In Balanced Achievement’s ‘Quote 20’ series, we illuminate 20 quotes about a particular topic or 20 quotes said by a prominent individual, all of which are chosen with hopes of increasing readers levels of inspiration and motivation. In this article, we turn our attention to the some of Hinduism’s most important spiritual scriptures by exploring 20 wisdom filled quotes from the Upanishads.
Throughout the enchanting lands of India, a variety of ancient spiritual scriptures are cherished by those of the Hindu faith. While the Vedas are considered to be the foundational texts of the world’s oldest religion, and the inspirational epics, the Ramayana and Mahabharata, are held closest to most Hindus hearts, neither can match the transcendental wisdom of the Upanishads.
Within this iconic collection of texts, readers are presented with the basic principles of what the iconic English author Aldous Huxley describes as the Perennial Philosophy that acts as the wellspring of all religious faith. It is believed that the Upanishads, which translates to mean ‘sitting down near’ in reference to a student sitting to receive spiritual knowledge from a teacher, were written between the years 800 B.C.E. and 500 B.C.E. as an important societal transformation was taking place. Up until this point in India’s history, the traditional Vedic religious order determined societal roles and the Brahmins, or priesthood caste, were the only ones allowed to partake in spiritual practices. This, however, changed when seemingly ordinary individuals shifted their focus from worldly aims to spiritual aspirations and transformed themselves into the sages who’s work is featured in the Upanishads. It’s for these reasons that the sacred scriptures are also referred to as Vedanta, one of the six primary schools of Hindu philosophy, which translates to mean ‘the end’ or ‘the last chapter’ of the Vedas.
Due to the fact that there are over 200 independent Upanishads that were composed at different time by various unknown authors, a dozen or so of which are most important, the writing structure and theological teachings of each individual Upanishad do vary. Yet still, as you’ll soon discover by exploring the following 20 wisdom filled quotes from the Upanishads, a number of common themes do emerge and the instructional guidance always aims to help individuals come to realize themselves as their Atman, or soul of pure consciousness, which is part of Brahman, or the one eternal Self that connects us all:
“You are what your deep, driving desire is. As your desire is, so is your will. As your will is, so is your deed. As your deed is, so is your destiny.”
“He who sees all beings in his Self and his Self in all beings, he never suffers; because when he sees all creatures within his true Self, then jealousy, grief and hatred vanish.”
“Dreams are real as long as they last. Can we say more of life?”
“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 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.”
“The Self is everywhere. Bright is the Self, indivisible, untouched by sin, wise, immanent and transcendent. He it is who holds the cosmos together.”
“As the same fire assumes different shapes when it consumes objects differing in shape, so does the one Self take the shape of every creature in whom he is present.”
“Knowing the senses to be separate from the Self, and the sense experience to be fleeting the wise grieve no more.”
“The Self, pure awareness, shines as the light within the heart, surrounded by the senses. Only seeming to think, seeming to move, the Self neither sleeps nor wakes nor dreams.”
“When all desires that surge in the heart are renounced, the mortal becomes immortal. When all the knots that strangle the heart are loosened, the mortals become immortal. Here in this very life.”
“Those who realize the Self enter into the peace that brings complete self-control and perfect patience. The see themselves in everyone and everyone in themselves. Evil cannot overcome them because they overcome all evil. Sin cannot consume them because they consume all sin. Free from evil, free from sin and doubt, they live in the kingdom of Brahman.”
“He who is rich in the knowledge of the Self does not covet external power or possession.”
“There is only one way to know the Self, and that is to realize him yourself. The ignorant think the Self can be known by the intellect, but the illumined know he is beyond the duality of the knower and the known.”
“It is everywhere, though we see it not. Just so, dear one, the Self is everywhere within all things, although we see him not. There is nothing that does not come from him. Of everything he is the inmost Self. He is the truth; he is the Self supreme.”
“The mind may be said to be of two kinds, pure and impure. Driven by the senses it becomes impure; but with the sense under control, the mind becomes pure. It is the mind that frees us or enslaves. Driven by the sense we become bound; Master of the sense we become free. Those who seek freedom must master their senses.”
“As the sun, who is the eye of the world, cannot be tainted by the defects in our eyes nor by the objects it looks on, so the one Self, dwelling in all, cannot be tainted by the evils of the world. For this Self transcends all!”
“The Self is the source of abiding joy. Our hearts are filled with joy in seeing him enshrined in the depths of our consciousness. If he were not there, who would breathe, who live? He it is who fills every heart with joy.”
“There is no joy in the finite; there is joy only in the Infinite.”
“The Self is in all. He is all the gods, the five elements, earth, air, fire, water, and space; all creatures, great or small, born of eggs, of wombs, of heat, of shoots, horses, cows, elephants, men, and women; All beings that walk, all beings that fly, and all that neither walk nor fly.”
“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.”
“As the web issues out of the spider and is withdrawn, as plants sprout from the earth, as hair grows from the body, even so, the sages say, this universe springs from the deathless Self, the source of life.”