We find that there are three principal variations among the Vedantists
The first school I will tell you about is styled the dualistic – द्वैत – school. The dualists believe that God, who is the creator of the universe and its ruler, is eternally separate from nature, eternally separate from the human soul. God is eternal; nature is eternal; so are all souls. Nature and the souls become manifested and change, but God remains the same. According to the dualists, again, this God is personal in that He has qualities, not that He has a body. He has human attributes; He is merciful, He is just, He is powerful, He is almighty, He can be approached, He can be prayed to, He can be loved, He loves in return, and so forth. In one word, He is a human God, only infinitely greater than man; He has none of the evil qualities which men have. “He is the repository of an infinite number of blessed qualities”–that is their definition. He cannot create without materials, and nature is the material out of which He creates the whole universe.
The second school of is of qualified-non-dualist – विशिष्ठ अद्वैत . They assert that the God Himself is the creator, and He Himself is the material out of which the whole of nature is projected. If the universe is the effect and God the cause, it must be God Himself–it cannot be anything but that. The God of the qualified non-dualists is also a Personal God, the repository of an infinite number of blessed qualities, only He is interpenetrating everything in the universe. He is immanent in everything and everywhere; and when the scriptures say that God is everything, it means that God is interpenetrating everything, not that God has become the wall, but that God is in the wall.
Now both the dualists and qualified non-dualists admit that the soul is by its nature pure, but through its own deeds it becomes impure. Souls are all limited; they are not omnipresent. When they become perfect, there is no more birth and death for them; they live with God for ever. None, however perfect, can manage the affairs of the universe; that function belongs to God.
According to the third school non-dualist, the Advaititist – अद्वैत – Everyone and everything is the Atman–the Self–the sexless, the pure, the ever-blessed. It is the name, the form, the body, which are material, and they make all this difference. If you take away these two differences of name and form, the whole universe is one; there are no two, but one everywhere. You and I are one. There is neither nature, nor God, nor the universe, only that one Infinite Existence, out of which, through name and form, all these are manufactured. There is but one Soul in the universe, not two. It neither comes nor goes. It is neither born, nor dies, nor reincarnates. How can It die? Where can It go? All these heavens, all these earths, and all these places are vain imaginations of the mind. They do not exist, never existed in the past, and never will exist in the future.
For the Advaitist, liberation – मोक्ष – is in the form of knowledge. It is the experience of total freedom. I am omnipresent, eternal. Where can I go? Where am I not already?
Now, as society exists at the present time, all these three stages are necessary; the one does not deny the other, one is simply the fulfillment of the other. The Advaitist or the qualified Advaitist does not say that dualism is wrong; it is a right view, but a lower one. It is on the way to truth; therefore let everybody work out his own vision of this universe, according to his own ideas. Injure none, deny the position of none; take man where he stands and, if you can, lend him a helping hand and put him on a higher platform, but do not injure and do not destroy. All will come to truth in the long run. “When all the desires of the heart will be vanquished, then this very mortal will become immortal”–then the very man will become God.