“Hear, O children of immortal bliss!
You are born to be united with the Lord.”
This is an extract from The Upanishads by Easwaran (see previous posts). Forget about all of us being ‘born in sin’ or ‘conceived in sin,’ phrases in common usage when I arrived in Australia in the late 1940s; and about Satan and Hell.
Easwaran then introduces us to the Self. “As an eagle, after soaring in the sky, folds its wings and flies down to rest in its nest, so does the shining Self enter the state of dreamless sleep, where one is free from all desires. The Self is free from desire, free from evil, free from fear … “
What is the Self? Easwaran explains. “In all persons, in all creatures, the Self is the innermost existence. And it is identical with Brahman: our real Self is not different from the ultimate Reality called God.” Brahman is explained as “the irreducible ground of existence, the essence of everything, – of the Earth and sun and all creatures, of gods and human beings, of every power of life.” That is, God is present in all His creations!
Easwaran continues: “This tremendous equation – ‘the Self is Brahman’ – is the central discovery of the Upanishads.” He goes on to say “the same Self dwells in all.”
“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.”
In his Afterword to Easwaran’s The Upanishads, Michael Nagler wrote “This Self cannot possibly be subject to any change, not even death. This is probably why belief in reincarnation died hard in the West. It was a cherished belief not only in pagan but also in various Jewish and Christian groups in the early centuries of our era.”
My view is that reincarnation had to be dispensed with in the West because it interfered with the control by the religious leaders of their respective flocks in the relatively new religions; whereas reincarnation encourages free will, directed to self-choice and self-improvement morally, life by Earthly life.
As said in the Upanishads, “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 in its faculties and reaches out from the old body to the new.” As Easwarwn wrote,’ the continuity of personality is not broken.”
This stanza sums it all well:
“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 from him.
On this ever-revolving wheel of being
The individual self goes round and round
Through life upon life, believing itself
To be a separate creature, until
It sees its identity with the Lord of Love
And attains immortality in the indivisible whole.”