Thoshi Takeuchi: "The truths espoused in Christianity are appearing to me the same truths that are taught in Hinduism or Buddhism.""It is very interesting, because I was initially driven away from Christianity because of the dogma that you must put your faith in God/Jesus before you will be shown the way. However, the Eastern tradition is different. In the Kena Upanishads, it states very clearly that only way to experience the true power, God (Brahman), is to experience the realization firsthand. However, one important difference in the text is that that the way toward this realization is meditation. Thus you will experience the nature of reality and Truth through the practice of meditation. This idea is much more appealing to my scientific train of thought, rather than the dogma that faith must come before the experience. It does not say that I must believe in something to find Truth. It says that you must practice (meditation) in order to find the Truth."
Thoshi Takeuchi's Upanishads
"The Upanishads may seem somewhat more difficult to grasp compared with the Dhammapada. At least they are certainly more difficult for me to understand. Unlike the Dhammapada, which outlines a philosophy and practice, the Upanishads describe experiences and realizations by a number of ancient sages (gurus). The goal of the text may be to help the reader in the path towards spiritual enlightenment by describing many of the experiences along the way.
The way I have approached these texts is to read them and obtain understanding of these works at whatever level I can. Some parts make sense, while other aspects do not make sense to me. However, I found that when I reread the texts at a later time, I can appreciate and understand more because of the experiences I have gained in the intervening time.
I think the way NOT to approach these texts is overanalyzing or trying to obtain logically consistent ideas (because they were written by many people). Similarly I would not take the opposite approach and believe and follow everything in the texts without a basis of personal experience to help back up the teachings. The experience is an essential part of the understanding...
The Kena Upanishad
The Kena Upanishad addresses some of the deepest questions of spirituality and mankind. What is life? What is thought? What is consciousness? What does any of this have to do with religion, spirituality or philosophy? In this Upanishad, the dialogue occurs between a student and a teacher. The student wonders for example, "Who makes my mind think? Who fills my body with vitality?"The answer to these questions as explained by the teacher is that our Self is that part of us that IS.
The Self cannot be seen, heard, smelt, tasted, or touched. The Self cannot be known by the intellect or understood by the mind. It is a strange paradox that we may want to understand our true Self, but the Self is so difficult to find."There is only one way to know the Self, and that is to realize him yourself."
The question that may arise in our mind is, what is this"Self", and why would we want to strive to realize it? The first aspect is that deep driving quest for Truth within all of us. If by achieving and realizing the Self, we achieve awareness of reality, then that in itself is a wonderful quest! The second point is that by understanding ourselves, we go beyond the cycle of birth and death. Birth and death are meaningless when we are in contact with Reality. Thus the Kena Upanishad is not wonderful for the practicality as with the Dhammapada but is wonderful because it inspires the seeker by acknowledging the quest for Truth and pushes us to desire to achieve this Truth.
The second part of the Kena Upanishad describes a story where the gods defeated the demons, but these gods (Agni, god of fire; Vayu, god of air; and Indra, leader of gods) got arrogant and decided that the power of Good was theirs and that power and glory were theirs alone. Thus the true spirit and power (Brahman) taught these gods a lesson. Brahman showed them that the true power comes from the power of the Self, and not from the gods themselves.
It is the power of Brahman that makes
The mind to think, desire, and will.
Use this power to meditate on Brahman.
He is the inmost Self of everyone;
He alone is worthy of all our love.
Meditate upon him in all. Those who
Meditate upon him are dear to us all.
This passage raises a very interesting point about Hinduism. Although Hinduism is a pantheistic religion with multiple gods, everything and everyone (including all of us) receives their power from our true Self, that which is Brahman. From this sense, the Brahman, the Self, is the true God, while the other gods are simply manifestations of the Self in lesser forms."Agni, Vayu, Indra?these three excel Among the gods because they realized Brahman."
The Upanishad ends:
Those who realize Brahman shall conquer
All evil and attain the supreme state.
Truly they shall attain the supreme state!
These statements are extremely interesting because they say that the power of the gods (and all of us) are derived from the Self, the Brahman. The ability of the gods Agni, Vayu, and Indra to be powerful and defeat the demons was because these gods excel in the understanding of our true Self. The corollary to these statements is that if we can find our true Self, then we will be in contact with what gives the power to the gods, and therefore we can"conquer all evil."
I will state this again, because it is so important:
If we can find our true Self, then we will be in contact with what gives the power to the gods, and therefore we can"conquer all evil."
This statement might be interesting to some as an ego trip or as a power boost. However, that is not the idea behind this Upanishad. Agni, Vayu, and Indra were taught a lesson because of their power trip. The idea behind this principle lies in the power of inspiration and renunciation. We are honored when we truly understand our relationship to the Universe and attain power, not as an individual entity, but as part of the greater whole.This realization of Truth is the goal, and through understanding this Truth, we can understand and overcome any obstacles. I personally find this idea inspiring, and appears to have many similarities to Christian ideas and principles. (I am the way)
It is very interesting, because I was initially driven away from Christianity because of the dogma that you must put your faith in God/Jesus before you will be shown the way. However, the Eastern tradition is different. In the Kena Upanishads, it states very clearly that only way to experience the true power, God (Brahman), is to experience the realization firsthand. However, one important difference in the text is that that the way toward this realization is meditation. Thus you will experience the nature of reality and Truth through the practice of meditation. This idea is much more appealing to my scientific train of thought, rather than the dogma that faith must come before the experience. It does not say that I must believe in something to find Truth. It says that you must practice (meditation) in order to find the Truth.
However, now that I have practiced meditation for many years, I find that I am becoming more devotional and spiritual. The truths espoused in Christianity are appearing to me the same truths that are taught in Hinduism or Buddhism. Thus, I will say to those seekers on the path of meditation, continue with the meditation and see how your view of reality changes with time. Do not deny your rational and skeptical thought (I cannot, after all, I am a scientist :-); however, at the same time, keep an open mind."
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