Reality Omnipresent in the Immutable and in the Mutable Existence


Sri Aurobindo translates Taittiriya Upanishad, Brahmanandavalli, Chapter 6 (part 1):  “One becometh as the unexisting, if he know the Eternal as negation; but if one knoweth of the Eternal that He is, then men know him for the saint and the one reality.  And this Self of Bliss is the soul in the body to the former one which was of Knowledge.  And thereupon arise these questions.  ‘When one who hath not the Knowledge, passeth over to that other world, doth any such travel farther?  Or when one who knoweth, hath passed over to the other world, doth any such enjoy possession?’

The experience of the still, unmoving, silent Brahman is overpowering to the human individual who has the opportunity to remove his awareness from the external world and refocus it on the unmoving Absolute.  Such an individual finds the world to be illusory, the attraction missing, and he turns his entire focus toward living in that state of stillness.  It is so overpowering, that there are many who consider this to be the highest experience and deny ultimate reality to the world and its activities.  These individuals abandon the life in the world, in what Sri Aurobindo calls “the refusal of the ascetic”.  Yet, this is not the only possible experience of Brahman, and clearly it does not answer the underlying question as to the purpose and significance of the manifested universe, if the goal is to abandon it in the end!

The Upanishad sets forth a truth of human consciousness; namely, we become that upon which we focus our attention.  The path of denial leads to renunciation of the world.  The path of affirmation leads to embracing and becoming one with the Divine in manifestation.  This focus also provides the direction for what happens hereafter when one leaves this life.  The Upanishad here poses the questions, and other Upanishads, such as the Katha Upanishad have provided direct answers in this regard.  The reality of existence transcends the individual life and death, as there is Oneness of the entire creation.  Thus, the focus and direction that animates the life also carries the consciousness forward beyond death.

Sri M. P. Pandit observes:  “The Truth of Non-Being is not the whole of Brahman.  Brahman is equally and more patently the Absolute Being, Absolute Consciousness and Absolute Bliss.  He is here manifest as and in the Universe which presses upon our consciousness at every moment in a thousand ways, constantly asserting the reality of its Being.  One who sees and recognises this fact, has perceived the Truth, the real foundation of all existence.  And as he realises it and organises his life around this perception, his life begins to acquire a new significance; he becomes a centre of new values, one who radiates and instils something of the positive Truth he is in possession of and all creatures look to him as an exemplar, as a Pillar to hold to amidst the bewildering vicissitudes of the life of Ignorance to which they are subject.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads,  Taittiriya Upanishad, Brahmanandavalli, pp.265-274, M. P. Pandit, Upanishads: Gateways of Knowledge, pp. 109-182