Self-Study Upanishads - 6
Take care of each other
In addition, this teaching points us in the direction of taking care of each other, since we are not different. One of my favorite passages is this, from the Brhadaranyaka Upanishad … Yajnavalkya is going to leave his kingdom and wealth and go off to the forest, and offers both his wives whatever they desire. Maitreyi says “wealth must be of no use since you are leaving it. I want what you think is essential.” Maitreyi asks her husband for his knowledge, rather than his wealth, and he responds, teaching her,
It is not for the sake of the husband, my beloved, that the husband is dear, but for the sake for the Self. It is not for the sake of the wife, my beloved, that the wife is dear, but for the sake of the Self,… He names children, wealth, gods..etc. (pg 142)
In addition to pointing us towards caring for each other, one of the earliest expressions of the well-known Buddhist principle of interdependence is found in the Upanishads, and creates an attitude toward the world. Madhu, or honey, means basic goodness. Everything is intrinsically good. This is basic ecology: all beings are helpful to earth, and earth is helpful to all beings:
This earth is honey for all beings, and all beings are honey for this earth. The soul of this earth and the soul in the individual being, each is honey to the other .Brahman is the soul in each; he indeed is the Self in all. He is all….Water, Fire, Air, Sun, Space, moon, lightening, thunder, ether, dharma, truth, race… As the spokes are held together in the hub and in the felly of a wheel, just so all beings, all creatures, all gods, all worlds, all lives, are held together in the Self. (Brihadaranyaka, pg 146)
So that is the essence of the Upanishads. It teaches the knowledge of Brahman, and the identity of man and the Divine.
Back to the top