Why do I study Upanishads?

The fluctuations of the mind are said to be the root cause of suffering and ignorance. When the mind is constantly in motion, it is difficult to focus and cultivate a deeper understanding of the true nature of the self and the universe.

Life can be unpredictable and challenging, and sometimes we face circumstances that leave us feeling lost and uncertain. For me, a great shock shattered my world and left me searching for answers and meaning. It was during this difficult time that I had an intuitive idea to study the Upanishads, ancient texts that offer profound insights into the nature of reality and the human condition.

As I delved into the Upanishads, I began to understand the true meaning of life and the importance of cultivating equanimity.

Equanimity is the state of being calm, balanced, and focused regardless of external circumstances. It’s a quality that allows us to navigate the ups and downs of life with grace and resilience, and to maintain a sense of inner peace and contentment.

What is That, by knowing which everything is known?

The Upanishads teach that the purpose of life is not simply to accumulate wealth, status, or power, but rather to connect with our true self or soul, which is often referred to as “atman.” By recognizing the inherent divinity within us and all beings, we can cultivate a sense of unity and harmony that transcends our individual experiences and identities.

Through my study of the Upanishads, I began to practice meditation, self-reflection, and mindfulness, which helped me to cultivate equanimity in my daily life. I learned to let go of attachment to external circumstances and to focus on the present moment, finding peace and contentment in the midst of even the most challenging situations.

The journey towards equanimity and inner peace is not always easy, and there may be setbacks along the way.

Besides Upanishads, Patanjali Yoga Sutras offer guidance on other aspects of life, including ethical behaviour, self-discipline, and self-realization.

Patanjali Yoga Sutra 1.2. “Yogas chitta-vritti-nirodhah”

This sutra can be broken down into three parts:

  1. Yoga: This refers to the practice of yoga, which involves cultivating inner awareness and stillness of mind.
  2. Chitta: This refers to the mind, including all its functions such as thoughts, emotions, and perceptions.
  3. Vritti: This refers to the fluctuations or movements of the mind, which can be positive or negative.

This sutra teaches that the goal of yoga is to still the fluctuations of the mind, or Chitta Vritti, in order to achieve a state of inner peace and awareness.

The stillness of the mind achieved through yoga is not a state of emptiness or void, but rather a state of heightened awareness and consciousness. It allows one to connect with the true nature of the self and the universe, and to experience a sense of inner harmony and well-being.

 Patanjali Yoga Sutra 1.12. 

“Abhyasa vairagyabhyam tannirodhah”

  1. Abhyasa: This refers to the practice of yoga or meditation. It is the repeated effort to focus the mind and cultivate inner awareness.
  2. Vairagya: This refers to detachment or renunciation. It is the letting go of attachment to external objects or distractions.
  3. Tannirodhah: This refers to the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind. It is the stillness of the mind that is achieved through the practice of yoga and detachment.

This sutra teaches that the practice of yoga involves both consistent effort and detachment from external distractions. Through this process, one can attain a state of mental stillness, which is the ultimate goal of yoga.

Importance of Vairagya:

Vairagya is a Sanskrit term that refers to dispassion, detachment, or renunciation from worldly desires and material possessions.

The practice of vairagya involves letting go of attachment to external objects or distractions. This can be achieved through reducing the desire for material possessions, cultivating non-attachment to people and situations, and focusing on the true nature of the self.

It can be disheartening and frustrating when others ridicule or dismiss our interests or beliefs. In the case of studying the Upanishads, some may see it as impractical or difficult to understand and make fun of those who pursue this path.

Someone who has faced challenges and found solace and guidance in these ancient texts, it’s important to remember that everyone’s journey is unique. Perhaps those who mock the Upanishads, have not yet faced the same difficulties and struggles that have led others to seek out this wisdom. It’s up to each individual to find their own path towards growth and understanding, and to follow the teachings that resonate with them, regardless of what others may say or think.

My experience serves as a reminder that even in the midst of great hardship, there is always hope for healing and growth, and that the wisdom of the ancient texts can offer guidance and support on our journey. I have written about my journey in my posts: “My journey through Books”