The Ever-Present Self
“To the ignorant the Self appears to move–yet it moves not. From the ignorant it is far distant–yet it is near. It is within all, and it is without all” (Isha Upanishad 5).
“The Self appears to move–yet it moves not”
We have just covered the fact that, being outside of the illusions of time and space, the Self neither moves nor goes through any type of change whatsoever. Yet it experiences a multiplicity of externalities as the unmoving witness–momentarily caught up in the movie and thinking it is inside it and undergoing the changes in the scenario. Just as imagining seeing or doing something is not the same as seeing or doing it, so observing the motion picture of countless lives with their attendant joys and sorrows is not the same as actually being born, living, and dying over and over. But we are deluded into thinking so, and the upanishadic sage is endeavoring to wake us up, just as we awaken someone who is having a nightmare and calling out in pain or fear. We, however, having become accustomed (even addicted) to the nightmare, are a lot more difficult to awaken.
“It is far distant–yet it is near”
Since the Self is existing in eternity, transcending any degree of relativity, it could not be further away from the relative realm of experience (not existence, because the relative does not actually exist at all except as an illusion). On the other hand, since relativity is only a concept, the Self is the nearest possible because it alone is actually present.
At the end of the Syrian Jacobite Liturgy the celebrant gives a blessing beginning: “You who are far and you who are near….” The reference is not to those who are at the back of the church and those who are at the front, but to those who are far and near in their minds and hearts.
For those who are immersed in the illusion of relativity, nothing could be further away than the transcendent Self. Yet, since the Self alone is ever present, it is nearer than any relative experiencing. It is, as the Kena Upanishad says, the “ear of the ear, mind of the mind, speech of speech.…also breath of the breath, and eye of the eye” (Kena Upanishad 1:2).
“It is within all, and it is without all”
Nothing can exist apart from the Self–even an illusion. A hallucination is a “thing” even though it is solely mental. The Self is the substratum upon and within which everything subsists, the screen on which the light-and-shadow play of life is projected. It is itself the basis of all that is perceived. From one perspective it can be said that the Self (consciousness) is inside everything. From another, since it is forever separate from all things, it can be spoken of as outside–alien to–all things. Whichever way you say it, the idea is the same: the Self never touches any “thing.”
The effect of “seeing true”
“He who sees all beings in the Self, and the Self in all beings, hates none” (Isha Upanishad 6). Here we come to the practical application of what the upanishad is telling us about the Self. (This is the inestimable value of the Bhagavad Gita. Where the upanishads express spiritual mathematics in a usually abstract manner, the Gita outlines both the upanishadic principles and what the result will be when they are followed or realized, defining spiritual realities in practical, observable terms.)
If we never lose sight of the Self, then we will be able to perceive what is not the Self. And since what is not the Self is not even real, why would we hate it? Conversely, how could we hate or be averse to the real Self? This vision is the foundation of dynamic even-mindedness.
It is also the absolute end of all delusion and negative reaction to it, for the upanishad concludes: “To the illumined soul, the Self is all. For him who sees everywhere oneness, how can there be delusion or grief?” (Isha Upanishad 7).
Read the next article in the Upanishads for Awakening: The All-Embracing Self
Sections in the Upanishads for Awakening:
- The Isha Upanishad
- The Kena Upanishad
- The Katha Upanishad
- The Past is the Future
- Seeing Death, Seeing Life
- The Good and the Pleasant
- The Way of Ignorance
- The Mystery of the Self
- How to Either Know or Not Know the Self
- From the Unreal to the Real
- Finding the Treasure
- The Transcendent Reality of the Self
- The Immortal Self
- The Indwelling Self
- The Omnipresent Self
- The Sorrowless Self
- Who Can Know the Self?
- The All-Consuming Self
- The Divine Indwellers
- The Chariot
- The Chariot’s Journey
- The Glorious Way
- To Know The Self
- The Power of Enlightenment
- The Infinite Self
- The Dweller in the Heart
- The Birthless Self
- The Shining Self
- The Life-Giving Self
- The Eternal Brahman–The Eternal Self
- The Radiant Self
- The Universal Tree
- Hierarchy of Consciousness
- From Mortality to Immortality
- The Prashna Upanishad
- The Mundaka Upanishad
- The Mandukya Upanishad
- The Taittiriya Upanishad
- The Aitareya Upanishad
- The Chandogya Upanishad
- The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad
- The Shvetashvatara Upanishad
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