By Patrick Horn (“Rishi”)

Swami Vivekananda says, “Time, space, and causation are like the glass through which the Absolute is seen, and when It is seen on the lower side It appears as the universe. Now we at once gather from this that in the Absolute, there is neither time, space nor causation.… The whole struggle is to get rid of this clinging on to time, space, and causation, which are always obstacles in our way.” The Absolute Reality is infinite, undivided, unchanging sat-chit-ananda (existence-consciousness-bliss), yet we experience it as a limited name-and-form (finite) bound by space (divided) and time (changing). Maya has two main aspects: samasti, the cosmic appearance and sensible world which is not a projection of the finite mind, and vyasti, the individual ignorance (avidya) which obstructs right discrimination.

If you throw a sheet over a chair, it takes on the shape of the chair and not something else. The relationship between maya and Brahman is the same; the Absolute Reality shows through the veil that hides It. According to John Dobson, author of Equations of Maya and The Moon is New, the infinite shows through in physics as the electromagnetism of the particles and atoms in the elemental realm, the undivided shows through as gravity which stops the scattering of the material universe, and the unchanging shows through as inertia, the tendency of matter to remain at rest. He further asserts that the infinite shows through in psyche as the quest for Freedom, the undivided shows through in our need for Love, and the unchanging shows through in the desire for Peace.

Swamiji says, “In the old Upanishads we find sublime poetry; their authors were poets…these ancient Rishis, seers of Truth, were raised above humanity to show these truths through poetry.” He quotes tat tvam asi (thou art that) from the Chandogya (rhythm, poetry, song) Upanishad (wisdom taught by beings higher than men). The text is divided into eight sections of various length, including directions for meditation on AUM, the prospects for knowledge of Brahman and realization of God, and a satire on the priesthood and their prayer for food. The text outlines four stages of Life (student, householder, retirement, renunciation) and four goals (fulfillment of duty, material security, sensuous enjoyment, pursuit of liberty).

There is a famous dialogue between a father and his ignorant and proud son, Svetaketu (white flag). The father questions whether the learned young man knows That which enables one to hear what cannot be heard, to perceive what cannot be perceived, and to know what cannot be known. He compares Brahman to gold and clay; knowledge of a nugget of gold or clod of clay gives knowledge of gold or clay in all forms. He teaches that as heat causes sweat, so did Brahman become water then food then mind then speech. He breaks the fruit of the banyan tree to reveal empty seeds to show how gross forms arise from an invisible essence. He compares salt dissolved in water to Truth hidden in appearances.