Wisdom from Everywhere
The Knowers of God left us a trail to follow.
Here are a few samples of their wisdom.
The more a man satisfies his cravings in the objective world, the more his cravings will increase. But if he controls them and ceases to gratify them, the seeds of craving will be destroyed. Therefore let him gain self-control.
When craving grows stronger, self-control is lost. When self-control is lost, craving becomes stronger than ever. A man who lives thus will never escape the wheel of birth and death.
Craving is intensified if we let our thoughts dwell on sense objects and seek temporary satisfaction in the objective world. In order to break the chain of recurring birth and death, the spiritual seeker must burn both these causes to ashes.
Craving which is nourished in these two ways will bring bondage to the wheel of birth and death. But there is a way to destroy all three—this craving and both its causes. Under all circumstances, always, everywhere and in all respects, you must look upon everything as Brahman, and Brahman alone. Strengthen your will to know the Reality, and these three will dissolve away.
Cease to find fulfillment of your cravings in the objective world and you will stop dwelling on sense objects. Stop dwelling on sense objects, and your craving will be destroyed. When all craving has disappeared, that is liberation. It is called liberation-while-living.
~ From The Crest Jewel of Discrimination ~
Sri Adi Sankaracharya
India, 686 – 718 A.D.
Implications of the Way
There is the fundamental and all-inclusive choice of a Way leading to life. There is a sacrifice of both the support of collective opinion and the comfort of being unconscious. Having chosen to go this Way, man is from thenceforth engaged in a continual process of choosing, sacrificing, suffering and healing. He becomes aware of more and greater pulls between opposites in the psyche and must learn to discriminate between them, choosing to go sometimes with one, sometimes with another, depending on where the value needs him (as opposed to where he egocentrically wants to go). Repeatedly he must sacrifice routes that seem direct and “good” for routes that are less direct, more encompassing, and more desirable in the long run. Once egocentric patterns are seen with any clarity, there is a facing of the ways and means by which to break from them and not stay imprisoned in them.
Once the unlived life is glimpsed, man must make choices for those ways in which he can express and integrate this life. These two together – breaking the ego defenses and freeing the unlived life – involve suffering because they usually force one to action against the predetermined and established forms of society in some way or another, as well as against one’s own self-images. They also bring great joy of spirit and peace of mind.
~ Elizabeth B. Howes and Sheila Moon ~
from the Upanishads
Never fear that old age will invade the city; never fear that this inner treasure of all reality will wither and decay. This knows no age when the body dies. This is the real city of Brahman; this is the Self, free from old age, from death and grief, hunger and thirst. In the Self all desires are fulfilled.
– Chandogya Upanishad ~
The One Self never moves,
yet is too swift for the mind.
The senses cannot reach It,
It is ever beyond their grasp.
Remaining still, It outstrips all activity,
yet in It rests the breath of all that moves.
It moves, yet moves not.
It is far, yet It is near.
It is within all this.
And yet without all this.
He who sees everything as nothing but the Self,
and the Self in everything he sees,
Such a seer withdraws from nothing.
For the enlightened, all that exists is nothing but the Self,
So how could any suffering or delusion continue
for those who know this Oneness?
~ Isha Upanishad ~
This Self cannot be realized by studying the scriptures,
nor through the use of reason,
nor from the words of others
— no matter what they say.
By the grace of the Self is the Self known,
— the Self reveals Itself.
It cannot be attained by the weak,
nor by the half-hearted,
nor by a mere show of detachment.
But as strength, stability and inner freedom grow,
so does Self-awareness grow.
Having realized the Self,
the wise find satisfaction.
Their evolution complete,
at peace and free from longing,
they are at one with everything.
~ Mundaka Upanishad ~
Translated by Alistair Shearer and Peter Russell Harper
From The Inner Chapters
I began in what is native to me, grew up in what was natural to me, matured in what was destined for me. I enter with the inflow, emerge with the outflow, follow the Way of the water and do not impose my selfishness on it. This is how I stay afloat.
Take care to abide in your own self and other things
will flourish of themselves.
As for what of old was meant by “living in obscurity,” it was not that someone was lying low and refusing to show himself, or keeping his words to himself and refusing to make them public, or hoarding his knowledge and refusing to let it out. It was that the fate of the times was too much awry. If he was lucky in his times and there was full scope for him in the world, he would return to the oneness and leave no trace behind. If he was unlucky in his times, and there was no scope for him in the world, he would deepen his roots, secure the ultimate in him, and wait. This is the way to save your life.
Those who of old guarded their lives did not use disputation to ornament knowing, did not use knowing to get the most out of the world, did not use knowing to get the most out of power. They stayed undaunted in their places and returned to their nature. What more would they have to do? It is inherent in the Way not to be trivially active, inherent in the Power not to be trivially perceptive. Trivial perceptions injure the Power, trivial actions injure the Way. Hence it is said: “Simply set yourself in the true direction.” It is the happiness of being whole which is meant by success.
~ Chuang-tzu ~
China, approx. 300 B.C.
Science seems to me to teach in the highest and strongest manner the great truth which is in the Christian conception of entire surrender to the will of God. Sit down before fact as a little child, be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever and to whatever abyss nature leads, or you shall learn nothing. I have only begun to learn content and peace of mind since I have resolved at all risks to do so.
~ Thomas Huxley ~
English biologist, 1825 – 1895
The Lake of Beauty
Let your mind be quiet, realizing the beauty of the world, and the immense, the boundless treasures that it holds in store.
All that you have within you, all that your heart desires, all that your Nature so specially fits you for—that or the counterpart of it waits embedded in the great Whole, for you. It will surely come to you.
Yet equally surely not one moment before its appointed time will it come. All your crying and fever and reaching out of hands will make no difference.
Therefore, do not begin the game at all.
Do not recklessly spill the waters of your mind in this direction and in that, lest you become like a spring lost and dissipated in the desert, but draw them together into a little compass, and hold them still, so still. Let them become clear, so clear—so limpid, so mirror-like.
At last the mountains and sky shall glass themselves in peaceful beauty, and the antelope shall descend to drink, and to gaze at his reflected image, and the lion to quench his thirst, and Love himself shall come and bend over, and catch his own likeness in you.
~ Edward Carpenter ~
English poet, 1844-1929
It is important that all of us become wise enough to recognize where we go astray in our attitudes toward ourselves and how we become enslaved to false notions of what we are and what we ought to be. Some of us think we are loving ourselves when we are really strangling or suffocating ourselves with morbid self-concern. We maintain a cruel contempt for our own capabilities and virtues or become unconscious victims of a paralyzing egocentricity. When we free ourselves from that false self-love which is narcissism, that destructive self-hatred which is masochism, we become friendly with ourselves and with others. We are on the road to proper self-love. Such self-love implies many things, but above everything else, it is rooted in self-respect. And no man or woman can have self-respect unless she/he has learned the art of renunciation and the equally vital art of self-acceptance.
~ Joshua Loth Liebman ~
American Rabbi, 1907 – 1948
Safety and Sincerity
Our safety does not lie in the present perfection of our knowledge of the will of God, but in our sincerity in obeying the light we have, and in seeking for more.
~ Edward Worsdell ~
English teacher, 1853 – 1908