Home | Upanishad | Kath


Previous | Next

Kathopanishad-Page 10
p 121-135


[121] But this narrow vision is not only confined to such situations only. As long as the mind remains uncontrolled - that is its usual state, only rarely mind is calm and so can see things clearly.

Let us know some more about lower and higher mind, it may further clear our thought about it. In precise terms, Yam describes the consciousness as "Chitta" (in Sanskrit) which is subtle, transparent and endlessly responsive medium - like water. The state, that Chitta is in, affects our vision - how clearly we see, and thoughts - how clearly we think. When our Chitta is calm, undisturbed, we can see life clearly with detachment (objectively, not subjectively). But every thought is a kind of wave in Chitta and strong desires constitute a storm. We rise on a wave of excitement, then when the wave is subsides our Chitta again becomes calm.

Now the problem is that these ups and downs are much more frequent than we realize. So, in fact, Chitta is almost in continuous state of agitation, that is why our lower mind is almost continuously active. We always identify ourselves with our lower mind, "I am disturbed", or "I am distressed", or "I am happy" etc. And lower mind cannot act, it can only react, but higher mind stands apart from these waves. As long as we go on thinking, "I am disturbed", or "I am distressed", it is not possible to do anything about depression; but if we start saying "I am not distressed, my mind is", depression starts subsiding.

The whole purpose of meditation is to keep these waves from rising - not subsiding which can be dangerous, but to keep the lower mind calm so that the higher mind can see clearly. There is a close connection between this capacity and maturity. An immature person's mind is always lashed by these waves, but in a mature mind this situation improves and his higher mind can see clearly more often.

The purpose of the intellect is to give us a detached view (objective view) of life, for example - What does this really accomplish? For whose benefit is it? At whose expense? Intellect is seldom trained for such questions but for its own sake, without any regard for consequences. In Yam's terms one should be taught how to choose, how to master desires, and strengthen the will. Today's people have no stronger will, no clear vision, no knowledge to transform anger into compassion or hatred into love.

From Death to Death

[126] It is the nature of the intellect to narrow our vision and then to focus. Tragedy comes when we forget this limitation and think that intellect can comprehend things as a whole. Intellect views the thing through a slit.

So Nachiketaa asks - "Why don't you open the door?" To make matters worse, we specialize. Specializing is not bad, but then the people do not see the whole thing. Once the door is open, there is no confusion to anybody. As long as one sees only the part of the whole, logic and arguments cannot solve any problem. When the intellect becomes calm and clear, everything becomes clear. It is not difficult to see the life as a whole, it is just that we are not used to seeing it in that way.

Yam would ask - "Why spoil life? Just because you cannot see it? See it whole." You would call such an intellect, that sees only part, as immature. An intellect that sees only a part is a very poor guide and we follow it like a blind follows another blind.

Here the author gives an example of defense industry which is thriving. All the weapons are normally bought by Third World countries and the world is at no peace. Now the defense-minded people can plead, "So what? we are making good money." But let them tell us that they are doing this at whose expense and for whose benefit? Is it their need to kill each other? There are many other desirable goals than this - health, education, welfare etc. If you tell this a villager that the world could not give one billion dollar to feed poor, he would look back at you pitying as if you could not add two plus two. How about that billion dollar a day for war?

Blind to the consequences to his actions, unable to see anything beyond the nose, the clouded intellect of a man wanders on and on from death to death - means reincarnating for endless lives.

Through a Glass Darkly

[131] Meditation helps in it. After many years of meditation, you almost feel you are riding in a glass-bottom boat gazing into the depths into the mind below. You can watch thoughts arising long before they reach the surface of consciousness. In fact, when you think of a course of an action, you can see that action together with its consequences. When mind is excited, we cannot consider the consequences of our action because we cannot even see them. Actions and consequences (results) are inseparable. When we perform an action we perform its result also. With meditation you can see these consequences even before performing that action. Thus with meditation we can see our life whole.

[134] Buddha says - "All creatures love life, and all creatures fear death. Realizing this do not kill or cause others to kill." The needs of all of us are very much the same. Yam says - "Whatever I need, you need too. Whatever brings security to you, brings security to me too." But our assumption is just the opposite. I get impatient over a little delays, but you are different. I can't stand xyz, but you love him. The vast majority of human sensibilities are like this - common to all. Nobody likes cold shoulder, a curt reply, to be hurried, interrupted or being ignored. Similarly, everybody appreciates little numerable acts of kindness and respect, listening to with attention, remembering others personal needs, kind behavior, patience.

Yam repeats - "Those who do not know this, wander on and on from death to death. It is terrible in its accuracy for all exploitation stems from the basic sense of separateness - "That person has different feelings from mine, he likes to be ignored", therefore has different values - they don't care care about human life." Those who feel this way, even for animals, involve themselves and the world around them is an endless cycle of sorrow.

Voltaire has said - "To understand all is to forgive all." When somebody behaves in a certain way, then the question is not of "why does he act like this?", but "why didn't I understand?" Praise and blame are irrelevant here. You do not close your eyes to defects and mistakes, you simply understand them, you do not judge them. The vast majority of people are blind to others' needs. They do not mean to be unkind, they just do not see. And instead of judging them we learn to help them open their eyes. It not only enables them to change, but also to transform ourselves, 'what is here, is there too'. While understanding ourselves we understand others - in forgiving others we forgive ourselves.




Home | Upanishad | Kath


Previous | Next

Created by Sushma Gupta on 3/15/05
Updated on 06/09/11