April 3, 2014 1 Comment
Now, this person has just two places—this world and the other world. And there is a third, the place of dream where the two meet. Standing there in the place where the two meet, he sees both those places—this world and the other world, and as he moves through that entryway he sees both the bad things and the joys.
This is how he dreams. He takes materials from the entire world and, taking them apart on his own and then on his own putting them back together, he dreams with his own radiance, with his own light. In that place this person becomes his own light. In that place there are no carriages, there are no tandems, and there are no roads; but he creates for himself carriages, tandems, and roads. In that place there are no joys, pleasures, or delight; but he creates for himself joys, pleasures and delights. In that place there are no pools, ponds, or river; but he creates for himself pools, pools and rivers—for he is a creator.
— Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (translated by Patrick Olivelle)
Why do we read anything? How do books deposit themselves somewhere within our field of vision and itch on the eyes and mind until they’re read? That’s where the Upanishads have been sitting for the last couple of months. The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, the first in my OUP copy, means the “great-wilderness-upanishad” or “great forest of knowledge”. Journeys through real forests can be impenetrable and metaphysical, then open out into a clear vista: when you look closely, you can see the smallest parts of the smallest insects of the forest.