Book of Wisdom - Isha Upanishad

  • By Swami Rama
  • August 2003

Second Pada     

4. Anejad-ekam manaso javiyo nainad-deva apnuvan purvam-arshat, Tad-dhavato’ nyan-atyeti that-tasminn-apo matarishva dadhati.

The Self is one and unmoving, swifter than the mind: the devas (the senses) cannot overtake It as It darts before them. Remaining motionless It passes the running ones. Through It the wind carries the clouds. 

5. Tad-ejati tan-naijate tad-dure tad-antike,
Tad-antarasya sarvasya tad-u sarvasyasya bahyatah.
It moves and moves not. Far away, It is near. Within all, it is yet outside.

6. Yas tu sarvani bhutany-atmann-evanupashyati,
Sarva-bhuteshu catmanam tato na vi jugupsate.

But he who sees all being in the Self and the Self in all beings ceases hatred.

7. Yasmint sarvani bhutany-atmaivabhud vijanatah,
Tatra ko mohah kah shoka ekatvam-anupashyatah.

When one realizes that all beings have become the Self, what further delusion and sorrow can there be for him who sees that oneness?

8. Sa paryagac-chukram-akayam-avranam-asnaviram shuddham-apapaviddham, Kavir manishi paribhuh svayambhur yatha-tathyato ‘rthan vyadadhac chashvatibhyah samabhyah.

Pervading all, It is radiant and formless, flawless and indivisible, pure and unpierced by evil, all seeing and all-knowing, transcendent and self-existent. It oversees the karmas of all jivas forever.

The second pada, or part of the Ishopanishad consists of the above five mantras, numbered four through eight. These mantras characterize Brahman, and show the identical nature of soul, or the Self in all beings and God. The mantras characterize Brahman rather than give a full description, for a full description would be possible only by the attributes of Brahman, and these are beyond description. How then is knowledge of Brahman possible? This question, always in the heart of seekers, is answered very beautifully by the Upanishadic learning. Brahmavidya, or knowledge of Brahman, comes who when man is exalted to a perfectly pure being beyond the merely animal and ordinary human categories. To reach the furthest evolved and most highly exalted state of humanity is to realize Brahman.

Concerning Brahman, this second pada of the Ishopanishad emphasizes several teachings.
1. Brahman, though immobile and changeless, is described as “faster than the mind” and “superseding others who are running” because It is pre-existent everywhere, or in other words omnipresent at all pervading.

2. The Brahman cannot be known by the senses because the senses are limited and can acquire a knowledge of the limited alone, and not of the infinite.

3. Brahman is the soul of all. The whole world is living on its life-giving force.

4. That Brahman gives mobility to all, but is never caught in motion. Whether objects in the world are in motion derive their mobility from the power and brilliance of Brahman. Brahman, the center on which everything else moves, is itself not in motion. Through Brahman’s will acting in the causal sphere, both the subtle and the gross, both energy and the grosser from of energy called matter, are moved.

5. Brahman is the nearest and the farthest. He is inside as well as outside all around us. He is in every object and in every place. Wise men see Him inside themselves; for them he is very near. Others, due to ignorance, regard Him to be far away.

6. The seeker who sees Brahman in all things and all objects, creatures, and the universe in Brahman is freed from attachment, hatred, and jealousy. He is filled with universal love, or the love of God. Such a man treats everybody as the temple of God and loves all, with no aversion for anyone. Here then is the fountainhead of universal brotherhood.

The seekers of Brahmavidya should adopt sadhana to inculcate these teachings and practice awareness of the Self.

Those who seek divine knowledge need a practical system to follow, and one is suggested in the eighth mantra of this second part of the Ishopanishad. The practical teachings of the eighth mantra, full and very beautiful as they are, include the following.

1. In order to tread the path of divine knowledge the sadhaka should night and day imbibe the truth that Brahman exists everywhere. This feeling should find expression in thought, word, and deed. It should dominate his mind and heart.

2. Acquire the faith that Brahman is one, not many, and that all the activities of life are meant for Him. Acquiring purity of heart, of intellect, and of body, let whatever one does be the worship of the one Brahman.

3. Brahman is almighty, and a share of His power is hidden in the sadhaka himself. This hidden power should be aroused and discretely used for good purposes. It is awakened by tapas, or determined endurance of hardships and the trials of life while remaining firm in our path of directing sincere efforts to Self realization.

4. In order to be perfectly unaffected like Brahman, the sadhaka should give up the habit of identifying his Self with the body and assimilate into practical living the idea that to find or realize God is the all-important aim of life. To thus be purged of all evil is the first decisive victory of the sadhaka.

5.  The seeker of Brahman should be thoughtful, and love wisdom and learning, which means too he will admire and seek virtue. The habits of disliking others and destructive criticism hinder sadhana, and should be eliminated.

6. As this Brahman-created universe is subordinate to Brahman, so man’s creation-the world of his affections and selfish attachments-should be subordinated to the divine part of man, his true Self, Man must be the master of his worldly relationship, not their victim. A man who masters his selfish attachments and treats worldly relationships as means to higher ends is liberated from all miseries. But to be lost in worldly relationships and false attachments, considering them to be the ultimate aim of life, is nothing short of death.

To Cultivate in ourselves the divine qualities, like those of Brahman, we should root them in our antahkarana with faith and confidence, and never act or think contrary to them. Then the mind will acquire these qualities. This is accomplished by japa, which is mental repetition of certain phrases and syllables called mantras. The mind of the sadhaka is molded according to the idea of the mantra he mentally repeats. The sadhaka, building a temple of thought in his heart, should repeat the mantra, paying more attention to its meaning and essential feeling than to mere words. This repetition of meaning and feeling causes the uncontrolled tendencies of the mind to vanish, just as light banishes darkness, Japa also produces sound and rhythm which assumes a shape of its own. When the ideas and qualities of the mantra automatically occupy his heart, the inner being of the sadhaka assumes a shape in accordance with the mantra. The inner being of this shape is called the etherial body of some sadhakas. It is through such an etherial body that yogis teach and inspire the sadhakas living in distant countries, and also remove the impediments in the way of their sadhana. Japa is very intimately related with mind and breathing. The sadhaka should therefore practice japa diligently to make his body, mind, and breathing worthy of sadhana. The seeker of the supreme goal must train himself to give up indolence and meditate at the appointed time every day. He should practice pranayama, or prescribed breathing exercise, at least emptying his lungs and filling them with fresh air two or three times a day. He should keep the body healthy and purify sense activity. Breathing, meditation and worship concentrate and purify the mind.

The seeker should concentrate his mind through meditation, divesting it of passion and desire. Then one can go beyond the waking state, in which the mind flows outwards and works through the organs of sense perception. One must first control this outgoing tendency of the mind by turning it inwards. When the mind flows inwards, it may weave a world of its own without the aid of the gross sense organs, but this too must be controlled for it is only a dream state. One may then enter a state which resembles dreamless sleep. Yet one must go beyond. The yogi, proceeding through higher processes in meditation, may one day reach turiya, or the fourth state beyond the state like dreamless sleep.

This is the state of mind where there is no finite mind at all. The finite mind is totally eradicated by immersion and merging into ultimate reality, the self-luminous pure consciousness, being and bliss that is Brahman. The mind alone divides the sadhaka from this, which is God.

Turning the mind away from objects of pleasure and toward the soul, one attains the state described in the seventh mantra: in that state of perfect abidance in Brahman, when to the yogi fully immersed and equipoised in the Self the whole universe appears as God, what sorrow and physical attachment can there be for one who views everything with equality? 

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