Sunday, February 13, 2011 at 9:13AM
Vedanta Society of St. Louis

The Goal and the Way: The Vedantic Approach to Life’s Problems

by Swami Satprakashananda

Hardback. 302 pages. ISBN 0916356566


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A thorough, well-referenced study of Vedanta’s view of the individual, from the physical through the mental and other subtler sheaths to the inmost Divine Self, with comparisons to the views of modern biology, psychology, and philosophy. Clearly analyzes the functions of the mind, and explains our moral interface with the cosmos through the law of karma and reincarnation.

The Swami presents his arguments based on "common understanding and valid experience," quoting many authorities from Plato and Aristotle to Bacon, Hume, Spencer, Freud and Jung to corroborate the Vedantic view . . . . The Goal and the Way is a thought-provoking treatise intended for general reading and for those interested in studying Vedanta. It is flawlessly edited with synopses, introduction, notes, bibliographies and index.
- St. Louis Post-Dispatch

The Swami, well versed in modern thought, with over forty years of preaching experience in the West in thoughtful and scholarly circles, with his profound knowledge of and insight into a wide range of Vedantic texts and their traditional interpretation, and with his capacity for lucid, precise, systematic and thorough treatment of all relevant topics, has accomplished the task of the presentation of Vedantic views in the modern rational and scientific context in an admirable manner.

- Prabuddha Bharata (Awakened India)


Part One: What Is Man? The Self and the Psychophysical Vehicle
  1. Man, Real and Apparent
  2. The Threefold Body and the Fivefold Sheath
  3. The Mind and Its Ways: How to Wield It
  4. Prana, the Vital Principle; Its Individual and Cosmic Aspects

Part Two: The Migratory Man - The Cycle of Birth and Rebirth and the Way Beyond
  1. The Law of Karma and Freedom of Action
  2. Man’s Daily Migration: Waking, Dream and Dreamless Sleep States
  3. Death and After
  4. How is a Man Reborn?

Part Three: Man’s Twofold Journey of Life - The Secular and the Spiritual Pursuit
  1. Man in Quest of the Eternal
  2. The Path of Prosperity and the Path of Supreme Good; Their Necessity
  3. The Spiritual Outlook on Life. How it Conjoins the Two Ways
  4. The Attainment of the Highest Good through the Performance of Duty. The Necessity for a Spiritual Outlook on Life

Chapter I: Man, Real and Apparent
Section 5. The key to self-mastery leading to the highest Goal

It is in association with the psychophysical organism that man lives on different levels of life. He can turn to the spiritual self within; he can also turn to the gross physical body. The more he recognizes himself as pure, free, immortal spirit, the higher he rises in the scale of life. He attains more and more wisdom, more and more strength, more and more freedom, more and more peace and joy. Man’s self-awareness is the key to his self-confidence, self-respect, and self-mastery. This is the access to the highest self-fulfillment.

Man fails to control the mind, the organs, and the body, particularly because he does not recognize himself to be distinct from them as their master. The self becomes identified with the not-self, and loses self-command. In the first place, it is to be understood that the body is the vehicle by which man can traverse the path of light or the path of darkness, the path of freedom or the path of bondage, the path of misery or the path of peace and blessedness, according to the way he directs it. This is not a prison-house to break away from. Nor is it a mass of flesh to torment, nor a pet to fondle. One should be neither antagonistic to the body nor enamored of it. It must be taken care of and used as a vehicle for the journey to life’s Goal.


Chapter VI: Man’s Daily Migration
Section 9. The homogeneity of the dreamless sleep experience. The one immutable self behind the three states

The waking experience of every individual is different and so is the dream experience. But the experience of profound dreamless sleep is alike for all. In this there is no diversity nor distinction of inside and outside. All differences are merged in homogeneous causal ajñana. In the deep sleep state, when even the ego-idea is lost, there is no difference between a saint and a sinner, between a king and a peasant, between a sage and an idiot, between a man and a woman, between a child and an adult. "In sleep what difference is there between Solomon and a fool?" is an old saying.

Sleep is the soothing balm for all agony, an unfailing restorer of tired limbs and mind. "He that sleeps feels not the toothache," they say. But unperturbed reposeful sleep is hardly the lot of those who are of perverted nature. It is said that sound sleep is the privilege of the virtuous. "He giveth His beloved sleep." A man’s ego-idea of "I-consciousness" is the yoke or the bond that drives him in the world. All his physical and mental incentives proceed from this. Hence it is so ordained that once in twenty-four hours a human being has to throw off the yoke to find complete rest.

Article originally appeared on Vedanta Society of St. Louis - A Branch of The Ramakrishna Order of India (
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