Just finished a day long session on Ishavasya Upanishad. Wasn’t sure whether to write on it or not. But on a friend’s insistence, here’s some thoughts after the session.
Upanishad means, to sit near the Master.
It’s one of the ancient concepts of our Guru-shishya parampara which is unique to the Eastern culture. Very different from the western student-teacher model that I grew up in my school. Which then transitioned into the lecturing professor-student model. But then, it has to be different.
Teaching in the school or college is at its core a way to transmit contents of your mind – your understanding, your thoughts, facts from memory, to the student’s mind. It is a subtle process, to transmit information or understanding. At its simplest level(information transfer) it is merely a transfer of what is stored in language, using language, so that the listener can store the same in their mind. In the more complex form(understanding transfer), language is used to transmit something that is even subtler than the contents of the language – an understanding of something, which exists above and beyond the exact words being used. Take for example Newton’s laws. Just merely stating the laws isn’t sufficient to convey an entire understanding of the material. It needs to be expanded upon by someone who carries an understanding of what they imply. It can be done in person, via books, via online videos….for here language is the sole transmission factor.
But there one more level beyond this. The above are both methods of conveying aspects of the mind. The third level is of the consciousness.
Now we’ve met people who’re just bursting with joy or enthusiasm. And on the other side are people who’re very low or sad. Their very energy, their body, their eyes, their voice…everything radiates what level their consciousness is at. We all know people just talking to them, or hanging out with them, cheers you up. Makes you upbeat. What happens there is a transmission of consciousness. In the presence of their consciousness, your consciousness gets lifted to their level. And this is a very elementary level that we’re talking of.
There is another level where someone’s consciousness is touching the highest levels possible. Let’s call it God-consciousness.
For them to share this with you…it cannot be done via words only. And yet words are the only tool one has. Then what else could possibly be required?
Their presence speaks. Their presence creates the stillness of mind in you, which is required for the words to be able to act as the most efficient carrier and clear the space….for what? For even more of the presence to seep through.
Convoluted? Isn’t it? 🙂
Which is why it’s such an experiential thing. It’s like telling someone of how amazing the Himalayan mountains feel…the person will be like, “yeah, I’ve seen tall sky scrapers, maybe the mountains are even taller. Big deal.” But they discount the sheer presence of the mountains.
And this is where Upanishad comes in.
Sitting close to Masters. Taking in their presence even as one partakes of the words…what gets transmitted is their consciousness. You leave with a sense of oneness with the entire universe. You leave scintillating and sparkling inside, completely amazed at how the same words you’ve heard thousands of times before could have this effect on you. Then realising that it wasn’t just what was said…but who said it. Take away the Master, and the words lose their potency. Take away the closeness to someone for whom Divinity isn’t a word but a living experience…and there is no experience which changes you from deep within…all within a few hours.