Saturday, October 06, 2012

The Breath of the Eternal

We seek the breath of the eternal, this time, through words that transcend themselves.

Read slowly—like sipping a special wine.

Take time between each sip.

Savor the silence as much as the sound, nay, even more than the sound.

Look for the Self—the Self within, the Self beyond.

Breathe—breathe the breath of the eternal.


“Filled with God are the things we see,
Filled with god are the things we see not,
From out of God flows all that is:
From God all—yet does He remain the same.
Om…Peace—peace—peace.” – Upanishads

“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.” – Upanishads

“The Self is everywhere. Bright is he, bodiless, without scar or imperfection, without bone, without flesh, pure, untouched. The Seer, the Thinker, the One who is above all, the Self-Existent—he it is who has established perfect order among objects and beings from beginningless time.” – Upanishads

“So how are things?”

“Things? Would not our time be better spent contemplating the breath of the eternal?”

“I don’t know how to contemplate the eternal.”

“I said the breath of the eternal.”

“I’m not very successful at watching my breath.”

“I did not say, watch your breath; I said contemplate the breath of the eternal.”

“I don’t know how to do that.”

“We cannot do that—only the eternal Soul can contemplate the eternal.”

“I don’t know anything about the eternal Soul.”

“The mind can know nothing of the eternal Soul. The eternal Soul does not need the mind; the eternal Soul is Self-evident and Self-Existent.”

“I am so full of thoughts.”

“That is why one who is one with the eternal Soul, who contemplates the breath of the eternal, is always laughing.”

“Still, I know nothing about breath.”

“Not the breath, but the breath of the eternal. The breath of the eternal contains every breath of creation. Brahma, the Creator, breathes out the universe and breathes in the universe. It is the breath of the Creator that we contemplate.”

(Please read the above two more times. Each time read it at half the speed of the last. The Upanishads are not for the mind; read to the eternal Soul—like you would to a child.)

“At whose behest does the mind think? Who bids the body to live? Who makes the tongue speak? Who is the effulgent Being that directs the eye to form the color and the ear to form the sound?

“The Self is the ear of the ear, the mind of the mind, the speech of the speech. The Self is also the breath of the breath, and the eye of the eye. Having given up the false identification of the Self with the senses and the mind, and knowing the Self to be God, the wise on departing the world becomes immortal.” – Upanishads

“He who shall say, ‘Lo! I have slain a man!’ He who shall think, ‘Lo! I am slain!’ those both know naught! Life cannot slay. Life is not slain! Never the Self was born; the Self shall cease to be never; Never was time it was not; End and Beginning are dreams.” – Bhagavad-Gita

“I’m sorry, I still don’t understand this Self. It seems to me that Self and God are the same?”

“A tiger is locked in a cage. The cage is inside another, and both cages are inside a third. How does the tiger escape?”

“I don’t know.”

“The tiger stops thinking about cages.”

“And how does that help?”

“It helps because the cages don’t really exist. The cages are a product of mind. Thinking about them, how to escape from them, only strengthens the appearance of their reality.”

“So what is the answer?”

"Contemplate the breath of the eternal with the Self. Know that all thoughts, good or bad, high or low, are of the mind—and the mind is not the Self. When you identify yourself with your thoughts and the thinker of those thoughts you are not experiencing the Self. Go beyond thoughts by not paying attention to them. Let them come and let them go; don’t get attached to them; give them no importance. The poet Rumi once said, ‘The mind is a great and a wondrous thing and once it has led you to the door of the King, must be discarded—like shoes left at the door of a holy place.'"


“Living in the abyss of ignorance yet wise in their own conceit, deluded fools go round and round, the blind led by the blind.
“To the thoughtless youth, deceived by the vanity of earthly possessions, the path that leads to the eternal abode is not revealed. ‘This world alone is real; there is no hereafter’—thinking thus he falls again and again, birth after birth, into my jaws.’” Thus spoke the lord of death – Upanishads

Again and again we hear it from the masters. It is at the core of all their teachings. Again and again we hear it from the Ancient One, “The world and all its affairs are truly nothing into nothing.” The cage does not exist.

Again and again the Avatar and his glittering array of Perfect Masters bring the same message of love and truth:

“Soundless, formless, intangible, undying, tasteless, odorless, eternal, without beginning, without end, immutable, beyond nature, is the Self.”

“That in which the sun rises and in which it sets, that which is the source of all the powers of nature and the senses, that which nothing can transcend—that is the immortal Self.”

“The immortal Self is the sun shining in the sky, it is the breeze blowing in space, it is the fire burning on the altar, it is the quest dwelling in the house: it is all men, it is the gods, it is the ether, it is wherever there is truth; it is the fish that is born in water, it is the plant that grows in the soil, it is the river that gushes from the mountain—the immortal Self, the changeless reality, the illimitable!”

“There are two selves, the apparent self and the real Self. Of these it is the real Self who must be felt as truly existing. To the man who has felt the real Self as truly existing, the real Self reveals to that man his innermost nature.” – Upanishads

“I wish to experience the real Self, I truly do. I wish to contemplate the breath of the eternal. Give me one thing to do, one simple thing that I can follow, that will lead me to my goal.”

“You have heard so many affirmations of the Self today. Take any one of them that suits you and repeat it every day upon awakening and every night before you go to sleep. Can you do that?”

“Yes, for how long?”

“Until it sings in your veins.”


“My child, within the body dwells the Self, from whom sprang the sixteen parts of the universe: and in this manner they came into being:
‘If, creating, I enter my creation, like a man while sleeping enters his dreams,’ reflected the Self, ‘what is there to bind me to it; what is there to go out from it when I go out, to stay within it when I stay?’ Pondering thus, and in answer to his thought, he made prana—the breath of life—and from prana he made desire; and from desire he made ether, air, fire, water, earth, the senses, the mind and food. From food he made vigor, penance, the Vedas, the sacrificial rites and all the worlds. Thereafter, in the worlds, he created names. And the number of the elements he thus created was sixteen.

“As the flowing rivers, whose destination is the sea, having reached it disappear in it, losing their names and forms, and men speak only of the sea: so these sixteen parts created out of his own being by the Self, the Eternal Seer, having returned to him from whom they came—like a man passing out of his dream—disappear in him, their source and their destination, losing their names and forms, the Self alone remains, and he attains immortality.” – Upanishads

A long time passed. The wayfarer appeared unable to speak. Perhaps he was thinking? Perhaps his thoughts could not penetrate the silence? The sage continued to contemplate the breath of the eternal. Finally the wayfarer spoke:

“Why did the Self do it? What motivated the Self to enter his creation?”

The sage did not even open his eyes. “Whim,” he said slowly and softly, “it was only a whim.”


“Like two birds of golden plumage, inseparable companions, the individual self and the immortal Self are perched on branches of the self-same tree. The former tastes of the sweet and bitter fruits of the tree, the later, tasting of neither, calmly observes.” – Upanishads

“To be in the world but not of the world?”

“Yes, that is the way in these times.”

“But how?”

“Krishna told Arjuna;  ‘Act, but do not be attached to the fruit of the action—whether that fruit be bitter or sweet.’”

“Is that possible? By what means is the right knowledge attained?”

“Those who know God say that there are knowledge and wisdom. The former is of the sacred teachings—knowledge of the Vedas and of phonetics, ceremonies, grammar, etymology, meter, and astronomy. The latter is that by which one knows the changeless reality. By this is fully revealed to the wise that which transcends the senses, which is uncaused, which is indefinable, which has neither eyes nor ears, hands nor feet; that which is all pervading, subtler than the subtlest—the everlasting, the source of all.”

“And this wisdom by which one knows the changeless reality; how is it attained?”

“It is never attained. How can you attain what you already have? The wisdom of which I speak is the property of the immortal Self. You just need to be reminded of it, taught to not drink the lesser wines, and given living examples in the form of the Avatar and His Perfect Ones. In the end, what do think will win out?”

“Truth alone succeeds, not untruth.” – Upanishads

“Knowledge is of things, acts, and relations. But wisdom is of God alone; and beyond all things, acts, and relations; He abides forever. To become one with Him is the only wisdom.” – Upanishads


“The Life of man is divided between waking, dreaming, and dreamless sleep. But transcending these three states is super-conscious vision—called simply The Fourth.” – Upanishads

“The syllable OM, which is imperishable God, is also the universe, whatever has existed, whatever exists, whatever shall exist hereafter, is Om. All that we see without is God. The Self within is God.” – Upanishads

“Why do you sigh?”

“Because I am troubled.”

“What is troubling you?”

“These effulgent teachings that shine like a million suns and are such a joy to hear and behold when I am at peace, mock me, haunt me, when life besets me with difficulties and worry.”

“Yes, I understand, but what would be the use of the teachings if they could not stand up to, could not triumph over the troubles? This is indeed the point, the cloth plunged deep into the die of Self must be dragged from the die and hung in the sun till the color is faded, then dipped again, and hung again, over and over, until the color is fast. See the die as God, see the sun as God, see the fading as God—then you will know The Fourth.”

“The Fourth, say the wise, is not subjective experience, nor objective experience, nor experience intermediate between these two, nor is it a negative condition which is neither consciousness nor unconsciousness. It is not the knowledge of the senses, nor is it relative knowledge, nor yet inferential knowledge. Beyond the senses, beyond the understanding, beyond all expression, is The Fourth. It is pure unitary consciousness, wherein awareness of the world and of multiplicity is completely obliterated. It is ineffable peace.  It is the supreme good. It is One without second. It is the Self. Know it alone!” – Upanishads


“Words cannot express the bliss of infinite, eternal God, mind cannot reach Him. The sage who knows God, is freed from fear.” – Upanishads

I am that Self in man and I am that Self in the sun. That Self is one. One who realizes that Self realizes God. ‘I am that Self! I am life immortal! I overcome the world—I who am endowed with golden effulgence! Those who know Me achieve Reality.’ OM . . . Peace—peace—peace.”– Upanishads

“I am no sage—like yourself. I am not free of fear. I have not overcome the world, the world overcomes me. Please tell me in simple terms your secret regarding living in the world but not being of the world.”

“When I was a young man I met a woman. She was beautiful to look at, she was a joy to be with, she was perfect in every way. Whenever I was with her I was blissfully happy. But there was one thing; whatever I asked from her I was denied. Any attempt by me to fulfil any desire by her went unfulfilled. There was joy when it came to me unasked, immeasurable suffering whenever I asked. 

"My son, the world is like that woman. When you don’t ask, when you just take it as it comes, the world and life are a perfect joy, but as soon as you desire of it, as soon as you ask, the world and life become a cathedral of death. My son, that is the secret; that is the truth.”


“Brahman (God), source, sustenance, and end of the universe, partakes of every phase of existence. He wakes with the waking man, dreams with the dreamer, and sleeps the deep sleep of the dreamless sleeper; but He transcends these three states to become Himself. His true nature is pure consciousness.” – Upanishads

“What is consciousness?”

“There is a room. In the room there are many things. Without light, nothing can be seen. Consciousness is light. When the light is dim, shadows appear, the Self sees shapes, but no details. As the light becomes brighter, the Self begins to make out objects—He gives them names. When the light becomes infinite and unobstructed by any impurity, the Self sees the Self and says, ‘Tat Tvam Asi’—I am That I am.”

“Having entered into the guardians, He identified Himself with them. He became individual beings. Now, therefore, if an individual awakes from his threefold dream of waking, dreaming, and dreamless sleep, he sees no other than the Self. He sees the Self dwelling in the lotus of his heart as Brahman, omnipresent, and he declares; ‘I know Brahman!” – Upanishads

It is really so simple, too simple for the mind that seeking to establish its self-importance in the domain of illusion says, “There must be more to it than that.” But there is an old saying: “How do you expose a fool?” The answer: “Let him speak.”


“In the beginning there was Existence—One only, without a second, and out of this Existence projected the universe. Existence was the creator who created Himself in all and everything. All that is has itself in Him alone. He is the Truth. He is the subtle essence of all. He is the Self. And that my boy, THAT THOU ART.” – Upanishads

“Meditate upon this Self within and this Self without. Contemplate Self’s imperishable, changeless Reality—the source of all life. Find your way to the graveyard and sit on the crumbling bones and know them as illusion—as dream. Contemplate your Reality as Self imperishable, eternal, and filled with bliss.”

“Brahman is all. From Brahman come appearances, sensations, desires, deeds. But all these are merely name and form. To know Brahman one must experience the identity between Him and the Self. By doing so man escapes from sorrow and death, and becomes one with the subtle essence beyond all knowledge.” – Upanishads  


“But when he sleeps, but also dreams, he lives in a world of his own. He may dream that he is a king, or that he is the best of Brahmins; he may dream that he is an angel, or that he is a beast. As an emperor, having obtained the objects of enjoyment, moves about at will in his dominions, so the sleep, gathering up the impressions of sense, compounds them into dreams according to his desires.

“As threads come out of the spider, as little sparks come out of the fire, so all the senses, all the worlds, all the gods, yea, all beings, issue forth from the Self. His secret name is Truth of the Truth.” – Upanishads

“All acts have their beginnings and their ends, but Self alone is eternal. King Solomon wore a ring which he turned around his finger as he listened to the tales of woe and wonder that were told to him. On the inside of the band was engraved ‘This too shall pass.’ This too shall pass…This too shall pass…”

 “When one breathes, one knows him as breath;
When one speaks, one knows him as speech;
When one hears, one knows him as the ear;
When one thinks, one knows him as mind.
All these are but names related to acts, and he who worships the Self as one or another of them does not know him” – Upanishads

“My boy, breath, speech, hearing, and thinking are all actions. All actions have their beginnings and all beginnings have their endings. When you know yourself as your breath, your speech, your hearing, and your thinking; when you define life as so many breaths; and identify with words that praise or blame; when you take yourself to be your thoughts, finding pleasure in their pleasure and pain in their pain, then you are caught in the dream of life. Life itself is an action and thus has its beginning and its end. Death is a camel that lies down at every door.”


“This vast universe is a wheel. Upon it are all creatures that are subject to birth, death, and rebirth. Round and round it turns, and never stops. It is the wheel of Brahman. As long as the individual self thinks it is separate from Brahman, it revolves upon the wheel in bondage to the laws of birth, death, and rebirth. But when through the grace of God it realizes its identity with Him, it revolves upon the wheel no longer. It achieves immortality.” – Upanishads

“And how do I win this grace?”

“You must give it to yourself.”

“Give it to myself?”

“The truth is that you are always united with the Lord. But you must know this. Nothing further is there to know.” – Upanishads

“I want to know this; is wanting to know not enough?”

“Deep within all beings He dwells, hidden from sight by the covering of the gunas—satva, raja, and tama. Free yourself from the gunas and you will realize Self.”

“And how do I do that?”

“You must know the gunas and realize that you are not them.”

What are the gunas?”

“Shri Baba looked at a man and said, ‘You look like God to me.’

Gentleman — How so?

Shri Baba — Because you show the qualities of satva-guna.

G. — What are the signs of satva-guna?

B. — A person, who is indifferent to all worldly pleasures, indifferent to
all desires, their objects and their attainment, indifferent towards the
affairs of the world, who does not like to act for anything in particular,
who is content with whatever comes to him, who is unconcerned about the
pleasures and pain affecting him, who always remains in the state of ‘Be as
it may,’ is a person who has satva-guna. A person with these qualities
is like God. You are showing some of these qualities and so I said that you
look like God...

G. — What are the signs of raja-guna and tama-guna?

B. — A person, who desires to increase his field of activity, who desires
for various worldly pleasures, who undertakes to do many a thing to satisfy
his desires — from eating something that he likes to the attainment of a
Kingdom, who does some things and persists in doing them even if he does not meet with much of success, who forms Prarabdha that can last for births on end by committing all sorts of deeds, who always engages himself in some work or tries repeatedly to attain various things, who coaches others in behaving like himself, who is acutely affected by feelings like insult, who is
very careful about and desirous of increasing his personal honor and
prestige, who loves to have a large family depending on him, who is proud,
discontented, tough, envious and a sinner, who loves to study the Asat (the knowledge of ignorance), and so on, is the person who is full of raja-guna. Such men ultimately suffer for long years — or for lives to come. Most persons in the world are like that.

A person, who does not know good from bad, who does what he likes without any consideration as to how that action would affect others or affect
himself — if it will be advantageous to him or not, who never listens to
anything good or to anybody, who is always doubtful, who is always
suspicious about others and about whatever they tell him, who always puts
everything to improper use, who is full of vices, loves vicious company, and
spends all in satisfying his vices, who is very impulsive, who gets angry
quickly for nothing, and so on, is a person full of tama-guna.

G. — Are people with raja and tama unable to know the state of God, and are they completely void of satva-guna?

B. — Such people do possess satva-guna. But if a person begins to
increase his activities without controlling himself, the raja and tama
increase; all such actions, in course of time, completely cover — suppress
the satva-guna. Such men full of raja-guna and tama -guna are unable to know the state of God. If the activities are controlled and decreased bit by bit, then the influence of raja and tama decreases causing the spread of satva. In other words, the decrease in activities decreases the influence of raja and tama, and in the course of time the behavior of the man changes into the satvika one.

G. — How much time does it take for the influence of raja and tama to disappear? What are the methods to decrease them?

B. — There are two methods to decrease the influence of raja and tama. It
disappears very quickly if one associates with a saint and behaves in
accordance with his instructions. The other way is a very long one.
Sufferings and pain, life after life, makes him tired of his sufferings,
tired of his activities; his spirits go down — die down; he simply comes to
terms. Slowly then, his activities go down and he begins to feel that there is not much use in acquiring this or that. As his sufferings absolve him from his Prarabdha, his raja and tama go down and the satva begins to rise to the surface. Very soon then the satva virtually replaces others, and he comes to a point from which he can know (acquire) the state of God, or a saint.” – 
The Talks of Upasani-Baba Maharaja, Volume I, Part A
(Pages: 20 -22) 


“He as the Self resides in all forms, but is veiled in ignorance. When he is in the state of the dream that men call waking, he becomes the individual self, and enjoys food, drink, and many other pleasures. When he is in the state of dream that men call dreaming, he is happy or miserable because of the creations of his mind. And when he is in the state of dream that men call dreamless sleep, he is overcome by darkness, he experiences nothing, he enjoys rest.

“At death he is born again, and the circumstances of his new life are determined by his past deeds and the habits he has formed. He continues to live in three states of consciousness—waking, dreaming, and dreamless sleep. As long as he continues in these states, he is the individual self. But he, as Self, is infinite, individual; he is consciousness, he is bliss. In him are merged all the three states of consciousness. From him are born mind, life, and the senses—earth, water, fire, air, and ether. He is the reality behind all existence.

“He is the Supreme Brahman. He is in all, he is the foundation of all. Subtler than the subtlest is he. He is eternal. Thou art he! Thou art he! Thou art he!” – Upanishads

“My boy, the creation, all the sacred teachings, all the yogas, all the masters, are here to help you achieve the Supreme Reality, the state of I am God, and the creation, all the sacred teachings, all the yogas, all the masters, are within you. You are not alone, but you are one; you are loved, because you are love, and when you reach the state of consciousness that recognizes your self as Self, then all the lifetimes you have lived, all the experiences you have had, will appear to you to be less than the blink of an eye, a teardrop on the cheek of eternity.

“My final counsel to you is this. Watch your mind; watch your thoughts; they come and go of their own volition and leave you happy or sad, but they are not you. Watch your breath, watching your breath helps you to see your mind, and yet, be free from it, other than it. Know that you are other than your thoughts and your mind, meditate on your self as Self, and breathe the breath of the eternal.”
All italicized quotations have been taken from the excellent translation of the Upanishads by Swami Prabhavananda and Frederick Manchester. My sincere thanks to them and the Vedanta Society of Southern California for my liberal use of quotations.  

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,