Revelatory Excerpts from the Upanishads

revelatory-excerpts-from-the-upanishads

The Upanishads are the first known written record of an inner path to enlightenment and, as such, are the original revelation of the knowledge of self. Despite this, they do not represent a unified teaching, but offer bits and pieces of insights spread throughout its various texts.

The general consensus is that two of the earliest Upanishads are Chandogya and Brihadaranyaka, and one would therefore assume that these two are ‘root’ Upanishads, and that those which were written later would be elaborations and further developments based on the original revelations.

From their internal content, it is pretty certain that these two Upanishads are non-dual in their philosophy. They do not provide a seeker with clear tools on how to reach self-realization, but rather focus on explaining the nature of reality, with the aim of creating an intellectual conviction that Self is the base of our existence and serving its actualization is the principal purpose of being alive.

Although this was the time of awakening to the mystery of pure subjectivity, the spiritual knowledge of the awakening process was still in a very infantile stage of development. Accordingly, while we may not feel fully satisfied with the elaboration of truth presented in the Upanishads, we should not forget this was the birth of human awakening to the supreme knowledge of the one self, and we must have profound appreciation of it, for without this revelation we would have continued to be spiritual apes, slaves to religions and their control.

A selection of suitable excerpts from these two Upanishads follows and, while reading them, please keep in mind that all of this was written close to three thousand years ago!

 

Chandogya Upanishad

 (estimated to date from 8th – 6th centuries BCE)

I. Sleep as our reabsorption in the immanent self

‘Aruna’s son, Uddalaka said to Shwetaketu: “My son! know the nature of sleep. When a man sleeps, he is united with that Being, that is himself. We think it enough to say that he sleeps, yet he sleeps with himself.”’

– Book VI, 9.

II. Transcendental I am as the source and our destination at death

‘What is the root of all? What but water? Light is root, water its sprout; that Being is root, light its sprout. All creatures have their root in that Being; He is their rock, their home.

My son! I have already told you how the three first gods became each of them threefold when in contact with body.

When a man is dying, his speech merges into mind, his mind into life, his life into light, his light into the one Being. That Being is the seed; all else but His expression. He is truth, He is Self.

Shwetaketu! You are That.’

– Book VI, 9.

III. Transcendent I am as the source

‘Uddalaka asked his son to fetch a banyan fruit.

Here it is, Lord!’ said Shwetaketu.

‘Break it,’ said Uddalaka.

‘I have broken it, Lord!’ ‘What do you see there?’

‘Little seeds, Lord!’

‘Break one of them, my son!’

‘It is broken, Lord!’

‘What do you see there?’

‘Nothing, Lord!’ said Shwetaketu.

Uddalaka said: ‘My son! This great banyan tree has sprung up from seed so small that you cannot see it. Believe in what I say, my son! That Being is the seed; all else but His expression. He is truth. He is Self.

Shwetaketu! You are That.’

– Book VI, 13.

IV. When personality dissolves, it returns to the root of being

‘Relations gather round a sick man and say: “Do you remember me? Do you remember me?”

He remembers until his speech has merged in his mind, his mind in his life, his life in his light, his light in the one Being. When his speech is merged in his mind, his mind in his life, his life in his light, his light in that one Being, what can he remember? That Being is the seed; all else but His expression. He is truth. He is Self. Shwetaketu! You are That.’

– Book VI, 16.

V. True worship is devotion to pure subjectivity

‘Narada said: “Lord! I know Rig-Veda, Yajur-Veda, Sama-Veda, Atharwa-Veda, history and tradition called the fifth Veda, grammar, ritual, mathematics, astrology, mineralogy, logic, economics, physics, metaphysics, zoology, politics, astronomy, mechanics, fine arts. Lord! Yet these things are but elementary knowledge; I do not know the Self. I have heard from masters, that he who knows Self, goes beyond sorrow. I am lost in sorrow. Help me to go beyond.”

Sanatkumar said: All your knowledge is but the knowledge of names. The four Vedas, grammar, ritual and the like, all that is but a name. Worship name as Spirit. Who worships name as Spirit, moves within the limits of what is named, as it may please him, provided he worships it as nothing but Spirit.’

 – Book VII, 1.

VI. Living from pure subjectivity and freedom from the collective me

“He is below, above, behind, in front, on the right, on the left; He is everything. If I put I instead of He, I say, I am below, I am above, I am behind, I am in front, I am on the right, I am on the left. I am everything.

If put Self instead of He, I say, the Self is below, above, behind, in front, to the right, to the left. The Self is everything.

The personal Self is the impersonal Self. He who sees, thinks, knows this, loves the Self, plays with the Self, unites with the Self, enjoys the Self, governs himself, moves himself everywhere at his – pleasure.

Those who think otherwise are governed by others. They lose what they gain. Nowhere can they move at their pleasure.”

– Book VII, 24.

VII. Becoming fulfilled on all levels by living from pure subjectivity

‘He who thinks, feels, knows this, draws life from himself, hope from himself, memory from himself; air, light, water from himself; birth, death, food, power, knowledge, meditation, mind, will, speech, name, words, action, everything from himself.

He who knows this, cares nothing for death, cares nothing for disease, cares nothing for misery; looks at everything with the eye of Self; gets everything everywhere; remains one, though multiplied threefold, fivefold, sevenfold, elevenfold, hundredfold, hundred-and-elevenfold, twenty-thousandfold.’

– Book VII, 25.

VIII. Self as non-dual and deathless

“In this body, in this town of Spirit, there is a little house shaped like a lotus, and in that house there is a little space. One should know what is there.

What is there? Why is it so important?

There is as much in that little space within the heart, as there is in the whole world outside. Heaven, earth, fire, wind, sun, moon, lightning, stars; whatever is and whatever is not, everything is there.

If everything is in man’s body, every being, every desire, what remains when old age comes, when decay begins, when the body falls? What lies in that space, does not decay when the body decays, nor does it fall when the body falls.

That space is the home of Spirit. Every desire is there. Self is there, beyond decay and death; sin and sorrow; hunger and thirst; His aim truth, His will truth.

Man can live in the body as long as he obeys the law, as a man may live in a certain farm, in a certain town, in a certain province, or wherever he fancy, if he obey the law.

Earthly pleasures exhaust themselves; heavenly pleasures exhaust themselves. Wherever men go without attaining Self or knowing truth, they cannot move at their pleasure; but after attaining Self and knowing truth, wherever they go, they move at their pleasure.’

– Book VIII, 1.

IX. Self lives in the heart of the immortal

“A wise man sees in Self, those that are alive, those that are dead; and gets what this world cannot give.

An ignorant man treads on the ground, but does not know the gold that lies underneath; we pass into the Self during sleep, but do not know Him.

Self stays in the heart; ‘heart’, a word that seems to say ‘here it is’. Who knows this, daily enjoys the Kingdom of Heaven.

A wise man, leaving his body, joins that flame; is one with His own nature. That nature is Self, fearless immortal Spirit.

Whatever binds mortal and immortal, they call truth. Who knows this, daily enjoys the Kingdom of Heaven.”

– Book VIII, 3.

X. Liberation from the relative by mastering the self

‘Self is the wall which keeps the creatures from breaking in.

Day and night do not go near Him, nor age, nor death, nor grief, nor good, nor evil. Sin turns away from Him; for Spirit knows no sin.

Self is the bridge. When man crosses that bridge, if blind, he shall see; if sick, he shall be well; if unhappy, he shall be happy. When he crosses that bridge, though it be night, it shall be day; for heaven is shining always.

Heaven is for those that are masters of themselves. They can move anywhere in this world at their pleasure.’

– Book VIII, 4.

XI. Knowing the immortal self and the objective world as his mere reflection

‘Everyone knows that you have said that Self is free from sin and sorrow; decay and death; hunger and thirst. His aim is truth; His will is truth.

Find Him; know Him. Who finds and knows Him, gets what he wants, goes where he likes. We hope to attain that Self, and therefore stay.

Prajapati said: That Person seen in the eye is Self. That is unalarmed, immortal Spirit.

They said: Lord! Which of the two is Self, the one reflected in water, or the one reflected in a mirror?

Prajapati said: He is reflected in both, reflected everywhere.’

– Book VIII, 7.

XII. Those who do not know pure subjectivity will perish

Prajapati said to himself:  They go without finding the Self, without knowing the Self. Who follows their philosophy, whether godly or godless, perishes.’

– Book VIII, 8.

XIII. Living as pure subjectivity and perceiving through the transparent observer

‘Who sees through the eye, knowing that He sees, is Self, the eye an instrument whereby He sees; who smells through the nose, knowing that He smells, is Self, the nose an instrument whereby He smells; who speaks through the tongue, knowing that He speaks, is Self, the tongue an instrument whereby He speaks; who hears through the ear, knowing that He hears, is Self, the ear an instrument whereby He hears; who thinks through the mind, knowing that He thinks, is Self, the mind an instrument whereby He thinks.

He looks through the mind’s eye, his spiritual eye; in that eye heaven is made and all desires arise; all these his joy.

Gods adore that Self; thereby go where they will; satisfy every desire. Who discovers and knows the Self, goes where he will; satisfies every desire.’

– Book VIII, 12.

 

Brihadaranyaka-Upanishad

(estimated to date from around 700 BCE)

I. Transcending fear by realizing the one self

‘In the beginning all things were Self, in the shape of personality.

He looked round, saw nothing but Him-self. The first thing he said was, ‘It is I. ‘ Hence ‘I’ became His name.

Therefore even now if you ask a man who he is, he first says, ‘It is I’, and gives what other name he has. He is the eldest of all.

Because he destroyed all evil, he is called the first Person. He who knows this, destroys all evil, takes the first rank.

He became afraid; loneliness creates fear. He thought: As there is nothing but myself, why should I be afraid?’ Then his fear passed away; there was nothing to fear, fear comes when there is a second.’

– Book I

II. Nothing is dearer than self

‘Self entered into everything, even the tips of fingernails. He is hidden like the razor in its case.

Though He lives in this world and maintains it, the ignorant cannot see Him. When he is breathing, they name Him breath; when speaking, they name Him speech; when seeing, they name Him eye; when hearing, they name Him ear; when thinking, they name Him mind. He is not wholly there.

All these names are the names of His actions. He who worships Him as the one or the other is ignorant, is imperfect; though he attain completely one or the other perfection.

Let him worship Him as Self, where all these become the whole. This Self brings everything; for thereby everything is known. He is the footprint that brings a man to his goal. He who knows this attains name and fame.

This Self is nearer than all else; dearer than son, dearer than wealth, dearer than anything.

If a man calls anything dearer than Self, say that he will lose what is dear; of a certainty he will lose it; for Self is God. Therefore one should worship Self as Love. Who worships Self as Love, his love never shall perish.

It is said everything can be got through the knowledge of Spirit. What is that knowledge? In the beginning there was Spirit. It knew itself as Spirit; from that knowledge everything sprang up. Whosoever among gods, sages and men, got that knowledge, became Spirit itself. Sage Wamadewa knew it and sang: “I was Manu; I was the sun.”’

– Book I.

III. Identification with pure subjectivity is to transcend worship of external gods

‘Even today he who knows that he is Spirit, becomes Spirit, becomes everything; neither gods nor men can prevent him, for he has become themselves.

Who thinks of himself as separate from Self, and worships some other than Self, he is ignorant; becomes a sacrificial animal for the gods.

As many beasts serve a man, man serves the gods; if one beast is taken away, man is sorry, and much more sorry if many are taken away? For a like reason gods dislike men who get this knowledge.’

– Book I.

IV. Surrender to self is the only true worship

‘If a man leaves this kingdom without knowing that he owns the kingdom of Self, that Self is of no service to him; it remains like the unread Vedas, or a deed not done. No, even if he does a great meritorious deed without knowing the Self, that deed will exhaust itself in the end.

Worship the kingdom of Self. He who worships the kingdom of Self, does that which is never exhausted; whatever he wants, he gets from himself. Hence this Self is the goal of all creatures.

As long as man makes offerings and sacrifices, he pleases the gods; as long as he studies the Vedas, he pleases the wise; as long as he offers libations and desires children, he pleases the fathers; as long as he gives food and shelter, he pleases mankind; as long as he gives fodder and water the beasts are pleased; if birds and beasts down to the ants are fed in his house, they are pleased. But everybody wishes good to the man who has this knowledge; everybody is good to the man who is good to him.’

– Book I.

V. Becoming complete by realization of the unity of self and human expression

‘In the beginning there was the Self, one and sole. He thought: Let me have a wife that I may have children; let me have wealth that I may do something in the world. Thus far desire can go; even if man wants more, he cannot get it.

A lonely man thinks of a wife and children, of wealth and work; and so long as he does not get any of these, he thinks he is incomplete.

Yet he is already complete; his mind is himself; speech his wife; life his offspring; eyes are his human wealth, for through eyes he gets it; ears his divine wealth, for through ears he gets it; body his work, for through body he works.

This is the fivefold sacrifice; it applies to man, animal, everything.

Who knows this, gets everything.’

– Book I.

VI. Sleep as reabsorption in the unmanifested

‘Janaka said: It is unusual for a preacher to come to a king, to learn about Spirit. However, I will make you understand Him clearly.

He took him by the hand and rose. The two came to a sleeping man.

Janaka called out: Mighty man! Pure man! Heavenly drinker! He did not wake; he woke when Janaka took him by the hand.

Janaka said: Where was this man’s knowing Self when he slept, whence came he when he woke?

Gargya could not understand.

Janaka said: When he slept, the knowing Self, all the senses within it, lay at rest in the hollow of the heart. When Self has mastered sense, man is said to sleep. Life is absorbed; speech, sight, hearing, thinking, absorbed.’

– Book II

VII. Serving the one self is to love oneself

‘Yadnyawalkya said to Maitreyee: Dear! I am going to renounce the world: I wish to divide my property between you and Katyayanee.

Maitreyee said: Lord! If I get the wealth of the world, will it make me immortal?’

Yadnyawalkya said: No, your life will be like the life of the wealthy. There is no hope of immortality through wealth.

Maitreyee said: What can I do with that which cannot make me immortal? Tell me what you know of immortality.

Yadnyawalkya said: Well spoken! You were dear to me; those words have made you dearer. Come, sit down. I will explain; meditate on what I say.

He continued:

Of a certainty, the wife does not love her husband for himself but loves him for herself only.

The husband does not love his wife for herself, but loves her for himself only.

The father does not love his sons for themselves, but loves them for himself only.

A man does not love his wealth for itself, but loves it for himself only.

A man does not love the priests for themselves, but loves them for himself only.

A man does not love the rulers for themselves, but loves them for himself only.

A man does not love the community for itself, but loves it for himself only.

A man does not love the gods for themselves, but loves them for himself only.

A man does not love the creatures for themselves, but loves them for himself only.

A man does not love anything for itself, but loves it for himself only.

Maitreyee! This Self deserves to be seen, heard, thought of, meditated upon. When this Self is seen, heard, thought of, known, everything becomes known.

The priestly order ignores the man who thinks of it as anything apart from the Self.

The ruling order ignores the man who thinks of it as anything apart from the Self.

The community ignores the man who thinks of it as anything apart from the Self.

The gods ignore the man who thinks of them as anything apart from the Self.

The creatures ignore the man who thinks of them as anything apart from the Self.

Everything ignores the man who thinks of it as anything apart from the Self.

Hence this Self is the priest, the ruler; He is all gods, all men, all creatures, all that exists; for these are as the sounds of a drum that cannot be understood unless we understand the drum and the drummer; As the sounds of a conch that cannot be understood unless we understand the conch and the blower; as the sounds of a lute that cannot be understood unless we understand the lute and the player.

As clouds of smoke come from fire kindled with damp fuel, from the great Being come the Rig-Veda, Yajur-Veda, Sama-Veda, Atharwa-Veda, history, ancient knowledge, sciences, Upanishads, poetry, aphorisms, commentaries, explanations. These are His breath.

As all waters belong to the sea, all touches to the skin, all smells to the nose, all tastes to the tongue, all beauties to the eye, all words to the ear, all thoughts to the mind, all knowledge to the intellect, all works to the hand, all journeys to the feet, all Vedas to speech so everything belongs to Him.

As a lump of salt thrown in water dissolves, and cannot be taken out again as salt, though wherever we taste the water it is salt, so this great endless deathless Being dissolved is knowledge; He reveals Himself with the elements, disappears when they disappear; leaving no name behind.

Maitreyee said: You say, Lord! that after death no name is left behind; this has confounded me,

Yadnyawalkya said: Maitreyee! I say nothing that should confound you. It is easy to understand. For as long as there is duality, one sees the other, one smells the other, one hears the other, one speaks to the other, one thinks of the other, one knows the other; but when everything is one Self, who can see another, how can he see another; who can smell another, how can he smell another; who can hear another, how can he hear another; who can speak to another, how can he speak to another; who can think of another, how can he think of another; who can know another, how can he know another?

Maitreyee! How can the knower be known?’

– Book IV

VIII. Self is spirit, timeless, omniscient and expressed in every form

‘He made the two-footed; He made the four-footed. He, the great god, became the bird, entered into its body. He is the God who lives in all bodies.

There is nothing that does not fill Him; nothing that He does not fill.

He wanted every form, for He wanted to show Himself; as a magician, He appears in many forms, He masters hundreds and thousands of powers. He is those powers; those millions of powers, those innumerable powers.

He is Spirit; without antecedent, without precedent, without inside, without outside; omnipresent, omniscient. Self is Spirit. That is revelation.’

– Book V

IX. Self lives in the heart, beyond all perceptions and thoughts

‘Ushasta said: What Self do you say lives in the hearts of all?

Yadnyawalkya said: You cannot see the seer of the sight, you cannot hear the hearer of the sound, you cannot think of the thinker of the thought, you cannot know the knower of the known. Your own Self lives in the hearts of all. Nothing else matters.

Thereupon Ushasta became silent.

– Book VI

X. Self lives in the heart and is beyond all worldly desires

Kahola said: What Self do you say lives in the hearts of all?

Yadnyawalkya said: He who is beyond hunger, thirst, delusion, sorrow, decay, death.

When saints know that Self, they conquer desire for children, wealth, companions, live the life of mendicants.

Desire for children is desire for wealth; desire for wealth is desire for companions; therefore let a spiritual man transcend all book-learning, and live like a child.

When he transcends book-learning and childlike simplicity, let him meditate.

When he transcends meditation and lack of meditation, he becomes a saint.’

– Book VI

XI. The self is the base of all, but it cannot be found in creation

Uddalaka said: Anybody can say that he knows, that he is wise. What do you know?

Yadnyawalkya said: Life is that thread whereon this world, the next world, and all beings are strung. We say that when a man is dead his limbs are unstrung; everything is strung on life.

Uddalaka said: So it is; now what of the controller within?

Yadnyawalkya said: He who lives on earth, apart from earth, whom earth does not know; whose body is earth; controlling earth from within; is your own Self, the immortal, the controller.

He who lives in water, apart from water, whom water does not know; whose body is water, controlling water from within; is your own Self, the immortal, the controller.

He who lives in sky, wind, heaven, quarters, sun, moon, stars, air, darkness, light; apart from them; whom sky, wind, heaven, quarters, sun, moon, stars, air, darkness, light do not know; whose body is sky, wind, heaven, quarters, sun, moon, stars, air, darkness, light; controlling them from within; is your own Self, the immortal, the controller.

Thus He lives in all gods.

He who lives in all beings, apart from them, whom no being knows; whose body is all beings; controlling all beings from within; is your own Self, the immortal, the controller.

Thus he lives in all beings.

He who lives in breath, speech, eyes, ears, skin, mind, knowledge; apart from them; whom breath, speech, eyes, ears, skin, mind, knowledge do not know; whose body is breath, speech, eyes, ears, skin, mind, knowledge; controlling them from within; is your own Self, the immortal, the controller.

Thus he lives in man’s body.

He who lives in man’s seed; apart from it; whom man’s seed does not know; whose body is seed; controlling it from within; is your own Self, the immortal, the controller.

Invisible, He sees; inaudible, He hears; unthinkable, He thinks; unknowable, He knows. None other can see, hear, think, know.

He is your own Self, the immortal; the controller; nothing else matters.

Thereupon Uddalaka became silent.

– Book VI

XII. Self is the root of all, surrender to it is the only true devotion

Yadnyawalkya said: The saints call it the Root. It is neither big nor little, neither long nor short, neither burning like fire nor flowing like water; without shadow, without darkness, without wind, without air, without attachment; without touch, taste, sight, smell; without hearing, speaking, thinking; without breath, without face, without energy, without measure, without inside or outside; it consumes nothing; nothing consumes it.

Gargee! At the command of that Root, sun and moon do not clash; heaven and earth do not clash; moments, hours, days, nights, fortnights, months, seasons, years, follow their course; rivers issuing from the snowy mountains follow their course to east and west or where you will.

At the command of that Root, people praise the generous, gods guard the sacrificer, fathers watch the sacrificial offerings.

Gargee! who without knowing this Root, meditates, sacrifices, practices austerity, though for thousands of years, does what passes away.

Who dies without knowing this Root, is pitiful; who leaves this world, knowing it, is wise.

Gargee! That Root sees, though invisible, hears, though inaudible thinks, though unthinkable; knows, though unknowable.

Nothing else can see, hear, think, know.

Air is woven on that Root, warp and woof.

Gargee said: Revered sirs! Anybody has a right to be proud who can escape this sage, with a curtsy; no one can defeat him in discussion about Spirit.

Thereupon Gargee became silent’

– Book VI

XIII. Self is the only true light.

‘Yadnyawalkya went to Janaka. He had not planned a discussion; but something said about sacrifice so pleased him that he promised Janaka whatever he asked.

Janaka asked permission to question him; and that was the first question he asked.

Janaka said: Yadnyawalkya! What is the light of man?

Yadnyawalkya said: The sun is his light. By that light man sits, works, goes, returns,

Janaka said: When the sun has set what is his light?

Yadnyawalkya said: The moon is his light; by that light man sits, works, goes, returns,

Janaka said: When sun and moon have set, what is his light?

Yadnyawalkya said: Fire is his light; by that light man sits, works, goes, returns.

Janaka said: When sun and moon have set, when fire is out, what is his light?

Yadnyawalkya said: Speech is his light; by that light man sits, works, goes, returns. When man cannot see his own hand, he can hear what is said, and go towards the voice.

Janaka said: When sun and moon have set, when fire is out, when nothing is said, what is his light?

Yadnyawalkya said: Self is his light; by that light man sits, works, goes, returns.’

– Book VII

XIV. Living in the self is freedom

‘But his true nature is free from desire, free from evil, free from fear.

As a man in the embrace of his beloved wife forgets everything that is without, everything that is within; so man, in the embrace of the knowing Self, forgets everything that is without, everything that is within; for there all desires are satisfied, Self his sole desire, that is no desire; man goes beyond sorrow.

Father disappears, mother disappears, world disappears, gods disappear, Vedas disappear, thief disappears, rogue disappears, ascetic disappears, monk disappears, menial disappears, good and evil disappear; he has gone beyond sorrow.

What He cannot see, He cannot see, yet He can see; sight and He are one, and He is indestructible; what can He see; there is nothing separate from Him; no second.’

What He cannot smell, He cannot smell, yet He can smell; smelling and He are one, and He is indestructible; what can He smell; there is nothing separate from Him; no second.

What He cannot taste, He cannot taste, yet He can taste; taste and He are one, and He is indestructible; what can He taste; there is nothing separate from Him; no second. What He cannot speak, He cannot speak, yet He can speak; speech and He are one, and He is indestructible; what can He speak; there is nothing separate from Him; no second.

What He cannot hear, He cannot hear, yet He can hear; hearing and He are one, and He is indestructible; what can He hear; there is nothing separate from Him; no second.

What He cannot think, He cannot think, yet He can think; thinking and He are one, and He is indestructible; what can He think; there is nothing separate from Him; no second.

What He cannot touch, He cannot touch, yet He can touch; touching and He are one, and He is indestructible; what can He touch; there is nothing separate from Him; no second.

What He cannot know, He cannot know, yet He can know; knowing and He are one, and He is indestructible; what can He know; there is nothing separate from Him; no second.

Where there is another, one sees another; smells, tastes, touches, knows, hears another, speaks to another, thinks of another, One, without a second; that is the Kingdom of Heaven; man’s highest achievement; his greatest wealth; his final goal; his utmost joy.

Other creatures must live on a diminution of this joy.’

– Book VII

XV. Self is everything, beyond desire.  Human desires take us away from the innermost desire for self.

‘This Self is Spirit. He is knowledge, mind, life, sight, hearing, earth, water, wind, air, light, darkness, desire, absence of desire, anger, placability, right, wrong; He is everything; He is this and that.

Whatever his conduct and character in one life, he has it in his next; if good in one, he is good in another; if a sinner in one, he is a sinner in another; his good karma makes him good, his sinful karma makes him sinful. Hence they say that soul is full of desire. He wills according to his desire; he acts according to his will; he reaps what he sows.’

Here is my authority:  ”Self goes where man’s mind goes. Whatever his actions in this world, he enjoys their reward in the next; that over, he returns for action’s sake.

I speak of a man with desire; but what is he who has no desire?

He has no desire, because he has attained his desire; desire of Self is no desire.

He does not die like others; he is of Spirit, he becomes Spirit.”

‘When all desires of the heart are gone, mortal becomes immortal, man becomes Spirit, even in this life.

He, whose Self laying in this mysterious uncertain body is awakened, becomes Spirit.

He becomes the maker of the world, the maker of everything. His is the world, he is the world itself.

Let the wise and holy man know Him, govern his intellect by that knowledge; not learn words after words, a weariness to the tongue.

Holding this purpose, people long ago did not want children. Spirit was their goal; what had they to do with children? They refused children, wealth, company, travelled with a begging bowl.

Desire for children is desire for wealth, desire for wealth is desire for company; what is desire but desire?’

– Book VII

XVI. The absolute is complete, in itself and in manifestation

This is perfect. That is perfect. Perfect comes from perfect. Take perfect from perfect; the remainder is perfect. May peace and peace and peace be everywhere.

– Book VIII

 

The Principal Upanishads

There are ten central books of the Upanishads which are also called the Principal Upanishads: Brhadaranyaka, Chandogya, Taittiriya, Aitareya, Kausitaki, Kena, Katha, Isa, Svetasvatara, and Mundaka.  Some of them were written at times when the Vedic religion still had a strong influence (around 800 BCE), while others came later on in the pre-Buddhist period, close to the fifth century BCE. So, while the philosophy of Upanishads evolved over time, our interest here is with their timeless insight into the nature of self.

The teachings of the Upanishads are not entirely uniform, even though most of them are based on the original revelation of our pure nature. A random selection of quotes from some of the more inspirational of the Upanishads are added below to give a taste of their teachings. While the Upanishads took birth from an original foundation in the Vedas, the effort they made to transcend past beliefs and to go beyond all gods in order to realize the formless absolute is quite clear.

I. The Spirit beyond perceptions and senses

That which makes the tongue speak, but needs no tongue to explain, that alone is Spirit; not what sets the world by the ears.

That which makes the mind think, but needs no mind to think, that alone is Spirit; not what sets the world by the ears.

That which makes the eye see, but needs no eye to see, that alone is Spirit; not what sets the world by the ears.

That which makes the ear hear, but needs no ear to hear, that alone is Spirit; not what sets the world by the ears.

That which makes life live, but; needs no life to live, that alone is Spirit; not what sets the world by the ears.’

– Kena Upanishad

II. The nature of spiritual knowledge

‘Who says that Spirit is not known, knows; who claims that he knows, knows nothing.

The ignorant think that Spirit lies within knowledge, the wise man knows It beyond knowledge.

Spirit is known through revelation. It leads to freedom. It leads to power. Revelation is the conquest of death.’

– Kena Upanishad

III. Spirit is beyond the mind’s comprehension

‘Once upon a time, Spirit planned that the gods might win a great victory.

The gods grew boastful; though Spirit had planned their victory, they thought they had done it all.

Spirit saw their vanity and appeared.

They could not understand; they said: Who is that mysterious Person?’

– Kena Upanishad

IV. The source of goodness

‘Spirit is the Good in all. It should be worshipped as the Good. He that knows it as the Good is esteemed by all.

You asked me about spiritual knowledge, I have explained it. Austerity, self-control, meditation are the foundation of this knowledge; the Vedas are its house, truth its shrine.

He who knows this shall prevail against all evil, enjoy the Kingdom of Heaven, yes, forever enjoy the blessed Kingdom of Heaven.’

– Kena Upanishad

V. Knowledge, meditation and practice must be based on self

‘Count the links of the chain: worship the triple Fire: knowledge, meditation, practice; the triple process: evidence, inference, experience; the triple duty: study, concentration, renunciation; understand that everything comes from Spirit, that Spirit alone is sought and found; attain everlasting peace; mount beyond birth and death.’

– Katha Upanishad

 

VI. Turning back to self  brings immortality and joy

‘The wise, meditating on God, concentrating their thought, discovering in the mouth of the cavern, deeper in the cavern, that Self, that ancient Self, difficult to imagine, more difficult to understand, pass beyond joy and sorrow.

The man that, hearing from the Teacher and comprehending, distinguishes nature from the Self, goes to the source; that man attains joy, lives for ever in that joy.

I think, Nachiketas! your gates of joy stand open.’

– Katha Upanishad

VII. The self lives in all hearts

‘The Self is lesser than the least, greater than the greatest.

He lives in all hearts.

When senses are at rest, free from desire, man finds Him and mounts beyond sorrow.’

– Katha Upanishad

VII. Knowledge without knowing the self is wickedness

‘The wicked man is restless, without concentration, without peace; how can he find Him, whatever his learning?

He has made mere preachers and soldiers His food, death its condiment; how can a common man find Him?’

– Katha Upanishad

VIII. Sitting at the feet of the master

‘Get up!

Stir yourself!

Learn wisdom at the Master’s feet.

A hard path the sages say, the sharp edge of a razor.’

– Katha Upanishad

IX. Look inward to discover the self

‘God made sense turn outward, man therefore looks outward, not into himself.

Now and again a daring soul, desiring immortality, has looked back and found himself.

The ignorant man runs after pleasure, sinks into the entanglements of death; but the wise man, seeking the undying, does not run among things that die.

He through whom we see, taste, smell, feel, hear, enjoy, knows everything. He is that Self.

The wise man by meditating upon the self-dependent, all-pervading Self, understands waking and sleeping and goes beyond sorrow.’

– Katha Upanishad

X. Self as the source of manifestation

‘That boundless Power, source of every power, manifesting itself as life, entering every heart, living there among the elements, that is Self.’

– Katha Upanishads

XI. The seeker must go beyond rituals and external worship to find truth

‘The Sages studied the rituals described in the Vedas, went beyond them to the truth.

You may find it better to stay with them; if you seek the reward of your actions, stay with them.

When the sacrificial fire has been kindled, set it ablaze with butter, pour an oblation, then let the butter set it ablaze again.

If the worshipper does not offer his sacrifice, according to the rules, during the new moon, or full moon, or at the rainy season, or at harvest time, if he offer it without regularity or at other seasons, or not at all, if he entertain no guests at the sacrifice, his people for seven generations shall be unlucky.

There are seven tongues of fire, the ruinous, the terrible, the swift, the smoky, the red, the bright, the flickering.

If the sacrifice has been made at the right time, the tongues, emblem of the solar rays, carry the devotee into paradise.

“Welcome! Welcome!” cry his pleasant flattering good deeds, as the tongues, emblem of the solar rays, carry him.

“Look upon what we have made for you, look upon this beautiful paradise.”

“Those sacrifices with their crew of eighteen men, are unseaworthy ships, belong to a trivial karma. The fool fixes his hopes upon them; goes to wreck.’

– Mundaka Upanishad

XII. Teacher: The Embodiment of Revelation

‘He that understands the results of action, wants to renounce them all. Activity cannot attain the Inactive; therefore, with hands folded, let him go to some teacher who lives in Spirit and in whom revelation lives.’

– Mundaka Upanishad

XIII. The personal self must surrender to find peace

‘The personal self, weary of pecking here and there, sinks into dejection; but when he understands through meditation that the other—the impersonal Self—is indeed

Spirit, dejection disappears.’

– Mundaka Upanishad

XIV. Self beyond sorrow, sin and death

‘He who has found Spirit, is Spirit. Nobody ignorant of Spirit is born into his family. He goes beyond sorrow, sin, death; the knots of his heart unloosed.’

– Mundaka Upanishad

XV. True Worship

‘Who worships meditation as Spirit, moves within the limits of its subject, as it may please him, provided he worships meditation as nothing but Spirit.’

– Chandogya Upanishad

XVI. Physical body as the temple of Self

‘Indra! This mortal body is under sentence of death; nevertheless it is the house of the immortal; the unembodied.’

– Chandogya Upanishad

 

Blessings,
Anadi

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