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Upa-ni-shad

  "Lead us, O Lord, from darkness
to light; from the unreal to the
real; from death to
immortality."
1
 

HUMANITY Know Thyself! Such is the call in this Age of Aquarius when the opportunity is unprecedented for millions to become aware of the relationship between the poles of spirit and matter as never before in the history of the planet. The accumulation of knowledge derived from the scientific study of the physical or material world must now be balanced by knowledge of the Soul and Spirit. Referring to the causative principle, which resides in the invisible spiritual realms, the Agni Yoga wisdom states, "The result is visible, whereas the process itself is invisible.…[for] each sphere has its visible and invisible aspects."2

In the Theosophical Glossary the Sanskrit term, Upanishad, is translated as "esoteric doctrine." It is explained that Upanishad is "that which destroys ignorance, and thus produces liberation of the spirit, through the knowledge of the supreme though hidden truth." The usual derivation of the word is designated as upa (near), ni (down), and s(h)ad (to sit); i.e., sitting down near. In ancient India groups of pupils sat near the teacher to learn the secret doctrine. In the quietude of the forest hermitages the Upanishad thinkers pondered the problems of deepest concerns and communicated their knowledge to fit pupils near them.

In the on-line version of The Principal Upanishads by S. Radhakrishnan, the word Upanishad is given a slightly different but related definition. The word Upanishad is said to be derived from the root sad, "to loosen.," "to reach" or "to destroy" with Upa and ni as prefixes. In this interpretation, Upanishad is defined as "Brahma-knowledge by which ignorance is loosened or destroyed."

The Upanishads taught that the Supreme Being (Brahman) penetrates everything with Itself. To help their students grasp this truth, the teachers of the Upanishads placed a pinch of salt in water and then asked their students to taste different parts of the water. Just so, the teachers would affirm, is Being hidden in all of reality, but it is not always perceived.

The Theosophical Glossary correlates the "hidden truth" of the Upanishads with the Biblical statement, "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:32)

Because humanity is in the habit of equating truth with what can be detected by the five senses, so there is not the habit of contemplating the esoteric doctrine which details a higher, more inclusive, albeit, eternally relative truth. Each level of consciousness holds its own circumscribed and therefore relative and limiting truth. The field of spiritual psychology, for example, recognizes, that "I have a body, but I am more than my body, I have feelings, but I am much more than my feelings, I have thoughts, but I, the Thinker can observe my thoughts and thus, I am greater than my thoughts." And, so the Hierarchy of Truth ascends, manifesting a more inclusive reality within each of the seven planes of consciousness, which make up the Cosmic Physical Realm, only to be surpassed by other higher realms of Cosmic Being and Awareness.

As the following passage indicates, the Tibetan Master, Djwhal Khul, refers to this Hierarchy of Truth as the "Path of God." From the inception of humanity's appearance on this planet, there have been those brave, pioneering Ones who, in service to the Common Good, have pierced the veils of glamour and illusion and found/experienced the truth of the esoteric doctrines. As we know from the Bodhisattva Pledge, once transformed and transfigured by the blinding Light and Bliss of these higher realms of consciousness, there is no other path or goal than to "return to the ways of men, to serve:"

"In every race and nation, in every climate and part of the world, and throughout the endless reaches of time itself, back into the limitless past, men have found the Path to God; they have trodden it and accepted its conditions, endured its disciplines, rested back in confidence upon its realities, received its rewards and found their goal. Arrived there, they have 'entered into the joy of the Lord,' participated in the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, dwelt in the glory of the divine Presence, and then returned to the ways of men, to serve. The testimony to the existence of this Path is the priceless treasure of all the great religions and its witnesses are those who have transcended all forms and all theologies, and have penetrated into the world of meaning which all symbols veil."3

Lest there be any confusion, the Agni Yoga wisdom clearly attests that it is in our earthly sphere that the esoteric doctrine must be known, understood and practiced. For, "it is easy for the spirit to strive upon the higher planes, but the earthly, the lowest pole, is established as the place of decision. Only [here]…where Light and darkness battle can the spirit manifest a free choice…..Only when immersed in the earthly sphere can one manifest the subtlety of striving into higher spheres."4  

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1 Brhad-Aranyaka Upanishad I, 3, 28.
2 Infinity, Vol. I (175), Agni Yoga Society.
3 The Externalisation of the Hierarchy, Alice A. Bailey, p. 405.
4 Infinity, Vol. II (138), Agni Yoga Society.

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