The Calculus of Bliss

Sri Aurobindo translates Taittiriya Upanishad, Brahmanandavalli, Chapter 8:  (excerpts only provided here)  “Behold this exposition of the Bliss to which ye shall hearken.  Let there be a young man, excellent and lovely in his youth, a great student; let him have fair manners and a most firm heart and great strength of body, and let all this wide earth be full of wealth for his enjoying.  That is the measure of bliss of one human being.  Now a hundred and a hundredfold of the human measure of bliss, is one bliss of men that have become angels in heaven.  And this is the bliss of the Vedawise whose soul the blight of desire toucheth not. ….. A hundred and a hundredfold of this measure of Prajapati’s bliss, is one bliss of the Eternal Spirit.”

Between the measure of human bliss, and the bliss of the Eternal Spirit, the Upanishad recounts 9 other stages or levels of bliss.  While the circumstances surrounding one measure of human bliss are considered to be beyond comprehension for most of us, the bliss of the Eternal Spirit is infinitely greater.   Interestingly, the Upanishad equates the greatest possible conceived experience of bliss with that of “the Vedawise whose soul the blight of desire toucheth not.”

After this extensive recitation of bliss and the path to its attainment, the Upanishad continues:  “The Spirit who is here in a man and the Spirit who is there in the Sun, it is one Spirit and there is no other.  He who knoweth this, when he hath gone away from this world, passeth to this Self which is of food; he passeth to this Self which is of Prana; he passeth to this Self which is of Mind; he passeth to this Self which is of Knowledge; he passeth to this Self which is of Bliss.  Whereof this is the Scripture.”

Sri M. P. Pandit elucidates further:  “And so, it is to this Bliss of Brahman that the man who knows arrives.  Here is the clear answer of the Upanishad to the questions posed earlier as to what is the state in which the man of knowledge finds himself after death and what of him who hath not the knowledge.  One who realises in himself the truth that his own self and the self of the universe are One, the greater truth that it is the same eternal Spirit who is embodied in himself as well as in the universe, is not extinguished the moment he dies.  Withdrawing from the world of physical matter to the subtle and still more subtle levels of existence, in an ordered manner, he finally arrives at the inmost Self that is of Bliss.  And by implication it is clear that the man without knowledge fails to reach this consummation.”

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

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