The River of God

The Shvetashvatara Upanishad

Passages for Meditation

Spiritual aspirants ask their teacher:
What is the cause of the cosmos? Is it Brahman?
From where do we come? By what live?
Where shall we find peace at last?
What power governs the duality
Of pleasure and pain by which we are driven?

Time, nature, necessity, accident,
Elements, energy, intelligence –
None of these can be the first cause.
They are effects, whose only purpose is
To help the self to rise above pleasure and pain.

In the depths of meditation, sages
Saw within themselves the Lord of Love,
Who dwells in the heart of every creature.
Deep in the hearts of all he dwells, hidden
Behind the gunas of law, energy,
And inertia. He is One. He it is
Who rules over time, space, and causality.

The world is the wheel of God, turning round
And round with all living creatures upon
The wheel. The world is the river of God,
Flowing from him and flowing back to him.
On this ever-revolving wheel of life
The individual self goes round and round
Through life after life, believing itself
To be a separate creature, until
It sees its identity with the Lord
Of Love and attains immortality
In the indivisible Whole.

He is the eternal reality, sing
The scriptures, and the ground of existence.
They who perceive him in every creature
Merge in him and are released from the wheel
Of birth and death.

The Lord of Love holds in his hand the world,
Composed of the changing and the changeless,
The manifest and the unmanifest.
The individual self, not yet aware
Of the Lord, goes after pleasure, to become
Bound more and more. When it sees the Lord,
There comes the end of its bondage.

Conscious spirit and unconscious matter
Both have existed since the dawn of time,
With maya appearing to connect them,
Misrepresenting joy as outside us.
When all these three are seen as one, the Self
Reveals its universal form and serves
As an instrument of the divine will.

All is change in the world of the senses,
But changeless is the supreme Lord of Love.
Meditate on him, be absorbed in him,
Wake up from this dream of separateness.
Know God and all fetters will fall away.
No longer identifying yourself
With the body, go beyond birth and death.
All your desires will be fulfilled in him
Who is One without a second.

Know him to be enshrined within your heart
Always. Truly there is nothing more
To know in life. Meditate and realize
The world is filled with the presence of God.

Fire is not seen until one firestick rubs
Against another, though the fire remains
Hidden in the firestick. So does the Lord
Remain hidden in the body until
He is revealed through the mystic mantram.

Let your body be the lower firestick;
Let the mantram be the upper. Rub them
Against each other in meditation
And realize the Lord.

Like oil in sesame seeds, like butter
In cream, like water in springs, like fire
In a firestick, so dwells the Lord of Love,
The Self, in the very depths of consciousness.
Realize him through truth and meditation.

The Self is hidden in the hearts of all,
As butter lies hidden in cream. Realize
The Self in the depths of meditation,
The Lord of Love, supreme reality,
Who is the goal of all knowledge.

This is the highest mystical teaching;
This is the highest mystical teaching.

The Upanishads are the ancient mystical documents of the Vedas, the center of India's scriptural canon. This passage has been translated for meditation by Easwaran and is published in his spiritual anthology, “God Makes the Rivers to Flow.” The audio recording is by Eknath Easwaran.