I’ve Been Reading the Upanishads on the F Train.

January 5, 2005


“It is not outer awareness, It is not inner awareness,
nor is It a suspension of awareness.
It is not knowing, It is not unknowing,
nor is It knowingness itself.
It can neither been seen nor understood.
It cannot be given boundaries.
It is ineffable and beyond thought.
It is indefinable.
It is known only through becoming It.
It is the end of all activity, silent and unchanging,
the supreme good, one without a second.
It is the real Self.
It, above all, should be known.”
Mandukya Upanishad
I love that “It” is capitalized, as Christians capitalize “Him”.
I read a piece in the Times yesterday about scientists and unprovable beliefs. There were some resentful remarks about the nonexistence of God–which I guess I should take as arguments for the nonexistence of what George Carlin calls “the invisible man that lives in the sky,” as opposed to an Eastern/Upanishadic idea of God.
There is an arrogance, a very human arrogance, to that kind of vehement disbelief in things that can’t be empirically proven; that there is nothing to existence that can’t be comprehended by the human mind. That everything about existence can be massaged into data. I believe that there is something, or there are some things, about the universe that are just too big for the human mind to wrap itself around.
(There’s the old Alan Watts argument for God–you can’t prove the existence of God just as you can’t prove the existence of love. You feel it.)
A central component of my spiritual life is that I don’t force myself to be beholden to what I believed God was yesterday. It’s pretty difficult! I want something to hold onto. But sometimes I think of it as the spirit of humanity, or the nature of Nature, or of music; sometimes it’s just whatever that huge knowledge is, that thing which is too huge for the human brain to understand.
Sometimes–in hours of extreme trouble–I do believe in the invisible man in the sky.