Reading the Upanishads: Part Five

I thought it would be nice to read along through some scriptures and discuss the passages. I have a translation of the Upanishads done by Eknath Easwaran, a teacher whom I deeply trust and love. In this book there is an introduction before each translation with some insight from Easwaran.

Here is a link to the Amazon page for the book I have:

The fifth verse of the Easwaran translation of the Isha Upanishad is…

The Self seems to move, but is ever still.

he seems far away, but is always near.

He is within all, and he transcends all.

तदेजति तन्नैजति तद्दूरे तद्वन्तिके ।
तदन्तरस्य सर्वस्य तदु सर्वस्यास्य बाह्यतः ॥

What a beautiful verse! I love how it describes God as everywhere. It uses these almost contradictory statements to cover the breadth of God.

Being still even while moving is kind of a zen idea. I think one can be still at the center even while the body and mind act and behave in the world. It is a goal for me to always have my core be at peace no matter what else is going on around me.

There are times when it can feel like God is far away, where you don’t feel tuned in to the divine energy, but God is actually always there, beating within your heart.

He is within all and he transcends all. This is something that I’ve been talking about recently. God is everything. At the same time he is inside everything but also outside everything. He permeates absolutely everything in the universe.

Goal from Last Week

My goal last week was to spend time in my home altar every day and I did not make it! Somehow just knowing that it is there gives me a sense of spiritual energy pulsing through my apartment at all times, but I do want to spend time in repose there.

My goal this week is to try this one again!

About Ambaa

Ambaa is an American woman of European ancestry who is also a practicing Hindu. She is fascinated with questions of philosophy, culture, and the meaning of life. Join her in the journey to explore how a non-Indian convert to Hinduism experiences her religion.

  • Doug

    Honest question: Do you believe God is loving? If so, shouldn’t a loving God also be forgiving? There is no forgiveness in Hinduism because the doctrine of Karma means that you will recieve full punishment for your misdeeds.

    • Ambaa

      It really is not about punishment at all.

      Each action creates a natural follow up action. This is how all aspects of the world work. Each thing that we do creates a natural consequence. But that consequence is not a punishment from God.

      Each experience that we have in life might be because of something we previously did. But whether it is or not, every moment is an opportunity to create our own fate and our own future.

      What happens to us in our lives, good and bad, is what we need for our soul to develop and enable it to grow to the next level of understanding.

      God is not someone or something sitting high above us on a throne who arbitrarily decides whether to be mean or nice to a person on a given day depending on how much that person has cried and begged.

      • Naina

        I am quoting you:
        “God is not someone or something sitting high above us on a throne who arbitrarily decides whether to be mean or nice to a person on a given day depending on how much that person has cried and begged.”

        Ambaa! You have a superb understanding of what Hinduism is all about.

      • Doug

        You explained what karma is but you didn’t answer the question. Do you believe God is loving, and if you do, doesn’t the “natural consequences” mean he isn’t forgiving? If what you say is true, why does Hinduism even have a concept of God? You don’t believe God answers prayers or intercedes but you are also not a deist as most Hinduism doesn’t have a creation story and believes that we are all part of an eternal God. It sounds like karma/dharma is all you really need and God is irrelevant in your belief system. Also, if you don’t believe in sin, how does karma dictate whether something is right or wrong since sin is just an “illusion.”

        • N.B.

          Dear Doug,
          This my day so far. In my temple I stare out my window at the sunrise. Sun still rising in the southeast. I bring this to my temple west window. There in the sky i see Guru. As far as I concern this teacher is Eknath Eas…. fella I was just reading about and he was pointing up higher in the sky and there was a lamb. I ask Lamb what message lamb has for me today Lamb say ;” God is Love” This made me think hard since I help sick woman today get well . Then a dove flew from my eastern temple window into the west. Then Jesus flew from the east to the west.
          All these messages I believe have been given to me to translate in helping this sick women get well
          any translation of these signs you have let me know I use to help sick woman get well
          Here was my first gift to sick woman so far
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aifSjuyeE5M

        • HARRY

          @ Doug

          It’s good that you are trying to fit Hinduism in the same model concept as Christianity but in this case it’s not possible because you can’t measure how much water is in ocean with a liter jug and that’s exacly what you are trying to do in this case. Hiduism is infinite just like ocean, there is no two sentence answers to your question because entire model concept of your understanding is different. It’s same as you and I don’t need petrol to work like the machines do, therefore the same theory will not apply us no matter how hard you try.

          Don’t forget, before christ arrived and started Christianity others have gone to the same heaven you talk about, because if it wasn’t the case, then the god you are talking about is also unfair to those poor souls, because he sent Christ late, and christ him self would not have talked about the same heaven if it didn’t exist, if you see my point. Sanatan Dharma existed way before christ did, therefore we can say that people did knew difference between right and wrong from start.

          Hinduism believes that you and I are made from same things as god is. That is why it believes you become part of him when you expire. Only like for like elements will unite together in one large element. My argument is this, why would god need you, when he has everything. He can do without you if he wants, no matter how much you plead or beg. If he doesn’t want you in his heven then he doesn’t have to have you, from what you understand, but my question is why does he have to have you in first place. If your soul is clean and pure then you do not need to go to church or the temple. If you think you are doing the right thing, and your heart is telling you you that you are doing the right thing, then, you do not need to worry what happens at the end.

          keep searching for good answers, and don’t settle for second best if you don’t want to, that is what the Hinduism is all about. On that note have a good day Doug.

          HARRY

          • Doug

            Christ is God and existed before his incarnation on Earth. There was no salvation before his sacrifice but Christianity teaches that in the period of time between Good Friday and Easter, Jesus descended to Hell and freed all the righteous who had died before Him. You continue to avoid the questions I’ve asked you by implying that Hinduism is top complicated to answer. Well I asked a simple question and I expect a simple answer. Does God love you? Yes or no! This is what Hinduism does, anything it cannot answer it calls an “illusion” or says it’s not real.

          • Ambaa

            Of course God loves. But God is not a separate entity who looks down on us and loves us. God is the love in our hearts. God IS us.

            This salvation crap is what doesn’t make any sense.

        • 5w_haul

          well mate love, hate, passion, desire are human attribute and signs of ignorance and ego neither the soul nor the god have these attributes so expecting a god to behave like human is irony.
          the common meaning of love in western mind or any other mind is very misunderstood.
          the love you hear day by day basis is a two way business which 99.99% people in the world experience.
          the true unconditional love comes from total surrender and Dissolution of Ego and when it happens you see god in ever creation and your consciousness moves beyond the level these attributes that’s what enlightened beings experience.
          so answers of your question is
          does god love me – no
          is any bonding between us – yes

        • 5w_haul

          the failure to perform once karma and performing it with attachment is called sin in sanatan dharma.
          mate i reckon you don’t possess the level intellect to interpret her answer and high level of these matters.
          so better stick to simpler faiths created for people like you i.e. christianity
          so seems eye witnessed to Jesus’s every deed friday to easter lol

          • Doug

            And you eye witnessed reincarnation? You put your faith in literally nothing. In beliefs that have absolutely no basis.

            God is love.

            A life without love… I feel sorry for you, I really do.

          • Ambaa

            All of the universe is love. I definitely believe that. God is nothing but pure love and the cause of creation is love. Nothing I’ve said contradicts that.

            And reincarnation makes a lot more sense than any other explanation of what might happen after we die. It at least gives a reason why a two year old child might die. The Christian God just kills when he feels like it, apparently.

        • Ambaa

          You have a very dualist perspective, which is one way to see the world. I see the world from the point of view of unity. God is within my heart and within your heart. I don’t need to bow down to a separate being somewhere else in the universe, He is within me and He knows nothing but pure love and compassion.

          Sin and right and wrong is a very complex thing to understand. I have spoken about it before and I’m sure I will again. I do not believe that there is any such thing as wrong or evil. I know that sounds difficult to understand. It goes beyond what I can explain in a comment. Everything is a learning experience. We make mistakes, we experience the results of those mistakes, and we learn. Is there anything more perfect than that? It isn’t arbitrary. It doesn’t require another being to make a decision about how to punish or not punish someone.

    • N.B.

      Matthew 18

      The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant

      21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

      22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.[g]

      23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold[h] was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

      26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

      28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins.[i] He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.

      29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’

      30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

      32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

      35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

  • seeker

    Alternately,

    That moves and That moves not;
    That is far and the same is near;
    That is within all this and That also is outside all this.

    He moves, he does not move;
    he is far, and also near;
    he is within this all, he is out of this all.

    To the ignorant the Self appears to move–yet it moves not.
    From the ignorant, it is far distant–yet it is near.
    It is within all, and it is without all.

    It moves and It moves not.
    It is far and also it is near.
    It is within and also It is without all this.

    Two things stuck out in this passage. First is the use of the word “he” to refer to the Self. Easwaran and one other translator use it. Does it imply that the Self is masculine? That doesn’t make sense in the context of the passage which emphasizes how the Self cannot be pigeonholed. Alternately does referring to the Self as masculine show a bias in early Hinduism?

    A second point is that three translations say that the Self moves, one says it seems to move (implying that it doesn’t really) and one says it appears to move to the ignorant. One commentary I read made the good point that since the Self is not finite, the concept of moving and not moving doesn’t make much sense.

    • 5w_haul

      atman is gender neutral and Sanskrit text can’t be translated properly in English

      • Ambaa

        Of course it can never be completely captured in English. But still we take an imperfect translation (as they all must be) and get from it what we are able.

    • Ambaa

      I definitely do not think the Self is masculine. It’s just a tradition to use that pronoun. I believe God is genderless/all gender but it’s difficult for us to see that in our minds, so that’s why we have the multitude of Gods and Goddesses to help us see and understand different aspects and sides of the Self.

      I like that point about the Self being infinite. Movement must be an illusion, but it is a powerful one. Because I see every molecule as being God, there is no real barrier between me and the air and the keyboard and all these other colors and textures that make up maya. I like to think of it like a wooden puzzle. The shapes might be different, but they all sit snug against each other. They show different parts of the picture, but it is one picture and every piece is still made of the same substance.

  • seeker

    That is very interesting. I wonder though why Easwaran chose to use it when most other translators didn’t.

  • 5w_haul

    if there was no salvation before the Christ then what about all the prophets they were useless? than why you read old-testament.
    akal ke dushman

    • Doug

      The prophets were not useless and they did not offer salvation. God prepared generations of prophets in His love story of Salvation history. They revealed truths about God and what He is like. They paved the way for the full Truth, the King of kings, the Prince of peace, Love in the flesh: Jesus Christ.

      • Ambaa

        You know I don’t believe in Christ, so what are you doing here? If all you want to do is salivate over your God, then go do it somewhere else. You are clearly not interesting in learning, but only to preach about a God that I am not interested in. Your Christ mongering is not welcome here.

        • http://amarchotoprithibi.blogspot.com Andrea

          I would suggest just ignoring the well-meaning-yet-wayward missionaries who come on here attempting conversion. You are talking of apples and they are talking of fish. There is very little common language that unites the two faiths; you can see this from Doug’s mistaken assertion that because the Bible says “God is love,” then those who do not follow the Christian god live a life without love. He does not understand any point of view than the perspective that has shaped Western thought since the third century, when the Catholic church codified a group of books into the Biblical narrative that is known today. We all see through our own worldviews, and any attempt at apologetics ultimately ends in people talking past each other.

          • Ambaa

            You are right, as usual! You have such a clear head for these things. I will try to take your advice :)

          • Doug

            If you think I’m actually trying to convert you then you are quite mistaken. Only an incredibly fickle person would change their mind about anything over some random comment thread on the Internet. I was just asking you a simple question because I was curious of your view, and when I didn’t get an answer I just kinda went off. Don’t try to make this something that it isn’t.

          • Ambaa

            I tried to answer you. Then I went to work. I come back to find a long string of angry comments about how I’m ducking you. I’m certainly not trying to. It makes me feel like you’re not interested in hearing an answer.

            I’m putting together a post about karma for Thursday and I hope that will help you to see my point of view. I don’t feel like I can explain it all in a comment. I’m not sure I can explain it all in a post either, but I’ll do my best.

            Try listening instead of accusing me of hiding behind the idea of maya.

      • N.B.

        Dear Doug,
        Before yesterday , I never in my long life heard of this Eknath Easwaran. Then he come to me . you may think: “demon come to him .” Yet I see great gift from God I find from him,reading about his book God makes the Rivers Flow. Read here:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_Makes_the_Rivers_to_Flow

  • subinz

    sometimes the simplest of verses have profound and deep meaning. Eg. ” Tat tvam Asi “

  • seeker

    I testify in court quite often and when a lawyer poses a question as Doug did (“Does God love you, yes or no”), it’s a trap. The lawyer generally has no interest in my answer; he or she is setting me up so they can push forward their own agenda.

    • Ambaa

      That certainly is what it feels like. And I’ve met my share of Christians who ask a leading question like that in order to get talking about how much better their God is. I was hoping that “honest question” meant just that, but it isn’t looking that way at this point.

      • Doug

        It was an honest question and it wouldn’t have been a “trap” if I had gotten a good answer. By good answer I don’t mean it has to be a Christian answer but a Hindu answer that actually makes sense.

        • HARRY

          @ Doug
          You don’t want just an answer, but you want a Hindu answer that looks like a Christian answer. Well , that is not going to be possible, because, it’s bit like going to a fish serving restaurant and wanting stake, in your term. The things that you are looking for here will not be found here, because you are looking for wrong things in wrong location.

          The things that you said to me in your post, I would have believed you if I was 4 years old, but not at 40, if you see my point about jesus saving all the good souls from hell between good friday and easter. This clearly demostrates that, you are not ready to take the answer that you get from any one of us, even when it serves all the logic in the world, and there is no point in explaing it to you either. As I have told you above that, you can’t measure the water in the ocean with liter jug. On this note, you should stick to what the priest in the church says to you. You are a good Christian but not very logical one and that is the main reason you will not understand any one of us or our answers. Easter is around the corner and have a good one.

          HARRY

          • Doug

            First of all thanks for your Easter wishes. It’s nice that even though we don’t agree we can still be civilized.

            I believe the difference to be that Christianity may seem illogical on the surface but if you look into it you see that it’s the only faith system that actually makes sense and answers ALL the questions. I see Hinduism as the opposite, karma and everything seems logical on the surface but if you look into it you see all the holes and inconsistencies in the religion and all the questions it DOESN’T answer.

        • http://amarchotoprithibi.blogspot.com Andrea

          But a good Hindu answer is not one that will make sense from a Christian framework. The Christian idea is that God is outside us, separate from us – very much so, in fact, that we need to actually perform some action – at the least believing, at the most taking the sacraments and/or evangelizing – in order to re-attach us to God. The Hindu framework is that God is within us always; there is no separation. Sin (a word from Christian jargon) does not separate us from God as it does in the Christian framework. There is another mechanism for dealing with that. They do not start from the same ground and nor do they end there.

          I do not necessarily believe that Christianity answers all of the questions; in fact, it is required to take some things on faith. The mysteries of Christianity are the main evidence for this – how can God be three beings and one being at the same time? How could Jesus be fully God and fully human at the same time? These things are not understandable either. There is depth to Christianity beyond the easily-explainable. If it were a Muslim challenging your faith, your answer of “it just is that way and we have to take it on faith” would be just as unacceptable to them as the explanations of karma and the like that you are getting as you are challenging Ambaa’s faith.

  • Seeker

    Re Doug’s posts, what keeps fascinating me is not the content of what he says but his style of argumentation. If you analyze his posts even briefly, you can see an overwhelming need for control along with vaguely defined terms, what seem on the surface to be logical assumptions but on analysis aren’t, the use of straw man arguments and protestations of good faith when called on anything. What I can’t pick up is if he’s doing this consciously or unconsciously. It really doesn’t matter, though, because his style makes true debate unlikely if not impossible.

  • N. B.

    Ok I make progress with understanding Passage meditation from Eknath easwaran book God makes the Rivers Flow
    (I’ve heard that white Hindu types maybe in rebellion from the west “Father ” and “Mother” figure of speech but in time they come full circle for elders to give them toothless smile : keep seeking)
    He quotes this from Jesus for passage meditation
    Matthew 5
    “Matthew 5

    New International Version (NIV)
    Introduction to the Sermon on the Mount

    5 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them.
    The Beatitudes

    He said:

    3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
    4 Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
    5 Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
    6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
    7 Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
    8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
    9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
    10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

    11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

    I say Blessed are the White Hindus on the days they feel isolated and left out just like the poor who mourn Jesus and this eknath Easwaran fella say and give them good toothless smile of approval and let them run free before they walk steady


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