Upanishads In 2017 As Powerful, Relevant As Ever. (Part 1)

By Jerry Alatalo

“The Self is everywhere. Bright is the Self, indivisible, untouched by sin, wise, immanent and transcendent. He it is who holds the cosmos together.”

or whatever historical, cultural, social, religious, or other reasons, discussions about the core elements found in scriptural writings of the world’s major traditions rarely take place, in particular as those extremely profound teachings relate to, and provide real answers for, today’s problematic situations of war, income inequality and greed, indifference to the suffering of innocent others, non-concern for the Earth’s environment, and so on.

Perhaps (re)turning to the spiritual knowledge of those described as “the ancients”, who lived thousands of years before the birth of Christ, can provide no small measure of assistance in effectively dealing with the persisting historical problems of 2017.


The Isha Upanishad* (from the 1987 book by Eknath Easwaran (1910-1999), “The Upanishads”)

(*The Isha Upanishad is one of the shortest of the collective of major Upanishads familiar to all students of Vedanta. Vedanta is the term used for the Upanishads, the last parts or sections of the Vedas, the four major Vedas of Hindu scriptures being the Rig (the oldest), Sama, Atharva, and Yajur Vedas.The first Western philosopher to express widely known appreciation for the Upanishads was the German-born Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860), who said: “They have been the consolation of my life, and will be the consolation of my death.”)


The Lord is enshrined in the hearts of all. The Lord is the supreme reality. Rejoice in him through renunciation. Covet nothing. All belongs to the Lord. Thus working may you live a hundred years. Thus alone will you work in real freedom.

Those who deny the Self (Creator, God, Brahman, Allah, Great Spirit, Great Mystery, Supreme Being, etc.) are born again blind to the Self, enveloped in darkness, utterly devoid of love for the Lord.

The Self is one. Ever still, the Self is swifter than thought, swifter than the sense. Though motionless, he out runs all pursuit. Without the Self, never could life exist.

The Self seems to move, but is ever still. He seems far away, but is ever near. He is within all, and he transcends all.

Those who see all creatures in themselves and themselves in all creatures knows no fear. Those who see all creatures in themselves and themselves in all creatures know no grief. How can the multiplicity of life delude the one who sees its unity?

The Self is everywhere. Bright is the Self, indivisible, untouched by sin, wise, immanent and transcendent. He it is who holds the cosmos together.

In dark night live those for whom the world without (external) alone is real; in night darker still, for whom the world within alone is real. The first leads to a life of action, the second to a life of meditation. But those who combine action with meditation cross the sea of death through action, and enter into immortality through the practice of meditation. So we have heard from the wise.

In dark night live those for whom the Lord is transcendent only; in night darker still, for whom he is immanent only. But those for whom he is transcendent and immanent cross the sea of death with the immanent and enter into immortality with the transcendent. So have we heard from the wise.

The face of truth is hidden by your orb of gold, O sun. May you remove your orb so that I, who adore the true, may see the glory of truth. O nourishing sun, solitary traveler, controller, source of life for all creatures, spread your light and subdue your dazzling splendor so that I may see your blessed Self. Even that very Self am I.

May my life merge in the immortal when my body is reduced to ashes. O mind, meditate on the eternal Brahman. Remember the deeds of the past. Remember, O mind, remember.

O god of fire, lead us by the good path to eternal joy. You know all our deeds. Deliver us from evil, we who bow and pray again and again.


The most precise descriptive word for the Vedic scriptures is mysticism. Writers on the Vedas, the first portions emphasizing rituals and their meanings, and in contrast the non-ritual, mystical portions focused on the inner worlds, have in their books many multiples of words over the Upanishads themselves, in the writers’ attempts to fully explain and/or interpret the deep meanings of these ancient writings.

As an example … in the following lecture, just the 1st of 7 over 1-hour talks by Swami Rama ( (1925-1996), one of the first yogis to become studied by Western scientists) on the 18-verse Isha Upanishad, his detailed exposition makes the deep concepts come alive and practical for people now in the year 2017. One can only wish such profound mystical knowledge became more widely understood; when that occurs, most certainly the world will change for the better.

World peace is possible.