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Isha Upanishad- MIRA - Death as a process of Life

This experience is called the condition of liberation, moksha or mukti. You find yourself liberated from ego and desire when you enter into this luminosity which is immobile. But having understood these two important words – vidya and avidya – the Upanishad says that those who pursue avidya enter into the path of darkness; but those who pursue the path of vidya, enter into greater darkness − a very surprising statement.

In the next verse it says that if you pursue avidya and vidya rightly then this will not happen. There is one way of pursuing avidya and another way of pursuing vidya and that is indicated in the next verse. If you pursue avidya rightly, then you cross over death and by vidya you get the enjoyment of immortality. This is a very important statement, so we must understand what it means. During the last two thousand years in India, it has been prescribed that you should give up avidya and reverse yourself and go into vidya, and you will then be liberated and will be free from ego, desires and all limitations. This became extremely popular in India in the later periods of the Upanishads. Ishopanishad is clearly not in favour of it.

There were two Upanishadic periods. The twelve famous Upanishads are the products of the earlier period. Gradually there was a decline in the knowledge of the Upanishads. This was anticipated by the Rishis of the older Upanishads so they had already given a warning that it may tempt many people to make this reversal and enter into immobility. Therefore, it is said that if you do so you will go into greater darkness. It was a warning although even today this path is very much favoured and people simply tell you to meditate, be quiet and you will enter into liberation.

There are many paths which are now prescribed by many yogis − withdraw from everything, do minimum work, renounce everything and withdraw as much as possible and you will enter into the immobility. This is the proposition of Buddhism in different terms. It says that if you withdraw from everything you enter not into immobility but you enter into shunya – into nihil.

In jñāna mārga, it is said that if you withdraw from all activities, all emotions, all sentiments, all relationships, withdraw from everything and meditate constantly on saying, “I am not the ego, I am not the desire, I am not the body, I am not the life, I am not the mind, I am not the universe, I am Brahman, I am immobile − you will be able to enter into immobility and you will be liberated.”

Samkhya also ultimately prescribes this very proposition – withdraw from movements of prakriti and enter into the immobility of the luminous purusha. There are also some other propositions but they are subordinate. They are not very prominently known. When people talk of yoga, it is this that is meant against which the Ishopanishad gives a warning. The reason is that the goal for which this body is assumed, why this whole trouble is taken of evolving into the inconscient first and then coming out of it, is not to go back again as soon as possible to the immobility. If the purpose was only to return to the original silence then this world would not have been created at all. There is a purpose in the embodiment of the individual; the integrality, the totality is to be manifested. If you withdraw from avidya straight into vidya, you enter into another exclusive concentration of consciousness which is vast, luminous; immobile without the limitation of desire and ego, but then you are forfeiting the possibility of multiple concentration of consciousness and ultimately entering into integrality of consciousness.

As long as you are in avidya, the possibility of entering into integrality of consciousness remains but once you enter into that immobility then that possibility is lost. You are stuck in it. Therefore, it is said that you enter into a greater darkness if you go into vidya. So what is prescribed by the Ishopanishad is a double movement − a movement in avidya in which you enlarge the field of your avidya and develop multiple concentration of consciousness and enlarge your field. At the same time develop also the perception of the immobility – a double process, an integrality of the process. If you do this double process then avidya will lead you to larger and larger fields and you will understand the real purpose of desire, ego, limitation, the real purpose of death and you will be able to use all these gradually as instruments of further progression. At present, death is regarded as a negation of life but if you understand the real meaning as to why death occurs at all, if you examine the field of avidya much more closely then you will understand that death is not a process of negation of life but a process of life itself.