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An Ancient Teaching-Tale

This story is in part about getting the edge of beliefs against being much swayed by words. The ancient Chandogya Upanishad, (8:4:7-15) tells that Creator-God once announced that Atman (soul, Self) desires nothing but what it ought to desire, imagines nothing but what it ought to imagine. The one who has searched out that Self and understands it, obtains all worlds and all desires. That is the short of the teaching. Here is more gist from the passages:


The gods met and wanted to know how to know Atman. They sent Indra, their king, to the Creator to learn it. Much similarly, the demons held a meeting too, and sent their king, Virochana, to find out too.

Indra and the demon king both reached the Creator's place, and stayed there for thirty-two years. Then Creator-God asked them: "What do you want?"

Both said, "We wish for the Self you have told about."

Creator-God: "Atman is seen in the Eye." He gave a very pithy and precise instruction. However, it could be interpreted this way or that way, as the instruction was enigmatic. "Atman is reflected everywhere," he taught, and said that when they looked in the mirror, they saw Atman. Yet he thought to himself, "They go away without having known the Self, and may perish!"

The king of demons went to the demons and taught that the body self alone is to be worshipped and served, and those who do so, gain both this world and the next.

On his way home to the heaven of gods, Indra got second thoughts about how to understand the Creator's teaching and returned at once to clear them up. He said, "The reflection or the body self are of matter, and cannot be all of the Atman. Please tell me further."

After thirty-two more years Indra was told: "Who roves about and is happy in dreams, is Atman."

Indra left for home. But he got second thoughts about what he was told already before he reached his palace. "I dare to say a Self is not made faulty by the faults of a body or what happens in a dream. It seems to me that have not got a full teaching." He returned to God Creator, told of his doubts and was told: "So it is. I will explain it further. But first stay here for another thirty-two years. Then let me see if I can tell you something more about the Atman."

Indra stayed with God for another thirty-two years. Then God told him: "He who is deep asleep, at that is the Atman, the immortal. asleep, reposing, and at perfect rest, sees no dreams, that is the Self, this is the immortal, the fearless, this is Brahman

Indra left for home, and felt satisfied until he got second thoughts. "What is this sleep? In deep sleep I am not fully aware of all that exists." With his doubts, Indra again went back to the Creator and queried.

"Stay here for another five years, then," said God to him, and Indra did.

So, one hundred and one years after he first came to God Creator for the Supreme Knowledge, the Atman knowledge, God instructed: "This body is a vehicle and manifests the immortal, bodiless Atman. This body manifests a little of the Reality of the Atman. That is true. One's mortal life is the vehicle by which we can proceed to the nature of the Atman.

"This mortal body is the abode of that Self which is immortal and without body. Then, when the Self experiences himself different from the body, the serene being, arisen from this body, appears in a light (the knowledge of Self) and is the Sovereign. He moves, rejoicing (in his mind). Like as a horse attached to a cart, so is the spirit (prana, pragnatman) attached to this body - He who knows is the divine eye. He, the Self rejoices.

"The gods who are in the world of Brahman meditate on that Self."

This deep knowledge of Atman was had through Indra.

Further teachings

Rising above the three states of waking, dreaming and deep sleep one may attain to the immortal state, shining in nature, pure consciousness, the most serene condition of one's own Self.

One is to rise up from the limited embodiments and be turned into True Being, supreme luminosity, or the Light of all lights. It llumines itself. God's Heaven (Brahma-loka) is a state of consciousness. There is neither 'here' nor 'there', neither 'then' nor 'now'. Wherever you are, there is Brahma-loka.

Those who contemplate well on this Atman are able to fulfil wishes by mere thought, is the teaching. They can penetrate the universe.

There could be hope for many who are able to reflect or consider to get the fillet and discard the guts - and get essential teachings on how to attain, such knowhow. Mere words, merely verbal teachings, often fail.

To this day people generally say, "Here is a demon" when a person has no charitable nature. - Chandogya Upanishad. The Upanishad also shows how demons seek power without sensing many deeper givens. The Bhagavad Gita teaches about demons too, and list some of their characteristics in chapter 16.

Words are in themselves symbolic items

The uses of analogies are very old and much used yoga method to do so. All who are Self-realised do not know that they are, not in the beginning. However, when they see how others try to explain it, they could recognise it. It also happens that scholars compare their utterances of experiences with scriptures and announce: "Here is a Self-realised one!" Something like that happened to Ramakrishna (1836-86).

"Here is a Self-realised one!"

For some time others thought Ramakrishna crazy, and others not. Scholars classify and compare. Things depend on what sources they recourse to. Scholars settled the dispute about Ramakrishna.


A pretty brahmin woman came to Ramakrishna at the temple of Dakshineshwar when he would sit in meditation and birds would perch on his head and peck in his hair for grains of food and he was not aware of it.

Ramakrishna described to her his experiences and visions. She listened to him and assured him his experience was described in the scriptures as most exalting, and manifesting through symptoms, including shedding tears. She came to the conclusion that he was an Incarnation of God, an Avatar.

The woman had arranged a conference of scholars who should discuss the matter with her. Two famous pundits of the time were invited.

First one of them arrived with a distinguished company. They discussed the question while Ramakrishna sat in their middle like a child, indifferent to what was happening around him, sometimes smiling, sometimes chewing a pinch of spices from a pouch, or again saying to one of the pandits with a nudge: "Look here. Sometimes I feel like this, too."

Soon one of the pandits arose to declare that what Ramakrishna had reportedly experienced was a certain sign of God manifestating in someone. Ramakrishna said to Mathur: "I am glad to learn that, after all, it is not a disease."

A few days later the other pundit arrived, another meeting was held, and he too agreed with the view that Ramakrishna was an Avatar, a Mine of Spiritual Power in the form of an Incarnation."

"Ah!" said Ramakrishna with a smile, "You seem to have quite outbid Vaishnavcharan [the first pandit] in this matter."

The other: "I feel it in my heart and I have the scriptures on my side."

"Well," Ramakrishna said, "it is you who say so; but, believe me, I know nothing about it."

Two scholars agreed, but the Divine Incarnation in their middle knew nothing about his stature. Such deep understanding came to him later, we read. [More]

There is not so much wisdom in words as one might like to think, but in the nearness to the Lord as hinted at by approximations and the like in Vedanta scriptures. The "trick" is to find out what such words denote.

So much for teachings from Sanatan Dharma (Eternal Righteousness). Our core beliefs about human nature determines how we handle and respond to people and situations and get exploited by psychopaths too if we do not have adequate ideas, training or handling skills.


Life, purposes, conditions, Literature  

Gombrich, Richard F. What the Buddha Thought. London: Equinox, 2009.

Gupta, Mahendranath. The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. Tr. Swami Nikhilananda. New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1942.

Maslow, Abraham. Motivation and Personality. 3rd ed. New York, HarperCollins, 1987.

Sirnes, Tollak. . . . at vi skal elske hverandre. Oslo: Gyldendal, 1968 and later.

Yogananda, Paramahansa. Man's Eternal Quest. 2nd ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1982.

  1. Matthew Campbell, Paris, and Roger Dobson. "Not tonight, chérie: French passions cool." The Sunday Times, January 22, 2006.

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