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1 A TRADITIONAL ICON OF THE HOLY FROM INDIA: “WHO” The text that follows is entitled "WHO." It is a rendition of a section from Hindu scriptures known as Upanishads, “sitting nearby" a teacher. They are ancient Hindu philosophical texts composed between 600 and 200 B.C.E. WHO May peace come upon my limbs, My speech, my breath, my eyes, my ears; May all my senses become sharp and strong. May Brahman manifest himself to me. May I never deny Brahman, May Brahman never deny me. May I be with him. May he always be with me. May we always abide together. Since I am devoted to Brahman, May the holy truth of the Upanishads Be revealed to me. OM: Peace-peace-peace. Who calls the mind to think? Who calls the body to live? Who causes the tongue to speak? Who is that splendorous being who shows the form to the eye and sound to the ear? The Great Self is the ear's ear. The Self is the mind's mind. The Great Self is the breath's breath, and He is the eye's eye. The wise person will abandon attempts to identify the Self with the senses and the conscious mind and will come to know the Self as Brahman. Up on departing this life, such a one will become immortal. The eye does not see Brahman, nor can the tongue really express Him, nor does the mind grasp Him. We cannot know Him or teach of Him because He is different from everything else we know, and He is different as well from what we do not know. This we have heard from those who are truly wise. Not what we can express in words but rather that force which enables the tongue to speak, know that is Brahman. Brahman is not the one whom people worship. Not what is grasped by the mind but the one who enables the mind to grasp: know that is Brahman. Brahman is not the one whom people worship. Not what is heard but the one who enables the ear to hear: know that is Brahman. Brahman is not the one whom people worship. Not that which the breath draws in but the one who enables the breath to draw in: know that is Brahman. Brahman is not the one whom people worship. If you think you really understand truth of Brahman, you really know very little. What you identify as Brahman in your self, or when you think the gods are Brahman, that is not Brahman. You must learn what is the real truth of Brahman. I cannot say that I know Brahman fully. Nor can I say that I know him not at all. The one who knows him best is the one who understands the spirit of the words: "Nor do I know that I know him not." One begins to know Brahman when He is known as beyond knowledge; he who thinks he knows, does not know. Those who are ignorant think they know Brahman, but the wise know He is beyond knowledge. 2 If you realize the presence of Brahman behind every movement of your being, sensing, perceiving, thinking, you alone will gain immortality. Knowledge of Brahman brings power, and knowledge of Brahman brings victory over death. Happy the one who, though still living in this life, realizes Brahman. Such a one avoids the greatest loss. When those who realize Brahman as the Self in all beings leave this life, they become immortal. Once the gods won a victory over the demons, and they were very proud of themselves even though they had won through the power of Brahman. They said to themselves, "We have beaten our enemies, and now the glory is ours." Seeing their empty pride, Brahman appeared to them as a mysterious presence which they did not recognize. They spoke to Fire God, saying, "Find out who this mysterious spirit is." "I shall," said Fire God, and he approached the presence. But the spirit spoke to him first. "Who are you?" "I am Fire God, and actually I am very widely known. "And what power do you have?" "I can burn anything on earth." The spirit put some straw before him and said, "Burn this." Fire God fell upon it with all of his strength, yet he could not burn it. He rushed back to the other gods, and said to them, "I cannot find out who this mysterious spirit is." Then they said to Wind God, "Wind, go find out for us who this mysterious spirit is." "I will," he replied. Then Wind God approached the spirit. But the spirit spoke to him first: "Who are you?" "I am Wind God. Actually, I am very widely known. I can fly swiftly throughout the heavens." "And what power do you have?" "I can blow away anything on earth." Placing some straw in front of him, the spirit said, "Blow this away." Wind God fell upon it with all his strength, but he was unable to move it. He rushed back to the other gods, and said to them, “I cannot find out who this mysterious spirit is." Then the gods spoke to Indra, the greatest of them all, and said to him, "O most honored one, find out for us who this mysterious spirit is." "I will," Indra said. He approached the spirit. But the spirit disappeared. In his place stood Uma, the Mother Goddess, great in beauty and adornment. Indra spoke to her, asking: "Who was that spirit who appeared to us?" "That was Brahman, she replied. It was through Him and not through you that you were victorious." So, this is how Indra, Fire God, and Wind God, came to recognize Brahman. Fire God, Wind God, and Indra were superior to the other gods and closest to Brahman because they were the first to recognize him. But Indra is supreme because he approached nearest to Brahman and was the first to recognize him. Here is the truth of Brahman in relation to the forces of the natural world, whether in the flash of lightning, or the blink of an eye, the power that appears is the power of Brahman. Here is the truth of Brahman in relation to human beings: in the actions of the mind, the power which appears is the power of Brahman. So, one should meditate upon Brahman night and day. In all beings there lies the divine at their root, Brahman whom we must worship. Meditate upon him as such. If you mediate upon him in this way, you will be worthy of honor by all other beings. A Disciple Seeks: 3 Sir, I beseech you to teach me more of the knowledge of Brahman. The Teacher Responds: I have told you the secret knowledge. It lies in simplicity, in self-control, and in performance of your duty without attachment to the earthly results. This is the sum and substance of that knowledge. The Vedas are its arms and legs. Its very soul is the truth. If you attain to knowledge of Brahman, you will be freed from all evil. You will find the Eternal, the Supreme. OM. Peace. Peace. Peace.