Death, Consciousness and the Upanishads

“‘After death there is no consciousness: this is what I say.’ Thus spake Yahñavalka.

But Maitreyi said: ‘In this, good sir, you have thrown me into confusion, in that you say that after death there is no consciousness.’

And Yajnavalka said: ‘There is nothing confusing in what I say. This is surely as much as you can understand now.

For where there is any semblance of duality, then does one smell another, then does one speak to another, then does one think of another, then does one understand another. But when all has become one’s very Self, then with what should one hear whom? With what should one see whom? With what should one hear whom? With what should one speak to whom? With what should one think of whom? With what should one understand whom? With what should one understand Him by whom one understands this whole universe? With what indeed should one understand the Understander?'”

Brihadaranyaka Upanishad
Book Two, II, iv, v12-14.

“To sum up: the Upanishads investigate the nature of reality and their main conclusion is that in both the universe at large and in the individual human being there is a ground of pure Being which is impervious to change. To realize this Being in oneself means salvation. Once this is done, re-birth and re-death are done away with, and man realizes himself as at least participating in eternal Being.”

R. C. Zachner
Hindu Scriptures (xiv)
J. M. Dent & Sons (1966)

Perhaps these quotes may help clear up a confusion surrounding nondualism relating to the common idea of an ‘afterlife’, and distinguish this view of death from that which usually accompanies monotheism.

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2 Responses to Death, Consciousness and the Upanishads

  1. whitefrozen says:

    So, given all this, with *what* should one understand the Understander?

  2. guymax says:

    Impossible. The idea is that we would have to ‘sublate’ the understanding-understander distinction, (thus ‘nondualism’) and then we will understand. This sublation, or transcendence of distinction, would be what meditation is very much about. We would have see beyond intentional consciousness.

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