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Thread: Mundaka Upanishad question

  1. #1

    Mundaka Upanishad question

    Hello and Namaste to you all,

    In the Mundaka Upanishad it says, "the deathless self sees all, knows all." Is this verse suppose to be taken literally?

    As I understand it, the self is the witness of all things external (humans, cars, sun, moon, etc) and internal (feelings, dreams, the dreamless state, etc), but if it truly knows all, why then does it not see the external body when we fall asleep? Why is it not conscious of the body it is attached to during the sleep state? When we sleep, the spirit only seems to see spiritual things - meaning, things that aren't physical (dreams, etc). But when we are awake, it is conscious of both the spiritual realm (thoughts, feelings, memory, etc) and the physical realm (body, computer screen, etc). Why is this? Is it limited in that sense?

    And perhaps this is a really silly question, but I'm moved to ask it anyway. Why is the spirit (turiya?), if it is the witness of all, if it sees all and knows all, only able to see the outer part of the body, but not the inner. Meaning, it's unable to see the inner organs: heart, veins, blood, etc.

    Would appreciate any help I can get with this.

    Thank you.

  2. #2

    Re: Mundaka Upanishad question

    Namaste Seeker

    Here the Self is the Highest Self with a capital S.

    How do you know He cannot see the body when "you" are fast asleep?

    Please remember -- like the haMsa we are to seperate milk from water. Not to mix up the Self from the anAtmA -- the non-Self i.e. mind, thoughts, emotions, functions of prakRuti such as seeing (eye sight), hearing, touch etc.

    The eye of the eye, ear of the ear, speech of the speech is the Self (Kena Upanishad). He facilitates these functions, so that the jIva made sentient thru His Grace can see the mundane and concrete.

    When He sees, He does not need visual aids like we do. He "sees" means He "knows", but also, He sees you sleep, and may put a blanket on you

    Surely He knows veins and arteries and organs in and out. He does not go thru' the info serially like our brain does. The intellectual study of anatomy by the jaDa (insentient) brain is different from how the Self knows the anatomy in and out.
    || Shri KRshNArpaNamastu ||

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    Re: Mundaka Upanishad question

    Quote Originally Posted by Seeker8 View Post
    Hello and Namaste to you all,

    In the Mundaka Upanishad it says, "the deathless self sees all, knows all." Is this verse suppose to be taken literally?

    As I understand it, the self is the witness of all things external (humans, cars, sun, moon, etc) and internal (feelings, dreams, the dreamless state, etc), but if it truly knows all, why then does it not see the external body when we fall asleep? Why is it not conscious of the body it is attached to during the sleep state? When we sleep, the spirit only seems to see spiritual things - meaning, things that aren't physical (dreams, etc). But when we are awake, it is conscious of both the spiritual realm (thoughts, feelings, memory, etc) and the physical realm (body, computer screen, etc). Why is this? Is it limited in that sense?

    And perhaps this is a really silly question, but I'm moved to ask it anyway. Why is the spirit (turiya?), if it is the witness of all, if it sees all and knows all, only able to see the outer part of the body, but not the inner. Meaning, it's unable to see the inner organs: heart, veins, blood, etc.

    Would appreciate any help I can get with this.

    Thank you.
    Namaste,

    This is not easy to answer and it requires a lot of study and lengthy answer.

    What you feel or experience depends upon the where the consciousness is. When your consciousness is in waking state, you see, experience the world. When the consciousness is in dream state, then it (you) experiences dream world. When consciousness rises to higher worlds, it experiences them. Similarly, when consciousness i.e. 'I' detaches itself from mAyA being being the witness and then transcending which it witnesses, then names and forms and so this world seems to disappear and this 'I', the witness is no more the witness or observer, as there is nothing more to see, or feel or experience separate than 'I'. Hence it exists as pure consciousness, which is called as turiya in upanishads like Mandukya, Kaivalya and others.

    Consciousness exists by itself without the support of anything. It exists in everything, hence it is said that it has 1000 eyes, 1000 ears meaning it sees through our eyes, ears. 1000 means infinite. It is due to consciousness that one can see or hear to do any activity.

    It is also said that consciousness has no eyes, ears, meaning it is formless.

    It is also said that everything exists in this consciousness, hence it does not need to move anywhere, as it already exists.

    This consciousness is called as turiya, AtmA, brahman, Self.

    This consciousness is trapped in 5 kosha-s and is mixed with them, hence it becomes limited and does not experiences itself separate when one is asleep. When one separates oneself i.e. 'I' from body, then one can see the body also and know that 'I' is not body.

    Hari OM
    Only God Is Truth, Everything Else Is Illusion - Ramakrishna
    Total Surrender of Ego to SELF is Real Bhakti - Ramana Maharshi

    Silence is the study of the scruptures. Meditation is the continuous thinking of Brahman which is to be meditated upon. The complete negation of both by knowledge is the vision of truth – sadAcAra-14 of Adi SankarAcArya

    namah SivAya vishnurUpAya viShNave SivarUpiNe, MBh, vanaparva, 3.39.76

    Sanskrit Dict | MW Dict | Gita Super Site | Hindu Dharma

  4. #4

    Re: Mundaka Upanishad question

    Namaste smaranam,

    Thank you for your message. For the record, I am not familiar with all of these terms, such as haMsa or anAtmA or prakRuti, so if there are any English equivalents, it would be very helpful for me if you used them. Thanks once again.

    Quote Originally Posted by smaranam View Post
    How do you know He cannot see the body when "you" are fast asleep?
    I guess the many questions I have can be summed up into one: Who am I? I thought I was the Self? If I am not this witness and "I" goes to sleep, then who is this "I" that goes to sleep and who is witness that "sees" "I" going to sleep?

    Quote Originally Posted by smaranam View Post
    The eye of the eye, ear of the ear, speech of the speech is the Self. He facilitates these functions, so that the jIva made sentient thru His Grace can see the mundane and concrete.
    But if this were true, then does noise cease to exist when one goes asleep? If the Self is the "ear of the ear", then since the self is there, and the ear is there, and surrounding noise is still there, why do I not hear things when I am asleep the way I hear them when I am awake?

    Quote Originally Posted by smaranam View Post
    When He sees, He does not need visual aids like we do. He "sees" means He "knows"
    Well everything "he" sees, I do as well. Everything he knows, I seem to know, too. But for whatever reason, even though I am conscious of so many things (and all at once - not one person seeing, one person hearing, one person thinking, but it is all being registered by one), still there are certain things that "I" do not register and I wonder why that is.

    Quote Originally Posted by smaranam View Post
    Surely He knows veins and arteries and organs in and out. He does not go thru' the info serially like our brain does. The intellectual study of anatomy by the jaDa (insentient) brain is different from how the Self knows the anatomy in and out.
    You see, this is what I'm having trouble with. If "he" knows and "he" is "me", then why do "I" not know?

  5. #5

    Re: Mundaka Upanishad question

    Hello Amrut,

    Thank you also for your reply.

    I feel as though I have a tight grip on what I've been told the "I" is - what the meaning behind, "it has a thousand eyes but it itself is formless" truly means. I get it completely. But this all still hasn't really sunk in yet. When you say, "It is also said that everything exists in this consciousness, hence it does not need to move anywhere, as it already exists.", my mind right away thinks, "everything to a certain degree exists in it, but not everything in totality" - or so it seems, anyway.

    Is it at all possible that we are both the witness - the "I" and this consciousness is dependent on some other "consciousness" that "sleeps"? Let me elaborate.

    So we see in the picture below that the 4th state is the spirit/turiya. It is behind all: behind deep sleep, behind the dreams, it is even the witness of the moment we awake in the morning and the witness of the waking state as well and it is also the witness of the body and all else external during that wakeful state.



    Now if this picture is correct, then something becomes unconscious of the waking state and thus unconscious of the body as well and the spirit/turiya then sees that thing (whatever it is) being both conscious and unconscious of the body - it seems as though the spirit/turiya is not itself the witness of the body but the witness of that which is witnessing the body, or else, the spirit would see the body during sleep.

    Point being: whatever is conscious (let's say it's the mind, as it suggests in the picture) is the "seer" of the body (the mind is what's conscious of the body) and the spirit is the seer of the seer. But the spirit would then be limited to this conscious mind and it sees whatever the mind portrays, so when the mind that sees the body signs out (or shifts somehow), the spirit then sees this shift and the result of said shift and thus either sees nothing or it sees dreams, that can perhaps be attributed to mind. Does this make sense? If so, is this what's happening or have I lost my way at some point?
    Last edited by Seeker8; 16 February 2015 at 12:54 PM.

  6. #6

    Re: Mundaka Upanishad question

    Namaste Seeker

    The simple example for your overall question can be lucid dreaming.
    You are dreaming but you know this is a dream and if you don't like the direction in which the boat is headed you steer it! Who is observing the dream? Does the observer identify with a character? Do you see yourself in the dream? Hints.
    -----------

    When we say Self, that is the Highest Consciousness that is "all-pervading" (everywhere), omniscient omnipotent omnipresent. This highest conscious state accompanies each individual as well, whether they know it or not. This is Brahman. You may have seen people calling Brahman NArAyaN, VAsudev, Shiva, LalitA etc.
    The average individual consciousness for a human is in the mana (mind) and buddhi (intellect).
    Reptiles use the "reptilian brain" whereas humans use the amygdala more or the decision making fore-brain.

    Brahman' the Highest Self accompanies each individual consciousness however high or low it may be (from the micro-organism to Lord BramhAA, including plants) , since it is all-pervading, everywhere.

    So when the individual sleeps deep, the mind sleeps, brain sleeps, and consciousness sleeps. The accompanying Higher Self is always "there" and this is the the third state (shushupti) for the individual but the Highest Self is always in turIya and beyond - 4+th state.

    Also, as long as I identify with this individual entity, the statement "I am that Self" means I am an extension/transformation/snapshot of that Self trapped in individual consciousness / having pure individual consciousness / perceiving individual consciousness.

    The Highest Self is aware and not asleep. "You" that is an individual consciousness who thinks "this is me, this is my body this is my mind, this is my favorite movie, color, food" is in the mind-intellect today which is currently fast asleep.

    This is the state when paramAtmA (Highest Self) is with you (jIva-AtmA - individual and possibly materially entangled self) but you don't know it.


    Quote Originally Posted by Seeker8 View Post
    Namaste smaranam,

    Thank you for your message. For the record, I am not familiar with all of these terms, such as haMsa or anAtmA or prakRuti, so if there are any English equivalents, it would be very helpful for me if you used them. Thanks once again.
    I am truly sorry. I usually expain terms in brackets as I write.
    haMsa = swan (anology for the sharp seeker with good discriminatory intellect (viveka buddhi) that tells which which is which , good from bad, right from wrong, and in our context, AtmA from anAtmA.
    anAtmA = non-Self as I had explained. Other than the Self (paramAtmA / AtmA). That which is not permanent (by definition)
    prakRuti = material nature or the unmanifest power of Brahman to manifest the universe(s) / multiverse. The power that governs the Laws of Nature is a Devi - prakRuti. When we say "natural" it means that which is not artificial, that which happens when you "let" prakRuti do Her bit. So, a greenhouse built by man is an intervention to prakRuti as opposed to the wild berries that grow in the forest, but even a greenhouse needs support from prakRuti.
    Last edited by smaranam; 17 February 2015 at 07:09 AM. Reason: rearranged for clarity; explained 3rd and 4th state
    || Shri KRshNArpaNamastu ||

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    Re: Mundaka Upanishad question

    Namaste,

    What Smaranam ji says is right. consciousness shines (powers) the mind and it shines within the mind, making it active and lively.

    Whatever we experience is due to mind. But the power to comprehend, think, or to know is given by consciousness, which is 'I', the first person, who is always the witness of all activities. Once the consciousness detaches itself from mind and becomes witness of thoughts, one can transcend mind too. While trying to find the source of the power which powers the mind, one merges into this source. 'I' still exists, but now it is not limited by anything. It is pure consciousness. Rising above mind means rising above mAyA, into the fourth state, turiya.

    This 'I' is witness of all states and is ever present, but since our consciousness is trapped in body-mind-ego-intellect complex, hence it does not know anyone beyond mind.

    Hari OM
    Last edited by Amrut; 19 February 2015 at 11:44 AM. Reason: corrected typos
    Only God Is Truth, Everything Else Is Illusion - Ramakrishna
    Total Surrender of Ego to SELF is Real Bhakti - Ramana Maharshi

    Silence is the study of the scruptures. Meditation is the continuous thinking of Brahman which is to be meditated upon. The complete negation of both by knowledge is the vision of truth – sadAcAra-14 of Adi SankarAcArya

    namah SivAya vishnurUpAya viShNave SivarUpiNe, MBh, vanaparva, 3.39.76

    Sanskrit Dict | MW Dict | Gita Super Site | Hindu Dharma

  8. #8

    Re: Mundaka Upanishad question

    smaranam: Thank you very much for your detailed reply and for explaining those words - I didn't mean to have you go out of your way like that to explain them, but I appreciate it nonetheless.

    Amrut: Thank you, also, for your help. This is all something I'm going to have to sit down and really think about, but hopefully your words (and the words of smaranam) will open up a new window in my mind so that I can fully comprehend this truth.

  9. #9
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    Re: Mundaka Upanishad question

    Quote Originally Posted by Seeker8 View Post

    Amrut: Thank you, also, for your help. This is all something I'm going to have to sit down and really think about, but hopefully your words (and the words of smaranam) will open up a new window in my mind so that I can fully comprehend this truth.

    Namaste,

    Do not worry, truth will unfold at right time. All we need is to have faith, never loose hope and surrender unconditionally. Rest all will follow.

    Good Luck.

    OM
    Only God Is Truth, Everything Else Is Illusion - Ramakrishna
    Total Surrender of Ego to SELF is Real Bhakti - Ramana Maharshi

    Silence is the study of the scruptures. Meditation is the continuous thinking of Brahman which is to be meditated upon. The complete negation of both by knowledge is the vision of truth – sadAcAra-14 of Adi SankarAcArya

    namah SivAya vishnurUpAya viShNave SivarUpiNe, MBh, vanaparva, 3.39.76

    Sanskrit Dict | MW Dict | Gita Super Site | Hindu Dharma

  10. #10

    Re: Mundaka Upanishad question

    Thanks again, Amrut. And I agree. All through the Divine and all through grace. If you (or anyone) believe(s) in prayer, please pray that my faith is increased and that I am made one with God.

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