Excerpts from the Upanishads (trans. Eknath Easwaran)

All this is full. All that is full.

From fullness, fullness comes.

When fullness is taken from fullness, Fullness still remains.

OM shanti shanti shanti

 

Teaching of Yajnavalkya about the Self

The Path to Immortality

4.1 “Maitreyi,” Yajnavalkya said to his wife one day, “the time has come for me to go forth from the worldly life. Come, my dear, let me divide my property between you and Katyayani.”

MAITREYI 4.2 My lord, if I could get all the wealth in the world, would it help me to go beyond death?

YAJNAVALKYA Not at all. You would live and die like any other rich person. No one can buy immortality with money.

MAITREYI 4.3 Of what use then are money and material possessions to me? Please tell me, my lord, of the way that leads to immortality.

YAJNAVALKYA 4.4 You have always been dear to me, Maitreyi, and I love you even more now that you have asked me about immortality. Sit here by my side and reflect deeply on what I say. 4.5 A wife loves her husband not for his own sake, dear, but because the Self lives in him. A husband loves his wife not for her own sake, dear, but because the Self lives in her. Children are loved not for their own sake, but because the Self lives in them. Wealth is loved not for its own sake, but because the Self lives in it. Brahmins are loved not for their own sake, but because the Self lives in them. Kshatriyas are loved not for their own sake, but because the Self lives in them. The universe is loved not for its own sake, but because the Self lives in it. The gods are loved not for their own sake, but because the Self lives in them. Creatures are loved not for their own sake, but because the Self lives in them. Everything is loved not for its own sake, but because the Self lives in it. This Self has to be realized. Hear about this Self and meditate upon him, Maitreyi. When you hear about the Self, meditate upon the Self, and finally realize the Self, you come to understand everything in life. 4.6 For brahmins confuse those who regard them as separate from the Self. Kshatriyas confuse those who regard them as separate from the Self. The universe confuses those who regard it as separate from the Self. Gods and creatures confuse those who regard them as separate from the Self. Everything confuses those who regard things as separate from the Self. Brahmins, kshatriyas, creatures, the universe, the gods, everything: these are the Self. 4.7 No one can understand the sounds of a drum without understanding both drum and drummer; 4.8 nor the sounds of a conch without understanding both the conch and its blower; 4.9 nor the sounds of a vina without understanding both vina and musician. 4.10 As clouds of smoke arise from a fire laid with damp fuel, even so from the Supreme have issued forth all the Vedas, history, arts, sciences, poetry, aphorisms, and commentaries. All these are the breath of the Supreme. 4.11 As there can be no water without the sea, no touch without the skin, no smell without the nose, no taste without the tongue, no form without the eye, no sound without the ear, no thought without the mind, no wisdom without the heart, no work without hands, no walking without feet, no scriptures without the word, so there can be nothing without the Self. 4.12 As a lump of salt thrown in water dissolves and cannot be taken out again, though wherever we taste the water it is salty, even so, beloved, the separate self dissolves in the sea of pure consciousness, infinite and immortal. Separateness arises from identifying the Self with the body, which is made up of the elements; when this physical identification dissolves, there can be no more separate self. This is what I want to tell you, beloved.

MAITREYI 4.13 I am bewildered, Blessed One, when you say there is then no separate self.

YAJNAVALKYA Reflect on what I have said, beloved, and you will not be confused. 4.14 As long as there is separateness, one sees another as separate from oneself, hears another as separate from oneself, smells another as separate from oneself, speaks to another as separate from oneself, thinks of another as separate from oneself, knows another as separate from oneself. But when the Self is realized as the indivisible unity of life, who can be seen by whom, who can be heard by whom, who can be smelled by whom, who can be spoken to by whom, who can be thought of by whom, who can be known by whom? Maitreyi, my beloved, how can the knower ever be known?

The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (II)

 

The States of consciousness

YAJNAVALKYA The Self indeed is the light of man, your majesty, for by that we sit, work, go out, and come back.

JANAKA 7 Who is that Self?

YAJNAVALKYA The Self, pure awareness, shines as the light within the heart, surrounded by the senses. Only seeming to think, seeming to move, the Self neither sleeps nor wakes nor dreams. 8 When the Self takes on a body, he seems to assume the body’s frailties and limitations; but when he sheds the body at the time of death, the Self leaves all these behind. 9 The human being has two states of consciousness: one in this world, the other in the next. But there is a third state between them, not unlike the world of dreams, in which we are aware of both worlds, with their sorrows and joys. When a person dies, it is only the physical body that dies; that person lives on in a nonphysical body, which carries the impressions of his past life. It is these impressions that determine his next life. In this intermediate state he makes and dissolves impressions by the light of the Self. 10 In that third state of consciousness there are no chariots, no horses drawing them or roads on which to travel, but he makes up his own chariots, horses, and roads. In that state there are no joys or roads. In that state there are no joys or pleasures, but he makes up his own joys and pleasures. In that state there are no lotus ponds, no lakes, no rivers, but he makes up his own lotus ponds, lakes, and rivers. It is he who makes up all these from the impressions of his past or waking life. 11–13 It is said of these states of consciousness that in the dreaming state, when one is sleeping, the shining Self, who never dreams, who is ever awake, watches by his own light the dreams woven out of past deeds and present desires. In the dreaming state, when one is sleeping, the shining Self keeps the body alive with the vital force of prana, and wanders wherever he wills. In the dreaming state, when one is sleeping, the shining Self assumes many forms, eats with friends, indulges in sex, sees fearsome spectacles. 16–17 But he is not affected by anything because he is detached and free; and after wandering here and there in the state of dreaming, enjoying pleasures and seeing good and evil, he returns to the state from which he began. 18 As a great fish swims between the banks of a river as it likes, so does the shining Self move between the states of dreaming and waking. 19 As an eagle, weary after soaring in the sky, folds its wings and flies down to rest in its nest, so does the shining Self enter the state of dreamless sleep, where one is freed from all desires. 21 The Self is free from desire, free from evil, free from fear. As a man in the arms of his beloved is not aware of what is without and what is within, so a person in union with the Self is not aware of what is without and what is within, for in that unitive state all desires find their perfect fulfillment. There is no other desire that needs to be fulfilled, and one goes beyond sorrow. 22 In that unitive state there is neither father nor mother, neither worlds nor gods nor even scriptures. In that state there is neither thief nor slayer, neither low caste nor high, neither monk nor ascetic. The Self is beyond good and evil, beyond all the suffering of the human heart. 23–30 In that unitive state one sees without seeing, for there is nothing without seeing, for there is nothing separate from him; smells without smelling, for there is nothing separate from him; tastes without tasting, for there is nothing separate from him; speaks without speaking, for there is nothing separate from him; hears without hearing, for there is nothing separate from him; touches without touching, for there is nothing separate from him; thinks without thinking, for there is nothing separate from him; knows without knowing, for there is nothing separate from him. 31 Where there is separateness, one sees another, smells another, tastes another, speaks to another, hears another, touches another, thinks of another, knows another. 32 But where there is unity, one without a second, that is the world of Brahman. This is the supreme goal of life, the supreme treasure, the supreme joy. Those who do not seek this supreme goal live on but a fraction of this joy.

JANAKA 33 I give you another thousand cows! Please teach me more of the way to Self-realization.

YAJNAVALKYA 35 As a heavily laden cart creaks as it moves along, the body groans under its burden when a person is about to die. 36 When the body grows weak through old age or illness, the Self separates himself as a mango or fig or banyan fruit frees itself from the stalk, and returns the way he came to begin another life.

The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (IV)

 

The Story of Shvetaketu or the question of Being

1.1 Shvetaketu was Uddalaka’s son. When he was twelve, his father said to him: “It is time for you to find a teacher, Dear one, for no one in our family Is a stranger to the spiritual life.”

1.2 So Shvetaketu went to a teacher and studied all the Vedas for twelve years. At the end of this time he returned home, Proud of his intellectual knowledge. “You seem to be proud of all this learning,” Said Uddalaka. “But did you ask your teacher for that spiritual wisdom

1.3 Which enables you to hear the unheard, think the unthought, and know the unknown?” “What is that wisdom, Father?” asked the son. Uddalaka said to Shvetaketu:

1.4 “As by knowing one lump of clay, dear one, We come to know all things made out of clay That they differ only in name and form, While the stuff of which all are made is clay;

1.5 As by knowing one gold nugget, dear one, we come to know all things made out of gold: That they differ only in name and form, while the stuff of which all are made is gold;

1.6 As by knowing one tool of iron, dear one, we come to know all things made out of iron: That they differ only in name and form, while the stuff of which all are made is iron – So through that spiritual wisdom, dear one, we come to know that all of life is one.”

1.7 “My teachers must not have known this wisdom,” Said Shvetaketu, “for if they had known, how could they have failed to teach it to me? Please instruct me in this wisdom, Father.” “Yes, dear one, I will,” replied his father.

 

2.2 “In the beginning was only Being, One without a second.

2.3 Out of himself he brought forth the cosmos and entered into everything in it. There is nothing that does not come from him. Of everything he is the inmost Self. He is the truth; he is the Self supreme. You are that, Shvetaketu; you are that.” “Please, Father, tell me more about this Self.” “Yes, dear one, I will,” Uddalaka said.

 

8.1 “Let us start with sleep. What happens in it? When one is absorbed in dreamless sleep, He is one with the Self, though he knows it not. We say he sleeps, but he sleeps in the Self.

8.2 As a tethered bird grows tired of flying About in vain to find a place of rest And settles down at last on its own perch, So the mind, tired of wandering about Hither and thither, settles down at last In the Self, dear one, to which it is bound.

8.4 All creatures, dear one, have their source in him. He is their home; he is their strength.”

8.6 “When a person departs from this world, dear one, His speech merges in mind, his mind in prana, prana in fire, and fire in pure Being.

8.7 There is nothing that does not come from him. Of everything he is the inmost Self. He is the truth; he is the Self supreme. You are that, Shvetaketu; you are that.” “Please tell me, Father, more about this Self.” “Yes, dear one, I will,” Uddalaka said.

 

9.1 “As bees suck nectar from many a flower and make their honey one, 9.2 so that no drop Can say, “I am from this flower or that,” All creatures, though one, know not they are that One.

9.3 There is nothing that does not come from him. Of everything he is the inmost Self. He is the truth; he is the Self supreme. You are that, Shvetaketu; you are that.” “Please, Father, tell me more about this Self.” “Yes, dear one, I will,” Uddalaka said.

10.1 “As the rivers flowing east and west Merge in the sea and become one with it, Forgetting they were ever separate rivers, 10.2 So do all creatures lose their separateness When they merge at last into pure Being.

10.3 There is nothing that does not come from him. Of everything he is the inmost Self. He is the truth; he is the Self supreme. You are that, Shvetaketu; you are that.” “Please, Father, tell me more about this Self.” “Yes, dear one, I will,” Uddalaka said.

11.1 “Strike at the root of a tree; it would bleed but still live. Strike at the trunk; it would bleed but still live. Strike again at the top; it would bleed but still live. The Self as life Supports the tree, which stands firm and enjoys the nourishment it receives.

11.2 If the Self leaves one branch, that branch withers. If it leaves a second, that too withers. If it leaves a third, that again withers. Let it leave the whole tree, the whole tree dies.

11.3 Just so, dear one, when death comes and the Self Departs from the body, the body dies. But the Self dies not.” “There is nothing that does not come from him. Of everything he is the inmost Self. He is the truth; he is the Self supreme. You are that, Shvetaketu; you are that.” “Please, Father, tell me more about this Self.” “Yes, dear one, I will,” Uddalaka said.

12.1 “Bring me a fruit from the nyagrodha tree.” “Here it is, sir.” “Break it. What do you see?” “These seeds, Father, all exceedingly small.” “Break one. What do you see?” “Nothing at all.”

12.2 “That hidden essence you do not see, dear one, from that a whole nyagrodha tree will grow.

12.3 There is nothing that does not come from him. Of everything he is the inmost Self. He is the truth; he is the Self supreme. You are that, Shvetaketu; you are that.” “Please, Father, tell me more about this Self.” “Yes, dear one, I will,” Uddalaka said.

13.1 “Place this salt in water and bring it here Tomorrow morning.” The boy did.” Where is that salt?” his father asked. “I do not see it.”

13.2 “Sip here. How does it taste?” “Salty, Father.” “And here? And there?” “I taste salt everywhere.” “It is everywhere, though we see it not. Just so, dear one, the Self is everywhere, within all things, although we see him not.

13.3 There is nothing that does not come from him. Of everything he is the inmost Self. He is the truth; he is the Self supreme. You are that, Shvetaketu; you are that.” “Please, Father, tell me more about this Self.” “Yes, dear one, I will,” Uddalaka said.

14.1 “As a man from Gandhara, blindfolded, Led away and left in a lonely place, Turns to the east and west and north and south And shouts, ‘I am left here and cannot see!’

14.2 Until one removes his blindfold and says, ‘There lies Gandhara; follow that path,’ And thus informed, able to see for himself, The man inquires from village to village And reaches his homeland at last – just so, My son, one who finds an illumined teacher Attains to spiritual wisdom in the Self.

14.3 There is nothing that does not come from him. Of everything he is the inmost Self. He is the truth; he is the Self supreme. You are that, Shvetaketu; you are that.” “Please, Father, tell me more about this Self.” “Yes, dear one, I will,” Uddalaka said.

15.1 “When a man is dying, his family all gather round and ask, ‘Do you know me? Do you know me?’ And so long as his speech has not merged in mind, his mind in prana, Prana in fire, and fire in pure Being,

15.2 He knows them all. But there is no more knowing when speech merges in mind, mind in prana, Prana in fire, and fire in pure Being,

15.3 There is nothing that does not come from him. Of everything he is the inmost Self. He is the truth; he is the Self supreme. You are that, Shvetaketu; you are that.”

16.3 Then Shvetaketu understood this teaching; truly he understood it all.

Chandogya Upanishad (XVII)

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