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.
I want to thank Seeker for pointing out that it is good to look at different translations. This is not an ideal rendering of the Sanskrit and even getting all the Sanskrit, there are still elements open to interpretation. What I’m doing here is a very basic level look, so if you find it interesting, I would definitely encourage you to read other translations, learn more, and continue to aspire to full understanding!
The third verse is as follows in the Easwaran translation…
Those who deny the Self are born again
Blind to the Self, enveloped in darkness,
Utterly devoid of love for the Lord
I like this verse, it is lyrically beautiful even in the English. The upper case Self refers to our inner being who is divine. A lower case self indicates the illusion that ego puts out of who we think we are (and the limits we believe we have).
It makes sense to me that those who have not understood their essential nature yet are born over and over. It is interesting how that is connected to love for the Lord. Once we realize ourselves, I believe love is what we find. We are in darkness and sadness until we see that there is nothing but love. I wonder if that comes at the same time: a realization of the Self along with instant love of the Lord. Or do you use one as a stepping stone to the other?
This week I tried out the passage meditation. I did find it to be peaceful. From the description of how to do it, it seems like you are supposed to say the words of the passage extremely slowly, letting each syllable sink in. That didn’t work so well for me. It had the effect like when you say a word over and over and it starts to sound all weird and you can’t process what it is anymore. And when Easwaran says that the inspirational passage is sinking into you and becoming a part of you, I’m not sure that the random syllables I was reduced to by thinking it so slowly were really helping inspire my subconscious. However, when I allowed myself to acknowledge the meaning of the passage as I was saying it without thinking about it or analyzing it, I found that to be very peaceful and inspiring. That may mean I was doing it wrong, but I had some good result.
Meditation is coming in handy for me in an unusual way. I remember one of my teachers telling me many years ago that repeating the mantra when trying to get to sleep is a bad idea because the mantra has its own energy. However, I am not finding that to be true. I’ve always had an extremely hard time falling back asleep after I wake up. Part of that is because when I was growing up, going back to sleep after being awakened was forbidden. It was like a sin to do so! They suggested getting up even if it was 2:30 in the morning and you were woken by a cat knocking over a trash can outside. The few times I tried getting up after being awakened in the night, it was pretty miserable. I felt tired, like a zombie, and had no motivation to really do anything that early. Even though I am really a morning person!
So now when I get woken up, I lay in bed and cannot get back to sleep, which is also miserable. I’ve been struggling because I started taking my basal body temperature a few months ago. Basically, if you’re a girl, you take your temperature at the same time every morning before doing anything else (even sitting up) and chart it to learn more about the cycles of your body. I wanted to understand my cycles better and it’s great for that, but you also have to take the temperature after at least four hours of uninterrupted sleep, so that means I have to set my alarm clock quite early to make sure I don’t accidentally wake up well before I’m supposed to take my temperature. It’s been a bit torturous as I then can’t get back to sleep!
The mantra has helped. The last week I have been laying back down, closing my eyes, and repeating my mantra instead of letting my mind wander and I have been getting back to sleep successfully! So, long story to say that I found an interesting use for the mantra I was given.
My goal this coming week is to think of everyone I meet as family, thinking of them as sister or mother or brother or uncle.