The Song of the Realised Soul

Sri Aurobindo translates Taittiriya Upanishad, Bhriguvalli, Chapter 10, part 4:  “The Spirit who is here in man and the Spirit who is there in the Sun, lo, it is One Spirit and there is no other.  He who hath this knowledge, when he goeth from this world having passed to the Self which is of food; having passed to the Self which is of Prana; having passed to the Self which is of Mind; having passed to the Self which is of Knowledge; having passed to the Self which is of Bliss, lo, he rangeth about the worlds, and eateth what he will and taketh what shape he will and ever he singeth the mighty Sama.  ‘Ho! ho! ho!  I am food!  I am food!  I am food!  I am the eater of food!  I am the eater!  I am the eater!  I am he who maketh Scripture!  I am he who maketh!  I am he who maketh!  I am the firstborn of the Law; before the gods were, I am, yea, at the very heart of immortality.  He who giveth me, verily he preserveth me; for I being food, eat him that eateth.  I have conquered the whole world and possessed it, my light is as the sun in its glory.’  Thus he singeth, who hath the knowledge.  This verily is Upanishad, the secret of the Veda.”

Sri M. P. Pandit observes:  “He is everywhere, indeed!  But in you also … And he who has imbibed and realised this High Knowledge does not decay and wither away in death like other creatures in the Ignorance.  On the other hand, — proclaims the sacred text in one of the most memorable and inspired perorations in Indian spiritual literature — he attains a sublime liberation.  When the time arrives for him to leave the terrestrial life, he withdraws from it in a masterly manner, passing in controlled steps from state to state, each perfected, within, during the lifetime, till he arrives at his rightful destination of ineffable Ananda. … In the utter beatitude that is now his natural state, he realises an untrammelled identity with Brahman in each if His varied statuses, the transcendent, the cosmic, the individual …  It is not to be concluded however that a complete identity with Brahman is possible only after the death of the physical body.  It is possible to attain it here even while living.”

It is clear, when one hears the ecstatic utterance of this passage that the seeker is in a state of blissful awareness and has achieved a realisation that has overpowered the ordinary mental processes.  The insights are quite clear however.  He has recognized his unity with the Brahman in the manifestation and beyond the manifested world.  He systematically recognizes Matter and the Life-Energy which devours and transforms the forms of Matter.  He recognizes the Mental world where thought and logical development take place as well as that level of consciousness which transcends the mental level.  He understands that the Brahman has manifested this entire universe and, being One with the Brahman, he is One with the entire manifested world, while still transcending everything that exists.

Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads,  Taittiriya Upanishad, Bhriguvalli, pp.275-281, M. P. Pandit, Upanishads: Gateways of Knowledge, pp. 169-182

Focus and Results in Spiritual Endeavours

Sri Aurobindo translates Taittiriya Upanishad, Bhriguvalli, Chapter 10, part 3: “Pursue thou Him as the firm foundation of things and thou shalt get thee firm foundation; pursue Him as Mahas, thou shalt become Mighty; pursue Him as Mind, thou shalt become full of mind; pursue Him as adoration, thy desires shall bow down before thee; pursue Him as the Eternal, thou shalt become full of the Spirit; pursue Him as the destruction of the Eternal that rangeth abroad, thy rivals and thy haters shall perish thick around thee and thy kin who loved thee not.”

Sri M. P. Pandit observes:  “All is the Divine, the Brahman.  He confronts the awakened eye wherever it turns.  His is the force that moves in the characteristic activities of Nature, animate and inanimate, and His the Presence that lends significance to every particle in creation.  The aspirant should equip himself to receive Him on all levels, in all the extensions of the Cosmic Manifestation.  And as he seeks he shall realise; for Brahman reveals himself in the manner of the seeking.”

Results follow from the direction, focus and intensity of energy with which an individual acts.  The human mind functions as a tuning and focusing device to a great degree.  Where we put our attention we gain knowledge and power of action.  In Patanjali’s Yoga Aphorisms, the truth of this is explained as the development of power through what is called samyama.  Through this practice, which incorporates concentration and one-pointed attention, one can gain an intimate, inner knowledge of the object of the focus.

This power of concentration can be applied in any field or direction, as it is a neutral power.  Thus, it can be used to destroy as well as create.  The main variables that make it less than fully effective are the intensity and one-pointedness of the focus, and the other forces operating in the world that can interfere with the wave which carries the energy.  We tend however to disperse the focus or relax the intensity and thus obtain variable results.  We see this in everyday life.

This can be understood in the field of material force with what we call the “signal” to “noise” ratio.  The signal is the focus.  The noise represents the intensity and the interference from contrary waves of force.  A tight beam of high-intensity energy, for instance a laser, can slice through material objects at a distance.  As the wave weakens and begins to disintegrate, the power it delivers to the object is reduced.  This illustrates the principle of the one-pointed concentration.

The Upanishad takes this power and specifically provides examples in the field of spiritual practice.  A spiritual aspirant who has an intensity of aspiration or concentration will eventually achieve results commensurate with and in the direction of that focus.

 

Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads,  Taittiriya Upanishad, Bhriguvalli, pp.275-281, M. P. Pandit, Upanishads: Gateways of Knowledge, pp. 169-182

Cognitions: Human and Divine

Sri Aurobindo translates Taittiriya Upanishad, Bhriguvalli, Chapter 10, part 2: “As prosperity in speech, as getting and having in the main breath and the nether, as work in the hands, as movement in the feet, as discharge in the anus, these are the cognitions in the human.  Then in the divine; as satisfaction in the rain, as force in the lightning, as splendour in the beasts, as brightness in the constellations, as procreation and bliss and death conquered in the organ of pleasure, as the All in Ether.”

We see here a number of insights, themes for consideration, for recognising the Divine in the human being and in the world of creation.  Some notes on the translation may be helpful.  The term used for prosperity, ksema,  conveys a sense of safety and well-being that does not come through fully in the English translation.  Sanskrit terms frequently carry an inference that is hard to capture when they are being translated.  Each of the terms representing human cognition here are active relationships to the outer world.  The human being participates in the world and contributes to it.  This may be through the use of speech, through breath, through work or movement, or in recycling materials back into the world to continue the interactive and symbiotic relationship of all beings.

Divine cognitions address the status in the outer world.  Rain brings fruitful growth.  When rain follows a dry spell, we experience a sense of release, of satisfaction, that corresponds with the results that rain produces.  Some commentators hold that the segment “as procreation and bliss and death conquered in the organ of pleasure”  should actually be in the human cognitions; however, the action here is one that is supportive of the divine world action and extension of human life across multiple generations for continued action into the future.

The traditional commentators recommend contemplation on each of these elements as a way of understanding the Brahman as the creative power of the universal manifestation.  There is considerable depth and subtlety of sense that can be appreciated and understood through such a practice.

Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads,  Taittiriya Upanishad, Bhriguvalli, pp.275-281, M. P. Pandit, Upanishads: Gateways of Knowledge, pp. 169-182

Oneness, the Action of the Three Gunas and the Law of Karmic Consequence

Sri Aurobindo translates Taittiriya Upanishad, Bhriguvalli, Chapter 10, Part 1: “Thou shalt not reject any man in thy habitation, for that too is thy commandment unto labour.  Therefore in whatsoever sort do thou get thee great store of food.  They say unto the stranger in their dwelling, ‘Arise, the food is ready.’  Was the food made ready at the beginning?  To him also is food made ready in the beginning.  Was the food made ready in the middle?  To him also is food made ready in the middle.  Was the food made ready at the end and last?  To him also is the food made ready at the end and last, who hath this knowledge.”

Oneness is not simply a philosophical idea or concept, but is the underlying nature of the entire creation.  Therefore, the sage who has this knowledge acts upon it in his dealings with people.  Sustenance to the physical body is an essential part of this existence, and thus, no human being should be denied that support.  When an individual is approached to provide food and shelter to someone, it should be done!  Material wealth accumulated in the course of one’s activities should be used to sustain oneself, but also to sustain others who need assistance.

There are also  lessons here in the manner of the giving of that sustenance, bringing in an understanding of the three gunas, or qualities.   The giving may be sattwic, rajasic or tamasic.  To give “in the beginning” implies a sattwic understanding and openness.  To give in the middle implies a rajasic balancing of benefits and advantage.  To give at the end implies an attempt to withhold or minimize the giving, a tamasic approach.

The focus and energy put forth by an individual also has implications for that individual’s response from the universal creation.  This is the law of karmic consequence.  Those who meet the universe with a sattwic energy get a similar response back.  Rajas begets rajas, tamas begets tamas.

 

Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads,  Taittiriya Upanishad, Bhriguvalli, pp.275-281, M. P. Pandit, Upanishads: Gateways of Knowledge, pp. 169-182

Active Participation in the Universal Creation is Enjoined

Sri Aurobindo translates Taittiriya Upanishad, Bhriguvalli, Chapter 9:  “Thou shalt increase and amass food; for that too is thy commandment unto labour.  Verily earth also is food and ether is the eater.  Ether is established upon earth and earth is established upon ether.  Here too is food established upon food.  He who knoweth this food that is established upon food, getteth his firm base.  He becometh the master of food and its eater, great in progeny, great in cattle, great in the radiance of holiness, great in glory.”

The Upanishad continues to develop the theme noted in chapters 7 and 8.  Matter should not be blamed nor rejected.  These are both “negative” statements that might lead to acquiescence, but not active and positive participation.  Chapter 9 moves to an affirmative statement, that the seeker should take part in the manifestation and aid in the process of the creation.

Once again, the Upanishad sets forth the inter-relations of all existence, this time by showing how earth and the ether are related.  It is interesting to note that until quite recently Western science was rejecting the concept of “ether” and was simply considering space to be “empty”.  Over the last 150 years or so, this view has evolved considerably, as various issues arose in the scientific world view that required space to actually not be empty.  The questions revolved around how electro-magnetic waves could travel through space without a medium of any sort, as well as how gravitational force could work in a total vacuum.   The idea of an “ether” suddenly became feasible.  Today scientists speak of “dark matter” filling the universe between the points of visible matter and acting upon the visible universe.  They speak of galaxies devouring one another.  It begins to look like the picture provided by the Rishi of the Taittiriya Upanishad!

Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads,  Taittiriya Upanishad, Bhriguvalli, pp.275-281, M. P. Pandit, Upanishads: Gateways of Knowledge, pp. 169-182

The Inter-Relationship of the Elements of Creation and the Role of the Seeker in the Creation

Sri Aurobindo translates Taittiriya Upanishad, Bhriguvalli, Chapter 8: “Thou shalt not reject food; for that too is the vow of thy labour.  Verily the waters also are food, and the bright fire is the eater.  The fire is established upon the waters and the waters are established upon the fires.  Here too is food established upon food.  He who knoweth this food that is established upon food, getteth his firm base, he becometh the master of food and its eater, great in progeny, great in cattle, great in the radiance of holiness, great in glory.”

The Upanishad goes through a progression.  In chapter 7, the injunction was not to “blame” food.  In chapter 8, the seeker is asked not to “reject” food.  The implication is clear that the world manifestation is not to be abandoned.  The Upanishad goes further as it continues to explore the inter-relationships of the various elements of existence.  In chapter 7, the connection between Matter and Life-Force was explored.  In chapter 8, the relationship between water and fire is developed.  We see the same paradigm applied in both cases, and the same result eventuates for the seeker who understands the inter-connected nature of all existence.

Blaming or rejecting the material creation implies a duality.  The manifestation of the universal creation, however, is an expression of the oneness of the Brahman.  The teacher is emphasizing the oneness through this expanding analysis of the seeker’s relationship to the material world.

Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads,  Taittiriya Upanishad, Bhriguvalli, pp.275-281, M. P. Pandit, Upanishads: Gateways of Knowledge, pp. 169-182

The Importance and Interdependence of Matter and Life-Force

Sri Aurobindo translates Taittiriya Upanishad, Bhriguvalli, Chapter 7: “Thou shalt not blame food; for that is thy commandment unto labour.  Verily Prana also is food, and the body is the eater.  The body is established upon Prana and Prana is established upon the body.  Therefore food here is established upon food.  He who knoweth this food that is established upon food, getteth his firm base, he becometh the master of food and its eater, great in progeny, great in cattle, great in the radiance of holiness, great in glory.”

It is characteristic for human beings to create black and white divisions and undertake an exclusive focus on one aspect to the exclusion of others.  This is very much in line with the nature of the mind.  Thus, when we take up the spiritual life, we tend to want to abandon or de-emphasize the life of the world.  There are short-term advantages to this approach, as an exclusive focus can advance progress in the desired direction; however, in an ultimate sense, this strategy has its serious limitations as it denies the truth that resides in the material world and the meaning and purpose of the creation.  Thus, the Upanishad cautions that “thou shalt not blame food, for that is thy commandment unto labour.”  We are asked to participate fully in the creation and its development.

Sri M. P. Pandit notes:  “The Upanishad then proceeds to warn the aspirant that in his zeal for attaining to Brahman in His utter purity or absoluteness, the universe around, the material formulation of His creative Consciousness-Force is not to be despised; in the flight of the soul, the body is not to be rejected.”

“So too Prana, the Life-force and the other principles in creation.  They are all put forth on purpose from the One Source and are mutually interdependent..  Anna, Matter is to be accepted, fathomed, its truth vis a vis the other manifestations of Brahman to be realised, and its potentialities fully developed … Matter, the physical form depends upon the life-force to animate and sustain it even as Prana depends upon the physical organism for its individual station and action and feeds upon it as a fire consuming its fuel.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads,  Taittiriya Upanishad, Bhriguvalli, pp.275-281, M. P. Pandit, Upanishads: Gateways of Knowledge, pp. 169-182

Bliss Is Experienced as the Eternal

Sri Aurobindo translates Taittiriya Upanishad, Bhriguvalli, Chapter 6:  “He knew Bliss for the Eternal.  For from Bliss alone, it appeareth, are these creatures born and being born they live by Bliss and to Bliss they go hence and return.  This is the lore of Bhrigu, the lore of Varuna, which hath its firm base in the highest heaven.  Who knoweth, getteth his firm base, he becometh the master of food and its eater, great in progeny, great in cattle, great in the splendour of holiness, great in glory.”

The next stage of the disciple’s realisation comes after continued concentration, as he now recognises bliss, ananda, as the Eternal.  Ananda is part of a triple aspect of Sat-Chit-Ananda, Existence-Consciousness-Bliss which are One and which are inseparable.  The pure Existence, pure Awareness and pure experience of Ananda represents the highest and original Truth of existence, the cause of all being, and he thus becomes a “knower of Brahman.”

Sri M. P. Pandit observes:  “Thus did Bhrigu progressively realise in his own being that each of the principles that base and organise the several planes of existence, — Matter, the principle of the physical plane, Prana of the life region, Mind of the mental, Truth-Knowledge of the Higher planes transcending the Mind, and above all Ananda basing not only its own worlds of Bliss but the whole of the Manifestation, — is a Truth of Brahman, but not the whole of It.  They are several self-expressive formulations of the Being of Brahman put forth by its innate Consciousness-Force, so many vibrant strings that strike the Symphony of the Creative Delight of Brahman.

The seeker who attains this realisation embraces all the several levels of the manifested world, he accepts the material plane, he acts in the vital plane, he organises on the mental plane, and he recognises the Oneness and the complexity of the detailed manifestation at the Gnostic level, while experiencing the pure Bliss of Brahman through identification with the Brahman.

It must be noted that the Upanishad, as with the Vedas which preceded it, utilizes symbolic or code language in certain ways.  Thus “food” is meant to represent first and foremost the plane of Matter. It can also represent any substrate that provides a basis for another form of energy.  The “eater of food” is the energy that transforms Matter and utilizes it, the vital plane.  It can also represent any force that relies on a substrate in order to manifest itself.  The “master of food and its eater” represents the mental plane, “mind, leader of the life and body”.  The results achieved such as “great in cattle” etc. represent abundance and fulfillment on the various planes of existence.  In the Veda, in fact, there is a dual meaning to many words such as the word for cow, also represent rays of light from the plane of Knowledge.  The results here are thus not necessarily intended to represent material wealth or fame, but a deeper, spiritual fullness and radiance.

Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads,  Taittiriya Upanishad, Bhriguvalli, pp.275-281, M. P. Pandit, Upanishads: Gateways of Knowledge, pp. 169-182

The Gnosis Is Viewed as the Eternal

Sri Aurobindo translates Taittiriya Upanishad, Bhriguvalli, Chapter 5: “He knew Knowledge for the Eternal.  For from Knowledge alone, it appeareth, are these creatures born and being born they live by Knowledge and to Knowledge they go hence and return.  And when he had known this, he came again to Varuna his father and said, ‘Lord, teach me the Eternal.’ But his father said to him, ‘By askesis do thou seek to know the Eternal, for concentration of force is the Eternal.’  He concentrated himself in thought and by the energy of his brooding”

The term translated here as ‘Knowledge’ is vijnana.  Sri Aurobindo describes it thus in The Synthesis of Yoga, Chapter 22: “The gnosis, the Vijnana is not only this concentrated consciousness of the infinite Essence; it is also and at the same time an infinite knowledge of the myriad play of the Infinite. It contains all ideation (not mental but supramental), but it is not limited by ideation, for it far exceeds all ideative movement. Nor is the gnostic ideation in its character an intellectual thinking; it is not what we call the reason, not a concentrated intelligence. For the reason is mental in its methods, mental in its acquisitions, mental in its basis, but the ideative method of the gnosis is self-luminous, supramental, its yield of thought-light spontaneous, not proceeding by acquisition, its thought-basis a rendering of conscious identities, not a translation of the impressions born of indirect contacts. There is a relation and even a sort of broken identity between the two forms of thought; for one proceeds covertly from other. Mind is born from that which is beyond mind. But they act on different planes and reverse each other’s process.”

Everywhere we look in the universe, we find an extremely precise and detailed working out of the elements of creation.  At the sub-atomic level, incredible amounts of energy are held in balance to create matter.  Life involves intricate inter-relationships and symbiotic balance.  For instance, plants breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen, while animals (including human beings) breathe in the excreted oxygen of plants and breathe out the carbon dioxide the plants require.  If we turn our attention outwards, we see suns and planets, along with trillions of stars and hundreds of millions of galaxies that comprise the universe and we see at each level, strict mathematical relationships that play out in the creative process, such as the golden ratio.  No human mind can encompass this level of complexity, detail and vast magnitude.  This is a level of creation that can only be encompassed by a vast, universal consciousness.  This is what is intended by the “Knowledge” referenced here.  Sri Aurobindo calls this the supramental level which maintains its hold on the Oneness, while concurrently developing the forms and processes to manifest the multiplicity.

This level occupies a tier above that of matter, life and mind, but it is not yet the final level of consciousness, which encompasses both the manifest and the unmanifest, so we see the disciple once again approach the teacher and ask for knowledge of the Eternal.  And once again, he is directed to undertake concentration of conscious thought or force, tapasya.

Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads,  Taittiriya Upanishad, Bhriguvalli, pp.275-281, M. P. Pandit, Upanishads: Gateways of Knowledge, pp. 169-182

Understanding Mind as the Eternal

Sri Aurobindo translates Taittiriya Upanishad, Bhriguvalli, Chapter 4:  “He knew mind for the Eternal.  For from mind alone, it appeareth, are these creatures born and being born they live by mind, and to mind they go hence and return.  And when he had known this, he came again to Varuna his father and said, ‘Lord, teach me the Eternal.’  But his father said unto him, ‘By askesis do thou seek to know the Eternal, for concentration in thought (Or, concentration of force) is the Eternal.’  He concentrated himself in thought and by the energy of his brooding”

Matter is needed, life-energy is essential.  Yet together they do not provide a complete answer to the questions of our existence.  What power provides us with intelligence, organisation, the power of purposive action?  What power directs the life energy and impacts the operation of matter?

Bhrigu realised through his continued focus and concentration, looking within, that mind is such an organising power and thus, is the cause and sustaining power of life and matter.  In the ancient texts, mind is called the “leader of the life and the body”.    The philosopher, Rene Descartes famously declared “I think, therefore I am.”  As human beings become self-aware, they recognise the power of the mind in shaping their lives and in impacting their environment.

But we also recognise that mind has its limitations, and from its own limited action within ourselves, we do not see how it can be the complete answer.  Mind is also not an original creative power, and thus, its source must be found elsewhere.

Bhrigu was not yet fully convinced that he had the actual complete picture, so he returned to his father and asked once again to be taught the Eternal.  And once again he was sent back to concentrate through tapasya.  Clearly he had not reached the ultimate understanding yet.  Something was still lacking, but he was making progress in the right direction.

Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads,  Taittiriya Upanishad, Bhriguvalli, pp.275-281, M. P. Pandit, Upanishads: Gateways of Knowledge, pp. 169-182