Anna Hourihan, publisher of Redding-based Vedantic Shores Press (www.VedanticShoresPress.com), has edited a series of lectures on the Hindu philosophical school of Vedanta which serve as a good introduction to the teachings of Hindu mysticism. Delivered by her late husband at the University of Guelph, School of Continuing Studies, in Ontario, Canada, the lectures are presented in "Children of Immortal Bliss: A New Perspective on Our True Identity Based on the Ancient Vedanta Philosophy of India" ($16.50 in paperback), by Paul Hourihan.
Anna Hourihan will be speaking and signing copies at Lyon Books in Chico, Wednesday, September 10 at 7:00 p.m.
The book begins with the claims of Vedanta, that "nothing exists except the Divine Being, or Brahman. . . . Truth is One; sages call it by different names. . . . The very nature of the Soul is divine: the Cosmic Self manifests as the individual Self or Atman. . . . The primary goal in life is to realize, through direct personal experience, the divine nature within our own self."
For the author, the ancient Hindu teachings of the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita are "the most sophisticated of all religious writings" and "represent the seedbed of everything that is deep, universal and mystical in the world." Thus the mystical traditions of Islam (the Sufis), Christianity (especially Meister Eckhart), Buddhism (Zen), and Taoism are all "confirmations" of Vedanta teachings.
Though Vedanta accepts "all religions as valid," what Hourihan means is "not the truth in them but the truth in us"; that is, a religion is inspired to the extent that it helps convince the person that his or her Self is identical to Brahman. The path to such realization, the author says, is through meditation, the experience through which even ordinary persons gain "the awakening of our true self."
The ego-power of individuality, including a fascination with "occult techniques," must be eliminated; "we are not sinners seeking somehow to be saved but rather we are an unknown purity seeking to merge with the Unknown Purity."
Buddhists, Christians and Muslims may well be uneasy at Hourihan's reinterpretation of their doctrines, but read with discernment the book is a clear exposition of the claim that "The Self is all, and you are the Self."