Monday, 10 June 2019

The Maitri Upanishad on Taming the Mind

The Maitri Upanishad is the last of what are known as the principal Upanishads. It recommends meditation upon the soul ("atman") and life ("prana"). It says that the body is like a chariot without intelligence but it is driven by an intelligent being, who is pure, tranquil, breathless, selfless, undying, unborn, steadfast, independent and endless. The charioteer is the mind, the reins are the five organs of perception, the horses are the organs of action, and the soul is unmanifest, imperceptible, incomprehensible, selfless, steadfast, stainless and self-abiding.

One of the earliest Upanishads to teach specific yoga meditation practices was the Maitrayaniya Upanishad from the second or third century B.C.E.  This six -fold yoga (raja yoga) path includes controlling the breath (pranayama), withdrawing the senses (pratyahara), meditation (dhyana),concentration (dharana ), contemplation (tarka), and absorption (samadhi). Elementsof this six-fold path expanded somewhat, and would resurface in the second century C.E., in Patanjali's Yoga Sutra.

Just as, without fuel, a fire
Dies down in its own birthplace
On the ceasing of its movements, the mind
Dies down in its own birthplace.

For the mind which, desiring truth,
Has died down in its own birthplace
And is not deluded, the sense objects,
In the power of desire, are false.

Consciousness is samsara:
By effort one should purify it.
As is ones consciousness, so one becomes:
That is the eternal secret.

By the calming of consciousness,
One kills action, both pure and impure:
With self calmed, resting in the self,
One wins unfailing bliss.

If a person’s consciousness
Were as firmly attached to Brahman
As it is to the sense-realm,
Would not all be freed from bonds?

The mind is said to be twofold,
The pure and the impure-
Impure from contact with desire:

When, making the mind thoroughly firm,
Free from laxity and distraction,
One reaches a state without mind,
That is the highest state.

The mind should be kept in check
Until it has dissolved into the heart:
This is both knowledge and liberation.
The rest is multiplication of books/knots.

The bliss that the stainless consciousness, washed by concentration,
May have when it has been brought into the self
Cannot be described by speech:
It is experienced directly through the inner organ.

Water in water, fire in fire
Or space in space cannot be made out:
Just so the one whose mind has gone within
Is completely freed.

For human beings the mind is cause
Of bondage and freedom.
When attached to objects, it brings bondage:
When without object, it brings freedom, so it is recorded
(Maitri Upanishad 4,6)

Translation thanks to Valerie J. Roebuck

Text thanks to

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