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If you take away from our reality the symbolic fictions which regulate it, you lose reality itself.

Slavoj Žižek


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Monday, June 9th, 2014

Prophetic readings

Brahma fue el primero de los Devas, el hacedor del Universo, el preservador del mundo. El reveló el Conocimiento de Brahma, la fundación de todo conocimiento, a su hijo mayor Atharva.
I stumbled on an old blog post this past weekend which prompted me to take a look at the Mundaka Upanishad. Something about the reverent tone of the prophet who wrote the upanishad seemed very familiar -- it sucked me right in in the way some of my Bible readings have.

In keeping with the Bible readings, I'm going to follow the Upanishads in Spanish, prophetic tone seems to come through a little better. But I think I'll try keeping a journal of it in English.

From him comes Agni (fire), the sun being the fuel; from the moon (Soma) comes rain (Parganya); from the earth herbs; and man gives seed unto the woman. Thus many beings are begotten from the Person (purusha).
Last night I read most of the Mundaka Upanishad a bit haltingly in English, focusing mainly on the part about two birds, inseparable friends which is what had brought me to the text -- quickly realized I would like this better in Spanish! Reread in Spanish and going back to the beginning of the upanishad and found a very familiar voice. This is like reading prophets in the Bible, a bit. Plus it has the ring structurally of a couple of my poems in Intenciones extendidas. Is that a tone in common with Old Testament? Not sure -- I tried to model those poems on an OT voice but did not feel like I succeeded, quite.

This testament ("upanishad" is, if I understand correctly, a Sanskrit term with the meaning of looking up to, as to a teacher -- and just now "testament" seems like a good term for Upanishads though I think it is a bit shorter than NT) also seems to bear quite directly on recent musings on self and reality.

"Toma este Upanishad como el arco y coloca en él la flecha afilada de la devoción. Si así lo haces, tu mente permanecerá sujeta y darás en el blanco, que es el Indestructible."

posted evening of June 9th, 2014: Respond
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Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

Katha-upanishad

Naciketas replied to Yama: "All these things you're talking about are ephemeral, O Death; they will only last until tomorrow, for their power is born of the senses. Even the longest life is but fleeting. So keep your horses, your festivals, and answer my question."
The Katha Upanishad is the first one in the collection I'm reading. (Totally uncertain as to whether there is a standard ordering or a standard selection -- I definitely get the impression that this book is not all the upanishads there are.) It is a dialogue between Naciketas, the young son of Gautama Vagasravasa, and Yama, god of Death. Naciketas is granted three wishes; the third, which makes up the body of the teaching, is to know whether a man's soul continues to exist after he dies.

Death's reply is divided into 5 sections.

  1. The distinction between pleasure and good: this is pretty standard stuff, the wise man chooses good over pleasure, the fool is seduced by pleasure. Longing for wealth is foolish. Yama teaches Naciketas the Sacred Word (om), which is eternal.
  2. Yama compares the body to a chariot driven by the mind and pulled by the senses; in order to master the horses, to be a skilled charioteer, one must be firm and strong of mind. Here the wheel of births and deaths is introduced, and the idea that one's goal is to get off the wheel. "Beyond the senses are objects, beyond objects is the mind, beyond the mind is the intellect, and beyond the intellect is the Greatness of Being. Beyond the Greatness of Being is the Hidden, and beyond what is hidden is the Person. Beyond the Person there is nothing: this is the Highest Path."
  3. Through the senses turned inwards, it is possible to know "what exists inside us -- the thing you have asked me about. The wise man knows that what allows him to perceive objects, whether awake or dreaming, is the omnipresent greatness of Being; and his suffering will end." In order to leave the wheel of births, one must recognize the universality of being. There is no difference between here and there, between Creator and creature. 'As pure water poured into pure water remains the same, thus, O Gautama, is the Self of a thinker who knows.'
  4. [I do not understand this section]
  5. Knowing Brahma is how you achieve immortality. Failing to understand this dooms a man to the wheel of births. "When all of the senses and the mind are under control, a wise man will attain the highest state. This is what is called Yoga." On hearing this teaching, Naciketas is freed from suffering and death, and attains the state of Brahma. That will be true for anyone who recognizes all that is referred to as the Self. "May he protect master and disciple! May he take delight in both! Let us be strong together! Let us be illuminated with Knowledge! Let us forever leave our strife! Om! Peace, peace, peace! Hari, om!"

posted evening of June 11th, 2014: Respond
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Saturday, June 14th, 2014

Mundaka-upanishad

The teaching is the bow, devotion is the arrow. Brahma is the target.
The second teaching in this collection is Mundaka Upanishad, a short dialog between Saunaka and Angira on the subject of meditation. Meditation is "the form of knowledge through which all other things can be known." Through meditation we can give birth to reality, "like a hen brooding on her eggs."

The "universal person" appears to be synonymous with "Brahma" and to denote the consciousness which is reality, the universal one-ness. Meditation is the path to becoming the universal person, as an arrow becomes one with its target.

Mundaka Upanishad contains the parable of the two birds, which is my point of entry to this reading.

Two birds, inseparable friends, perch in the same tree. One eats the sweet fruit, the other watches but does not take a bite.

The man is sitting in the same tree, and is suffering; he is confused by his own impotence. But when he sees the Lord and understands the Lord's glory, his heart is filled with happiness and his suffering vanishes.

When the seer sees the glorious Maker and Lord of this world, and recognizes Him as the Person whose wellspring is Brahma, that man becomes wise, for he has drawn back the veil of good and evil and attained the supreme unity. He is free of desire, for in him resonates the breath which arises from all being. Who understands all this becomes truly wise, no longer a charlatan.

Mundaka Upanishad is also called Ksurika, or "Razor," Upanishad, as it is used for shaving away false consciousness.

posted morning of June 14th, 2014: Respond

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