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That Self is who you are – Dialogue from the Chandogya Upanishad

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  • Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati
    That Self is who you are – Dialogue from the Chandogya Upanishad In the Chandogya Upanishad there is a delightful story about a dialogue between a teacher
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 16, 2007
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      That Self is who you are – Dialogue from the Chandogya Upanishad

      In the Chandogya Upanishad there is a delightful story about a
      dialogue between a teacher (Uddalaka) and student (Svetaketu). The
      teacher explains some aspect of the nature of reality, and then says
      to the student "THAT THOU ART, Svetaketu" explaining to student that
      he, himself is none other than the Self itself, the Atman or Brahman,
      the absolute reality that is one without a second. NINE TIMES the
      teacher tells the student "THAT THOU ART, Svetaketu." Each time the
      student hears this he replies, "Please, venerable Sir, give me
      further instruction." There is a most pleasant rhythm in reading this
      story, along with a great deal of insight.

      In loving service,

      Swami Jnaneshvara

      -------

      Uddalaka the son of Aruna said to his son Svetaketu: "Learn from me,
      my dear, the true nature of sleep. When a person has entered into
      deep sleep, as it is called, then, my dear, he becomes united with
      Pure Being (Sat), he has gone to his own Self. That is why they say
      he is in deep sleep (svapiti); it is because he has gone (apita) to
      his own (svam).

      "Just as a bird tied by a string to the hand of the bird—catcher
      first flies in every direction and then finding no rest anywhere,
      settles down at the place where it is bound, so also the mind (i.e.
      the individual soul reflected in the mind), my dear, after flying in
      every direction and finding no rest anywhere, settles down in the
      Prana (i.e. Pure Being); for the mind (the individual soul) is
      fastened to the Prana (Pure Being).

      "Learn from me, my dear, what hunger and thirst are. When a man is
      hungry, as they say, it is water that has led (i.e. carried away)
      what was eaten. Therefore, just as they speak of a leader of cows, a
      leader of horses, a leader of men, so do they speak of water as the
      leader of food. So, my dear, know this offshoot (i.e. the body) to
      have sprung forth from a cause, for it cannot be without a root.

      "And where could its root be except in food (earth)? And in the same
      way, my dear, as food too is an offshoot, seek for water as its root.
      And as water too, my dear, is an offshoot, seek for fire as its root.
      And as fire too, my dear, is an offshoot, seek for Being (Sat) as its
      root. Yes, all these creatures, my dear, have their root in Being,
      they dwell in Being, they finally rest in Being.

      "When a man is said to be thirsty, it is fire that has led (i.e.
      carried away) what was drunk by him. Therefore as they speak of a
      leader of cows, a leader of horses, a leader of men, so do they speak
      of fire as the leader of water. So, my dear, know this offshoot (the
      body) to have sprung forth from a cause, for it cannot be without a
      root.

      "And where could its root be except in water? And in the same way, my
      dear, as water is an offshoot, seek for fire as its root. And as fire
      too, my dear, is an offshoot, seek for Being as its root. Yes, my
      dear, all these creatures have their root in Being, they dwell in
      Being, they finally rest in Being. "And how these three deities
      (fire, water and earth), on reaching a human being, become each of
      them tripartite has already been said. When a person departs hence,
      his speech merges in his mind, his mind in his prana, his prana in
      heat (fire) and the heat in the Highest Being.

      "Now, that which is the subtle essence—in it all that exists has its
      self. That is the True. That is the Self. THAT THOU ART,
      Svetaketu." "Please, venerable Sir, give me further instruction,"
      said the son. "So be it, my dear," the father replied.

      "As bees, my dear, make honey by collecting the juices of trees
      located at different places and reduce them to one form, "And as
      these juices have no discrimination so as to be able to say: `I am
      the juice of this tree,' or `I am the juice of that tree'—even so,
      indeed, my dear, all these creatures, though they reach Pure Being,
      do not know that they have reached Pure Being.

      "Whatever these creatures are, here in this world—a tiger, a lion, a
      wolf, a boar, a worm, a fly, a gnat, or a mosquito—that they become
      again.

      "Now, that which is the subtle essence—in it all that exists has its
      self. That is the True. That is the Self. THAT THOU ART,
      Svetaketu." "Please, venerable Sir, give me further instruction,"
      said the son. "So be it, my dear," the father replied.

      "These rivers, my dear, flow—the eastern toward the east and the
      western toward the west. They arise from the sea and flow into the
      sea. Just as these rivers, while they are in the sea, do not know: `I
      am this river' or `I am that river,' "Even so, my dear, all these
      creatures, even though they have come from Pure Being, do not know
      that they have come from Pure Being. Whatever these creatures are,
      here in this world—a tiger, a lion, a wolf a boar, a worm, a fly, a
      gnat, or a mosquito, that they become again.

      "Now, that which is the subtle essence—in it all that exists has its
      self. That is the True. That is the Self. THAT THOU ART,
      Svetaketu." "Please, venerable Sir, give me further instruction,"
      said the son. "So be it, my dear," the father replied.

      "If, my dear, someone were to strike at the root of this large tree
      here, it would bleed but live. If he were to strike at the middle, it
      would bleed but live. If he were to strike at the top, it would bleed
      but live. Pervaded by the living self, that tree stands firm,
      drinking in again and again its nourishment and rejoicing.

      "But if the life (i.e. living self) leaves one of its branches, that
      branch withers; if it leaves a second, that branch withers; if it
      leaves a third, that branch withers. If it leaves the whole tree, the
      whole three withers.

      "In exactly the same manner, my dear," said he, "know this: This body
      dies, bereft of the living self; but the living self dies not. "Now,
      that which is the subtle essence—in it all that exists has its self.
      That is the True. That is the Self. THAT THOU ART,
      Svetaketu." "Please, venerable Sir, give me further instruction,"
      said the son. "So be it, my dear," the father replied.

      "Bring me a fruit of that nyagrodha (banyan) tree." "Here it is'
      venerable Sir." "Break it." "It is broken, venerable Sir." "What do
      you see there?" "These seeds, exceedingly small, "Break one of these,
      my son." "It is broken, venerable Sir." "What do you see
      there?" "Nothing at all, venerable Sir."

      The father said: "That subtle essence, my dear, which you do not
      perceive there—from that very essence this great nyagrodha arises.
      Believe me, my dear.

      "Now, that which is the subtle essence—in it all that exists has its
      self. That is the True. That is the Self. THAT THOU ART,
      Svetaketu." "Please, venerable Sir, give me further instruction,"
      said the son. "So be it, my dear," the father replied.

      "Place this salt in water and then come to me in the morning." The
      son did as he was told. The father said to him: "My son, bring me the
      salt which you placed in the water last night." Looking for it, the
      son did not find it, for it was completely dissolved.

      The father said: "My son, take a sip of water from the surface. How
      is it?" "It is salt." "Take a sip from the middle. How is it?" "It is
      salt." "Take a sip from the bottom. How is it?" "It is salt." "Throw
      it away and come to me." The son did as he was told, saying: "The
      salt was there all the time." Then the father said: "Here also, my
      dear, in this body you do not perceive Sat (Being); but It is indeed
      there."

      "Now, that which is the subtle essence—in it all that exists has its
      self. That is the True. That is the Self THAT THOU ART,
      Svetaketu." "Please, venerable Sir, give me further instruction,"
      said the son. "So be it, my dear," the father replied.

      "Just as someone, my dear, might lead a person, with his eyes
      covered, away from the country of the Gandharas and leave him in a
      place where there were no human beings; and just as that person would
      turn toward the east, or the north, or the south, or the west,
      shouting: `I have been brought here with my eyes covered, I have been
      left here with my eyes covered!'

      "And as thereupon someone might loosen the covering and say to
      him: `Gandhara is in that direction; go that way'; and as thereupon,
      having been informed and being capable of judgement, he would, by
      asking his way from one village to another, arrive at last at
      Gandhara—in exactly the same manner does a man who has found a
      teacher to instruct him obtain the true knowledge. For him there is
      delay only so long as he is not liberated from the body; then he
      reaches perfection.

      "Now, that which is the subtle essence—in it all that exists has its
      self. That is the True. That is the Self THAT THOU ART,
      Svetaketu." "Please, venerable Sir, give me further instruction,"
      said the son. "So be it, my dear," the father replied.

      "Around a dying person afflicted with illness, my dear, his relatives
      gather and ask: `Do you know me? Do you know me?' He knows them as
      long as his speech is not merged in his mind, his mind in his prana
      (breath), his prana in heat (fire) and the heat in the Highest Deity.

      "But when his speech is merged in his mind, his mind in his prana,
      his prana in heat and the heat in the Highest Deity, then he does not
      know them.

      "Now, that which is the subtle essence—in it all that exists has its
      self. That is the True. That is the Self. THAT THOU ART,
      Svetaketu." "Please, venerable Sir, give me further instruction,"
      said the son "So be it, my dear;" the father replied.

      "My dear, they (i.e. the police) bring a man whom they have seized by
      the hand and say: `He has taken something, he has committed a theft.'
      When he denies it, they say: `Heat the axe for him.' If he has
      committed the theft but denies it, then he makes himself a liar.
      Being false—minded, he covers himself with falsehood, grasps the
      heated axe and is burnt. Then he is killed.

      "But if he did not commit the theft, then he makes himself what he
      really is. Being true—minded, he covers himself with truth, grasps
      the heated axe and is not burnt. He is released.

      "As that truthful man is not burnt so also one who has known Sat is
      not born again. Thus in That (Sat) all that exists has its self. That
      is the True. That is the Self. THAT THOU ART, Svetaketu."

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