The Upanishads – At the Third Eye Center All Life Is One
By James Bean
The term “Upanishad” can be understood to mean: sitting at the feet of a spiritual master or sage of wisdom. One of the world’s most influential books is the Hindu scripture known as The Upanishads, a collection of philosophical and mystical texts, the oldest of which dates back several centuries BCE. There are eleven major Upanishads, and those are the ones you typically see on bookstore shelves labeled with the name Upanishads. However, as is usually the case, there is more to this story than meets the eye. A good spiritual principal in fact, when it comes to paths and traditions generally is, “There is always more!” It turns out there are really 108 known Upanishads, including Vedanta Upanishads, Physiological Upanishads, Mantra Upanishads, Sannyasa Upanishads, Yoga Upanishads, and no doubt others as well. Apparently, originally at one time there were at least a couple hundred Upanishads. Perhaps the lost or missing ones will turn up in some discovery of ancient texts one of these days. That does happen from time to time. Occasionally there are lost gospels that are found, or Buddhist sutras, Dead Sea Scrolls hidden in caves, Suras of the Quran discovered in the walls of a mosque in Yemen, secret Coptic manuscripts found stashed away underneath the staircase of a monastery in Egypt, or other forgotten scriptures buried for centuries underneath the sands of time that get unearthed.
To some degree, the Upanishads are to the Vedas and Hinduism what the Gnostic gospels are to the Hebrew Scriptures and Christianity. They are the advanced revelation of the mystical teachings given by various sages about the nature of Reality, and contain information about meditation techniques that, if put into practice, can give one the personal and direct experience of the Divine, Paramatma, the Great Invisible Spirit, the Self, the Lord of Love.
Wisdom from the Taittiriya Upanishad on the One Who Became Many:
“The Lord of Love willed: ‘Let me be many!’
And in the depths of his meditation
He created everything that exists.
Meditating, he entered into everything.
He who has no form assumed many forms;
He who is infinite appeared finite;
He who is everywhere assumed a place;
He who is all wisdom caused ignorance;
He who is real caused unreality.
It is he who has become everything.
It is he who gives reality to all.
Before the universe was created,
Brahman existed as Unmanifest.
Brahman brought the Lord out of himself;
Therefore he is called the Self-existent.”
“The Self is the source of abiding joy.
Our hearts are filled with joy in seeing him
Enshrined in the depths of our consciousness.
If he were not there, who would breathe, who live?
He it is who fills every heart with joy.
“Until we realize
The unity of life, we live in fear.
When one realizes the Self, in whom
All life is One, Changeless, Nameless,
Then one fears no more.” (The Upanishads, Eknath Easwaran, Nilgiri Press)
The Shining Self Within You
One of my favorite passages is found in the Subala Upanishad. It’s a paragraph about you and I! This is a fascinating description of the soul, the Great Light or Great Life Force that inhabits our body:
“The Atma of all which is immaculate, is located within the cave of the body. Atma which lives in the midst of the body filled with fat, flesh and phlegm in a seat very closely shut up with shinning many-colored walls resembling a Gandharva city and with the subtle essence going out of it to other parts of the body, which seat may be likened to a plantain flower and is ever agitated like a water-bubble – this Atma is of an unthinkable form, the Divine Deva, associated less-pure, has tejas as its body, is of all forms, the Lord of All, the unthinkable and the bodiless, placed within the cave, immortal, shining, and bliss itself. He is a wise person who cognizes Atma thus, and not one who does not do so.” (Thirty Minor Upanishads Including the Yoga Upanishads, K. Narayanasvami Aiyar, Santarasa Publications)
It also says in the Upanishads: “Even as the sun shines and fills all space with light, so shines the Lord of Love and fills the hearts of all created beings.” (“The Upanishads,” Eknath Easwaran)
Those Upanishadic paragraphs remind me of a couple of sayings attributed to Yeshua, OM Jesu Christos, in the Gospel of Thomas: “If flesh came into existence for the sake of Spirit, it is a wonder, but if Spirit exists for the sake of flesh, it is a wonder of wonders. I am truly astonished at how such richness came to dwell in such poverty… There is Light within a person of Light, and it illuminates the entire cosmos.” I often find parallels between the Gita, Upanishads, and the Nag Hammadi Library, the Gnostic gospels, those long-forgotten Sutras and Upanishads of the Western world.
Meditation Practice in the Upanishads
“The self-existent Lord pierced the senses
To turn outward. Thus we look to the world
Outside and see not the Self within us.
A sage withdrew his senses from the world
Of change [samsara] and, seeking immortality,
Looked within and beheld the deathless Self.”
Within the “temple” of this human body is where our soul dwells. Guru Kabir once said, “The Light of one soul is equal to that of sixteen suns.” George Fox, founder of the Quakers, wrote, “The Light of God is within everyone.” Thus by looking inside via a contemplative meditation practice we can truly access this Kingdom of God within, at the Seat of the soul, according to mystics of the East and West, located at the Third Eye Center. In other words, if this human body is the true “temple” of God, then logically the Third Eye Center is the “door” or “portal” to this temple. According to the Sages of wisdom the Third Eye Center is the place of purification from the effects of the outer senses and impressions, and is the place or field of vision for the worship of God in meditation.
As we become focused in meditation, mentally repeating our sacred word or words and gazing into the darkness, we may discover the appearance of inner Light. We may see the same sparks of light that look something like the “fireflies” or “sparks” which are described by yogis in the Hindu Upanishads, see shimmering light, stars, lights of various colors, or other visions of Light:
“Holding the body steady, with the three upper parts erect,
And causing the senses with the mind to enter into the heart,
A wise man with the Brahma-boat should cross over
All the fear-bringing streams.
“Fog, smoke, sun, fire, wind,
Fireflies, lightning, a crystal, a moon–
These are the preliminary appearances,
Which produce the manifestation of Brahman in yoga…
“When with the nature of the self, as with a lamp,
A practice of yoga beholds here the nature of Brahman,
Unborn, steadfast, from every nature free—
By knowing God, one is released from all fetters!” (Svetasvatara Upanishad)
The following is from the Jabala Upanishad, quoted in the book, Satsang Yoga, Part One, English Version, Compiled by Maharshi Mehi Paramahans, an amazing collection of the most mystical of Hindu scriptures including Upanishads:
“Thereafter the sage Atri asked of Yajnavalkya: How am I to realize the Self which is Infinite and Unmanifest – the Imperceptible Atman?”
“Yajnavalkya said: ‘The Infinite Imperceptible Self is worshiped between varana and nasi. What are varana and nasi? Varana is that which dispels all the evils done by the sense organs, and that which destroys all the sins done by sense organs is called nasi. Where is that place? That place is at the location of both the eyebrows and the nose. That is also the meeting place of this world and the next. The Brahma-Janis [Gnostics or knower of God] worship at this meeting place. By meditating at that Point, they attempt to realize Brahman [God, the Lord of Love].’”
The Effects of Meditation:
God and Self Realization, Fearlessness, and Peace
Back to the Eknath Easwaran edition of the major Upanishads, a very nice, clear, poetic translation I highly recommend for the study of the eleven major Upanishads. Of the positive effects of meditation practice, Sage Sanathumara in the Chandogya Upanishad says:
“One who meditates upon the Self and realizes the Self sees the Self everywhere, and rejoices in the Self. Such a one lives in freedom and is at home wherever he goes. But those who pursue the finite are blind to the Self and live in bondage.
“One who meditates upon and realizes the Self discovers that everything in the cosmos – energy and space, fire and water, name and form, birth and death, mind and will, word and deed, mantram and meditation all come from the Self.
“The Self is one, though it appears to be many. Those who meditate upon the Self and realize the Self go beyond decay and death, beyond separateness and sorrow. They see the Self in everyone and obtain all things.
“Control the senses and purify the mind. In a pure mind there is constant awareness of the Self. Where there is constant awareness of the Self, freedom ends bondage and joy ends sorrow.”
“Thus the sage Sanatkumara taught the pure Narada to go beyond bondage, beyond sorrow, beyond darkness, to the light of the Self.”
Katha Upanishad: “When all the senses are stilled, when the mind is at rest, when the intellect wavers not—then, say the wise, is reached the highest state.
“This calm of the senses and the mind has been defined as yoga. He who attains it is freed from delusion.”
AUM Shanti Shanti Shanti (Peace, Peace, Peace in the Divine Sound)