I have referred to the Upanishads in a few posts. To explain what they are and what they mean, I offer the following extracts from Eknath Easwaran’s ‘The Upanishads’ (published by the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation, USA).
“Over two thousand years ago, the sages of India embarked on an extraordinary experiment. While others were exploring the external world, they turned inward – to explore consciousness itself. In the changing flow of human thought, they asked, is there anything which remains the same?
They found that there is indeed a changeless Reality under the ebb and flow of life. Their discoveries are an expression of what Aldous Huxley calls the Perennial Philosophy, the wellspring of all religious faith that assures us God-realisation is within human reach.
The Upanishads are the sages’ wisdom.” (Inside front cover)
“The Upanishads record … the inspired teachings of men and women for whom the transcendent Reality called God was more real than the world reported to them by their senses. Their purpose is not so much instruction as inspiration … … And although we speak of them as a body, the Upanishads are not parts of a whole, like chapters in a book. Each is complete in itself, an ecstatic snapshot of transcendent Reality.” (p.20)
“The Upanishads represent no system. When, much later, India’s mystics and philosophers did build coherent structures on these foundations, they found they had produced points of logical disagreement. But all understood that in practice such systems come to the same thing; they simply appeal in different ways to the head and heart.
No one has explained this better than Sri Ramakrishna, the towering mystic of nineteenth-century Bengal, who followed each path to the same goal: these are simply views from different vantage points, not higher or lower, and not in conflict. From one point of view, the world is God; from another, there will always be a veil of difference between an embodied human person and the Godhead. Both are true, and neither is the whole truth. Reality is beyond all limitations, and there are paths to it to accommodate every heart.
In the end, the Upanishads belong not just to Hinduism. They are India’s most precious legacy to humanity … “ (p. 46/47)