Please feel free to read this blog and join in. I hope you will write something inspirational, inspiring, spiritual, controversial, amusing, engaging or just plain run of the mill. But please don't be brusque, churlish or licentious.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Brihadarankyaka Upanishad

It took me awhile getting through this Upanishad because I became engrossed in the dialogues between the characters. I studied the stories and took notes so it took me more time than usual getting through the scripture. This scripture kept me intrigued because it kept hinting that it would divulge the secret of how to know the true Self. I didn't want to miss the details.

The characters in Brihadarankyaka are seers, lengendary sages and gurus who slowly release their knowledge of the true Self to their various inquisitors. The students, princes and kings who come to these enlightened ones keep asking them about how to know the true Self and how to become one with it. They want to obtain this knowledge for the sake of becoming liberated from the drudgeres of life. But the gurus are shrewed and slow to release the information at the consternation of both the questioners and the reader (me). The gurus want to keep their inquisitors quering them to make sure they have honest intentions and are not just curosity seekers. Eventually the answer to who the Self is and how it is attain is revealed.

The scripture starts off with Vamadeva who is actually god Shiva. Vamadeva soon realizes who Brahman is and immediately becomes the true Self. He proclains for all those who seek and learn to know Brahman will become the true Self as well. From there the story switches to a conversation between Ajatasatru (a guru) and Gargya (a seeker). In the beginning the two argue over what is Brahman and what is the best way to worship him. Finally after much discussion and argueing Gargya asks Ajatasatru to teach him about Brahman.

Ajatasatrue and Gargya come upon a man sleeping and Ajatasatru explains that when the man is in deep sleep he is without senses and thought. But when he is dreaming he lives in a world of his own with actions, desires, and worries much like the waking state. The Self is without actions, desires, and worry like deep, dreamless sleep. Gargya leaves with understanding of Brahman, focuses his meditation on Brahman and becomes one with Brahman.

The next story is about a legendary sage, Yagnavalka, who has two wives. His second wife, Maitreyi, married the sage primarily to learn how to become wise like him and become immortal through knowing Brahman. Yagnavalka explains to her that wealth, wishing, hoping, and desiring immortality will not work. He tells her that she must hear about Brahman, learn about Brahman and constantly meditate upon it. He says, "By knowing the Self, my beloved, through hearing, reflecton, and meditation one comes to know all things."

He explains to her that in order to know Brahman one must become dissolved in the Eternal - pure consciousness. Consciousness must disappear for there is no consciousness in divine illumination. He explains to Maitreyi that consciousness must disappear. Where there is the true Self, individuality is no more. However, Maitreyi is confused and doesn't understand.

Yagnavalkya explains to her that duality is the result of living in the self and the material world, but when one becomes dissolved in the illuminated soul one becomes the true Self. He further tells her that she must understand that Brahman is the soul in each person and that he is indeed the Self in all because the true Self is all. There is nothing more or less than the Self.

King Janaka of Videha becons Yagnavalkya to his palace and in the end tries to give Yagnavalkya a thousand cows for being so wise. Yagnavalkya becomes so popular that people all over the kingdom seek him out. He has conversations with many people and explains to them that "The knower of the truth of Brahman overcomes death." They all want to know what he knows. They want to learn about Brahman. They want to know how to meditate on Brahman. Yagnavalkya does his best but they don't seem to understand. They continue asking him the same questions over and over and he continues to give them answers in all kinds of ways but they still don't get it. They get angry and try to trip him up by testing him with puzzles and word games but he anwers them all correctly. They want to reward him with thousands of cows but he refuses saying, "One should not accept any reward from a diciple without fully instructing them."

The questioning and answering goes on for quite some time and finally Janaka asks Yagnavalkya, "Who is the Self?" Yagnavalkya tells him that there are three states of being - the state in this world, the state in the next, and an intermediate state between the first two. The intermediate state is like dreaming where you experience both this world and that of the next. When you die you will live only in the subtle body illuminated by the pure light of the Self. In the intermediate state there are no real material things; only the light of the Self. The most profound statement that Yagnavalkya makes is, "Everyone is aware of the experience; no one sees the Experiencer. The Self shines by its own light."

Below is my summary:

To become Brahman (the true Self) you must do three things:
1) Learn about Brahman.
2) Reflect on Brahman
3) Meditate on Brahman

Braham and the true Self are the same thing. In today's terms they are known as God - the Creator - the Absolute - the All. The true Self is beyond the small self you call "me" with all your material baggage. In order to know the true Self you must lose all your baggage including your attachment to the mind and your body.

In order to reflect on Brahman you must experience him, and in order to experience him you have to meditate in absolute silence without sensations or thoughts. You must experience what it is like to have full illumination without senses and thinking.

Once you know Brahman and have experienced him you must live your life in his presence. This requires full awareness of his illumination. You must live your daily life with the realization that Brahman's illumination is in every thing and everything is Brahman with no exceptions. Then and only then will you become Brahman.

The next Upanishad is Kaivalya Upanishad. A very short scripture.

1 comment:

Mibeloved said...

Interest summary study!