What is the Fourth

So what is the Fourth?

Mandukya upanishad tells us that: “The Fourth, the Self, is OM, the indivisible syllable. This syllable is unutterable, and beyond mind. In it the manifold universe disappears. It is the supreme good -One without a second. Whosoever knows OM, the Self, becomes the Self.”

And Taittiriya upanishad continues: “Man, in his ignorance, identifies himself with the material sheaths that encompass his true Self. Transcending these, he becomes one with Brahman, who is pure bliss.”

Gosh we’re doing well!

Here we are on to our sixth upanishad! This one is called Mandukya. We’re taking bite-sized chunks of ancient yogic wisdom, and chewing them well.

” The syllable OM, which is the imperishable Brahman, is the universe. Whatsoever has existed, whatsoever exists, whatsoever shall exist hereafter, is OM. And whatsoever transcends past, present, and future, that is also OM.

All that we see without is Brahman. This Self that is within is Brahman.

This Self, which is one with OM, has three aspects, and beyond these three, different from them and indefinable -The Fourth.

The first aspect of the Self is the universal person, the collective symbol of created beings, in his physical nature -Vaiswanara. Vaiswanara is awake, and is conscious only of external objects. he has seven members. The heavens are his head, the sun his eyes, air his breath, fire his heart, water his belly, earth his feet, and space his body. He has nineteen instruments of knowledge: five organs of sense, five organs of action, five functions of the breath, together with mind, intellect, heart and ego. He is the enjoyer of the pleasures of sense.

The second aspect of the Self is the universal person in his mental nature – Taijasa. Taijasa has seven members and nineteen instruments of knowledge. He is dreaming, and is conscious only of his dreams. In this state, he is the enjoyer of the subtle impressions in his mind of the deeds he has done in the past.

The third aspect of the Self is the universal person in dreamless sleep – Prajna. Prajna dreams not. He is without desire. As the darkness of night covers the day, and the visible world seems to disappear, so in dreamless sleep the veil of unconsciousness envelops his thought and knowledge, and the subtle impressions of his mind apparently vanish. Since he experiences neither strife nor anxiety, he is said to be blissful, and the experiencer of bliss.

Prajna is the lord of all. he knows all things. he is the dweller in the hearts of all. He is the origin of all. he is the end of all.

The Fourth, say the wise, is not subjective experience, nor objective experience, nor experience intermediate between these two, nor is it a negative condition which is neither consciousness or unconsciousness. ..It is pure unitary consciousness, wherein awareness of the world, and of multiplicity ic completely obliterated. It is ineffable peace. It is the supreme good…This Self, beyond all words, is the syllable OM.”

As rivers flow into the sea…

“When death overtakes the body, the vital energy enters the cosmic source, the senses dissolve in their cause, and karmas and the individual soul are lost in Brahman, the pure, the changeless. As rivers flow into the sea and in so doing lose name and form, even so the wise man, freed from name and form, attains the Supreme Being, the Self-Luminous, the Infinite.He who knows Brahman becomes Brahman.”

It’s like a magnetic force. Within us there is a divine spark – the Atman – and this is always drawn towards the Supreme Being – Brahman. Once you feel that magnetic connection, you experience oneness and you look at life differently forever…

And so we finish Mundaka Upanishad. OM…Peace – peace – peace.

These words

These words are so lovely from Mundaka upanishad:

” Like two birds of golden plumage, inseparable companions, the individual self and the immortal Self are perched on the branches of the selfsame tree. The former tastes of the sweet and bitter fruits of the tree; the latter, tasting of neither, calmly observes.

The individual self, deluded by forgetfulness of his identity with the divine Self, bewildered by his ego, grieves and is sad. but when he recognises the worshipful Lord as his own true Self, and beholds his glory, he grieves no more.

When the seer beholds the Effulgent One, the Lord, the Supreme Being, then, transcending both good and evil, and freed from impurities, he unites himself with him.

The Lord is the one life shining forth from every creature. Seeing him present in all, the wise man is humble, puts not himself forward. His delight is in the Self, he serves the Lord in all. Such as he, indeed, are the true knowers of Brahman.

This Effulgent Self is to be realised within the lotus of the heart by continence, by steadfastness in truth, by meditation, and by superconscious vision. Their impurities washed away, the seers realise him.”

Note the use of the lower case ‘s’ in the individual self, and the capital ‘s’ in the immortal Self.

Tranquil souls

“But wise, self-controlled, and tranquil souls, who are contented in spirit, and who practise austerity and meditation in solitude and silence, are freed from all impurity, and attain by the path of liberation to the immortal, the truly existing, the changeless Self…”

My word, we need more of those tranquil souls in our world, don’t we?!

“Affix to the Upanishad, the bow incomparable, the sharp arrow of of devotional worship; then, with mind absorbed and heart melted in love, draw the arrow and hit the mark – the imperishable Brahman. OM is the bow, the arrow is the individual being, and Brahman is the target. With a tranquil heart, take aim. Lose thyself in him, even as the arrow is lost in the target….”

“Within the lotus of the heart he dwells, where, like the spokes of a wheel in its hub, the nerves meet. Meditate on him as OM…”

I love the phase, ‘And heart melted in love’. These lovely words come from Mundaka Upanishad.

We learn more of Brahman

From the Mundaka upanishad, we learn more of Brahman: ” As the web comes out of the spider and is withdrawn, as plants grow from the soil and hair from the body of man, so springs the universe from the eternal Brahman. Brahman willed that it should be so, and brought forth out of himself the material cause of the universe; from this came the primal energy, and from the primal energy mind, from the mind the subtle elements, from the subtle elements the many worlds, and from the acts performed by beings in the many worlds the chain of cause and effect – the reward and punishment of works. Brahman sees all, knows all; he is knowledge itself. Of him are born cosmic intelligence, name, form, and the material cause of all created beings and things.”

Moving on to Mundaka

Mundaka upanishad begins with: “Since the manifold objects of senses are merely emanations of Brahman, to know them in themselves is not enough. Since all the actions of men are but phases of the universal process of creation, action alone is not enough. The sage must distinguish between knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge is of things, acts and relations. But wisdom is of Brahman alone; and, beyond all things, acts, and relations, he abides forever. To become one with him is the only wisdom.”

This reminds us of the wise teachings of Krishna to Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita.

The final question

Lastly, Sukesa asked the sage: ” Where is the Self?”

The sage replied: “My child, within this body dwells the Self, from whom sprang the sixteen parts of the universe; and in this manner they came into being:’If, creating, I enter my creation,’the Self reflected, ‘what is there to bind me to it; what is there to go out, to stay within it when I stay?’ Pondering thus, and in answer to his thought, he made Prana; and from Prana he made desire; and from desire he made ether, air, fire, water, earth, the senses, the mind, and food; and from food he made vigour, penance, the Vedas, the sacrificial rites, and all the worlds. Thereafter, in the worlds, he created names. And the number of the elements he thus created was sixteen. As the flowing rivers, whose destination is the sea, having reached it disappear in it, losing their names and forms, and men speak only of the sea; so these sixteen parts created from his own being by the Self, the Eternal Seer, having returned to him from whom they came, disappear in him, their destination, losing their names and forms, and people speak only of the Self. Then for man the sixteen parts are no more, and he attains immortality.

Thus it was said of old: ‘The sixteen parts are spokes projecting from the Self, who is the hub of the wheel. The Self is the goal of knowledge. Know him and go beyond death.’ ” The disciples in Prasna upanishad understood, and the story concludes with ‘OM…peace – peace – peace.’

Gargya’s question

Gargya then asked: “Master, when a man’s body sleeps, who is it within that sleeps, and who is awake, and who is dreaming? Who then experiences happiness, and with whom are all the sense organs united?”

“As the rays of the sun, O Gargya, when he sets,” replied the sage, “gather themselves up in his disk of light, to come out again when he rises, so the senses gather themselves up in the mind, the highest of them all. Therefore, when a man does not hear, see, smell, taste, touch, speak, grasp, enjoy, we say that he sleeps. Only the Pranas are then awake in the body, and the mind is led nearer to the Self. While in dream, the mind revives its past impressions. Whatever it has seen, it sees again; whatever it has heard, it hears again; whatever it has enjoyed in various countries and in various quarters of the earth, it enjoys again. What has been seen and not seen, heard and not heard, enjoyed and not enjoyed, both the real and the unreal, it sees; yea it sees all. When the mind is overcome by deep slumber, it dreams no more. It rests happily in the body.

As birds, my friend, fly to a tree for a rest, even so do all these things fly to the Self: earth and its peculiar essence, water and its peculiar essence, fire and its peculiar essence, air and its peculiar essence, ether and its peculiar essence, the eye and what it sees, the ear and what it hears, the nose and what it smells, the tongue and what it tastes, the skin and what it touches, the voice and what it speaks, the hands and what they grasp, the feet and what they walk on, the mind and what it perceives, the intellect and what it understands, the ego and what it appropriates, the heart and what it loves, light and what it illuminates, energy and what it binds together. For verily it is the Self that sees, hears, smells, tastes, thinks, knows, acts. He is Brahman, whose essence is knowledge. He is the immutable Self, the Supreme.”

Kousalya’s question

And when it was the turn of Kousalya, he put this question: “Master, of what is Prana born; how does he enter the body; how does he live there after dividing himself; how does he go out; how does he experience what is outside; and how does he hold together the body, the senses and the mind?”

To which the sage replied: “Kousalya, you ask very difficult questions; but since you are a sincere seeker after the truth of Brahman, I must answer. Prana is born of the Self. Like a man and his shadow, the Self and Prana are inseparable. Prana enters the body at birth, that the desires of the mind, continuing from past lives, may be fulfilled. As a king employs officials to rule over different portions of his kingdom, so Prana associates with himself four other Pranas, each a portion of himself and each assigned a separate function. The PRANA himself dwells in eye, ear, mouth, and nose; the APANA, which is the second Prana, rules the organs of excretion and generation; the SAMANA, which is the third Prana, inhabits the navel and governs digestion and assimilation. The Self dwells in the lotus of the heart, whence radiate a hundred and one nerves. From each of these proceed one hundred others, which are smaller, and from each of these, again, seventy-two thousand others, which are smaller still. In all these moves the VYANA, which is the fourth Prana. And then at the moment of death, through the nerve in the centre of the spine, the UDANA, which is the fifth Prana, leads the virtuous man upward to higher birth, the sinful man downward to lower birth, and the man who is both virtuous and sinful to rebirth in the world of men.

The sun is the Prana of the universe. It rises to help the Prana in the eye of man to see. The power of earth maintains the Apana in man. The ether between the sun and the earth is the Samana, and the all-pervading air is the Viyana. The Udana is fire, and therefore he whose bodily heat has gone out dies, after which his senses are absorbed in the mind, and he is born again. Whatever his thought at the moment of death, this it is that unites a man with Prana, who in turn, uniting himself with Udana and with the Self, leads the man to be reborn in the world he merits.”