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Beyond the beyond || On Mundaka Upanishad (2021)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
5 min
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दिव्यो ह्यमूर्तः पुरुषः स बाह्याभ्यन्तरो ह्यजः । अप्राणो ह्यमनाः शुभ्रो ह्यक्षरात्परतः परः ॥

divyo hyamūrtaḥ puruṣaḥ sa bāhyābhyantaro hyajaḥ aprāṇo hyamanāḥ śubhro hyakṣarātparataḥ paraḥ

He, the divine, the formless Spirit, even He is the outward and the inward, and He the Unborn; He is beyond life, beyond mind, luminous, supreme beyond the immutable.

~ Verse 2.1.2

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Acharya Prashant: A few words now related to the ineffable Truth.

“He, the divine, the formless Spirit, even He is the outward and the inward, and He the unborn, aja .” Ja denotes birth; aja means unborn, unborn and undying. “He is beyond life, beyond mind, luminous, supreme beyond the immutable.”

“The divine, formless Spirit, the outward and the inward, and He is the unborn; He is beyond life”—actually, the verse says beyond prāṇa , aprāṇō , beyond breath, which is beyond all physical processes.

Beyond mind. Luminous, śubhro. Hyakṣarātparataḥ paraḥ , beyond the beyond. Why must this kind of an expression be used, ‘beyond the beyond’? Because the mind has a tendency to visualize the beyond. So, when it is said ‘beyond the beyond’, what is actually being said is: beyond the mind, beyond the beyondness that the mind can conceive.

The mind loves to trespass into areas it has no business going to. You tell the mind, “This is your boundary”; the mind wants to imagine what is beyond the boundary. Therefore, the beyondness that mind talks of is no beyondness at all. So, if you have to talk of real beyondness, then you say beyond the beyond, parataḥ paraḥ .

“Formless, the outward and the inward, the unborn, the undying, beyond physical processes, beyond all physicality and beyond mind, beyond darkness, the topmost, the supreme.” Not even immutable in the sense the mind thinks of immutability.

In a nutshell, it is being said: That, the final one, is the end of the mind. That single thing, because that is where all relaxation lies and that alone is the objective of the Upanishads: to bring peace, rest, relaxation to you.

If you say it is inside, then the mind is at work imagining how it would be inside. If you say outside, the mind is again at work. If you say it is neither inside nor outside, the mind still finds something to work. If you say it is both inside and outside, the mind can still visualize.

Therefore, the Upanishads take great pains to negate completely. They would say, “Not inside, not outside, not even inside and outside, and not not inside and not outside.” So, whatsoever you could think of has been comprehensively rebutted. Now, how will you think? All the avenues for thought have been disbanded. Thought is left with no place to find a refuge.

It is a bit like Boolean Algebra. One-one, zero-zero, one-zero, zero-one—only four possibilities can be there. What do the Rishis do? They discount all four. One-one is inside and outside, zero-zero is neither inside nor outside, zero-one is not inside but outside, one-zero is not outside but inside. The Rishis say all four rejected. Now, what will you do? There is no way you can set up the inner circuit. You have lost the Boolean equation.

All of this is just to bring the mind to understand that there are limits it cannot breach; the mind is being caressed and counselled to stop. And then there are times the mind is being shocked into a sudden halt; you are delivering it such a shock that it just comes to a standstill. And then there are times the Rishis are gently counselling it to go to sleep. But the objective always remains the same. “Why are you so agitated? Chill!” You know, the kid is so small, it has been overwhelmed by the world, and some graceful elder is trying to calm it down.

That is how the Upanishads work: they figure out where all the mind can hide. The mind can say, “Oh, the Truth lies in the body,” so the Rishis discount that possibility. They say, “No, no, no. The Truth is aprāṇa , does not lie in the body, the physical self, the vital breath.” The mind could say, “The Truth lies in the mind. If the mind is sharp enough, it will discover the Truth.” The Rishis discount that: “No, the Truth does not lie there.” And then the mind comes up with various other possibilities, hopes; the task of the Rishi is to smash all hopes.

When all hope is gone, then total chill.

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