Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Protection through Renunciation

“All this—whatever exists in this changing universe—should be covered by the Lord. Protect the Self by renunciation. Lust not after any man's wealth.” …….Isa Upanishad: verse 1

I am using the translation of the Isa Upanishad by Swami Nikhilananada.
There are three statements in this verse and their meaning appears to be very simple and straight forward at the first glance. But on closer examination the relational dimension of creator and the creature is expounded in this verse.

What is the meaning of the changing universe should be covered by the Lord? This very statement implies that there is another possibility that the manifest universe need not be covered by the Lord. There are a series of question that come to one’s mind when we read this verse. What is the Lord? Here the author of the Upanishad clearly means a supreme entity which has the capacity to encompass all creation.

In our existence as individuals we interact with the material nature of the world all the time. But we always experience a separateness as the experiencer from that which we experience. The moment we realize that at the fundamental level all material manifestations, including ourselves, and their derivatives are quanta of an universal energy which is inextricably connected, we can intuit that the all pervading nature of supernal energy which we call in common parlance ‘Lord’ or ‘God’ or “Isa’, is the very essence of material manifestation.

Sri Aurobindo translates the first line of this verse as follows:
“Isa vasyam idam sarvam yat kinca jagatyam jagat.
For habitation by the Lord is all this, everything whatsoever that is moving thing in her that moves.”
There is an explanation of the dynamics in this relationship between the Lord and everything that is manifest. This can be better understood from today’s science as at the quantum level there is unceasing vibration of energy which is the essence of manifestation.
This is the first step in the deeper understanding of all creation and our integral part in it.

Armed with this realization we must embark on a process of protecting ourselves. Protecting ourselves from what? The very fact that duality sets into the human consciousness is due to the conditioning and modification that has inflicted our individual consciousness through sense perceptions and a mental process of assigning name and form. Renunciation here does not mean dissociation from material or emotional attachments. The highest form of renunciation is the renunciation of the Ego. Ego is the perception that the ‘I’ has independent existence. If we truly know that all that is manifest is but a false perception of the undifferentiated whole, we will renounce our separateness from the manifest world.

Once we reach this stage then we understand the futility of lusting after another man’s wealth or material possessions. This will be equivalent to stealing from your own house to fill your pocket.
Adi Shankara in his commentary ‘Śānkara Bhāsya’ says: “The world gets renounced when it is contemplated as the Lord in meditation: All this verily is the Self. Since all that emanates from the Self is itself nothing but the Self”

The process of achieving this superior knowledge is only through meditation and contemplation of our true nature.

Love to you all

1 comment :

  1. The Lenten fast / fasting and praying "is not motivated by the physical or aesthetical order, but stems from the need that man has for an interior purification that detoxifies him from the pollution of sin and evil; it educates him to that healthy renunciation which releases the believer from the slavery to self".