AUPA-Upanishad Wisdom

1.Why Upanishad?

It’s like asking why food? As long as we get hungry, we need food. As long as questions on ‘right and wrong,’ ‘false and true,’ ‘way to peace, strength or happiness’ arise, we need a source of guidance; UPANISHADS are an excellent source.

2.What is there in it for me?

You don’t get “food, shelter or clothes” from Upanishads, certainly. If however you’re looking for justice in this unjust, unfair world, you’ll find healthy outlooks in the Upanishads that make you “dance in the rain,” rather than “wait for the storm to pass.”

3.OK. But I have no time for all this ancient stuff? If my parents can’t understand my issues how would a 2000 year

old book know? How would people who lived 2000 years before me, know my struggles?

People ‘saw’ with the same holes called eyes – 2000 years ago. They ‘heard’ through the same holes called ears – 2000 years ago. They ‘suffered’ the same struggles as you are suffering nowadays – 2000 years ago. So this ‘ancient stuff’ applies as beautifully today as it did then! Because it is not about ‘outer change’ like travel, transportation or communication; it’s about inner change like getting over negative emotions.

4.I am not Hindu, why should I study or understand Upanishads?

You may study the Upanishads as you would study physics or economics. Please look at them without associating any religion with the material. On one hand, 80% of their teachings go well with the essence of all religions of the world. This part also addresses universal values such as being truthful and developing inner strength. You may go over the remaining 20% with academic interest – just to have an idea of how other minds in this world think.

5.Religions (ALL of them) have caused maximum damage to my world, why should I take interest in them?

What you say is sadly true. Please however see the matter from another angle of view too. Hospitals and educational institutions too are accused of unpardonable amount of exploitation. They are at the same time a basic need of any society. Wrong elements and immature followers enter into religions and the result is more damage and less good. You must take interest in them and contribute towards the proper use of the same material – theory and practice – that taps human excellence.

6.My friends tell me all these religious scriptures are full of contradictions which is confusing. As it is,

I am confused with my life and goals; why add one more layer of confusion?

Yes, the scriptures are vast and it is often like visiting a supermall when we try to study them! There’s so much variety. Just as different systems of medicine – allopathy, homeopathy, Ayurveda, Unani etc. – have different approaches to restoring good health, the scriptures present diverse approaches to the inner development of a human being. This can of course be confusing. If you study with the help of competent teachers, you will not add to the confusion but emerge with utmost clarity and sense of fulfillment. It is like using soap to remove dirt on our body; the soap does not add to the dirt; it rather cleanses.

7.Religious people seems to be stuck in medieval times and all the practices

(like caste system, khap panchyat etc.) that went on in those times, it looks odd for me to associate with such books.

You surely are yet to get a glimpse of the essential dimension of religions. Caste system, khap panchayat, food habits or forms of worship are all secondary dimensions of religions. Upanishads uncover for you the kernel of religions – radiant spirituality – that can bless you with broadmindedness, compassion, inner strength and a true appreciation of the meaning of life.

8.Can Upanishads cure what is ill in our world?

Undoubtedly yes. The ‘ills’ of the world seem to have external causes but actually all of them are a reflection of the ‘psychological disorder’ in the human beings that inhabit the earth. Selfishness, which expresses as greed, violence, corruption and various ways of dominating behavior, is the root cause of “what is ill” in our world. The core of Upanishadic teaching shows the falsity of selfish behavior. If larger number of people in the world get out of their selfish shells, the world become a healthier place.

9.If I read Upanishad, would it make me outdated and fundamentalist fanatic?

The opposite is the truth. The Upanishad wisdom opens your eyes to insights that facilitate universal morality, global ethics and harmonious coexistence. “Live and let live,” becomes a concrete possibility following the teachings in these great works, which are actually a heritage of the whole of humanity.

10.I believe the time is passé’ for organized religions. What’s in it for a person like me?

Yes, please know that Upanishads have nothing to do with organized religions. It will be like the systems of exercises like tai chi or yoga, which the whole world have now embraced. Organized religions emphasize symbols, rituals, membership and communal identity. Upanishads emphasize broadminded outlooks that put all these to the backseat.

11.Whenever I read some wanton killing in India or abroad, religions always are the reason. I am sick of it.

How would Upanishads help me?

So step out of religion and study the Upanishads! Endowed with the non-sectarian views of the Upanishads, you will have the capacity to undo such confusion and bring a new vision to misguided individuals or groups around you.

12.If I take interest in Upanishads, would I have to give up my post modern life as I know it?

Certainly not. To say, “The milk is white in cows that are black, white or red,” your lifestyle can be anything. To say, “Truth is one; sages speak of it in different ways,” you are not bound by any customs or systems. The spirituality of Upanishads points to such a high plane of consciousness where the old style villager and the postmodern citizen (netizen) can shake hands and be friends. In Upanishads’ wisdom, you will be able to hold together the great religions on one hand, and the mystic traditions like Sufism, Zen or Taoism on the other. As said before, this wisdom rises above symbols and structures. The teachings have nothing to do with Sanskrit or Latin, which are at best old packages.

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