Chapter 4: Spiritual Research
The earliest records of spiritual research are to be found in the Rig-Veda Samhita, which consists of hymns, or mantras, addressed to gods, or Devas, who are considered as deities or divinities capable of controlling the destinies of people. The history of the growth of the religious consciousness from its incipiency to its mightiest comprehension can be read between the lines of these sacred prayers, the mantras of the Veda. The trend of beholding the manifold as expressions of the One, and the One as revealing itself in the many, is unmistakably traceable to the hymns of the Rig-Veda. Through a succession of this unfolding movement of religious visualisation, the Veda-Samhita proclaims its final word on the nature of Reality.
The quintessence of the Veda Samhitas and their hidden purport is said to be codified in the Upanishads, which unveil Truth without the embellishments and formative features through which it was seen in the Samhitas. The Upanishads hold that the pleasures of the senses are ephemeral, as they wear away one's energies and tend to one's destruction. Even the longest life with the greatest pleasure is worth nothing. The only desirable aim in this world is the knowledge of the Self, the Atman. The pleasant is one thing and the good is another. Both these come to a man together for acceptance. The wise one discriminates between the two and chooses the good rather than the pleasant. The foolish one chooses the pleasant and falls into the net of widespread death. By knowing Reality, everything is known at once. One who knows It becomes It. Reality transcends the three states of waking, dream and deep sleep. It is the cessation of all phenomena, the peaceful, the blessed, the non-dual. It is Truth, Knowledge, Infinity. One possesses all things simultaneously and becomes all things at once, and enjoys all things instantaneously, who realises Brahman as identical with one's own being.
The Infinite alone is bliss; there is no bliss in the small and the finite. Where one sees nothing else, hears nothing else, understands nothing else - that is the infinite. Where one sees something else, hears something else, understands something else – that is the finite. The Infinite is the immortal. The finite is the mortal. The Infinite is in front, behind, to the right, to the left, above, below and everywhere. It is all this at the same time. For one who knows this, everything springs from his very Self. The Universe, manifest as well as unmanifest, arises for him spontaneously from his Self and serves him without limitation of time or space.
No one loves an object for its own sake. All love is an inspiration come finally from love of the Universal Self. Things are dear because of the Infinite that peeps through them. The Infinite summons the Infinite in the perception of the beloved. Persons and things are not dear for their own sake. Though all love has a selfish origin in the world, it has a transcendent meaning above the phase of the seer and the seen. Anyone who, by error, regards anything as being outside oneself, shall lose that thing, whatever it may be.
Where there is duality, as it were, there one sees the other, smells the other, speaks to the other, tastes the other, touches the other, thinks the other, understands the other. But where the one alone is, who can see what, who can hear, smell, speak, taste, touch, think and understand what by what? How can one know that by which alone one knows all these things? How can one know the knower? This is the great admonition, this is the treasure-house of knowledge. If one were to give the whole earth as a gift for the sake of this knowledge, one should regard this knowledge as greater than that. Lo, this is greater than all things. Whosoever has his Self awakened within himself commensurate with all things, he is verily equivalent to the Creator of the universe, he becomes the doer of all things; this universe is his, nay, he himself is the universe.
The Vedic knowledge is a blend of the highest kind of education of the inner man, through which one is enabled to possess in practical life and experience not only the glories and joys of the world in their fullest measure, but also to transform oneself into an embodiment of the highest form of righteousness and justice, and a moving representation, as it were, of God, the Almighty.