It is only when the concept of a transcendent and immanent Creator is conjoined with the means of realisation of the Self, through meditation, and the related emphasis on states of consciousness, that one begins to understand why a Western philosopher like Schopenhauer was drawn to the Upanishads.
In these, he saw, not Hinduism or India but “… a habit of looking beneath the surface of life to its underlying causes …”. He also drew attention “… to the courage to discover in ourselves a desperately needed higher image of the human being”. … …
The power and poetry of the Upanishads can be seen from these extracts (from Easwaran):
As the same fire assumes different shapes
When it consumes objects differing in shape,
So does the one Self take the shape
Of every creature in whom he is present.
(Katha 2 .2 .9)
When all desires that surge in the heart
Are renounced, the mortal become immortal.
When all the knots that strangle the heart
Are loosened, the mortal becomes immortal.
This sums up the teachings of the Scriptures.
(Katha 2 .3.14-15)
As a caterpillar, having come to the end of one blade
of grass, draws itself together and reaches out for the
next, so the Self, having come to the end of one life and
shed all ignorance, gathers its faculties and reaches
out from the old body to a new.
(Brihad 4 .4.3)
The world is the wheel of God, turning round
And round with all living creatures upon its rim.
The world is the river of God,
Flowing from him and flowing back to him.
On this ever-revolving wheel of being
The individual self goes round and round
Through life after life, believing itself
To be a separate creature, until
It sees its destiny with the Lord of Love
And attains immortality in the indivisible whole.
(Shveta 1 .4-6)
Meher Baba summarised it all beautifully and succinctly: “The finding of God is the coming to one’s own self”. An important corollary is provided by Kahlil Gibran when he said: “For what is prayer but the expansion of yourself into the living ether?” Of relevance too is the view of Erasmus, the great philosopher of the European Renaissance: “The sum of religion is peace, which can only be when definitions are as few as possible, and opinion is left free on many subjects”.
The above are extracts from ‘On the Cosmos’ from my book ‘Hidden Footprints of Unity’