Reading the Upanishads: Part Nine

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:

Verses 9 to 11 of the Easwaran translation of the Isha Upanishad are…

In dark night live those for whom

The world without alone is real; in night

Darker still, for whom the world within

Alone is real. The first leads to a  life

Of action, the second to a life of meditation.

But those who combine action with meditation

Cross the sea of death through action

And enter into immortality

Through the practice of meditation.

So we have heard from the wise.

What a very interesting passage! It appears to say that it is not wise to pick one type of path only (action, study, devotion). It appears that you don’t get the complete picture when you focus too much on just the outside world or just the inside world. You need both action and meditation, an understanding of both the world within and the world without in order to reach enlightenment.

Krishna does say in the Gita that it is impossible to renounce action entirely; your body will continue to act through breathing and heart pumping blood, etc. That is not something to resist.

It appears that, as with everything, the right balance is necessary. Everything in the correct measure leads us to the Truth.

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.

  • Sasha_uz3

    No matter what others may say, I will never abandon Lord Krishna. He is deeply rooted within me, and frankly, I can’t imagine a world without Him. I also never understood religious intolerance but still experience it everywhere I go. What I can’t understand the most are the phrases “your God” and “my God” when all faiths lead to the same Supreme Being. Most cultures and religions worship some form of a god or gods, but under different names. This is the beauty of the world; God meant to make it diverse and rich in culture. Understanding and acceptance are all anyone wants now, and I am absolutely against forceful conversions, especially in India. I understand that it is a Christian’s duty to spread the word of God but they must understand that Hindus believe in the same God but with different names. Both Shirdi Sai Baba and Lord Krishna are my spiritual guides, and I will serve the people of this world with the best of my abilities because in the end we are all God’s creations. Just as Sai Baba preached, ” Sabka malik ek” or ” One God governs all”

    • Ambaa

      I couldn’t have said it better myself!

  • Drakenobody Iam

    well its nice from your part that u are embracing a religion that is so vast. please keep on searching for the truth.check my blog too i am a hindu as well but from East

  • Derek_anny

    Olivelle, 1996

    9. Into blind darkness they enter, people who worship ignorance;
    And into still blinder darkness, people who delight in learning.
    10.It’s far different than knowledge, they say,
    Different also from ignorance, we’re told –
    so have we heard from wise men, who have explained it to us.
    11. Knowledge and ignorance – a man who knows them both together
    Passes beyond death by ignorance, and by knowledge attains immortality.

    While trying to suss out my thoughts re [ignorance= not knowing Maya and learning= knowing unity] I realized: it’s Doublethink. There’s more awareness than simply not knowing Maya, and knowing unity carries undertones of there being something else to know. You have to disregard the distinctions that Maya imposes upon perceived reality while at the same time knowing that unity is not an And or an Also.

    I hope that makes sense to more people than me. Also, this demonstrates the poetic vs literal issue I mentioned last reading. Verse 10 is essentialized into “wise men say” by Easwaran.

    • Ambaa

      I’m very glad that you always find alternate translations! I’ll try to get better and locating other translations for comparison.