Form of the formless

Om sahanavavathu, sahanau bhunaktu/Saha veeryam Tejasvinavadheethamasthu/Ma vidvishavahai/Om shanti, shanti, shanti.

May Brahman protect us (Guru and disciple) both/May Brahman be pleased with us both. May we function together with vigour/May our studies be brilliant/May we not hate each other. Om peace, peace, peace

Yoga Saara Upanishad

Verse 1: Brahman is One, without a second. He is the immortal essence. He is without the number two. He is One homogenous mass of knowledge and bliss. He is self-contained. He is all full. Verse 2: Brahman is within and without. He is above and below. He is in front and behind. He is on your right side and left side. He is everywhere like the all-pervading ether. He is Chidakasha, ether of consciousness. Verse 3: Know that the five attributes — satchitananda nityaparipurna (truth, consciousness, bliss, eternal and complete or total —express Brahman in the best possible manner. Meditate on these in thy mind and realise.

Upanishad means sitting close in our minds, in our hearts, wherein just a little sign, an indication is good enough to grasp. If we are sitting so far away in our minds, in our attitudes, in our understanding, a lot of effort is needed to convey. And it is not possible to convey something so abstract, something so deep, something that is inexpressible if there is a distance.

Even mundane things cannot be conveyed if our mental distance is big. You notice people saying the same thing, but they are arguing. In substance, they are agreeing, but actually they are arguing. This indicates that there is no nearness and there is no closeness. Even within the same family, there can be vast differences, vast distance. Misunderstandings happen in this planet because of this distance, because there is no closeness. In one house, people live in different planets. In a town people live in different galaxies.

You know, the scientists say the distance between the electrons within an atom — the atoms and the subatomic particles is the same ratio as the distance between two galaxies. And this is also true between the mental attitudes of people though they live under the same roof.

We do not understand the other because we never sit close, we never sit together. Upanishad is sitting together, sitting close. Knowledge is possible only when you come close. From a distance and in a formal atmosphere, knowledge cannot blossom. The Rishis knew this secret so they started with the Shanti Mantra, that is: Let us sit in peace; let us make peace amongst ourselves; let us be together; let us eat together.

Being together is the foundation of knowledge. That is where you can begin on the steps of wisdom. Sahanavavathu — Let us be together. Let us not hate each other. Hatred creates the distance. Love bridges the distance. In love, there is no distance. Love cannot tolerate distance and hatred cannot tolerate nearness.

So, first of all, take the hatred out of your system, your mind and your consciousness. That is when you say the Shanti Mantra: Let there be peace, let there be peace — Om Shanti, Om Shanti, Om Shanti — three times Om Shanti. Peace in our environment, in our body, in our mind. When there is no peace, forget about God; forget about truth; forget about Divinity; forget about everything else.

The first requirement is peace. If you are hungry, if you are tired, if you are sleepy, if you are sick, forget about the truth. And then, the peace of mind. You may have all the physical comfort, but if the mind is in turmoil, then also know that the spirit of inquiry of truth cannot set inside you.

Now begins the Upanishads. What is Divine? The first verse says that the Brahma is One — without a second. They have always talked about the “non-dual (advaita)” — ‘No Two’ —because when you say One, you have already said Two because how can you make something One if there is no Two? This is very subtle: you have to catch it.

One infinite space that is immortal means that which does not die, that which does not change. It is one homogenous mass of knowledge and bliss and it is self-contained. This definition of Divine nobody can dismiss. What is God? The infinity — knowledge of the ‘knowing-ness’ of the infinity — and bliss. This ‘knowing-ness’ of consciousness is all pervading.

So this space is full of that consciousness; that’s why it is called chidakash — the space is not an empty space. The space has a mind of its own. It is stuffed with knowledge and consciousness. And it is infinite. One name is given to the three aspects — that is called Brahman. There will be no problem for any atheist to believe in such a Brahman, in having such a God.

And this consciousness, this space that is all pervading, is the basis of creation because the creation has come from this, is sustained by it, and will go back to it. Just like the outer space, so is the material space. The building you are in now exists in space, and when the building is brought down or knocked down, still the space remains; and again another building is built in the space. The space will remain the same. So is the Brahman. It is indestructible. This universal consciousness, of which all the little bodies and human beings are part of, is immortal, eternal and stays forever.

Ocean of life

Where is such consciousness? Where is this thick existence of life, the ocean of life? In the second Verse, the Rishis say — it is behind you, in front of you, to the left, to the right, all over. That is chidakasha; that is the space of consciousness. Bodies are just an expression of this space. The five attributes of self are: truth, consciousness, bliss, eternal and complete or total. There is a saying in Sanskrit: expression distorts the truth.

Truth is. The moment you express it, it is already distorted. Truth is that force. Truth is what is. Truth is the state; it’s not what is said. Suppose someone tells you that you are a liar, or someone accuses you of something that you have not done or of stealing something, you confront him, right? You say No, (you haven’t done that). Now, you would have observed that what you say in words is not so important as is the state of your consciousness behind that No. You have said that No with some power, some force. Your words are not the Truth but that force behind the word is true consciousness.

Suppose sitting in Chennai you are told that you’re in Paris right now, immediately you will say, “No. I am in Chennai .” There is a force behind your expression. That is truth. And that force is full of consciousness, alertness and liveliness. And that force is also blissful — Satchitananda.

These are the three characteristics of your soul, your being, your innermost: truth, consciousness and bliss. You are like an onion. Once you are peeled, and peeled, and peeled, you will find that in the centre core of your existence are these three things. And these, in a bigger magnitude, are called nitya — eternal, unchanging, paripurna — very total, whole.

Rishis said, ‘‘Meditate on these five attributes of Brahnan in thy mind and realise”. What is meditation? Meditation is getting in touch with this aspect of life — to be in the space that you are. You sit just to dissolve in the inner space and then, what happens?

Some clouds of thought come through. Clouds are not the sky. They come and go. If you follow the cloud you will go to the end of the cloud. You will miss the sky. You just be. Let the cloud come, pass, go. Thoughts, ideas, feelings and emotions will come, clear the air in a few minutes and then you are infinite space, untouched by any of these thoughts, ideas, and emotions.

Meditation is, to be in touch with these five attributes of your self. This immortal, non dual, indivisible, formless Atman, or Self, is to be realized by one’s own self by constant and deep meditation.