Moksha, Brahman, and Atman
1) Late Vedic Religion and the Moksha-Centered Traditions
a) A new form of religious life that doesn’t center on ritual and social duties
b) Jnana (“mystical knowledge”) implies a religion based on
secret wisdom – taught by sages, based in mystical experience, esoteric
2) The Upanishads = “secret teaching,” “sitting at the feet of,” “connection or equivalence”
a) 100s of Upanishads, but 13 principle Upanishads = shruti
b) Reaction against tradition, criticism of priestly trads.
caste system in place, supported by notions of karma and rebirth.
3) In the great cycles of time: Individual, society, history = insignificant. Even the gods are trapped in the cycle and eventually fall moksha.
a) Suffering pervades human existence: the endless cycles of suffering, death, rebirth: “May the evil of death not get me” (Brh Up), “To hoary and toothless and drooling old age may I not go” (Chan Up)
b) See Embree p.31 Mundaka Upanishad
c) The Solution = moksha. Liberation from the endless round.
d) A new concept of the ultimate reality
5) Brahman: A single pervasive power and essence, source of all things
a) “That from which these beings are born; on which, once born, they live; and into which they pass upon death – seek to perceive that? That is brahman!”
b) Totality of sacred words in the Veda; gives unlimited power to sacrifice; Essence of the entire world; the power that reside s in all beings, including the gods
c) Svetaketu (boy) and Uddalaka (his father): Sve hasn’t heard of world soul
d) Fleeting names and forms outside (nama rupa), one underlying reality [See Chandogya Upanishad, Embree p.36]
e) Brahman is the essence and source of the whole
6) Atman: the reality that is the lasting and indispensable basis of one’s being
a) Atman as pure consciousness: four states [See Chandogya Upanishad, Embree p.33]
i) Waking life
ii) Dreaming sleep
iii) Dreamless sleep
7) The secret revealed:
a) Tatvamasi: “You are that”. Atman = Brahman