Truth from Vedas
If you would like to be informed, read news papers, if you want to know a little read books, if you want to know everything lose yourself in understanding and becoming a scripture. Lahiri Mahasaya said, “He alone is wise who devotes himself to realizing, not reading only”. Information, Knowledge and Wisdom can be stepping stones, but one could go straight to the point, i.e. Truth. After all, truth should be realizable by even an uneducated but sincere truth seeker. Knowledge generally confounds prime simplicity into motley mosaic of patterns. Truth seekers knew that truth cannot be patented, hence left the authorship of the Vedic texts without names of the human personalities out.
Ego is defined as soul perceiving itself to be an identified dot point. (Jiva for Physical Planets, Taijas for Astral Planes, Prajna for Causal realms). Bacteria to Humanoids are Jivas in the Physical Cosmos.
I have read a little from Hinduism, Christianity, Buddhism and only a miniscule from Islam, but do know that all paths are equally good. They are all based on the personal experience of what we have come to know as founders of the religion. Examples I quote have nothing to do with a strain of certain religion, when you go deep into becoming a Sufi or Jew, you get free, same happens to one who diligently follows any other branch of numerous world religions.
The science of God contact has been known to a narrow streak in the East and West. Yoga is mostly about exersize / fitness. Truth cannot be known by intellectual discrimination or mental effort, but can only be fused with, i.e. Yoga or Union.
Vedas are, so far the highest watermark of India’s civilization. Most people think of Vedas as something to be followed after retirement or after they have “made it”, whatever that means 🙂
Most people are unlikely to understand the scientific basis of Christ’s first commandment either. But I’ll try to communicate in 21st century English, whatever I can of the unspeakable truth.
One of problems of blogging is that the ego understands a few concepts and wants to brag about it, and the role of teacher become the role of crammer who understands more concepts from books, more facts, more trivia to run on the treadmill of sermonizing. Giving your Ego a massage is exactly not the point.
There is an energy inside human being that can be awakened to become a Superman on the evolutionary ladder, that is what Jesus the Christ, Mohammad, Krishna became with their own effort and struggle. Before this energy is activated, it does the involuntary work of growth.
You can google for more details on “Ojas” and transmutation of sexual energy. The same romantic madness that drives a person meet his beloved, is the same biological basis, that is also transmuted by the spiritual aspirant into radiation in the cerebro spinal axis to transforms the nervous system. Simple things like listening to music, thinking about a saint can also transmute this fuild and can provide a fuel to the brain.
Most religions emphasized celibacy in thought, word and deed for the same reason. That said, most Rishis with highest accomplishments were married men with offsprings.
When Prana evolves a life form, the next rung is exponential not incremental. Human being is at the cusp of exponential breakthrough. Some men who have made the breakthrough have been labelled as prophets.
Not a binary state
Finding truth or super consciousness is not a binary state, the incremental improvements are tangible experienced, just as a kid learns to crawl, stand, walk and run.
Not an ultimate state
The Cosmic Director has created an enchanting and mesmerizing play, one cannot pierce the veil at one go, there are numerous attractions and desires that keep the soul tied to a scenery. Man can only step up one level higher to super consciousness, the rest of the work starts later. But we as kindergarten kids need not worry about writing a PhD thesis, let us try to make words from the alphabet soup.
Let’s come back to the heading of this blog post i.e. Truth from Vedas. The first Shloka of Ishavasya Upanishad:
ishavasyam idam sarvam yat kincha jagatyaam jagat tena tyaktena bhunjitha ma gridhah kasya svid dhanam.
Isha – ‘that Supreme Lord – that Supreme Being,’ Ishwara; vasyam – ‘pervades’; idam – ‘here’; sarvam-’ everything.’
The Upanishad does not say, Ishavasyam sarvam – it adds a word idam – Ishavasyam idam sarvam – which means, ‘It pervades everything, here and now.’
There is the usual blame laid at the door of Upanishadic teaching, that it is an ‘other worldly teaching,’ something to take up after one becomes old, or may be in the next birth. This is not true. Ishavasyam idam sarvam- ‘that Supreme Being pervades everything’ – here and now!
Yat kincha jagatyam jagat – ‘It pervades all that moves, and also all that does not move,’ which means, not only living beings, but also non-living things.
The famous sage Ramana Maharshi of Tiruvannamalai defined the whole of Vedanta in a nut-shell, in one sentence which he used to oft repeat – deham naham koham soham. This is the essence of Vedanta.
So, deham naham – if ‘I am not the body,’ koham? – then, ‘who am I?’ If somebody says, ‘I am just a bundle of flesh and bones,’ it is fine. Let them be content with this feeling. But if somebody says, ‘Let me go deeper into this matter; I may not be just a bundle of flesh and bones, I may be something different. But who am I?’ Ramana Maharshi said that when one is asked this question, koham! ‘Who am I?’ koham? Soham is the answer – ‘I am not different from That Supreme Being.’ ‘That Supreme Self is not different from that Supreme Being’. ‘That Supreme Self am I’ is similar to the Upanishadic statement ‘tat twam asi’ – ‘You are That!’
Not for the weak
The study of the Upanishads is not for ‘weak minds’ because one has to take a totally different view of the world.
The Upanishad itself declares, Nayam atma balaheenay na labhya – ‘This atman cannot be reached by the weak.’ We are not talking about physical weakness but mental weakness. It requires a great deal of mental strength to understand the Upanishad theoretically, and more than that to begin to live and understand it. So a great deal of strength is required and therefore it is a strength-giving message. To repeat, it is not a philosophy of running away from anything, or worldly work and duties, but living where you are and understanding the permanence of the Inner Reality.
Mind cannot reach it
Shloka 4 of Ishavasya Upanishad says:
anejad ekam manaso javiyo nainad deva apnuvan purvam arshat tad dhavato nyan atyeti tishthat tasminn apo matarishva dadhati
Anejad means, ‘that which does not move.’ In other words, ‘that Supreme
Self does not move’. It is that which is unmoving. Ekam – ‘One’ Manaso javiyo – ‘Even faster and swifter than the mind.’ If that ‘One’ is faster and swifter than the mind, there is no way that the mind can find It. Nainad deva apnuvan purvam arshat – ‘There is no way that the senses can ever reach It.’ Tad dhavato nyan atyeti tishthat tasminn apo matarishva dadhati ‘By itself It stands still. It out-strips those who run to reach for It. In It, the all-pervading air or energy – prana, supports the activities of all beings.’ Now, this again seems to be one of the Upanishadic contradictions, because in the beginning it describes the Supreme Self, anejad – ‘It does not move’ and later, it says, ‘It out-runs.’
What a contradiction for the mind
If we go into one definition, we would have explained the others. The first one is anejad – ‘unmoving’ and the second, manaso javiyo nainad – ‘swifter than the mind, and the senses too do not reach it, because it is ever ahead of the senses.’ This is a typical attempt at describing the indescribable, which is what the Upanishads are all about.
In the beginning of this Upanishad, it is said ‘Ishavasyam idam sarvam’ – ‘That which is everywhere, at all times.’ ‘That Supreme Being,’ the rishis declare, ‘is your Essential Self.’ It is not a material thing that you can describe. So, the formless, the ‘attributeless,’ if It can be defined at all, has to have certain ‘attributes,’ theoretically speaking, to help us understand. One is that ‘it does not move.’ This is with reference to the fact that the mind is always in movement. It is never still. It is here now, and elsewhere the next minute!
This unending movement is the quality of the mind-stuff, but the Supreme Reality, according to the Upanishads, is unmoving. Even the search for something is a movement. When one is trying to achieve something, there is the movement of trying. When the mind does not have something, it begins to look for it – so there is a movement, not in time, but in thought.
Now, the Supreme Reality which is called in the Upanishads as atman, or referred to in this Upanishad as Isha, pervades everything. Therefore, there is no question of moving from one spot to another. Movement takes place from ‘here’ to ‘there,’ but if something is everywhere, then there is no question of moving from ‘here’ to ‘there.’ It ‘is.’
As the Upanishads themselves have declared, Nayam atma balaheenay na labhya – ‘This atman cannot be attained by the weak.’ Strength is required. Manaso javiyo – ‘It is swifter than the mind,’ which means the mind is not swift enough to reach It. Now, the mind is very swift – in a second, from ‘here’ it moves ‘there.’ But what we are talking of is always ‘here,’ ‘there,’ ‘everywhere,’ at the same time. Therefore the mind cannot move to It fast enough because it is there already!
Next shloka says:
tad ejati tan naijati tad dure tad vadantike tad antarasya sarvasya tad u sarvasyasya baahyatah. Tad ejati tan naijati tad dure tad vadantike –
‘It moves, yet it moves not. It is far and yet it is near.’
Tad antarasya sarvasya – ‘It is within all this.’ Tad u sarvasyasya baahyatah – ‘It is outside all this.’ Now, on the one hand, it is a confirmation of the first shloka – Ishavasyam idam sarvam – ‘That Supreme Being pervades everything here.’ If it pervades everything here and if it is your essential Self, then you will understand what is meant by – ‘It moves and it moves not.’ It moves when we think that we are separate from it – then we move towards it. But when we understand that we are not separate from that Supreme Being, then there is no movement. Therefore, ‘It moves and it moves not.’
A word of caution from the Upanishads for Knowledge Seekers
I’ll jump a few Sholkas and come to the 9th Shloka. There are certain people in the world who think accumulating as much knowledge as possible like squirrel accumulates nuts is the aim of life. Beware of the grave danger of this approach of learning and “knowledge”.
andham tamaha pravishanti ya avidyam upasate tato bhuya iva te tamo ya u vidyayam ratah
The first part is, andham tamaha pravishanti ya avidyam upasate – ‘Into great darkness, blinding darkness, enter those who follow ignorance or worship ignorance.’ Now this is clear. We all agree that those who worship ignorance or those who follow ignorance will enter into darkness. This is understandable.
The second part seems to be a contradiction. ‘Tato bhuya iva te tamo ya u vidyayam ratah’ – but those who delight in knowledge enter into greater darkness. Now, this is a very big contradiction! Should we not learn? Does knowledge cause us to enter into greater darkness?
It is understandable that when we follow ignorance we enter into darkness. But, ‘those who worship knowledge or delight in knowledge enter into greater darkness’ – this is something one has to examine very carefully.
The usual interpretation to this statement is that, by ‘ignorance’ is meant all the worldly knowledge which we have. Since it is not the knowledge of the Spirit, it is considered to be ‘ignorance.’ Only the understanding of Spirit is true ‘knowledge.’ Any knowledge which does not contribute to the understanding of the inner Self is still ignorance and therefore darkness – that is one theory.
What is Knowledge?
One has to look a little more closely at the word ‘knowledge.’ Especially because the same Upanishad says, ‘That Supreme Self cannot be reached by the mind or the senses.’ When one says ‘intelligence,’ ‘knowledge’ and so on, it is still within the field of the mind. So one of the interpretations that can be made is this: if somebody, after studying a lot about the Supreme Being, feels he has understood the Supreme Being and is therefore rejoicing, ‘he is entering into greater darkness,’ because he has not understood it. He understands it only when the mind has become absolutely still and that is not the function of knowledge. The function of knowledge, the function of the intellect, the Upanishads say, is to lead one to understand its limitations in the field of the Spirit.
The Upanishads go further: ‘Nothing that you worship here is the Supreme Being’! This is what the Kena Upanishad says:
Yan manasa na manute yenahur mano matam tadeva Brahma tvam viddhi nedam yad idam upasate – ‘
that which the mind cannot reach, but which is the basis of the mind, know That alone is Truth, nothing that you worship here.’ When he says, ‘nothing that you worship,’ it does not mean that you are not supposed to do any worship. It means no activity, pravritti, on your part can bring about the realization of the Supreme. In fact, no pravritti can bring it about. It is the nivritti marga. Therefore, when the mind becomes quiet and when quietness enters, then ‘That’ is revealed.
The other point is that if one examines the actual character of what we call ‘knowledge,’ we come upon something very interesting. Let us say we don’t have knowledge of a particular subject, and we set about trying to understand it. After some time of study, we understand it. That understanding is important. But after the understanding, what happens? When I say, ‘I have knowledge of the subject’ it means I have stored the understanding in my brain in the form of a memory. All knowledge is memory that has been stored, ready for retrieval. And when one says, ‘I have a good memory’, it means one has the capacity to retrieve correctly what has been stored at any time in the past. This is what is meant by ‘having a good memory’ or, in other words, ‘knowledge of the subject.’ Memory cannot be a thing of the present, it can only be of the past. We would not have to recall it if it is not a thing of the past. Therefore, any knowledge, including theoretical knowledge of the scriptures, lies in the past.
Is Knowledge the Aim of Life ?
And what does the Upanishad say? Ishavasyam idam sarvam – ‘That Supreme Being pervades everything, here and now!’ So, the knowledge of the Supreme Being, is not something that can be understood, stored and kept for reference! When it is understood, it is always understood, it is always present. It is not something that can be recalled. It is not something that can be recorded and retrieved. Once there, it is always there! If it goes, then it is not the knowledge of the Supreme; because it is a memory, it has vanished. So, ‘Into blinding darkness enter those who worship ignorance; into greater darkness enter those who delight in knowledge!’
Now, there is another psychological explanation to this, which is, when the mind becomes filled with the pride of having acquired knowledge and thinks that it will now see the Supreme Being, then it is very far away from understanding the Supreme, because now the ego has come in. Here, our effort should be to reverse the process and break down the barrier of ego.
Truth is not Scholastic or Intellectual
Sometimes, knowledge also becomes an obstacle to the understanding of the Truth, because Truth should be absolutely clear and simple. It need not be scholastic; it need not be intellectual. And, filled with this knowledge, sometimes one does not have space in the mind to receive a glimpse of the Supreme Being, even if it comes.
There is a story about a professor who went to a great yogi and asked, ‘When will I attain Self-realization?’ And the yogi told him, ‘Sir, you will take at least six to seven years.’ Then the postman, who had come there to deliver letters to the yogi said, ‘Sir, I think I must stop all this work now and keep quiet. I have this feeling of wonderful stillness coming in my heart when I come near you. I don’t know what it is. Whenever I come, I listen when you talk to others – though I have not read any books…. When will I attain that absolute stillness which you talk about?’ The yogi said, ‘Soon, very soon; may be in a few days!’ The professor got very upset. ‘What is this yogi saying? Here I am who has studied everything, and this postman knows nothing. Then how can he attain self– realization in a few days while I need six years!’ When he had cooled down, the yogi said, ‘Sir, it will take me six years to clear the rubbish which you have collected in your memory! When it is gone, the rest is easy!’
Then there is this famous story about the learned professor who went to the Zen master and said, ‘I have come to understand Zen. Please give me Satori – Zen!’ (The great experience of Zen is Sa-tori). The master said, ‘Sir, first let’s have some tea.’ So he made tea and then poured the tea into a cup. As he poured, the cup became full and started to overflow. The professor exclaimed, ‘The cup is over-flowing!’ The master turned to him and said, ‘So also is your cup Sir. It is overflowing! How can I give you Zen? It is already full, so it is unable to receive anything. First, it has to become empty!’
Next Shloka on Knowledge and Ignorance
The tenth shloka supports what has already been expressed.
anyad evahur vidyaya anyad ahur avidyaya iti shushruma dhiranam ye nas tad vichachakshire.
‘They say that the result of knowledge is different from the result of ignorance. This, we have heard from the wise, who have explained it to us.’ Now, the rishi is talking in humble terms. He does not say, ‘I am saying this.’ He says, ‘This has been explained to me by the wise, from whom we have heard that there are two results – from knowledge comes one result and from ignorance comes another.’
More confounding, the Eleventh Shloka
vidyaam chaavidyaam cha yas tad vedobhayam saha avidyaya mrityum tirtva vidyayaamritam ashnute.
This means, ‘But one who knows these two together, knowledge and ignorance, crosses death through ignorance and attains life eternal through knowledge.’
Now, how can one cross death through ignorance and attain life eternal? ‘Life eternal through knowledge,’ we can understand; but how does one ‘cross death through ignorance?’ This is another of those difficult parts of the Upanishad. If we have followed what has been discussed till now, a slight glimmer of light will appear.
The shloka before this said that the results of knowledge and ignorance are distinct and different. This shloka says, ‘But if you understand both, knowledge and ignorance together, then you cross death through ignorance, and life eternal through knowledge.’ Now, actually, both are the same. ‘Life eternal’ is the same as ‘crossing death.’ There is no difference!
In the vedic prayer, mrityor ma amritam gamaya – ‘lead me from mrityu to amrityu,’ – it is the same thing. Amrityu means amrita – ‘immortality.’
That means, when one understands this concept of knowledge and ignorance which is, ‘the one who worships ignorance enters into darkness and the one who worships knowledge enters into greater darkness,’ then one has understood knowledge and ignorance together for what they really stand. If you have understood that, then you have ‘crossed death and attained life eternal.’ ‘Crossed death through ignorance’ – there must be some reason why they have used ‘ignorance’ with ‘death’ and put them together. ‘Understanding ignorance’ means ‘to be free of that ignorance.’ You cannot be free of something until you have understood it. If you want to be free of violence, you have to first understand what violence is, in all its intricate patterns, and this cannot be done by sitting for years in a cave. It has to be done only in society.
There is nobody to be violent with in the cave. Only when you come out of the cave, interact with others and get hurt in the process, will you really know whether or not you are really free of anger and violence. So, to understand ignorance means to understand the implications of the meaning of ignorance. And when you have understood that, you are free of death. When you have understood that the Supreme Being which pervades everything, which pervades the entire universe, is no different from your Self, then there is no death for you.
Seemingly Contradictory 12th Shloka yet again
andham tamah pravishanti ye asambhutim upasate
tato bhuya iva te tamo ya u sambhutyam rataah.
‘Into blinding darkness enter those who worship the unmanifest and into still greater darkness, as it were, enter those who delight in the manifest!’ The same style of teaching occurs again and again in the Upanishad.
Now, the ‘manifest’ means ‘the world’ that is ‘manifested’ – the world that we see in everyday life. Let us start from the last part of this shloka – ‘they enter greater darkness who delight in the manifest.’ That means, those who delight only in the physical world and whose relationship with the world is only physical, going nothing beyond food, drink, sleep and sex – ‘they enter into greater darkness’. This is very simple. Unless we have chosen not to look, we see the darkness. That means, at every step there is a problem and at every step there is the spectre of sorrow and death haunting us.
There are those who worship the unmanifest. They also enter into darkness, but not as great a darkness as those who worship only the manifest. ‘Worshipping the unmanifest’ means worshipping that which is the cause of the manifest world. The Upanishadic teaching is that one has to transcend both, the manifest and the unmanifest. When they speak of the unmanifest they are speaking about the Supreme Reality as a creator, destroyer and so on. It is unmanifest because it is behind the manifestations that we see before us. It is the operator of all that operates. The Upanishad says that you can remain at that level, but the Truth, which is Light, is beyond both, the manifest as well as the unmanifest. That means we have to transcend even the very differentiation between the individual self and the Supreme Being. The manifest is the individual and the unmanifest is the Supreme. One has to understand that the individual self and the Supreme Being are one and the same. Otherwise, according to the Upanishad, we are still operating, comparatively, from a level of darkness.
Swami Vivekananda once summed up the essence of the whole of the Hindu religion and culture by saying, ‘Man is essentially divine. To manifest this divinity through work, worship, meditation or knowledge is the sum and substance of the Hindu religion, the Hindu teaching.’ All other things are just incidental.
So, the style of Vedas has been so written to try to point to un-pointable, to insinuate and hint towards the mystery which can only be experienced but not intellectualized or understood by mind.
In an another scripture I now forget the reference to, Vedas say, “You cannot know the supreme through mind or intellect”, yet the Shloka adds later “This Supreme reality you must know”.
Conclusion is simple, ignorance of law is no excuse, whether you are a baby about to touch hot stove or a spiritual infant uninformed of the truth. Laws are immutable and the wise shall be well aware of their existence lest they be trampled. Your suffering could be huge due to ignorance of spiritual laws.
Reference: Wisdom of the Rishis by Sri Mumtaz Ali Khan