Three States of Existence Described in the Kena Upanishad

The Kena Upanishad, while covering a lot of additional ground, bases its conclusions on an understanding of the various states of existence and their relation to one another.  The human consciousness and existence is the one from which we start, but it is not, in and of itself, primary.  It derives from elsewhere and as a derivative state of existence, it is dependent on another conscious existence for its life and understanding.  The Absolute is another state of existence which contains, and permeates the entire creation.  And then there is the creative power that starts from the original Absolute and creates a universe that eventually translates into the forms, forces and awareness that we experience in the world.

Sri Aurobindo notes:  “Fundamentally its teaching reposes on the assertion of three states of existence, the human and mortal, the Brahman-consciousness which is the absolute of our relativities, and the utter Absolute which is unknowable.  The first is in a sense a false status of misrepresentation because it is a continual term of apparent opposites and balancings where the truth of things is a secret unity; we have here a bright or positive figure and a dark or negative figure and both are figures, neither the Truth; still in that we now live and through that we have to move to the Beyond.  The second is the Lord of all this dual action who is beyond it; He is the truth of Brahman and not in any way a falsehood or misrepresentation, but the truth of it as attained by us in our eternal supramental being; in Him are the absolutes of all that here we experience in partial figures.  The Unknowable is beyond our grasp because though it is the same Reality, yet it exceeds even our highest term of eternal being and is beyond Existence and Non-existence; it is therefore to the Brahman, the Lord who has a relation to what we are that we must direct our search if we would attain beyond what temporarily seems to what eternally is.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads, Kena Upanishad and analysis, pg. 184