Life and death, Atman and Paramatman1The Upanishads come from the Vedas. They contain the records of eternal Truths. These Truths were discovered by various seers at different times, and handed down to humanity.
Life is a problem. Even so is death. The aspiring Aryans of the hoary past wanted to solve these two problems. Soon they came to realise that their senses could be of almost no help to them in solving these two major problems. They also came to realise that it is the knowledge of the ultimate Reality alone that can solve, once and for all, the problems of life and death.
All of a sudden two divine soldiers came in. Nobody knows where they came from. These two soldiers were Inspiration and Aspiration. The first soldier, Inspiration, commanded them: "Give up the study of the body." They immediately did so. The second soldier, Aspiration, commanded them: "Take up the study of the soul." They immediately did so. Lo, the King and the Queen from the Golden Shore of the Beyond garlanded them, the seekers, the seers, and the knowers of Light and Truth.
What do the Upanishads actually mean? If you ask a Western seeker, he will immediately say, "Very simple. Sit at the feet of the Master and learn." If you ask an Eastern seeker the same question, he will quietly say, "Very difficult. Transform human darkness into divine Light." Both the Western and the Eastern seeker are perfectly right. No Master, no discovery of the transcendental Reality. No transformation of darkness, no manifestation of Divinity on earth.
Who needs the Truth? A seeker. When does he achieve the Truth? He achieves the Truth when he becomes the surrendered and divine lover.
His first achievement is God the Creator.
His second achievement is God the Preserver.
His third achievement is God the Transformer.
His fourth achievement is: Thou art That.
His fifth achievement is: I am That.
His sixth achievement is: He and I are one.
His seventh achievement is: He am I.
In the Creator he sees.
In the Preserver he feels.
In the Transformer he becomes.
The heart of the Upanishads is the purusha. The life of the purusha is the message of the Upanishads. Who is the purusha? The purusha is the real dweller in the body of the universe. The purusha is three-fold: the outer atman, the inner atman, and the paramatman.
The outer atman is the gross physical body. The outer atman is that which grows in the body, with the body, and for the body. The outer atman is the identification of one's body with the gross aspect of life. Here we live, we are hurt, we hurt others, we enjoy pleasure from others, we offer pleasure to others. This atman exists, changes, develops, and finally decays.
The inner atman is the discriminating Self. The inner atman identifies itself with the aspiring earth-consciousness. It identifies itself with air, ether, fire, water, and earth. The inner atman is the thinker, the doer, and the direct messenger of God. The inner atman manifests its inner realisation through outer experience.
The paramatman reveals itself through the process of Yoga. Neither is it born, nor does it die. It is beyond all qualities. It is all-pervading, unimaginable, and indescribable. It is Eternity's Reality, and Reality's Divinity.
Each Upanishad is a mighty drop from the fountain of eternal Life. This drop can easily cure the teeming ills of human life. The infinite Power of this drop can free us from the endless rotation of human birth and death.
The mind, assisted by the body, creates bondage. The heart, assisted by the soul, offers liberation. The unaspiring mind thinks useless thoughts and down it sinks. It thinks too much and sinks too fast. The blind body is constantly digging its own grave. The heart wants to love and be loved. God gives the heart the life of oneness. The soul wants to reveal God. God fulfils the soul, and by doing so, He brings down the Message of Perfection in the Divinity of manifested Reality.
UPA 6. Brown University, Providence, RI, 9 February 1972↩