I am also the whole tree, and when I go back to the soil, I will continue to nourish the tree. So I don’t worry at all. As I leave this branch and float to the ground, I will wave to the tree and tell her, “I will see you again very soon.”
That day there was a wind blowing and, after a while, I saw the leaf leave the branch and float down to the soil, dancing joyfully, because as it floated it saw itself already there in the tree. It was so happy. I bowed my head, knowing that I have a lot to learn from the leaf.”
” … So please continue to look back and you will see that you have always been here. Let us look together and penetrate into the life of a leaf, so we may be one with the leaf. Let us penetrate and be one with the cloud or with the wave, to realize our own nature as water and be free from our fear. If we look very deeply, we will transcend birth and death.
Tomorrow, I will continue to be. But you will have to be very attentive to see me. I will be a flower, or a leaf. I will be in these forms and I will say hello to you. If you are attentive enough, you will recognize me, and you may greet me. I will be very happy.