Saturday, March 26, 2005

From the Chhandogya Upanishad (c.ninth century BCE)

When [in the world] one sees nothing else, hears nothing else, recognizes nothing else: that is [participation in] the Infinite. But when one sees, hears, and recognizes only otherness: that is smallness. The Infinite is the immortal. That which is small is mortal.

But sir, that Infinite: upon what is it established?

Upon its own greatness--or rather, not upon greatness. For by greatness people here understand cows and horses, elephants and gold, slaves, wives, mansions and estates. That is not what I mean; not that! For in that context everything is established on something else.

This Infinite of which I speak is below. It is above. It is to the west, to the east, to the south, to the north. It is, in fact, this whole world. And accordingly, with respect to the notion of ego (ahamkaradesa): I also am below, above, to the west, to the east, to the south, and to the north. I, also, am this whole world.

Or again, with respect to the Self (atman): The Self (the Spirit) is below, above, to the west, to the east, to the south, and to the north. The Self (the Spirit), indeed, is the whole world.

Verily, the one who sees this way, thinks and understands this way, takes pleasure in the Self, delights in the Self, dwells with the Self and knows bliss in the Self; such a one is autonomous (svaraj), moving through all the world at pleasure (kamacara). Whereas those who think otherwise are ruled by others (anya-rajan), know but perishable pleasures, and are moved about the world against their will (akamacara).


Just as those who do not know the spot might pass, time and again, over a hidden treasure of gold without discovering it, so do all the creatures of this world pass daily into Brahma-world [in deep sleep] without discovering it, distracted as they are by false ideas.


[Quoted in Joseph Campbell, The Inner Reaches of Outer Space, (1986).]

In the words of William Blake: "If the doors of perception were cleansed, every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite."