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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Chandogya Upanishad

So, anyway, here we are back with the Upanishads. This Upanishad, the Chandogya Upanishad, is the longest I've read up to this point. It's about eight thousand words long. The other Upanishads are shorter, in the range of one thousand to two thousand words.

The first part of this Upanishad stresses the importance of knowing Brahman as the true Self. According to this scripture Brahman is the light that shines in the hearts of all men, of the world and of the universe. By concentrating on Brahman one can become one with Brahman. All human desires, sensations, thoughts, deeds and appearances come from Brahman (God). But even so, these things are not all the important because they are superficial and do not convey the true essence of Brahman.

This scripture says that the true Self is achieved by having a purified mind and a purified mind is achieved through meditation, sacrifices to study of the scriptures, almsgiving, austerity, the practice of continence and having a good teacher. I thought it sort of strange to say "sacrifices to study of the scriptures" until I realized how repetitive and boring they are after about the first four scriptures. So I will plow through them and sacrifice, hoping you can stay with me through the duration. There are only three more to go, so please don't give up on me. Let's see if we can get though this together.

The last part of this scripture hammers home the idea that Brahman and the Self are the essence of all things. It does this with conversations between various students and their gurus. The students ask questions and the gurus answer by telling stories that eventually lead up to the answser which always is the fact that Brahman is everything and once you understand that you become one with Brahman. The messages are basically the same; the stories different. Here are some samples:

Student - "I have head from the wise that the knowledge that the Guru imparts will alone lead to the supreme good."
Guru - "The life is Brahman. The sky is Brahman. Bliss is Brahman. Know thou Brahman!"

Student - "Please, sir, tell me more about the Self."
Guru - "The body dies when the Self leaves it - but the Self dies not."

Student - "In what does the infinite rest?"
Guru - "The infinite is below, above, behind, before, to the right, to the left. This infinite is the Self. The Self is below, above, behind, before, to the right, to the left. One who knows, meditates upon, and realizes the truth of the Self - such as one delights in the Self, revels in the Self, rejoices in the Self."

Student - "What then is that which dwells within this little house, this lotus of the heart, is to be sought after, inquired about, and realized?"
Guru - "The lotus of the heart, where Brahman exists in all his glory - that, and not the body, is the true city of Brahman. Brahman, dwelling therein, is untouched by any deed, ageless, deathless, free from grief, free from hunger and from thirst."

Student - "How does one become realized one with Brahman?"
Guru - "By becoming absorbed in the Self. The Self is immortal. The Self is Brahman. This Brahman is eternal truth."

Students - We have heard that one who realizes the Self obtains all the worlds and all desires. We have lived here because we want to learn of this Self."

Guru - "The Self is indeed seen in these. The Self is immortal and fearless, and it is Brahman. And the pupils went away well pleased."

Student - "In such knowledge I can see no good. I require further knowledge about the Self."

Guru - "Rising above physical consciousness, knowing the Self to be distinct fromt he senses and the mind - knowing it in its true light - one rejoices and is free."

These few quotes were taken from many, many pages of text and are only a fraction of the dialogues between students and gurus. But they reflect the main purpose of this scripture in that one must meditate on the higher Self and not physical things in order to be free from worldly problems, desires and thoughts.

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