Basic Spiritual Primer 5.1 (Self Reflected in Heart)
Basic Spiritual Primer 5.1 (From Chandogya Upanishad, Chapter VIII, Sections 1 to 6) Chapter VIII, Section 1 The Universal Self within the Heart and the WorldWe now commence the eighth and the last chapter of the Chandogya Upanishad. Inour own self, in the deepest recess of our own heart, there is a great secret. This is thesubject of this chapter.VIII-i-1: Om. Now, in this city of Brahman, there is a mansion in the shape of a small lotus; in it is a small inner Akasa. What is within that that should be sought; that indeed, one should desire to understand.The great teacher of this section of the Upanishad tells us that there is the city ofBrahman, the Absolute, in our own Self. A very small lotus-like abode exists in ourown heart, and in this little abode, there is a little space which shines by its ownlight.What is there in that space? To know this is our duty. It is our duty to understandwhat is inside this little space in our own heart, which is inside the city of Brahman,which is very small and looks like a lotus. This is the city of God. Some people mayask, “What is inside this? What is this great secret you are speaking about?” The answeris being given in the following mantras.VIII-i-2-3: If the disciples should say to him, ‘In this city of Brahman in which is a small mansion in the shape of a lotus and in the small inner Akasa within – what is it that lies there which should be sought, which one should desire to understand?’ – He should say in reply, ‘As large indeed as is this Akasa, so large is that Akasa in the heart. Within it, indeed, are contained heaven and earth, fire and air, the sun and the moon, lightning and the stars. Whatever there is of him in this world and whatever is not, all that is contained within it?’“You ask me what is inside this little space. I tell you that everything is inside here,”says the teacher. Whatever is the extent of this vast space that is outside, that is theextent of this little space in our own heart also. It is as expansive and as extensive as thisuniversal ether that we see outside. The whole of the heaven and the whole earth canbe found inside this little space. The principles of the five elements,—earth, water, fire,air and ether—and whatever you see outside, is all present here in this little ether. Thesun and the moon and also the stars can be seen inside this very heart of ours.
Everything that happens in any manner, even the littlest thing, takes place hereinside. Whatever we see in the outside world and whatever we cannot see in theoutside world—all those things are inside our heart. Well, the heart inside seems to be agreater mystery than the outer world. Whatever we cannot see in the whole world alsois here, says the Upanishad.Why is it that we cannot see everything in the outer world, and why shouldeverything be inside our own heart? Because our heart, which we call the selfhood ofour being; is the true representative of the ultimate Reality. The outer world cannot beregarded as such a representative. The externality that is characteristic of the outerworld prevents it from revealing everything that is in the Supreme Being, whereasone of the aspects of the Supreme Being, which is subjectivity, is present in us.As a matter of fact, all investigation in the field spiritual is internal and not external,because when a thing is externalized it is divested of the divine content. It therebygets partially abstracted. What we call the outer world is only that aspect of Realitywhich can be comprehended by the senses. Whatever the senses are incapable ofgrasping cannot be contained in the external world.What is sensed by the senses in the form of sensation is not the whole reality. Theycan take up only what they can contain and what they are able to cognize. It is the fiveelemental features of the external manifestation that the senses can present to us inexperience. But, there are other aspects which they cannot contain within themselvesand about which they cannot, therefore, give any kind of information. This is the secret,as the Upanishad puts it.This heart is a great secret, and by an introversion of consciousness into its depths, itwould be possible to plumb the mysteries of the whole cosmos.VIII-i-4: If they should say to him, ‘If in this city of Brahman is contained all this, all beings and all desires, then what is left of it when old age overtakes it or when it perishes?’The teacher tells that inside the heart is all the mystery of things. Every object ofone’s desire is inside one’s heart. It is not outside. Whatever one longs for iscontained within oneself.A question is raised here from the point of view of a student: “When the body getsold and is finally overcome by death, what happens to this heart that you are speakingof? Does it also disappear with death? How can that which is capable of destruction bydeath contain the mysteries of creation?” This doubt is immediately removed in thefollowing mantras.
VIII-i-5: He should say, ‘It (the Brahman called inner Akasa) does not age with the ageing of the body, it is not killed by the killing of this. This (Akasa) is the real city of Brahman, in it are contained the desires. This is the Atman, free from evil, free from old age, free from death, free from sorrow, free from hunger, free from thirst, whose desire is of the truth, whose resolve is of the truth. Just as in this world, the subjects follow as they are commanded and whatever province they desire, be it a country or a part of the field, on that they live (So, the ignorant depend upon others for enjoying the fruits of their Karma).This heart that the Upanishad is speaking of does not get old when the body gets old.It is not destroyed when the body is destroyed. It is the city of the gods. The objects ofone’s desire or aspiration are contained here and they shall be available forexperience, the moment they are invoked in the proper manner.This little thing that we call the heart is nothing that is mortal or physical. It is theAtman. What we call the Atman is the same as what we refer to here as the heart. It isfree from every kind of affliction or sorrow or limitation. It is un-aging, for it has no age.It is the timeless Being and, therefore, it has no destruction. It sees no death. It sees nosorrow. It is self existent by its own pristine magnificence. It has no hunger and It hasno thirst. It asks for nothing, for It is self-sufficient in Its own Self.Whatever It wills is capable of being materialized at one stroke. This is the will that ispure in character, uncontaminated by any kind of falsehood which is of the nature ofexternality. The nearer we go to this ‘heart’, the more is the strength of our will andthe more is our capacity to manifest it and materialize it in our practical life.The more the limited will of the individual human being is drawn out from thiscentre of the heart, the more does it get diluted by contamination with the evil ofexternality? The more it gets contaminated by association with the externals, the moreis the impossibility of achieving success in this world, and the greater is the difficulty ofcontacting the objects of one’s desires.But the more we go deeper and inward into our own Self, the greater is strength ofour will and the greater the possibility of achieving success in obtaining anythingthat we want. When our consciousness, will and thought-functions are rooted in Truth,they should materialize themselves at once in the forms they are expected.The case of such persons whose will is not so rooted in truth is like the case of thosewho are subject to domination by other rulers. They are like subjects in this world whoare ruled by kings and administrative chiefs. The subjects are completely under thecontrol of the chiefs or rulers, because the country or kingdom belongs to them. Thepeople in a country are under the thumb of the rulers.
Whatever is the ordinance passed by these rulers, that these subjects obey. Whateverpeople wish to have, they have to obtain from these rulers, not otherwise. Whateverlittle piece of land is allotted to them by the administrative chiefs, whatever is grantedto them in any manner whatsoever, on that alone they have to depend. This means thatthe sustenance of these people who are subject to domination by others is dependenton factors external to themselves.The actions such people perform in this world for the purpose of living a happy lifeare conditioned by the existence of external factors. There is a limit for theachievements of these people. Whenever a need is felt for being subjected to others’rule, the actions one performs naturally will be subjected to the conditions laid downby those external rulers. So, they are not really independent. Their will also cannotexceed the limit of the ordinances of these rulers. This is the case with every person inthis world in every respect.This analogy given here is only to explain the predicament of people in general. Therulers or the administrators or the chiefs mentioned here are factors other than one’sown self. They may be natural forces, or they may be gods in the heavens, or theymay be any blessed thing in the whole creation compelling you to act according to aparticular law or rule. This fate befalls one on account of one’s will and action beingrestricted by the operation of laws which is outside.This sort of action brings about a reaction. And this we call the law of karma which isbinding in its nature, causing reincarnation and the resultant suffering. All this is dueto the impact of laws operating outside one-self and compelling one to obey theirdictates. So, the more is one’s dependence on external factors, the greater is the nemesisof action. And the greater the independence one has, the less is this nemesis or reactionproduced by actions. Hence, every action performed by every individual is capable ofproducing only transient results.Our actions in this world cannot give us immortal happiness. We cannot haveabsolute freedom by anything that we perform in this world, because this world isconditioned and it works on conditioned laws. It conditions the individual who is acontent of itself, causing everything to be limited from inside as well as from outside.It is something like the freedom that we give to cows or cattle in general when wetether them to a peg by a rope. They have some freedom but it is limited to the extentof the length of the rope. Likewise, there seems to be some kind of freedom, given to uson account of the adjustment that we perform between ourselves and the externalatmosphere. But to that extent of the adjustment alone are we free. Beyond that we arenot. Thus, we are introduced to the fact of the limitation of human nature in thosewho are divested of this knowledge of the Atman and who consider themselvesmerely biological units and not spiritual centers.
VIII-i-6: ‘Just as here on earth the world which is earned by work perishes, even so there in the other world, the world which is earned by righteous deeds perishes. So, those who depart from here without having understood the Atman and these true desires, for them there is no freedom to act as they wish in all the worlds. But those who depart from here, having understood the Atman and these true desires, for them there is freedom to act as they wish in all the worlds.’Anything that we achieve in any manner whatsoever visibly in this world; is subjectto limitation. Our actions bring about conditions which give us conditioned happiness.We cannot be always happy merely because we live in this world. The conditionsunder which we are subjected by the laws of this world, the laws of action andreaction and many other factors, compel us to have only limited happiness, and eventhat we will find to be an apparent happiness if only we conduct a true investigationinto its character.As is the case with actions performed which produce transient results in this world,so is the case with those actions, even virtuous ones which are supposed to producebeneficial results in the other world. They too are transient in their character. Even ifwe perform a wealth of virtuous acts in this world and after death reach shining regionsof paradise, they will yield only limited experiences, because, after all, all theseexperiences are action-born.Whether an action is virtuous or vicious is not the question here. The question iswhether it is an action or not. Because it is an action, naturally it is conditioned by thefactors which rule over every type of action. Therefore, limited results alone follow allactions. Nothing is unlimited if it is produced by action. Sorrows are limited andpleasures too are limited here. Pleasures of the other worlds also are limited. So,everything that we get is limited ultimately. Nothing unending can result from actionswhich have an end one day or the other.We cannot have absolute freedom, because of the absence of the knowledge of theAtman. Even those people who are well-to-do in this world, who are regarded as greatby people in this world, but who do not know the nature of this Atman, go like animals.Just as animals die, those people also die, and the fate of those people ultimately is likethat of the animals, for however great their category be, they are bereft of trueKnowledge.The real nature of oneself is the nature of one’s own Atman. The point made out hereis that if we cannot understand our own Self, how can we understand anybody else?We have not known the Reality that is inside us. Then how can we know what is reallyoutside in the world? Those people who are ignorant enough not to know even their
own internal nature go to worlds which produce limited results, and they haveabsolutely no freedom.Just as we have no freedom in this world, because there is a ruling law operatingexternal to us, so is the case with people who go to the other worlds. There, too, theyhave no freedom. If some law operates here, in this world, some other law operates inthe other worlds also. Just as we are subjected to rules here, we will be subjected torules in the other worlds also.Everywhere we will be subjects and not kings or masters. Merely because we have alittle bit of freedom to enjoy the objects of senses, it does not mean that we arecompletely free. It is like the freedom of cattle to eat grass and chew cud. It is not realfreedom. This is the fate of those who do not know the truth. The reason is simple.They cannot exercise their will to the furthermost limit on account of these limitations.But the blessedness of people who know what this Atman is, is grand indeed. Thosewho depart from this world having realised what the Atman is, their jurisdiction isinfinite. They are not limited by laws outside. They are themselves lawmakers. Theirwill is the universal law. There is a unity between their will and the law that worksoutside.In the case of ordinary individuals, the difficulty arises on account of the conflictbetween external law and internal law. Why are we limited in this world? Because ourwill does not coincide with the will of the universe. We have got a way of thinkingwhich is not necessarily in consonance with the law of the whole universe. The will ofthe individual is not the will of the Creator. That is the reason why there is bondage.But when we are knowers of the Atman, as the Upanishad puts it, we also know whatthe ultimate Reality is. Then the law of the outside world becomes the law of the insideworld. The law of the Atman is the law of the universe. Therefore, there is absolutefreedom for those who are knowers of this great secret. Whatever they will, itexpresses itself in experience at once. There is no gap of time between themanifestation of their will and its materialisation. It is not that they think somethingtoday and it materializes tomorrow. It instantaneously manifests itself. This is the caseof the blessed souls who have known the Atman.The objects of desire appear to be outside us, which is the reason why we take timeto realise our objectives. There is a distance in space and in time between us as centersof volition and the objects outside. Therefore, naturally there is delay in time. The timetaken by us in the realisation of our objectives is due to the existence of space whichlooks very vast outside and which looks very puny inside. The other reason is that wehave no control over the objects of our desires. Our desires are not truth-filled. They
are artificially projected by conditions which are not entirely in consonance with thelaw of truth. Therefore, it is difficult for us to fulfill all our desires.The desire becomes difficult of fulfillment on account of its dissonance ordisharmony with the nature of truth. Truth alone triumphs, as we know, and nothingelse will triumph in this world. And if the will or the desire of a person is filled withuntruth, which means to say it has certain characteristics that cannot be corroborated bythe nature of truth, to that extent it shall not succeed. But to the extent it is in harmonywith the nature of truth, to that extent it succeeds.The externality of the object is, therefore, one of the impediments to themanifestation of the object in the fulfillment of a desire. The whole point seems to bethat the object outside is as much an individual with its own status as the willingsubject. Therefore, there is no easy access to the location of the object by the subject.The object is not subservient to the subject. It is not a vassal or a subordinate of thesubject in any manner whatsoever.Any one person is not a subordinate of another person. Both are on par with eachother. So, is the case with every object in this world? Just as I am the subject, the otherso-called object is the subject from its own standpoint. So, to will in such a manner asto control the object, and convert it into a subordinate of one’s self, is not an easyaffair.As long as we are content to remain physical bodies, individual persons, isolatedphysically from physical objects outside under the impression they are absolutelydisconnected from us, as long as we are conditioned by these false notions in us, solong we cannot fulfill our desires. But, the fulfillment immediately comes once werealise our affinity with the objects.The more we think we are independent bodily, the more is the difficulty for us inthis world, because the more is the reaction produced by other persons and things inthis world in a similar manner. The greater the affirmation of our body consciousness,the greater is our segregation from other beings in this world, and greater is the reactionproduced by them who will also assert themselves in a similar manner to us.If I am different from you, then likewise you are different from me. So, here is thepsychology behind the secret of un-fulfillment of desires by those who are intenselybody-conscious and selfish in their nature, egoistic in their motives and incapable ofknowing the inward connections between themselves and other things of this world.The knowledge of the Atman that is referred to here is nothing but the knowledge ofthe deepest secret of the connection of the subject with the object. If that is known,the externality of the object falls away, the difference between the subject and the object
ceases, and there results a true union of the two. That is called the true fulfillment ofall desires. This, therefore, is the great truth proclaimed by the Upanishadic master.He who knows the Atman gets all desires fulfilled at once and the other people whoknow not the Atman are subject to the rule of law. The whole world is ours if we areable to establish an inward contact with the world. But nothing will be ours; we will beforlorn, deserted wanderers in this world, if we think that we are mere bodiesunconnected with others.Now comes a beautiful series of proclamations or exclamations made by the Upanishadin the following section, telling us what the power of the will of a person who has Self-realization is, and what capacity that person has got. Nothing is impossible for thatperson. ************ Chapter VIII, Section 2 Different Higher Worlds Can be Accessed by the Knowers of AtmanVIII-ii-1: If he becomes desirous of the world of fathers, by his mere will, fathers arise. Possessed of that world of fathers he feels happy and exalted.If he wants to see someone, say a forefather in the other world, he can see him atonce. There is no such thing as ‘other world’ for that person who has realised theAtman. Just as this world is not, the other world also is not. There is only one thing,which is commensurate with his own Being. The forefathers in the other heavens alsocan be seen at once the moment his will projects itself in that fashion.VIII-ii-2: And if he becomes desirous of the world of mothers, by his mere will, mothers arise. Possessed of that world of mothers he feels happy and exalted.VIII-ii-3: And if he becomes desirous of the world of brothers, by his mere will, brothers arise. Possessed of that world of brothers he feels happy and exalted.VIII-ii-4: And if he becomes desirous of the world of sisters, by his mere will, sisters arise. Possessed of that world of sisters he feels happy and exalted.VIII-ii-5: And if he becomes desirous of the world of friends, by his mere will, friends arise. Possessed of that world of friends he feels happy and exalted.
VIII-ii-6: And if he becomes desirous of the world of perfumes and garlands, by his mere will, of perfumes and garlands arise. Possessed of that world of perfumes and garlands he feels happy and exalted.VIII-ii-7: And if he becomes desirous of the world of food and drink, by his mere will, food and drink arise. Possessed of that world of food and drink he feels happy and exalted.VIII-ii-8: And if he becomes desirous of the world of song and music, by his mere will, song and music arise. Possessed of that world of song and music he feels happy and exalted.VIII-ii-9: And if he becomes desirous of the world of women, by his mere will, women arise. Possessed of that world of women he feels happy and exalted.VIII-ii-10: Whatever provinces he is attached to and whatever desirable objects he desires by his mere will, they arise; possessed of that he feels happy and exalted.It means to say that everything that we can think of,—relatives, friends, fathers,mothers, husbands, wives, good things, great things, pleasant things, objects ofdesire present in this world or in the other world— whatever they be, they do nottake time to manifest themselves if the will is exercised in the proper manner.What is the proper manner? The will has to be in tune with the law of the Atman. Thisis the only condition. It must be a universal wish coming from every corner of the worldenfolding within itself every object. Then there will be an instantaneous manifestationof all things to the satisfaction of the universal will of this Self-realised sage. Whateverbe his wish, that shall take place, but his wish will not contradict universality, becausethe wish itself is universal.All these desires in our hearts are really distorted forms of the manifestation ofconsciousness in some way or the other. It is the great universal Being seekingexpression in various types of experiences in this world. All thoughts, all desires, allaspirations, whatever be the functions of the psyche, are movements ofconsciousness towards Self-realisation. It is the search of the Self for the Self in theworld outside.But there is some defect in the movement of consciousness when it gets lodged in thebody of an individual and imagines that it is somehow or other limited to the extentof that body alone. This feeling falsely introduced somehow or other in respect of theassociation of consciousness with the body is called anrita, falsehood.
When falsehood gets mixed up with truth, which means to say, the body idea and theexternality idea get mixed up with the true Consciousness that we are, then itbecomes difficult for us to achieve anything in this world.The more we free ourselves from the notion of the consciousness getting identifiedwith the body and externality, the more is our capacity to exert our will in the properway and fulfill our desires. ************ Chapter VIII, Section 3 The Space within the HeartThe capacity to fulfill a desire is actually the power of the vision to find out wherethe object of desire is and what connection the object has with one’s own self. Thelack of this vision in respect of the object of desire is the impediment which acts as anobstacle to the fulfillment of the desire.Desires are really the visions of consciousness which act in different ways, indifferent levels of experience. When, due to the locking up of consciousness in aparticular level of experience, it cannot visualize what is outside it or beyond it, then itbecomes difficult for it to come in contact with the objects of its desires.VIII-iii-1: These same are the true desires covered by the untrue. Although the desires are true, they are covered by the untrue. For whosoever of one’s people departs from here in this world one does not get him back to see.The words satya and anrita literally mean truth and untruth. Truth is the capacity tovisualize things as they are in themselves, and untruth is that which obstructs thisvision.Things as they are in themselves are not vitally disconnected from one another. There isreally no distance between one object and another object. If distance does not exist, thedifficulty in contacting objects should not arise. But the distance does exist for aparticular type of consciousness which has limited itself and which therefore thinksthat it is different from that which the whole universe is capable of in itscompleteness.This is the reason why those who are not in this physical world cannot be seen bypeople living in this physical world, and why the former cannot be contacted by thelatter. There is no communicating medium between this world of experience and theother world of experience. There is, really speaking, no such thing as this world and the
other world. There are not many worlds; there is only one vast continuum ofexperience. The distinction of this world from the next world and many other worldsarises on account of the varying densities of consciousness which appear to causedifferent levels of experience.We cannot actually establish a conscious communication between dream andwaking, for instance, notwithstanding the fact that there is no real gulf physicallyspeaking between waking and dream experiences. There is absolutely no distinction, ifyou seriously investigate into the structure of dream as well as of waking. Yet theyappear to be so different that one, who is awake, cannot have entry into the dreamworld, nor can one, who is dreaming, have entry into the waking world. It is thedistinction of the capacities of certain levels of consciousness which is the reason behindthe distinctions made between the two different worlds, viz., the dream and the wakingworlds.Worlds are fields of experiences and experiences vary in their intensitiescorresponding to the particular level in which one finds oneself at any time.Corresponding to the correlative objective world in which one finds oneself, there is thepossibility or impossibility of knowing what is beyond the ken of the physical senses.People who are dead are not really dead. They are in some other level of experience.They are in a different realm, in a different density of consciousness. Those in thatparticular density cannot contact those in another density.Now, another startling remark is made here by the Upanishad when it says that allthese people who have passed on from this world, those who are born and those whoare not yet born, those who have come and those who have gone to other worlds are inour own hearts. They are not outside somewhere. We carry them in our own hearts, inthe ether of our consciousness.It has been said earlier that whatever is outside is also inside. So, whatever is in thevarious levels, in the various lokas or realms of being, in the so-called external universe,is present in our own hearts. They can be invoked from within our own selves by thestrength of the mind. This cannot be done ordinarily on account of the untruth ofbodily attachment and externality-consciousness interfering with the truth of theuniversality of experience.The great obstacle to the perception of the things that are there in the whole universeis the locking up of consciousness in a particular body. It is imprisoned in a particularindividuality, jivatva, and it cannot think more than what is finite and limited. This isthe untruth referred to here. It is something that is not really there, but which oneexperiences by habit and by repeated application of oneself to that type of experiencewhich falsely goes by the name of reality to the exclusion of every other possibility ofexperience.
Thus, those people who have passed away cannot be seen, and those who are notborn also cannot be seen. But those who are not born also still exist somewhere in theworld. We say this with reference to a distance that appears to exist between ourselvesand those unborn ones, as if they are outside us. The question of outside-ness justdoes not arise in a world of a continuum of consciousness. But still it appears tointerfere with our experience on account of body consciousness, individuality andegoism.VIII-iii-2: But those of his people, whether they are alive or dead and whatever else one desires but does not get, all that one finds by going there (into the Atman, the Akasa in the heart); for here, indeed, are those true desires of his covered by the untrue. Just as, though people who do not know the field walk again and again over the treasure of gold hidden underground but do not find it, even so all these creatures here, though they go daily into the Brahman-world, yet do not find it, for they are carried away by the untrue.If only one were to dive into the ocean of one’s own heart, one would see thereeverything that one cannot even dream of in one’s mind. All those who have diedsince ages, millions and millions of years ago, and all those who have not yet come intobeing at all but are to manifest themselves now or in the ages to come,—all these formsare capable of being perceived in one’s own heart.But in this world this is not experienced, because this is a world of physicality andintense bodily awareness. On account of this, everything seems to be scattered hitherand thither, as if one thing has no connection with the other thing, while really in theheart of all things can be discovered the treasure of the whole universe wherein youfind the entire population of the cosmos right from the time of creation till the time ofdissolution.An example is given here to illustrate this. It is something like people walking over atreasure and not knowing that there is a treasure underground, says the Upanishad.Someone might have buried some treasure-trove under the earth and many people maybe walking over it without knowing that a big treasure is underneath. Similar is thecase with us who carry treasures in our own hearts.In our own selves, all these are contained. But we cannot have entry into them onaccount of the absence of the awareness of the fact that they are there. Theconsciousness of this fact is repelled by the very existence of interest in somethingelse.We stumble upon the treasure every day. We fall upon Truth and contact everything,everywhere, in all our experiences—past, present and future—throughout the variousincarnations we take, but we cannot know that we are coming in contact with it, just as
subtle, etheric waves and light waves may be passing through this very hall in whichwe are seated but we cannot know that they are passing. These waves are of highfrequency. Neither that which is too low in frequency nor that which is very high canbe comprehended by us who can experience only a particular range of frequency. Thusit is that we ourselves do not know what we contain in ourselves.It is impossible to know this great treasure by a projection of the mind outwardly,because it is seated within the heart of things. It is not external. As a matter of fact, it isthe search we make externally that is the obstacle in knowing that which is within one’sown self.Things do not exist as externals. They are not exclusive. In fact, everything isinclusive. The knowledge of this internal connection is denied by the very desire to seethings externally. Thus we see that the contradiction that arises on account of thedesire which projects itself through the senses in respect of externality of thingsprevents the knowledge of things as they really are.VIII-iii-3: This Atman verily is in the heart. Its etymological explanation is this. This (Atman) is in the heart, hence it is the heart. He who knows thus indeed goes daily into the heavenly world.Upanishad now explains why the heart is called hridaya. “Here inside is He.” Thismeans to say, Truth is inside you; it is the abode of that which is, and therefore, it iscalled hridaya. One who knows that one’s heart is the abode of Truth attains to thehighest heavens in experience.Our day-to-day experiences are not merely empirical or secular, as we normally dubthem. There are no secular experiences or worldly experiences or physical experiences.They are only names that we give to the one experience of Truth. And these names aregiven only for the purpose of convenience in language to distinguish one type fromanother in our empirical dealings. In fact they are all one mass of experience, like asingle body of an ocean of waters with different sizes and forms of waves.In every experience we can plumb into the depths of Truth, even as in every wave wecan have water. With every perception we perceive That only. In every kind ofcognition there is cognition of Reality. But unfortunately we mistake the Being forobjects on account of the habit of the mind to define things in different ways.VIII-iii-4: Now that serene and happy being, rising out of this body and reaching the highest light, appears in his own true form. This is the Atman, said the teacher. This is the immortal, the fearless. This is Brahman. Verily, the name of this Brahman is the True.
When a person rises above body consciousness, it is as if he is free from a drug effectinto which he has entered and to which he has been subjected for long.Consciousness gets muddled on account of the influence of an external toxic matter dueto which there is no proper thinking and understanding. As this toxic effect subsides,there arises serenity, tranquility and composure of experience. He feels as if somethingnew has come into his life. He wakes up as if there is a new daylight before him.This is the composure of consciousness which arises on account of the freedom ofconsciousness from bodily shackles. The moment this consciousness is freed frombodily attachment it rises upwards, as it were, like a flame of brilliance. It is thesupreme luminosity. It is light by its own right, a light that does not require anotherlight to illumine itself.When one attains to this supreme luminosity which is one’s own real nature, one isestablished in one’s self. Then one is in one’s true form. As we wake up from dreamand recognize our true nature as being different from what we felt ourselves to be indream, so does one recover one’s real nature and shake off the old notions ofconnections with bodies, one differing from the other.What we call Truth is Brahman Itself. We may call It the Atman or Brahman. It makesno difference. This is the Truth, because That alone is, That which is in all the threeperiods of time. That knows no distinction of the passage of time.VIII-iii-5: These are indeed the three syllables, ‘sa’, ‘ti’, ‘yam’. What is ‘sa’, that is the immortal, and what is ‘ti’, that is the mortal, and what is ‘yam’, with it one holds the two together. Because with it one holds the two together, therefore it is ‘yam’. Verily, he who knows thus goes to the heavenly world.’Again here we have the usual symbolic meaning of the word satyam, etymologicallyderived. What is satyam? Satyam is, says the Upanishad, a word which can bedissected into three syllables—sa, ti, and yam —and from the point of view of thisinterpretation of the Upanishad, sa, the first letter, stands for what is immortal; thesecond one ti stands for what is mortal, and yam, the third one, is that which holdsthe two together.The mortal and the immortal are both comprehended in something which is differentfrom the mortal and the immortal, which means to say that indwelling principle, thatSupreme Reality, which holds together in it-self the subject and the object,consciousness and matter. What we call immortal is consciousness and what we callmortal is matter. Both these are held together in this Universal Being. It is somethingtranscendent to our concepts of mortality and immortality. Even the word ‘immortal’is relative in its significance, because to say that something is immortal or deathlesswould be to relate it to a phenomenon called mortal or death.
When death is not there, deathlessness also is not there. Hence, these two concepts areconnected with the two aspects of experience, the subjective side known asconsciousness and the objective side known as matter. The whole world of experienceconstituted of these two aspects, subjective and objective is brought together into asingle comprehension in the supremacy of the Absolute.This is the significance of the word satyam, says the Upanishad. One who knows thissecret reaches the highest heavens of experience even in the little daily perceptionswhich one passes through or undergoes. In all our daily experiences, we have theexperience of this satyam, Truth only, in various forms, various ways and variouscircumstances. ************ Chapter VIII, Section 4 Life BeyondVIII-iv-1: Now, this Atman is the dyke, the embankment for the safety of these worlds. This dyke, neither the day nor the night crosses, nor old age nor death nor sorrow, nor merit nor demerit. All evils turn back from it, for this Brahman- world is free from evil.It is this Atman which holds together in a state of harmony the various worlds in thecosmos, so that they may not create chaos. The various elements, earth, water, fire, airand ether, the different worlds, the realms of being, as we call them—all these are heldin position on account of the law of the Atman.The law ordains that what passes for a particular form should maintain that formuntil the duration of time prescribed for it is exhausted by it in experience. If thisAtman were not to exert its law by its very presence, there would have been no systemor order or method of any kind.What we call system or method, symmetry or systematic action, internally orexternally, is due to the presence of this all-comprehending Being, the Atman. Theintegration that we feel in our own body, in our minds and the orderliness that we seein nature outside, all these are due to the presence of the Atman.Else there would be confusion everywhere. Anything could be anything. Anythingcould happen at any time in any manner, without any kind of relevance whatsoever.But this does not happen. There is a cause and effect relationship between oneexperience and another. There is a relationship vitally established between various
things in this world, on account of the symmetrical balancing character of theconsciousness of the Atman.This bridge, as it were, which is the Atman that connects one world with anotherworld, is also like an embankment over which days and nights cannot pass, whichmeans to say that time cannot touch this realm. Days and nights represent the timefactor. There is no time here. When you cross this bridge which connects the world ofordinary experience with the realm of pure Being, there is a transcendence of time.Anything that you call temporal cannot touch this Being. Neither old age, nor death,nor sorrow can touch it. Actions of any kind cannot touch it, whether they be virtues orvices. Neither good nor bad, nothing that we regard as valuable here, no kind ofregulation of this world can have any validity in that realm.Every evil turns back after having touched this embankment. This supreme world wecall Brahman is untouched by evil of every kind. Evil is nothing but the consciousnessof body and consciousness of objects. This type of consciousness cannot be there. So, itis free from every kind of contamination.VIII-iv-2: Therefore, verily, on reaching this dyke, if one was blind he ceases to be blind; if wounded, he ceases to be wounded, if afflicted - he ceases to be afflicted. Therefore, verily, on reaching this dyke, even night becomes day, for this Brahman-world is ever illumined.Even a blind one becomes free from the evil of blindness the moment he crosses thisbridge which is called the Atman. Wounded ones are no more wounded there. Peoplewho are distressed are no more distressed there. And grieved ones have no grief there.Eternal light is this Brahman. It is eternal, perpetual, unending Self-luminosity. Thisis Brahma-loka. Here, Brahma-loka does not mean some world or realm comparable withthe one in which we are living. Brahman, the Absolute Itself, is called the world ofBrahman. It is a symbolic way of representing its own Being as the totality ofexperience. The field of experience is called loka.VIII-iv-3: But only those who attain according to the instruction this Brahman-world through Brahmacharya, to them belongs this Brahman-world. For them there is freedom to act as they wish in all the worlds.Freedom untrammeled is the blessing of those who have reached this realm ofBrahman through practice of continence and no limit can be there either to theirpowers or to their capacities to visualize things, or to their knowledge, or even to theirown existence. ************
Chapter VIII, Section 5 Importance of Celibacy (Brahmacharya)Now, the means to the realisation of this great Truth is emphasized in the presentsection. The word used for this means is brahmacharya. The character of Brahman isbrahmacharya. The conduct of Brahman is what we call brahmacharya. Charya is conduct.Therefore, to live as Brahman would be brahmacharya. How Brahman is, in that wayone should be.It is very difficult to conceive this. It is a total abstraction of the senses in asublimation of consciousness which recognizes itself alone, to the exclusion ofeverything else. This is the only practice which one has to endeavour for. By thepractice of this, one would have performed every other duty in this world, becauseevery other duty is a tendency towards the fulfillment of this duty. This is what theUpanishad tells us in the following passages.VIII-v-1: Now, what people call sacrifice is really Brahmacharya, for only by means of Brahmacharya does the knower attain that world. And what people call worship (Ista) is really Brahmacharya; for only by worshipping with Brahmacharya does one attain the Atman.What we call sacrifice, a holy performance, worship; all this is equivalent to thepractice of continence, because continence brings all those results which any kind ofsacrifice would bring to the performer of the sacrifice. The knower of Truth, throughthe practice of self-control, attains those benefits which accrue by the performance ofa sacrifice.What we call the sacrificial performance from the point of view of Vedic injunctionsis also equivalent to the practice of self-control, brahmacharya, continence by which oneattains to every benefit which would otherwise come as a result of the performance ofVedic rituals.VIII-v-2: Now, what people call the sacrificial session is really Brahmacharya, for only by means of Brahmacharya does one obtain one’s salvation from Being. And what people call the vow of silence is really Brahmacharya for only through Brahmacharya does one understands the Atman and then meditate.Sattrayana is again a session for sacrifices. Sattra is a yajna, a sacrifice, and a session forthe performance of these sacrifices is sattrayana. It is a great ritual enjoined in the Vedas.But, this ritual called sattrayana is equivalent to the practice of continence, self-control. Sattrayana is the word used to designate this particular sacrifice, and here the
Upanishad gives a peculiar etymological resemblance of the result that follows by thepractice of continence to the meaning of the word sattrayana.Sat is Being, trayana is the way of freedom or attainment of the benefits of protection inevery way. One protects one’s self, frees oneself by contact with true Being. Thisprotection or freedom which one gains through contact with Being is also achievedby the practice of self-restraint, brahmacharya.So, it is equivalent to sattrayana, the performance of the Vedic sacrifice. What we callobservance of silence, not speaking, is the same as brahmacharya, because that again isthe silence of all the senses, on account of the contact of the Atman which is theSupreme Silence. One understands things correctly and enters into a natural state ofpsychic silence by the acquisition of the knowledge that automatically follows thepractice of self-control.VIII-v-3: Now, what people call a course of fasting is really Brahmacharya, for this Atman never perishes which one attains by means of Brahmacharya. And what people call the life of a hermit is really Brahmacharya, for verily Ara and Nya are the two oceans in the Brahman-world in the third heaven from here and therein is the lake Airammadiya, and there is the Aparajita (unconquered) city of Brahman, and there is the gold hall specially built by the Lord.This vow of fasting which people engage them-selves in is also equivalent tobrahmacharya. Here again, an etymological semblance is introduced into theinterpretation. Atman does not perish at any time. Therefore, this imperishablecharacter of the Atman is comparable with the imperishable results that accrue to oneby the practice of the religious vow of fasting.Whatever benefits accrue to a person by this vow, come to him spontaneously byself-control. Forest dwelling which is living in seclusion, etc., are all great vows andausterities, no doubt. But whatever one gains by these austerities, vows and practices,one gains merely by self-control, because it is the highest austerity and nothing canbe comparable to it.A person who transcends mortal experience and is blessed with an access into therealm of Brahman has to pass through various mystical experiences. Some of thewords contained in the passage refer to certain subtle experiences in the higher realmsof Being which a seeker would encounter on his ascent to Brahman, the Absolute.It is said here that there are two oceans in the realm of Brahman filled with nectarwhere the world this and world that both come together in a fraternal embrace. It is asif two oceans join together to form a single ocean. Ara and Nya are the two names given
to these two different oceans. They exist beyond this world. They are in the third worldaltogether, not in the physical world, not in the atmospheric world or even the astralworld, but in the spiritual (causal) world they are.There is another miraculous thing there which one can see after going there. There isa tank filled with exhilarating nectar which is the food of the gods and the food of thosewho have shed their physical bodies. It is immortal bliss that one would experiencethere.There is a tree there which yields all one asks for, which exudes nectar from its body.It is a huge peepul tree, very vast in its expanse from every pore of which nectar exudes.It is the kalpavriksha, as the Puranas call it, a tree that gives anything you ask. If youthink something while sitting under it, it immediately materializes itself. That is calledkalpavriksha.This is the city of Brahman which cannot be entered by those whose minds areextrovert, whose senses seek sense objects outside. It is an invincible fortress ofBrahman. No one can conquer it, no one can pierce through it, no one can breakthrough it, and no one can touch it or contact it, because it is not a physical fort. It hasvery, very rarely been conquered by anyone. Those who have been wedded to worldexperience through the mind and the senses are unfit to contact or enter into this city.There is a hall built by Lord himself, shining like gold, resplendent in every way,into which the soul is introduced. These experiences are also described in otherUpanishads in different ways. It is only an indication symbolically of miraculousexperiences and wonders which we cannot dream of, through which we have to passas a result of self-control and practice of meditation on Brahman.VIII-v-4: Therefore only those who attain the two oceans, Ara and Nya, in the Brahman-world by means of Brahmacharya, only to them belongs this Brahman-world and for them there is freedom to act as they wish in all the worlds.Freedom untrammeled is our reward if we could practise this technique ofmeditation. We would be the possessors of all these treasures, the nectars and the treesexuding ambrosia, and the oceans of nectar, etc., referred to here.All these would be our possessions and we would be rejoicing in these experiencesand be one with them provided that,—a great condition is here,—we are able towithdraw our senses and mind and centre our consciousness in that which we callBrahman. Then we are free and this freedom is what we call moksha, Liberation. ************
Chapter VIII, Section 6 Course after DeathIn connection with a description of the passage of the soul after the death of thebody, we are introduced into a new subject that of the existence of certain psychicnerve currents inside us, known as the nadis. There are certain nadis in our bodieswhich exist very subtly in the astral layer of our personality and control not only theentire physiological system but also our minds and breathing process,—the entirepersonality. Those who are versed in the science of hatha-yoga will know very wellthe importance of these nadis.VIII-vi-1: Now, these arteries which belong to the heart exist filled with the juice of a fine substance which is reddish-brown, white, blue, yellow and red. The yonder sun indeed is reddish-brown, he is white, he is blue, he is yellow, and he is red.These nerve currents are supposed to be filled with certain subtle juices which arevery subtle exudation which controls the humours of the body. The point that theUpanishad makes out particularly here is that there is a tremendous connectionbetween the sun and these nerves.This subtle substance in the nerve currents is of different colours. It may bebrownish-yellow, or white, or blue, or yellow proper, or red. There are severalthousands of nadis, but the principal among them are hundred and one in number. It isbelieved from the standpoint of this section of the Upanishad that the colours of thesenerve currents inside us are due to the influence of the sun upon us.Variegated influences are exerted upon us in respect of the constitution of ourpersonality by the rays of the sun. Even after the sun sets at night, it continues toinfluence us. The influence of the sun does not cease merely because it is midnight. It isa tremendous influence exerted upon the whole earth. Night and day make nodifference for this.When the effect of the sun through its rays has an impact upon the bile in our system;these juices become brownish yellow in colour. When there is phlegmatic elementmixed with this bile, it is supposed to be whitish in colour. When the wind elementalso is included within it, that means to say when the wind humour is a little morepredominant, it assumes a blue colour. When there is an equal distribution of thephlegmatic matter and the bile element it becomes yellow, while the reddish element isdue to the preponderance of the red corpuscles in the blood influencing these juices inthe system.
Now, the idea is that the colours of these juices in the nerves are imported, as it were,from the colours in the sun. They are the reflections, as it were, of the sun’s raysexperienced by us through our own nervous system. So, the Upanishad says that thesecolours are in the sun and they are in the nadis. But what about the causes thereof?These colours,—brownish yellow, or white, or blue, or actual yellow, or red—are thecolours of the sun’s internal structure. We know the sun’s rays have colours, and theseare responsible for the colours of the juices which flow in the nerve currents.VIII-vi-2: Just as an extending highway runs between two villages, this as well as that, even so the rays of the sun go to these worlds, this as well as that. They spread out of the yonder sun and enter into these arteries. Out of these arteries they spread and enter into the yonder sun.The sun’s rays seem to be travelling throughout space like highways, as it were,emanating from the sun, touching the heavens on one side and influencing theindividuals and the whole earth on the other side.These rays of the sun are like passages or highways in the entire space. They touchthis world and also the other world. They enter even the minutest thing in this world,like X-rays penetrating through objects, and we are not excluded from the influence ofthese subtle rays of the sun. They penetrate through the nerves inside us; they getrefracted back into space and return to the sun, so that they convey a message to thesun, as it were, as to what our predicament is here.Thus we see there is a real living connection between the sun and ourselves here. Therays are like messengers coming from the sun, conveying to us the message from thesun and taking our message from here and conveying it back to the sun. The sun thereand we here belong to one family, an undivided family. So, we are like brothers.It is a real interconnection of vital forces in us with the sun and with everythingbetween the sun and ourselves. So, we can imagine what integral connection we havereally with the atmosphere and the heavens and the stellar system, in spite of ourapparently being here as if separated and disconnected. This disconnection is amisconception in our minds.VIII-vi-3: Therefore when one is thus sound sleep, composed, serene so that he knows no dreams, then he enters into (the Akasa of the heart through) these arteries. Then no evil touches him for then he is filled with the light of the sun.It is these nerve currents that are responsible for the withdrawal of the mind intoitself in deep sleep. What we call deep sleep, the composure of the mind, thewithdrawal of the mind from all sense activity and the retiring from all dream
experience also, where one knows nothing,—that experience is brought about by thetravel of the various rays of the mind through these nerve currents to the centre of theheart. There the mind then lies sleeping and inactive, doing nothing and knowingnothing. In the state of deep sleep we are overpowered by a supernal light.When the mind goes back to its source, it is overwhelmed by the light of the Atman.This getting blinded by that light is in a way equal to seeing nothing. It is seeingdarkness, as it were, as perhaps when we gaze at the sun for a long time we see not thebrilliance of the sun any more but only pitch darkness.This is a very mystical doctrine of sleep which tells us that we are confronted by thebrilliance of the Atman when we go to sleep. And, therefore, on account of there beingnothing to see, objectiveness being withdrawn completely, we fall into a mood of so-called unconsciousness, merely because there is nothing for the senses to do and there isnothing for the mind to think. So, when there is nothing to sense and nothing to think,what is our condition? It is a falling back into oblivion of all kinds of experiences.VIII-vi-4: Now, when one is thus reduced to a weakened condition, those who sit around him say, ‘Do you know me? Do you know me?’ As long as he has not departed from this body, so long he knows them.Now we are introduced to the principal subject of this section. The other pointsmentioned in connection with these nerves are introductory to the main point which isthe theme of the section, namely the departure of the soul after death.When a person becomes weak due to old age and is awaiting impending death,people get anxious about his condition. They sit round him thinking that he is about toleave this world. And then they query, “Do you recognize us?”, “Do you know I amyour father?”, “I am so-and-so related to you, do you recognize me?”, “Do you know Iam your son?” and so on.He is able to reply to these people in a sensible manner as long as the pranas do notdepart from the body and as long as the mind is capable of working in a normalfashion in respect of the body. But when the mind is compelled by the pranas towithdraw itself into its source, no sensation, no thought, no recognition remainswhatsoever. Then what happens to that person?VIII-vi-5: But when he thus departs from this body, then he proceeds upwards through those very rays, (if a knower) he surely goes up meditating on Om or (does not got up if he is not a knower). As long as it takes for the mind to travel, in that (short) time, he goes to the sun. That indeed is the door to the world (of Brahman), an entrance for the knowers and a shutting out for the ignorant.
The very same rays of the sun, with which we have such an intimate connection,become the passage of the soul for its ascent into the higher regions. These rays of thesun are the roads or the paths, as it were, for the soul when it rises upwards after thedeparture from this body.This description is in connection with the death of a purified person who is expectedto attain liberation by progressive stages, gradual liberation. Such a person chants Omat the time of death. Everyone will not chant Om at this crucial moment. Those who areaccustomed to such a practice throughout life, who has led a much disciplined life ofspiritual contemplation throughout their career on earth, will be able to recollect thispractice at the time of passing, when usually the mind gets confounded due to theaction of natural forces.How much time does the soul take to jump into the sun? It takes as much time as themind will take to go to any place. The so-called distance of 93 million miles betweenthe sun up there and the individual here on this earth makes no difference to the soul. Itdoes not take any time at all to reach the sun. Such is the quickness of its action. Thesoul is taken to the sun at such speed through the passage of the rays. The moment itthinks, it is there. So, quickly it is taken there.This sun is the glorious passage to Brahma-loka, the realm of the Creator. This is theentrance to the glorious immortal abode of Brahma. And also it is the halting andchecking place, as it were, for the unknowing persons. Those who do not carry an‘accepted passport’ are turned back from the sun.Everyone cannot go there. The knowers go there and the un-knowers return. The latterwill not even be allowed to touch that spot. So, the sun is the check-post where there isa filtering of souls, as it were. The purified ones are allowed to go beyond and theunpurified ones are kicked back to the earth. The sun is an entrance to the region ofBrahma to the purified ones and also a closed door to those who are unprepared forthis ascent.In this connection there is a verse, says the Upanishad.VIII-vi-6: There is this verse about it: A hundred and one are the arteries of the heart; one of them leads up to the crown of the head. Passing upwards through that, one attains immortality, while the other arteries serve for departing in various other directions – yea, serve for departing.One hundred and one are the principal nerve currents in this body. One among thesehundred and one moves vertically, as it was, towards the crown of the head. This isusually called the sushumna-nadi in Yogic language. If our prana and mind can travel
through this central nerve current called the sushumna and up through the crown ofthe head, we attain immortality. And this is gradual liberation.But if the pranas depart not by this central nerve through the crown of the head butthrough other orifices in the body, then there is rebirth. It may be in this world or itmay be in some other lower world, according to the particular passage which the pranasseek at the time of exit. No liberation is possible unless the movement is throughsushumna-nadi.So, here one part of the discussion of this important subject of the Atman in the heartis concluded. ************