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Advaita Vedanta : A Philosophical Reconstruction Paperback – December 1, 1980

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Product Details

  • Series: Studies in the Buddhist Traditions
  • Paperback: 119 pages
  • Publisher: University of Hawaii Press (December 1, 1980)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0824802713
  • ISBN-13: 978-0824802714
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.5 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #159,618 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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129 of 130 people found the following review helpful By tepi on February 16, 2001
Format: Paperback
For anyone who may have become curious about Advaita Vedanta, and who is looking for a good introduction to what many feel is one of the greatest philosophical achievements of either the East or West, there could be no better guide than this book.

Eliot Deutsch, professor of philosophy at the University of Hawaii and for many years editor of the prestigious journal, 'Philosophy East and West,' writes in a wonderfully lucid and straightforward style, and clearly admires his subject as being of universal philosophical interest.

In his short book of just 120 pages, he skilfully introduces us to the basic ideas of this complex system (Brahman, Levels of Being, Brahman and the World, Self, Karma, Epistemology, Ethics, Moksa and Jnana Yoga), while taking care to avoid overwhelming the reader with too much detail.

Advaita, we learn, is a non-dualistic system, expounded primarily by Sankara (ca. 788-820), the main concern of which is to show that all boundaries and distinctions are unreal, that reality is not made up of parts, and that "in essence it is not-different from the Self" (p.3). There is, in other words, only the Self, Brahman, or the One, a state "which is ultimately a name for the timeless plenitude of being" (p.9).

If this seems difficult, think of a movie screen. Any scene projected upon the screen will seem to hold a multiplicity of clearly defined and separate objects: a man, a woman, a child, a dog, a table, chairs, walls, windows, etc. We know, however, that the picture is one. Now consider what is present at the moment in your own field of vision. It too 'seems' to contain a multiplicity of 'objects'...
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51 of 53 people found the following review helpful By driverzhuang on July 22, 2004
Format: Paperback
Books by authors who attempt to distill the essence of a vast and esoteric subject into one volume often fall short of the mark. Advaita Vedanta: A Philosophical Reconstruction, by Eliot Deutsch, is an exception. Professor Deutsch's subject is Advaita Vedanta, and in particular non-dualistic Advaita as conceived by Sankara.

Concepts implicit in Advaita are concisely exposed. For example, the idea of subration

"the mental process whereby one disvalues some previously appraised object or content of consciousness because of its being contradicted by a new experience."

is made clear, and then used to define the three levels of being: Reality, which cannot be subrated by any other experience; Appearance, which can be subrated by experience; Unreality, which neither can nor cannot be subrated by other experience. Further subtle gradations of Appearance are elaborated.

On the other hand, ideas which are explicit in Advaita writings, but are extraneous to or demonstrably not implied by the non-dualistic core of Advaita, are discussed but separated from the pure non-dualistic abstraction. Most impressive is the chapter devoted to a discussion of the doctrine of karma and the corollary concept of samsara, (transmigration or reincarnation). The author notes that

"There is perhaps no other basic doctrine in Indian philosophy which has had such a hold upon the popular thinking and practical religion of India ... as the doctrine of karma."

and then proceeds to prove by the pramanas, or "valid means of knowledge", identified with Advaita, that karma is not demonstrable within the framework of Advaita.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Patrick D. Goonan on April 18, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am a personal growth coach who uses an integral approach to psychology to work with clients. This approach places the study of psychology within the larger context of the world's wisdom traditions. I have my graduate education in this area including a lot of sacred psychology and I have been a student of world religions for 25 years. I have also studied philosophy quite deeply as part of my academic education and attended school at a Jesuit University. In addition, I teach meditation including multiple Eastern approaches. It is out of this context that I'm writing this review.

In my opinion, Advaita Vedanta is a remarkable book. In about 115 pages it captures the philosophy and spirit of this complex territory. Every word in this book is carefully chosen and it is a model for good philosophical writing and general writing as well. It manages to both educate and keep the reader's attention very well.

The general approach in this book is to assume a very broad audience. What is truly amazing is that Deutsch succeeds in addressing this audience in an effective, deep and meaningful way. This is not a dead lifeless analysis and contextualization of Eastern concepts. I feel it captures the heart of the tradition, the most important concepts and is successful in presenting these ideas to a Western audience concisely.

I would also like to add that in no way is this book superficial. It is all meat and no fluff. While it's not the type of book you would read at the beach, it isn't inaccessible to the average educated person. The way the ideas are presented, also provides great food for thought on the big existential questions for anyone.

The symbolism and mythology that underlies Hinduism is not emphasized here.
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