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Three Kinds of Yogic Vision in the Upanishads

The Upanishads form some of the oldest Yogic teachings. Within their verses and stories, the reader will discover the vision of the Rishis. It is this vision, a kind of Supra-Understanding, that the student wants access to. When you read the Upanishads and work to align with the vision of the rishis, you begin to live in spiritual light in daily life.  There are many types of vision that exist in the Upanishads. Below I will discuss three types of yogic vision.

Vision as a God

Right from the outset, the Isha Upanishad tells us to consider the whole universe as Isha, God, Supreme Consciousness. Verse 1 invites us to see every object as the abode of Isha, Supreme Consciousness. The opening Isha Upanishad verse focuses on Isha as Source. And asks that we see how Supreme Consciousness has a home in everything that exists in the universe. It also instructs us to see god in everything. In order to see God everywhere, you will have to feel God inside yourself.  Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati used to say, ‘As you see yourself, so is your universe.” When you feel Supreme Consciousness in you, you will be able to see it everywhere. To understand verse 1 of the Isha Upanishad, we must begin to see how the universal Source has a home in everything, not just in the things we like. We must see the light called Isha vibrating everywhere.


Vision as Confusion

Often an Upanishad will show us a confusion. The confusion that arises is not to be taken as the confusion of some other person in some distant place. The confused one represents you or me and the ways in which we get lost. It is this lost sense that an Upanishad will highlight. But getting lost is not the problem. The real difficulty is learning to see your confusion (your lost-ness) and then learning to navigate your way towards understanding.


The Kena Upanishad, Chapter 1, Verse 1, says: 

 (The student asks the teacher:)
By whom is the mind willed and guided to shine its light on objects? By whose command does Prana, primary life-force, move and perform its purpose? By whose desire do people speak? And by what god are the senses directed to move?

The student is confused and asks by whom on a variety of levels. The Sanskrit word ‘Kena’ means by whom and is the name of an Upanishad itself. The journey of the Kena Upanishad guides us in how to work with our inner misunderstandings. Often, we feel when we have confusion and then that is the end. But in actuality the recognition of our confusion is the beginning. We must develop the capacity to recognize our confusion, be able to acknowledge it, see it and work to lessen it. This will bring about inward clarity. Clarity will give rise to awareness. Awareness will give rise to space. Awareness and space allow us to see the solution to the confusion and thereby support our experience of real inner freedom.


Vision as Prayer

As you chant verse 15, of the Isha Upanishad, you find yourself in the midst of a prayer:

“O Pusha, O God, for the one who is devoted to truth, please remove the veil that obstructs ultimate truth, ultimate reality.”

As we say the verse, we are automatically reciting a prayer to Pusha, the nourisher, asking him to remove any and all confusion we possess around the full understanding of the wisdom, knowledge and happiness. Prayer makes us humble. It reminds us that on an individual level we are not guiding everything. By accessing humility, through prayer, we can unite with Supreme Consciousness.

Work with these three kinds of Yogic Vision: Seeing God everywhere, acknowledging your confusion around a Yogic teaching and feeling humility through prayer. See what you discover when you align with the vision of the rishis.

May the light of the Upanishads and the Great Tradition always illumine your path.

Copyright 2018 Luminous Shabda, Manorama & Sanskrit Studies