Reading the Upanishads- Part Four

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 fourth verse of the Easwaran translation is…

The Self is one. Ever still, the Self is

swifter than thought, swifter than the senses.

Though motionless, he outruns all pursuit.

Without the Self, never could life exist.

I think one of the interesting things about this verse is the balance of contradictions. “Still” but also “swift”; “motionless” but also “outruns.” To me this illustrates how the Self encompasses all things.

It also shows how we can be acting and moving in the world, but our core is still at peace.

I wonder what pursuits the Self is outrunning. Perhaps that means that our own pursuit of enlightenment needs to be relaxed. In other words, I’ve noticed that in both dating and trying to get pregnant, there is a surprising theme. Pursuing it rarely works. When you work hard to get it, it only gets further away. In both cases, I’ve seen so many stories of people who had to release their intense desire for these things and put faith into the universe. The harder you try to force it, the farther away it gets. Maybe the Self is the same way. The tighter you try to hang onto it, the more it slips through your fingers. In the same way that I had to chill and release my desire for marriage before there was space in my life for it to happen, I think I also need to relax into my desire to understand my unity with God.

“The Self is one.” Nothing needs to be done. Nothing needs to be forced. It just is.

***

This past week I practiced seeing everyone around me as family.

It’s a really powerful exercise and I highly recommend it. I didn’t remember it all the time, but when I did, I felt an immediate flood of positive feelings. Particularly when people do things that annoy or upset you, if you think of that person as a sister or a brother, it’s easier to forgive and relax about it.

We go rollerskating on Fridays and the little kids there can be very irritating. They haven’t yet developed a good sense of spacial relations, so they will make ridiculous decisions about what direction to go and cause you to crash or nearly crash. I did feel my blood pressure going up, but at those times that I remembered to think of these children as little sisters and brothers, I felt affection and my annoyance was tinged with a chuckle.

This week I am going to make sure that I’m spending at least a few minutes every day with my home altar. 

What is your goal this week?

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.

  • HARRY

    :) Beautiful concept of mind and body as one.

  • seeker

    Again some alternate translations:

    That One, though motionless, is swifter than the mind.
    The senses can never overtake It, for It ever goes before.
    Though immovable, It travels faster than those who run.
    By It the all-pervading air sustains all living beings.

    The Self is one. Unmoving, it moves swifter than thought.
    The senses do not overtake it, for always it goes before.
    Remaining still, it outstrips all that run.
    Without the Self, there is no life.

    One unmoving that is swifter than the Mind.
    That the Gods reach not, for It progresses ever in front.
    That, standing, passes beyond others as they run.
    In That the Master of Life establishes the Waters.

    Thanks for pointing out the contrasting balance of the words. The Easwaran translation particularly highlights that.

    • Drekfletch

      Other than naming Matarisvan in the last line and choosing the ‘gods’ translation in the second, my translation has nothing new for this verse. I do think it interesting that, in the second line, that which does the reaching, or lack thereof, is translated as both ‘senses’ and ‘the gods.’

      • Ambaa

        That is very interesting. I think because Hindus have such varied ways of looking at what God is, the translations can be quite different.


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