By Jeanne M. House
The Veda’s were written prior to 2000 BC and well before the birth of Buddha. The Veda’s reflect our deepest intuitions and experiences. These ancient texts used a certain kind of language, a kind of “intuitive speech.” The Rig Veda is the primary Veda of the four Veda’s. It is a collection of hymns written in a language of mystery and wonderment! I feel like it is the language of the soul because I understand it on a soul-level.
This was a time when Nature was seen as intelligent, alive and animated. In the Upanishads, this intelligence is called CHITTA, which is unformed mind-stuff, the very basic foundation of consciousness. It is everywhere. Creation, preservation and destruction were ways in which God worked through natural cyles and seasons. The natural forces are embodiments of principles that are super-psychological. The sun, wind, lightning, fire, etc., were ways in which the divine moved through the universe. Each element was a god in its own right. I especially like the metaphor of lightning or Agni as a principle of the divine as ‘consciousness clashing with consciousness’ producing tension creating radiance. It was Heraclitus who said, “The thunderbolt steers all things.” Or, statements such as, stars at night were luminous bodies of whirling energy…Intelligible energies…
Later we will see that these elements are active in all of our seven bodies. They have a certain governance or control of their own domain and they are active intelligence on all levels of our being.
The Vedas were received from above as revealed utterances or shruti. They were heard from a divine source. They use the language of symbolism and metaphors. They answer the deep questions of existence such as, “Who am I? and ” What is the nature of the universe?” The Vedas used images and archetypes, gods and goddesses to illustrate principles of the divine in nature. Whereas, the Upanishads, are more concrete explanations of the universe and its myriad of details.
As I was writing this paper, I stopped to pick up my e-mail and a quote from Sankara appeared:My mind fell like a hailstone
into the vast expanse of Brahman's ocean.
Touching one drop of it.
I melted away and became one with Brahman.
This is wonderful indeed!
Here is the ocean of Brahman,
full of endless joy.
This quote sums up two of the most important messages from the Vedas. One is, the Atman in me is like a drop of the ocean of Brahman. In this drop the entire ocean exists. Two is, the concept of delight…the Brahman became a drop or one of many drops of His own Being in order to experience the delight of His own creation. This delight is the will, which is hidden within the manifest universe.
The best way I can describe the Vedas, is to give an example of an analogy or metaphor of transformation. The sun god Surya is the lord of Delight. He brings in the new dawn. Surya brings in the pure, rays of light from the sun. This symbolizes human thoughts that are clarified and illumined and not cloudy or ignorant. This is the type of thought that precedes knowledge. Surya comes with his splendid chariot, lighting up the day, representing the power of the sun.
Surya and Chhaya Devi
Surya has four aspects:1) Mitra/Harmony- He is the sun under whose gaze is all ONE. By his equal gaze or equality, he brings Harmony.
2) Varuna- By the vast effulgence of the sun, spreading through infinity, controlling all and giving place to all.
3) Enjoyment- The sun embodies the precept of enjoyment, causing everything to wake up and become alive! He brings joy and resplendent glory.
4) Power- All depends on Him for sustenance. He forces Himself against the darkness in order to bring in the dawn.
The daughter of the sun, Savitty or Usha, brings news of the coming day, even before Surya appears. She is the daughter of the dawn who brings with her divine grace. She is the harbinger of light and spiritual illumination. She brings our knowledge, that was previously hidden, to light in a gentle way.
There are also twins of healing and harmony who are female powers or spiritual goddesses, who assist us with receptivity and openness. They widen up our minds so that we can be open-minded and more receptive to illumined, knowledge when it does come to us. They also assist us on our flexibility.
All knowledge is in each of us, it is only in our forgetting that keeps that knowledge in us. The knower within awakes and brings to the front the knowledge, which is contained in it.
Ila is the goddess of revelation. She opens up the “secret messages” of things. Sarasvati is the goddess of inspiration. She opens us up to the deeper knowledge within us. Sarama brings to us the power of intuition. She is called the hound of heaven because she chases after the creatures of darkness and pulls out what was once hidden into the light of day. What was once unseen, is now seen. Dakshina is the goddess of discrimination. She dispels ignorance by seeking after the truth. By her grace, we know right from wrong. She wakes up a certain type of intuition in us.
Now I can see why the western mind calls our gut feelings, female intuition. There is a divine principle represented by fire, here, where Aspiration or Divine Will emerges from the darkness into the light. Indra, lord of the gods, represents the Divine Mind in each of us. This is the mind that has received illumination. He is the king of knowledge. He brings knowledge to the mental world. He is the Lord of Lightning. He clears up large areas of the night with his thunderbolts, just like the Greek god Zeus.
Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva
So we end this analogy of the process of transformation, by introducing Rudra, who is the destroyer of darkness, Vishnu who pervades all and Brahma the creator. The battle of light and dark continues with Namuchi, the power of weakness. He is the power who constantly makes us ignore our intuitions and follow the voice of temptation. Here we live in luxury, while there is work to be done. Panis represents our senses. Our senses carry us a way deep into sensual delight and ties up our energies so that there is none left for our divine pursuit. Vala is the miser with our energy and locks this energy up in a cave so we cannot access it to serve the divine within us. And finally, Vitra is the serpent who locks up the energy in his coils so we cannot access it. He keeps the light from being released.
By (anam) sacrificing, (yajna) sensual pleasures and giving our energy towards higher principles, (an inner yoga), we unlock this light. Now our energy and vitality can be used towards the divine quest. These are some ways the gods act in us, in our inner life. Our goal is to actively pursue the divine spark within our own being and kindle this divine fire that is clarified and purified. Once we do this, Agni invites other gods to share in the blessings. When the god in man is awakened, Agni’ s flame expands in us.
Indra represents Illumined Mentality. He struggles with Vitra, the serpent, who is stealing our light. Aided by Rudra, the destroyer of storm gods, they break our old molds through the power of will and vital force. The artisans of the gods now respect man’s divine achievement and the gods of higher truths and the horseman of the sun, bring great joy and Parvati’s wisdom,( the goddess of truth.) We all drink soma, the wine of immortality and so goes the story to many more cycles of transformation from the human into the divine.
The Upanishads mean, “to sit near.” This represents an intimate knowledge of the deeper meaning of Truth. It could mean the students gathering near their Guru, listening to the inner mysteries. But it also could mean something that is closest to the Truth or Reality. In this case, it doesn’t have to veil the truth in order for us to look for its hidden aspects.
There are: The Four Pillars of the Upanishads:1) The One eternal in the Many transient
2) The One conscious in the Many consciousnesses
5) I Am the Brahman
The concept of an eternality of being behind the constant changes in time and space, is a major theme in the Upanishads. The One or Principles of unity; Shakti-one vibration is present in all things. The Many, that is the same as I; we are the parts and the whole, in fact, the part contains the whole! “I am one with that which is all.” It all sounds like a paradox. But, this paradox is unraveled in great detail and given names for the parts and names for the whole, as well as, practical ways of becoming that Whole. It is a manual for life, or living the right way of life that is.
It describes the Brahman, the upper worlds, the lower worlds and the mediator between the two. The mediator is called the Supermind and has the ability to govern the energies of consciousness from the higher to the lower worlds and from the lower to the higher worlds. Heraclitus also said that the way up and the way down is the same thing. The key here is that there is spirit in matter and matter in spirit. They cannot be separated.
“Sri Aurobindo introduced an “integral non-dualism,” which is a concept that all is the Brahman and Brahman is not separated from anything, even ignorance- Through the evolution of consciousness, Brahman in time and space embraces all spiritual experiences, too.
The three parts of Brahman are:1. Universal, embraces all
2. Transcendental; above and beyond all
3. Immanent-in everything; completely contained.
The Brahman also has two sides -one of Light, which is Existence, Consciousness, and Bliss, (Satchitananda) and one of Darkness, (maya), time/space or matter, life and mind. These represent the upper and lower worlds of our being or the “golden egg.”
According to Sri Aurobindo, Maya is a derivative of Brahman. Brahman created maya, in order to experience the delight of his own creation. Maya serves as a container for the Light of Brahman. Maya is the mother of the world or the Great womb that provides the female component to the masculine seed in order to birth the golden egg. Here the Parabrahman enters into matter in the seed-state of things or Pakriti. Here he also forgets himself, but still has a memory deep within himself of himself, in the Atman, (which resides deep within him and just over his head.)
As he lives in the world of Maya and Illusion, he has a sense of his individualized, personal, identity. He is conscious that he is conscious, Chaitya Purusha, and has a distinct sense of his limitation. The Atman is the Unlimited portion of our being. The Jiiva, is the is the spirit individualized and upholds the living being from birth to birth.
His goal is to unify all things within himself. The upper half of the golden egg has been concealed from him temporarily. This is the one rock which the Upanishads have been built-unifying all thingsS. His task is to unify the Many into the One.
He can develop a conscious relationship with the divine, (the divine spark within himself, in the Atman), by contacting the Supermind, which measures out the exact proportion of energies necessary in the exchange of energy between the upper and lower egg. Here he always has the key to free up this lower energy and raise it to the higher world.
And by discovering his true nature and taking right action, he can merge with his higher bodies while here below. Through right use of energy, he can scale the heights of the Bliss body and tap into the delight of being Bliss in action right here, right now.
His seven bodies are his tools for transformation in this “yoga of life.” As he practices both an inner and outer yoga of purification, he can transcend himself daily. In time and space, all things are in flux and constant change. By banking the fires of transformation through the heat and friction of the on-going exchange of energy between Pakriti and Purusha, or the higher and lower worlds, he ultimately transcends his former, limited existence and becomes the ONE once again with BRAHMAN his original nature. Here he is undifferentiated, timeless, spaceless and causeless.
The Upanishads put forth many spiritual practices such as prana yama. There are actually several different breathes of life that are alive with energy and not just breath in and of itself. It is a science of energy that helps us tune into our own subtle life forces and honor their existence.
Both the Vedas and the Upanishads are “alive” with on-going revelations for those of us who have been given the grace of their wisdom, knowledge and deep understanding of the mystery of our own inner being.