Thursday, August 11, 2022

Atman (the Self) as Brahman

The ascetics responsible for the production of the Upanishads sought the nature of the true Self. They rejected naturally that idea that the true Self was the body, but also rejected the idea that it was the mind, both that which perceives and that which understands, or the mind. Rather the true Self is hidden "inside" the body and the mind, imperceptible to all but the most ardent inquirerer. The true Self (atman) of all sentient beings— beings who have consciousness—in fact is Brahman. When, in meditation (yoga), one removes all the objects from one's consciousness, one has nothing left but pure consciousness, an awareness without content; this is the true Self, the atman. Furthermore, the Self (atman) is actually Brahman, so that human consciousness is really universal consciousness (purusha); there are not many consciousnesses but ultimately only one. One's true self (atman) is Brahman. In contrast to vedic religion, concern for earthly benefits derivable from sacrifice is absent in the Upanishads; rather in these texts, the human problem is conceived differently: existence itself is the problem, so that the religious goal now is release (moksa) from the endless cycle of birth and rebirth that characterizes existence (samsara). The realization that one's true nature is Brahman is the means by which one passes into the infinite and escapes rebirth into the cycle of life. This is because to realize one's Self results in the cessation of desires and this leads to not being reborn.~~ Unknown

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