The Universe and the Soul – April 12 2018

The Indo-Aryan thinkers, as early as the times of the Rig-Veda, recognized the eternal Unity of Existence which “holds in Its embrace all that has come to be.” This Unity pervades the universe and yet remains beyond it. All objects, animate and inanimate, are included in It. Gods, men, and subhuman beings are parts of It. As the unchanging Reality behind the universe, It was called Brahman by the Hindu philosophers; and as the indestructible Spirit in man, It was called Atman. Brahman and Atman, identical in nature, were the First Principle.
Swami Nikhilananda, 
Discussion of Brahman in the Upanishads, 
from
The Upanishads, a New Translation, Volume One

 
There is a oneness that underlies all that is, a Truth within which everything is contained. The ancient rishis of the Veda called it Brahman. This is not to be confused with the Hindu god, Brahma, nor with Brahmin (which is a caste of priests and teachers in the Hindu system).
 
The word Brahman comes from a root which means ‘to expand.’ It indicates the ever-expanding, unchanging reality behind this universe.
 
Atman is the word used in the Vedas to refer to what we in the west would call the individual soul of man. It comes from the Sanskrit roots meaning ‘to breathe’ and ‘to move.’ It is the life principle embodied as each of us.
 
The great teachers tell us that these two are ‘identical in nature.’ That which I truly am is at one with that which the universe truly is.
 
How is this helpful to know?
 
If I am that which the universe is, I cannot possibly ‘want for’ anything. There is a level of experience within me where everything that is, is available to me.
 
If I am that which the universe is, fear must disappear, for fear requires the experience of ‘other.’ If I am at one with the universe, there is no other.
 
If I am that which the universe is, death becomes unreal. From this perspective, to fret the dropping away of this body would be akin to this body mourning the daily sloughing off of its skin cells.
 
This is the Truth that stands behind the whole of Life, the Truth that implies the impossibility of lack, of fear, of death. And yet here I stand, a creature occasionally (or often) beset by need, fear and the refusal to accept death, in myself or others.
 
The Veda would say, Yes. This is the nature of Life – the movement back and forth between the two. 

Enjoy the whole of it.
 
Today I will remind myself that there is an inner reality where all that I see as ‘problem’ disappears, and I will sit in meditation with the idea of experiencing myself as that inner reality.
Cat in Pot, Studio City, CA
All original material copyright © 2018 Jeff Kober