Spiritual Message for the Day – Meditate on the Name (Namopassva) by Sri Swami Krishnananda

Baba Times Digest© | 1 May 2014 17:36 EST | New York Edition

Meditate on the Name (Namopassva)

Divine Life Society Publication: Chapter 3- The Chhandogya Upanishad by Sri Swami Krishnananda

Life is ultimately all sorrow on account of one being subjected to the process of transmigration. It is a fact that there are higher pressures exerted upon the individual and that these pressures compel one to be driven along the course of creativity. As long as the cause of this pressure is not realized as identical with one's own Self, one is not going to attain ultimate freedom from samsara, the cycle of metempsychosis. This cause for ultimate freedom is the Self of all, the realization of which bestows true freedom. And that Self is the Universal Reality.

It has been explained through various analogies, comparisons and illustrations as to how there can be only one Being and that every detail in creation is only a form taken by this one Being in the process of creation, so that there is really only one Being and not two, and that Being is the Self, the Atman.

This is done by gradually taking the mind of the student from the lowest reality conceivable to the highest, stage by stage, indicating thereby that nothing is lost when the Absolute is realized. When God is attained, nothing of the world is lost, just as when we catch the original we cannot be said to have lost the shadow. Everything is gained in a supersensible manner. The shadow may be said to be a part of the original. It is included in the original. All the lesser degrees of Reality are only forms of Its manifestation. Every name and form in this creation is a lesser degree of manifestation of the Reality. The lower degree is not excluded from the higher degree, as the higher includes the lower, and the highest is everything and is all-inclusive.

Narada’s grief

Narada, a master, a sage himself, approaches the divine teacher Sanatkumara, the son of Brahma for spiritual instructions and spiritual solace. He expresses his grief over the fact that he knows so many things but does not have peace of mind in spite of all this knowledge.

Narada says: I have heard from other people that a person who knows the Self crosses over sorrow. What is this Self? I am in internal suffering which has not been relieved by my learning and knowledge. I have a lot of information about every art and every science. I do not know the real substance of these arts and sciences. The name is known, but the content is not known to me."

Source of the sorrow

Every name has a form corresponding to it. If we utter a particular name corresponding to an object, we immediately have an idea of that object. But we do not possess that object merely because we have an idea of that object. So is the case with all this learning. It is only an idea about certain things, but the things themselves are beyond one's control. So, this theoretical learning has no connection with the Reality. So, Narada is a knower of the mantras, the names, the ideas. He has an intellectual knowledge, theoretical information. He is an expert in understanding the nature of things, but the Self of these things is beyond him. He has not known the Self of these things.

Sanatkumara replies: The source of your sorrow is what is outside you and that is an external self for you. It is not the Primary Self. Thus, the knowledge that you have about these things which you have mentioned just now is not the knowledge of the Self of these things, but the knowledge of the names of these things, the nomenclature of these things. This is what they call theoretical knowledge of the things in the world. I will tell you once again that this is only theory, and therefore, it is not of much consequence in your life, but it has an importance in that it is the beginning of knowledge. Therefore, meditate on 'name'.

Practice comes after theory

The idea of an object precedes the real knowledge of the object. Unless we have some concept of the object, how can we approach the object at all? Sanatkumara says that it is all 'name', because it is the initial step in the process of the ascent of the soul to the Supreme Reality.

The name of an object includes every kind of information about the object. Thus, says Sanatkumara to Narada: "You, first of all, assure yourself that you have a complete knowledge of objects insofar as their name goes. Though beyond that you cannot go, at least within that realm, be a master. You must have a correct descriptive knowledge of these things."

Knowledge does not mean ignorance of any particular aspect of experience. It is a total comprehension of fact as such. Even bondage has to be known in its true structure. When we are bound, we must know why we are bound. That is real knowledge. You cannot say, "Well, I am not concerned with the stages of bondage, I am concerned with freedom." What is freedom? It is knowledge of the causative factors behind bondage. The cure of an illness begins with the knowledge of the causative factors of illness behind it and then only the medicine comes.

The first stage of meditation

The lowest degree of knowledge is informative knowledge of objects. So, namopassva—the first stage of meditation—is mentioned here, which is ideological (conceptual). We may call it theoretical. It is the operation of the mind in respect of an object. The object is not under one's control. It is far away. We have only a thought of the object. But, that is enough for the time being, because we are in that level only. So, we should meditate on the name. We will be taken gradually from stage to stage. When we are taken to a higher stage, what is implied is that the lower stage has already become a part of our own self in deep meditation and experience. It does not remain any more an object outside. When we have become that in self-absorption, then only we can be given access to the realm of a higher degree of reality. We should complete the process of absorbing the contents of our knowledge, to the extent they can go in this world, by deep meditation. This is conceptual meditation.

The principle of meditation

The principle of meditation is this: whatever the object of your meditation be, that has to be taken as absolute. There should not be anything external to it, because if the mind conceives something higher than that particular object, then that higher thing becomes the object of meditation. The point is that the object that you have chosen for your meditation should be the last point of the reach of your mind, beyond which it cannot go. Then it becomes the absolute. So this absolute is only a name that we give to the best possible reach of the mind in any level or degree of experience.

'Name is Brahman'-this means name is the absolute, inasmuch as we are in a realm of names only. Why should we not take the higher degree as the absolute, and not the lower one? Because the higher one cannot be the content of the mind in its present state. Suppose we are asked to meditate on the heavenly regions. We cannot, because we do not know what it means. The heavenly regions are beyond the reach of the mind. We will only superimpose physical pictures of our imagination on paradise, Brahma-loka, etc. This is not what is intended. We must limit ourselves to the extent of our knowledge, and complete the meditation regarding that particular object as absolute in itself. So, Narada was asked to take 'name' as the absolute. The result of this meditation on name is that to the extent name goes—to the extent of the reach of the mind theoretically, conceptually—to that extent, the meditator will be free.

Whoever meditates thus on 'name' as Brahman has freedom in this manner, to that extent of, and in that particular realm of, the name only. Narada asks: "Is there not anything more than this?" "Yes, there is something more than this," replies Sanatkumara.

(To be continued..)

Excerpts from:

Meditate on the Name (Namopassva) - Chapter 3- The Chhandogya Upanishad by Sri Swami Krishnananda

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