Friday, May 16, 2008

The Upanishads

translated by Swami Prabhavananda and Frederick Manchester

I got enticed into reading this one over at GoodReads Faith & Spirituality group. The group had been going on for a while and somehow we never got around to discussing books, but rather were playing dueling dogmas. Finally one member suggested we read and discuss an actual book. He's from the other side, so instead of Rick Warren, he suggested this book, a translation of some of the sacred Hindu texts. (I'm still kind of hazy on what constitutes the Hindu canon, if there is such a thing.) I'm kind of glad that he suggested this over Rick Warren because although I don't really agree with the teachings, The Upanishads is better written and has some interesting ideas. I definitely had to get in a cross-cultural mode, because things like the personification of Death and the eternal "Self" don't carry the same meaning in this culture as they do with me. The overall message of the book seems to be to seek Brahman--the Eternal; the Omnipresent; God, if you will--by focusing on the piece of Brahman inside, called the "Self" in this translation. If you truly understand that Brahman is all, then you can end the cycle of death and rebirth and achieve immortality and true union with Brahman. (Of whom, you are really just an extension of) Of course, coming from a Christian perspective, I just didn't get it like the authors would have wanted me to. When a guru in the book would reveal the secret, that the Self is Brahman, the students would take that as the cue to start meditation and struggling to escape the life-death-life cycle. Me, I responded with, "Okay, I get that. So now what?" Christianity is just so much easier. God comes to us instead of us searching for Him. Believe it and you've achieved that eternal life. God does the heavy lifting. I suppose that makes us Christians the laziest religionists on Earth. Oh, well. What can you do?

Glad I checked it out.
LibraryThing link


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