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Finding the Self – Katha Upanishad

November 27, 2013

So my journey begins to discover the Self, the source of everything. The creator of reality. But this is no ordinary journey. What I seek lies within. It is me, the real me, underlying the layers of illusion I have entangled myself in. Lets take a glimpse at what the Katha Upanishad tells us about this Self:

‘The Self knows all, is not born, does not die, is not the effect of any cause; is eternal, self-existent, im-perishable, ancient.

The Self is lesser than the least, greater than the greatest. He lives in all hearts. When senses are at rest, free from desire, man finds Him and mounts beyond sorrow.

The Self is not known through discourse, splitting of hairs, learning however great ; He comes to the man He loves; takes that man’s body for His own.

The Ten Principal Upanishads, pp 30-31

So to find this Self is to find something greater than anything in this physical world as we perceive it and know it. For it is to find something that is not the effect of any cause, and  is imperishable.

To find this Self is to discover a compassion for all levels of beings as it is lesser than the least. It is also to discover humility, as it is greater than the greatest.

To find this Self requires meditation to detach from our ordinary habits and desires and impulsive ways of acting, to pave the way for acting freely and from the source.

To find this Self is to be at one with this Self, to be animated and moved by it. It is not to believe it, to know it or to think it, it is simply to be it.

Man can kindle that Fire, that Spirit, a bridge for all who sacrifice, a guide for all who pass beyond fear.

The self-controlled, steady, pure man goes to that goal from which he never returns.

The Ten Principal Upanishads, pp 32

To find this Self an initial sacrifice is required. It requires discipline and also courage in the face of the unknown. It requires us to move from fear of this change to a love for it. Such that we are happy to go on a journey from which there is no return.

Knowing that the individual self, eater of the fruit of action, is the universal Self, maker of past and future, he knows he has nothing to fear.

‘He knows that He himself born in the beginning out of meditation, before water was created, enters every heart and lives there among the elements.

‘That boundless Power, source of every power, manifesting itself as life, entering every heart, living there among the elements, that is Self.

The Ten Principal Upanishads, pp 34

We know when we have found the Self, when it has entered our heart, for we are creative, maker of our past and future, in control of our destiny, without fear. The Self animates all the good we do in our lives, it is the source of our power over our destiny. We cannot see it as an effect in the world, we can only see it as effecting us.

‘Tell the mind that there is but One; he who divides the One, wanders from death to death.

‘When that Person in the heart, no bigger than a thumb, is known as maker of past and future, what more is there to fear? That is Self.

‘That Person, no bigger than a thumb, burning like flame without smoke, maker of past and future, the same today and tomorrow, that is Self.

The Ten Principal Upanishads, pp 34

We cannot locate the Self, we cannot contain it, and we cannot change it. We can only be at one with it. But we know when we are one with it, as our journey is a one-way ticket breaking new ground fearlessly. Fearlessly, for we are the maker of our past and future. It is not the making of us. This Self is ever present, we just need to learn to be present to it more. Then we need no longer wander in futility from death to death.

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2 Comments
  1. I love the upanishads! My favorite is the mundaka…the passage about the 2 birds ❤ It holds a very special meaning for me…I'll write about that soon as well

    • I am new to the Upanishads. I have heard of them in many connections before, but this is the first time I am having a go at studying them in a bit more depth. I will look out for that upanishad when I come across it, so that explains your blog name then ..Thanks for commenting 🙂

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