Isha Upanishad - Super school - Auroville - Session 7: Brahman; Verses 5-7

(5 February 2003)

Brahman—Verses 5-6

You will notice that in the first three verses there is a description of the Lord, in verses four and five you will find a change from the Lord to the Brahman. I had told you three important words in the Ishopanishad, Brahman, Purusha and Ishwara. The first three verses refer to Ishwara, in these two verses we have the description of the Brahman that is to say you will find the word ‘It’ instead of He. In the first three verses the Lord is referred to as He. Brahman is referred to as ‘It’, because Brahman as I told you means that essence.

The essence which spreads out everywhere, if you have the essence of rose and you have a beautiful drink of rose water then the essence of rose spreads into the entirety of water. It is the same essence and fragrance as the original essence. So that which spreads out is the power, is the force of the essence. In the verses four and five it says,

“One unmoving that is swifter than Mind, that the Gods reach not, for It progresses ever in front. That, standing passes beyond others as they run. In That (It doesn't say in Him in ‘That’) the Master of Life establishes the Waters.”

“That moves and That moves not; That this far and the same is near; That is within all this and That also is outside all this.”

The Lord and the Brahman are one and the same and yet there is a difference. The Lord in the form of essence is the same everywhere but the Lord as the master presides over everything, therefore, there is some difference between Him and the others. This is a speciality of the nature of the Supreme. There is nothing, as I've said, comparable to the Supreme because he is only One. If there was somebody else, you could have compared him with something else but he is incomparable and a speciality of the nature of that Reality is that it is at once essence and the Lord and as essence it spreads everywhere and there is no difference between the Brahman and all that is manifested. This is the speciality of what is called Upanishadic thought.

According to Upanishad there is only one Reality. This is the metaphysics of the Upanishads: there is only one Reality. In Sanskrit there's a famous sentence ‘ekam eva adivityam’, ekam means one, eva is only, adivityam without the second, it is One only without the second. There is nothing in this world, which is not the Brahman. Everything in the world is Brahman; this oneness is the hallmark of the highest realisation.

When it is asked, what is the special meaning of spirituality? The answer is the sense of oneness, it is when you feel oneness then you are truly spiritual. So long as you feel difference there is still some kind of lacuna in your realisation and as yet difference is not absent. But this difference is a part of the nature of oneness, a difference that does not oppose the oneness; such is the nature of the ultimate Reality. And in this particular verse number four, this identity is expounded, “One unmoving that is swifter than Mind, That the Gods reach not, for It progresses ever in front. That, standing passes beyond others as they run. In That the Master of Life establishes the Waters.”

That moves and That moves not; is the same reality that moves and that does not move, it is the essence which always remains the same, it moves not, it is the essence which spreads out everywhere. There is no difference between the two. That which is far is also very near, that is within all this that also is outside all this, wherever you look out, whether you look out into the essence or you look out into the spreading of that essence everywhere, it is the same Reality.

Moves and Moves Not

Now there are two important statements in these two verses, which you should relate, express more clearly.

If you read the fourth verse and the last line, ‘In that the Master of Life establishes the Waters’. This is quite a difficult phrase. In the Upanishads as in the Veda, there is this symbolic meaning of the word ‘waters’, water is an image in the Vedas and Upanishads and they speak of seven waters. There are seven waters according to the Upanishads and according to the Vedas. And the seven waters are described in the Vedas and the Upanishads, not here and that is what needs to be expounded. There are seven waters, seven currents; you might say as a result there are seven worlds.

This world that we see, in which we live, in which we breathe, in which there activities, in which we are engaged, it is only one of the seven worlds. It is said by the Upanishads if you think that this is the only world you are mistaken, this is not the only world there are many other worlds. And although we live here, our own being also has got seven threads and therefore we live simultaneously in the seven worlds. We are aware only of this world, we are aware of only one thread, to some extent of the second set and the third thread also but with regard to the fourth, fifth, sixth and the seventh thread, we are not aware at all. One thread is what is called annam, the food sheath or the physical that is the one world of which we are aware. Our body is physical and it is a thread by which you are connected with this physical world. The second world is called prana, the world of breath, the world of life-force, dynamism, activity, movement of the energy. We have lives therefore, we are having that awareness but we are not aware of a world where there is only life. There is a world where there is only life, not the Earth, not the physical. There is a third world, which is the world of the mind, manas. We also have the mind and therefore we are aware of it to some extent but we are not aware of that mind, where there is only the world of mind, where there are only minds, — there is a world of thoughts. We are aware of these three in a certain way and we're connected with these three words in a pre-dominant manner. When you develop your mind, you are creating greater and greater contact with the world of the mind. You become more and more attuned to the world of the mind. But then there is the fourth world which is called ’turiam swid’ in the Veda. ‘Turiyam swid’ is the fourth world. Turiam means other than the three, the fourth. There is a fourth world and that is the world of the supermind. Then there is the fifth world, it is a world of delight ‘ananda’. And there is the sixth world; it is the world of consciousness ‘chit’. Then there is the seventh world, which is the world of ‘sat’, which is the world of your existence. So, there are seven worlds and these seven worlds are established. It says that the Master of life establishes the waters. In that,− that is the Brahman. The master of life is the Lord himself. The Lord establishes, manifests seven worlds in that Brahman. In a very minor manner, we can say that in essence that is Rose seven waters of poured, so that you have rose water in plenty. It is the same reality, the same essence, manifested in seven waters. It is the Lord who pours into the Brahman, these seven waters, the seven rivers, which belong to the Brahman itself. There is a word in Sanskrit which has been given in the text is called matrishawa, ma-tri-shawa,— is the master of life. That which is entered into the Mother that he has extended itself to the Mother, the very word indicates a concept which is here in the Upanishad, the concept of the Mother. There is a Lord, there is a divine Mother, there is Brahman and there are these waters. It is one reality but it has great complexity in it. It is like one body having so many organs; nothing is separated from the body, from the totality of the body. Similarly, it is one reality in which there are relationships within itself. If I want to touch this part of my body, it is the same body touching itself but through certain relationships which are internally made. The Upanishad tells us is this reality is seven-fold.

This reality is the essence, it is one but it is sevenfold. This seven-foldness of the reality is arranged in that very Brahman but the one who arranges is called the Lord. The Lord arranges the sevenfold expression of that reality in a certain order and in that order on the top is Sat, next is Chit, third is Ananda, fourth is Vijnana, fifth is Manas, sixth is Prana, seventh is annam. First is Sat, which is called pure Existent, the element of existence, second is Chit that is called consciousness, the third is called Ananda or delight, fourth is Vijnana, that is supermind and then Manas that is the mind, sixth is prana or life and the seventh is annam or matter.

These are the seven waters, seven expressions; the reality is sevenfold, although one. It is sevenfold, it is like the white ray of light and when you make a refraction of the ray of light, if you put through a prism the same ray of light, it is one ray of light but in the spectrum you see seven colours. There are seven colours. It is the same ray, so one ray consists of seven rays. You might see a sevenfold expression of it, you can distinguish all of them but they all coexist, they are not divided, they are differentiated. This is the one word that you must understand, the difference between division and differentiation.

This reality is sevenfold but in its seven-foldness it is not divided into seven parts, there is only differentiation. If I draw a line on this paper, drawing the line does not divide the paper, it only demarcates. Similarly, these seven aspects, seven colours, seven elements of the same reality do not divide the reality into seven parts; one indivisible reality having sevenfold character. This sevenfold character is arranged in a particular order, it can be arranged differently also but in this world as we see it. The Divine Lord arranged these seven worlds in a particular order and this is the order that they are now having. Sat, chit, Ananda, Vijnana, Manas, Prana and Annam,—these seven are arranged in this fashion. A world in which we live, the principle is Matter therefore; you will see nothing grows in this world except in matter. We are obliged to anything that we want to express through matter. We are obliged to live in matter. Even when we think, we are obliged to think in matter. So this is a speciality of this particular world in which we live and this is the order made by the Lord himself, by the Brahman itself,—the Brahman organising itself in a sevenfold manner. In that Brahman, who arranges the sevenfold order is the supreme Lord.

When the seven elements are manifested then you find in the next sentence,— ‘that moves and that moves not’, the sevenfold waters are in motion and yet this motion is stable, there is a kind of absence of motion. These two are contradictory of each other because in our normal experience that which moves, moves there is no stability in the motion and where there is stability there's no motion. It is true of ordinary experience, as you rise higher and higher, you will find only that which can move which is stable. There are many examples of this kind that you may have a magnet, it does not move but it attracts the iron filings without moving. Aristotle gave the name ‘the unmoved mover’. He himself is unmoved but he moves all the rest. The higher is your consciousness the more stable you are but the greater the stability the greater the power of moving others. That is the speciality of the higher level of consciousness. The higher you are, the less you are disturbed. If you have to face an examination, and if you are well prepared, your mind is stable and whatever question is asked you are able to answer it actively. So, you are, both stable and active, very powerfully active but if you're not prepared for the examination then you are disturbed, you are not stable. You ask this person, you ask that person, what you think will be the question, how do you answer, you take advice of so many people around you and you are not stable. And ultimately you'll find that the affectivity of your answer and your action will be very poor. The higher you reach, the greater the stability. Take for example the lion, lion is supposed to be the king of beasts. There is a special psychological reason for it, among all the animals, the lion is the most stable one. You examine the psychology of the lion, it does not go about like the tiger, which goes on moving in search of prey. If you see the lion’s movement, when the prey is somewhere nearby then suddenly it rises and it attacks the prey and kills it and quietly sits down. There is a tremendous quietude in the strength of the lion.

Take for example a huge store of water from where a flow is laid out.The greater the store the greater the stability of the store, the greater the force with which the water gushes out. If the store is a small one and it is bubbling and then the flow also is very ineffective but if the store is full the stability of the store is very powerful then the flow also is very powerful. As you rise higher and higher and you come to the Supreme you'll find ‘that moves and that moves not’, you really reach a stage where there is a complete stability and a complete power of dynamism, of full force of action. The King is one, even in ordinary human beings who is stable, he is not deflected, not restless, is in a complete state of mastery. A sign of mastery is stability. Even when you describe the history of any hero, he is one who is unshaken in spite of tremendous problems that he may be facing. He remains quiet, strong, unmoved. And yet he is powerful and his action is heroic, when needed he springs into action and goes straight to the target and determines what he wants to do with the target. Such is the nature of a hero he moves and yet moves not. Standing he attracts everything and moves everything,— unmoved mover. It is we, who in our ordinary consciousness make a big opposition between stability and movement. But as you rise higher and higher the two coexist, not only do they coexist,— they are one and the same.

Motion and stability are the same, you might say that stability is nothing but complete concentration of force of energy, of movement, and all movement is stabilised, it becomes unshakeable stable, poised. So, the Brahman is at once immobile and mobile. The reality is static and dynamic. And the two are not different but one. It is not as if in three-fourth parts of Brahman it is stable and one fourth part of it is moving. That is not the image that should be created in the mind. Even in the movement the Brahman is present, and that Brahman which is present is immobile, completely. The Brahman is completely not three fourths stable, wholly stable. Even in every movement the Brahman is absolutely stable, the passivity in the activity. In the Upanishad, we have the concept of what is called sthanu,sthanu is a word in Sanskrit which is stable, nishkriya, is that which is devoid of action and sakriya, that which is full of action, nishkriya and sakriya are both one. Such is the nature of Reality and if you have to grow into that Reality we can attain the same.

If you look at Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, the peace, Himalayan peace is in their consciousness, and yet their actions, words and writings, if you see, they are powerful writings, omnipotent writings in fact. If you read ‘The Life Divine’ it's a huge book, it is said, Mother herself has said that Sri Aurobindo wrote in a state of complete silence. When we write, we cogitate so much in our minds, whether to put this word here or that word there, in this way or that way. But Sri Aurobindo's mind was completely silent, no ripple of movement and through that mind most potent words were being manifested. When you look at the Mother, when you went to the Mother, you felt you were entering into a huge column of peace and this was all the time, even when she talked to you, you felt she was absolutely stable, a column of peace. All that time there was no movement at all and yet when She spoke, what a power, smashing power. And all kinds of powers, utter sweetness, one smile of the Mother and you become her slave for life. At one stroke you felt all your desires were smashed.

The Upanishad says, do not desire. And if you go to the Mother, with some desire in your mind, with one stroke the desires are smashed, you are free from desire. Your weaknesses are transformed into strength, you go helpless and you come back from her, you are full of confidence; all kinds of powers manifesting all the time. This is the mark of the Brahman. If you have realised the Brahman, if you become the Brahman, realisation means you become the Brahman, you become means you are the Brahman, actually. Only you become aware, you have forgotten that you are Brahman and you become Brahman and you realise that you are Brahman.

Realisation of the Self—Verse 6-7

Therefore, now we are introduced to the central part of the Upanishad that is the next verse number six and seven. These two verses describe to you what is called self-realisation. This word self-realisation is perhaps the most important. What is self-realisation, it is to realise your-self, what you are. You are all that is described here but we have forgotten all that we are. We have forgotten that we are all one. There's only ‘One’ actually, the only thing that can present so many divisions, this body, that body, we live in divisions. We have forgotten that there is only oneness, so to become aware that there is only oneness is self-realisation.

What is the nature of this self-realisation, which is the entire goal of our life? You might say, our goal is to realise ourselves and to manifest that realisation in every activity,— this is all the goal of life. To realise what we are truly and in every activity, to manifest that realisation, right up to the physical. We first repeat this in Sanskrit because the Sanskrit words have a tremendous power of affectivity. Even if you don't understand you should try to listen.

yas to sarvānai bhūtāny ātmany evānupaśyati
sarva–bhūtesau cātmānam tato na vijugupsate ||6||

This is the description of self-realisation but he who sees everywhere the Self in all existences and all existences in the Self, shrinks not thereafter from aught. He in whom it is this Self-Being that has become in all existences that are becomings, for he has the perfect knowledge how shall he be deluded, whence shall he have grief who sees everywhere oneness.

I read again, Sri Aurobindo has given a very good English translation. It is actually like Sanskrit, its power is the Sanskritic power. If anybody claims that he has got self-realisation this is the test because many people have the delusion that they are already self-realised. Therefore, this test should be applied. Do you see yourself in all existences, do you see the one's Self in all existences and review. See all existences in Oneself that is the first mark. As the first question, do you see everywhere the Self in all existents and all existences in the Self. In our present life the mark of your ignorance is the fact that we shrink from everything.

Remark: I don't understand a word shrink.

Answer: What a shrinking? The word that is given here is jugupsa. Vijiugupsate is the Sanskrit word what is vijiugupsa, it is to hide yourself. The whole world is around us, in spite of knowing that you are all this world, I have fears, I have strangeness like a small child. You know the moment that the child shrinks back; we are all children in this world. We are constantly shrinking everywhere, why because we do not know all this is myself and we are limited to this only small little thing. It is not true, I'm not this. All this vast hugeness, universality is yourself, if you know that,— he who sees everywhere himself in all existences and all existences in the Self, shrinks not thereafter from aught. We know in our educational institutions, where all the time told to be confident, we do not teach them the real part of becoming self-confident that is the falsity of our educational system. In order that you are self-confident, in order that you can face the world, you realise that the whole world is yourself. Instead we are told pump something into yourself, artificially be courageous, be heroic, that is not the right way of self-confidence. Real self-confidence comes when you realise very quietly, there's nothing strange to you, there is nothing which is alien to you, foreign to you all that is here is your own substance. All the divisions that you see, you and me, have the process of shrinking but once you know, you realise all is one, there is none in this world who is stranger, everyone is actually the same, everyone is Sachchidananda, everyone is Sat, Chit and Ananda. Everyone is the Self, everyone is sevenfold, all the currents of life, all the currents of life are known to you because you yourself have currents of life, so when you know you are all then there is no shrinking. Whenever therefore, there is a shrinking in this life and all of us experience shrinking; it means that we have to realise that we are all One. It is the same existence, the same Self is in all existence, all existences are in the same Self. You go from one to all, in all to one. That is the first experience you have, a stage of realisation when you realise that all matter is one, all life is one, all mind is one, all supermind is one, all ananda is one, all chit is one, all Sat is one and that there is nothing else. You are in all and when you say, you, not just this little small thing that we call you, you as the vast that vast is the all, it itself is the All. And then comes the second one:

yasmin sarvāni bhūtāny ātmaivābhūd vijānatah
tatra ko mohaha kaha śoka ekatvam anupaśyatah ||7||

He in whom it is the self-being that has become all existences that are becomings, for he has the perfect knowledge.

This is the mark of the perfect knowledge, namely when you know that it is the self-being that has become all existences. You see the difference between the first sentence and this one, in the first one you see yourself in all and all in yourself. Here you go farther to the second stage; it is the self-being that has become all, that is why you are everywhere. It is the same Self in all because it is himself which has become All. Because it has become All and is itself All, therefore it is in All. So, that is why you have to realise that the self-being, it has become all existences then you have the perfect knowledge. Then you know that it is the Self that has become all and therefore, the Self is in all and all is in the Self.

The self-realisation has three aspects, to see the Self in all, all in the Self and thirdly to know that the Self has become All. The three aspects when they are combined together is a mark of self-realisation. Then comes a greater boon, after that how shall he be deluded, he will commit no mistake. How shall he be deluded, when shall he have grief, grief comes to man because he thinks that he is alone but that is delusion, he's not alone. If you see, who sees everywhere oneness ‘ekatwam eva anupashayati’, ekatwam means to see oneness, eka is one, to see oneness everywhere, how shall there be grief in any part of the being, even in the body, see oneness everywhere.

Question: Isn't this part of the oneness?

Answer: What happens is that this is a miracle, which happens. You know it is said that Sri Aurobindo was in prison in 1908 and 1909. And you have to imagine the kind of prison and a cell in which he was lodged, it was solitary imprisonment, he was alone in the cell. It was the hot month of May–June and July, and that was a very small room in which there was only one bed and one bowl. Sri Aurobindo says that the bowl was like an ICS Officer of India, an ICS officer is supposed to do all kinds of activities, he can be the Railway Chief, he can be educationist, he can be an agriculturist, the same man, so this bowl was meant for everything. The bowl was meant for everything, in which he could drink water, in which the food was poured, both dal and rice in the same bowl, it was also used for taking bath, it was also used for doing all kinds of activities of ablutions. There was only a mattress not mattress actually only a blanket. In hot summer a blanket and below the blanket was only sand it was not cemented and from the sands there used to come out and red big ants, and these red ants were in love with Sri Aurobindo's body, so that they used to sting his body. You see; how even one mosquito can trouble you, imagine red ants stinging and Sri Aurobindo says that in this sting he experienced the love of the Divine. There was no shrinking; Sri Aurobindo was practising these verses of the Upanishad in his spiritual sadhana. Sri Aurobindo says that it was a good thing this condition was the best condition to experience, where is the grief? So grief is grief only when it is experienced through a kind of barbed wire, which is in our consciousness called ego-sense. I am different from the others, ego sense is like a barbed wire and experience comes to us and there is a shrinking, therefore, there is grief. But if this wire is removed, the same experience, it was also the grief but when ego sense is taken out, it is experienced as what it is namely, Amanda. So Sri Aurobindo says that Shri Krishna gave him that experience to live in that cell because elsewhere this experiment could not have been done. This was a good play field where this experiment could be done. Every bite was the bite of a lover, so it was a great experience of delight. So, where is the grief, the grief also was there and the grief was experienced in this form. When you say grief is also there,— yes, but grief when experienced in this way (it remains the same) but it is no more the bite which pains you, it is no more an experience of grief. It is an experience of love, joy and sweetness. This is the experience that one gains.

This Sri Aurobindo says is the mark of self-realisation. When the experiences which normally give you pain are experienced by you as a great experience of joy then think that delusion has gone, then our grief has gone and we are in the State of self-realisation. Sri Aurobindo calls it the expression of the loftiest spiritual experience. You go all over the world and look at any description of the experience of the Supreme, of the Self; in these two verses the loftiest experience has been described.

Comment: Actually the ego is the best teacher

Answer: Yes you might say so. As Sri Aurobindo says that through the ego we learn, ego is the helper, ego is the bar. Through the ego we learn, it’s a helper, and then at a given stage it becomes a bar, it obstructs us. At that stage, throw it out. So we have now reached the stage where ego is the bar, so we have to work out in such a way that what we call desire, ego, is all that has to be exiled and when it is exiled we come into this experience. All right, we stop here today.