[Translation]

Aruna’s son Uddalaka addressed his son Shvetaketu, saying:

—Learn from me, dear, the reality about sleep. When a man sinks to sleep, as they say, then, dear, he is wrapped by the Real; be has slipt back to his own. And so they say, he sleeps, because he has slipt back to his own. And just as an eagle tied by a cord, flying hither and thither, and finding no other resting place, comes to rest where he is tied, so indeed, dear, the man’s Mind flying hither and thither, and finding no other resting place, comes to rest in the Life, for Mind, dear, is bound by the Life.

—Learn from me, dear, the meaning of hunger and thirst. When a man hungers, as they say, the Waters guide what he eats. And as there are guides of cows, guides of horses, guides of men, so they call the Waters the guides of what is eaten. Thus you must know, dear, that what he eats grows and sprouts forth; and it cannot grow without a root.

—And where can the root of what he eats be? Where, but in the world-food, Earth?

—And through the world-food, Earth, that has sprouted forth, you must seek the root, the Waters. And through the waters that have sprouted forth, you must seek the root, Radiance. And through Radiance that has sprouted forth, you must seek the root, the Real. For all these beings, dear, are rooted in the Real, resting in the Real, abiding in the Real.

—And so when the man thirsts, as they say, the Radiance guides what he drinks. And as there are guides of cows, guides of horses, guides of men, so, they say, the Radiance guides the Waters. Thus you must know, dear, that what he drinks grows and sprouts forth; and it cannot grow without a root.

—And where can the root of what he drinks be? Where, but in the Waters? And through the waters that sprout forth, you must seek their root, the Radiance. And through the Radiance, dear, that sprouts forth, you must seek its root, the Real. For all these beings, dear, are rooted in the Real, resting in the Real, abiding in the Real. And how these three the world-food, Earth, the Waters, Radiance, coming to a man, become each three-fold, three-fold, this has been taught already.

—And of a man who goes forth, formative Voice sinks back into Mind; Mind sinks back into the Life, the Life to Radiance, and Radiance to the Higher Divinity. This is the Spirit, the Self of all that is, this is the Real. this the Self, THAT THOU ART, O Shvetaketu!

—Let the Master teach me more! said he.

Let it be so, dear! said he. As the honey-makers, dear, gather the honey from many a tree, and weld the nectars together in a single nectar; and as they find no separateness there, nor say:

Of that tree I am the nectar, of that tree I am the nectar. Thus, indeed, dear, all these beings, when they reach the Real, know no separateness, but say we have reached the Real. But whatever they are here, whether tigers or lions or wolves or boars or worms or moths or gnats or flies, that they become again when they come forth from the Real. And this Spirit is the Self of all that is, this is the Real, this the Self. THAT THOU ART, O Shvetaketu!

—Let the Master teach me more! said he.

— Let it be so, dear! said he. These eastern rivers, dear, roll eastward ; and the western, westward. From the ocean to the ocean they go, and in the ocean they are united. And there they know no separateness, nor say: This am I, This am I. Thus indeed, dear, all these beings, coming forth from the Real, know not that they have come forth from the Real. And whatever they are here, whether tigers or lions or wolves or boars or worms or moths or gnats or flies or whatever they are, that thy become again. And that Spirit is the Self of all that is, this is the Real, this the Self. THAT THOU ART, O Shvetaketu!

—Let the Master teach me more! said he.

—Let it be so, dear! said he. If any one strike the root of this great tree, dear, it will flow and live, if anyone strike the middle of it, it will flow and live; if any one strike the top of it, it will flow and live. So filled with the Life, with the Self, drinking in and rejoicing, it stands firm. But if the life of it should leave one branch, that branch dries up; if it should leave a second, that dries up; if it should leave a third, that dries up; and if it leaves the whole, the whole dries up. Thus indeed, dear, you must understand! said he. When abandoned by the life, verily, this dies; but the life itself does not die. For that Spirit is the Self of all that is, this is the Real, this the Self. THAT THOU ART, O Shvetaketu!

—Let the Master teach me more! said he.

—Let it be so, dear! said he. Bring me a fruit of that fig-tree!

—Here is the fruit, Master!

—Divide it into two, said he.

—I have divided it, Master.

—What do you see in it? said he.

—Atom-like seeds, Master!

—Divide one of them in two, said he.

—I have divided it, Master!

—What do you see in it? said he.

—I see nothing at all, Master!

So the Master said to him:

—That Spirit that you perceive not at all, dear,—from that very Spirit the great fig-tree comes forth. Believe then, dear, that this Spirit is the Self of all that is, this is the Real, this the Self. THAT THOU ART, O Shvetaketu!

—Let the Master teach me more! said he.

— Let it be so, dear! said he. Put this salt in water, and come to me early in the morning.

And he did so, and the Master said to him:

—That salt you put in the water last night bring it to me! And looking for its appearance, he could not see it, as it was melted in the water.

—Taste the top of it! said he. How is It?

—It is salt! said he.

—Taste the middle of it! said he. How is it?

—It is salt! said he.

—Taste the bottom of it! said he. How is it?

—It is salt! said he.

—Take it away, then, and return to me.

And he did so; but that salt exists for ever. And the Master said-to him:

—Just so, dear, you do not see the Real in the world. Yet it is there all the same. And this Spirit is the Self of all that is, it is the Real, it is the Self. THAT THOU ART, O Shvetaketu!

—Let the Master teach me more! said he.

—Let it be so, dear! said he. Just as if they were to blindfold a man, and lead him far away from Gandhara, and leave him in the wilderness; and as he cried to the east and the north and the west: I am led away blindfolded! I am deserted blindfolded! And just as if one came, and loosing the bandage from his eyes, told him: In that direction is Gandhara In that direction you must go! And he asking from village to village like a wise man and learned, should come safe to Gandhara. Thus, verily, a man who has found the true Teacher, the Self, knows. He must wait only till he is free, then he reaches the resting-place. And that Spirit is the Self of all that is, this is the Real, this is the Self. THAT THOU ART, O Shvetaketu!

—Let the Master teach me more! said he.

—Let it be so, dear! said he. When a man is near his end, his friends gather round him : Do you know me? Do you know me? they say. And until formative Voice sinks back into Mind, and Mind into the Life, and the Life into the Radiance, and the Radiance into the Higher Divinity, he still knows them. But when formative Voice sinks back into Mind, and Mind into the Life, and the Life into the Radiance, and the Radiance into the Higher Divinity, he knows them not. And that Spirit is the Self of all that is, this is the Real, this is the Self. THAT THOU ART, O Shvetaketu!

— Let the Master teach me more! said he.

— Let it he so, dear! said he. They seize a man and bring him: He has stolen! they say, He has committed theft, Heat the axe for the ordeal! And if he is the doer of it, and makes himself untrue; maintaining untruth, and wrapping himself in untruth, he grasps the heated axe; he burns, and so dies. But if he be not the doer of it, he makes himself true; maintaining truth, and wrapping himself in truth, he grasps the heated axe; he burns not, and so goes free. And the truth that saves him is the Self of all that is, this is the Real, this is the Self. THAT THOU ART, O Shvetaketu! Thus he learned the truth; thus he learned it.


Commentary: That Thou Art

This is the most renowned passage in all the Vedas; the last word of the wisdom of India. The Master, having gradually unfolded to his son the first and initial thought of the old Theosophy,—the differencing of the one reality into the threefold seeming of the world,—gradually rises to the last and final thought of the same wisdom,—the identity of the real self of every man with that one reality; the real, immemorial, eternal oneness between the self of each and the Self of All.

And before turning to this last and final thought of the ancient wisdom, we may very well follow once more the earlier steps by which the Master gradually leads up to this grand and final truth of identity. The real, he says, is in the beginning, one and secondless. And this real becomes differenced in a threefold way.

First there is the Radiance, and from the Radiance come the Waters; and from the Waters comes the world-food, Earth. And the Real, the Self embodies itself in this threefold seeming world. We can at once make this teaching clear and lucid, we can at once bring it home to ourselves, by applying it not to the great world of nature, but to the little world of man.

And, to do so, we had better begin with the outermost of the threefold worlds, the world of the world-food, Earth. As we have already seen, this is the world of the outward life of physical, animal man; where man, the physical self, moves amid his immemorial companions, the mountains, the sea, the sky, the forests, the sun-light and the quiet stars.

Blending and intermingling with these old companions of his, the physical man moves among them, partaking of their varied seeming, a sharer in their multiform nature. And as there are, in this outward world of earth, not the life-giving mountains only, and the quiet stars, but the ape and the tiger also, so the physical man becomes partaker of their lives too; of the selfishness of the tiger and the sensuality of the ape. He hungers, as they say. And where should be the root of this hunger? Where but in the world-food, Earth?

The nature of the physical man, that he shares with the ape and with the tiger, is the immediate outcome, the inevitable result of this seeming outward world; from this seeming outward world it grows and sprouts forth, as the stem and branches of a tree grow, and sprout forth from the root.

Then there is developed or unfolded the middle world of man; the world of reflections; the world of the Waters. This world of reflections, of the Waters, is the world of man’s emotional life, the world of fancies and longings; the world of his desires and dreams. And in this world there are pictures, drawn after the pictures of the outer world; mountains and skies of finer texture, fancy-woven, and peopled with images and dreams. Thus in the world of reflection, the world of the Waters, man lives and dwells, from the day he ceases to be pure animal, from the day he begins to be man.

And among all the fluid images of this inner world, he makes a king in the image of his outward body; a personal self who dreams himself to be real; just as the physical self before him figured himself to be the only reality;—the outward king of the outward world of mountain and sky and sea.

And this inward king of the world of reflections and fancies, of the world of the Waters, feeds himself with hopes and fears, with joys and sorrows, with loves and hates. He thirsts, they say; and the world of hopes and fears, of loves and hates, ministers to his thirst. And where can the root of what he drinks be? Where but in the Waters? It is the inevitable necessity of the emotional world, the dream-world of fancies and fears, that his life should be ministered to, in this and in no other way.

Then the life of the outward world is no longer the simple life of ape and tiger; what he draws from the outward world,—what he eats, as they say,—is now led and guided by the laws of his inward world; is led and guided by his hopes and fears, his loves and hates. Thus what he eats, though having its root in the Earth, is yet guided by the Waters. His outward, physical life is guided by the inward mental life.

This mental, emotional life, we saw, was the world of the Waters, the world of reflections. And herein lies our hope of salvation. For this middle world can reflect not only the world of Earth that lies beneath it, but also the world of Radiance that soars above it. So that the middle nature of man, which is the heart and king of the middle world, reflects not only the things of Earth, of the physical self, from below, but also the things of Radiance, the things of the intuitional self, from above. And these things of the intuitional self that are above, appear in the fluid background of the emotional self as the ‘gleams’ of intuition, the ‘glow’ of conscience, the ‘fire’ of genius, the ‘dim star’ of moral life, burning within; so universal is this simile of the Radiance, of Fire, for the life of the Higher Self.

Then no longer do the things of the Waters, the hopes and fears, the loves and hates, the dreams and desires, flow in never ceasing, never resting tides. The middle nature has found a resting place; the life of the emotional self is led and guided by the life of the intuitional self; the pure light of the soul, the Radiance, shines across the ever-ebbing, ever flowing waves, illumining them, and leading and warming them into perfect rightness. Thus the great reality of moral life begins; the choosing of the better rather than the dearer; the life of Radiance, rather than the life of the world-food, Earth. And even if this Radiance has sunk down to a little flame, no bigger than a firefly’s glow, if it be fed and cherished, it will grow into a mighty fire, consuming all things, and lighting the whole world with its brightness.

Thus, through the world-food, Earth, must be sought its root, the Waters; and through the Waters must be sought their root, the Radiance. Through the physical, outward life, must be found the inner emotional life, and through this must be found the inmost life of the soul.

But if in the outward life we saw man partaker of the nature of ape and tiger; and if in the middle life, the personal self,—dream-king of a world of dreams,—is partaker of the nature of peacock and love-lorn nightingale, on entering the inner world of the Radiance he must likewise become partaker of its life. And as it is of the nature of Radiance that all sunbeams come forth from the one sun; that sunbeam and sunbeam are brothers together, children of the one father, and at heart one with their father; so it is of the nature of the inner world of Radiance, the world of the soul, that soul and soul are brothers together, children of the one Spirit, and at heart one with that Spirit.

Thus, as, on the dawn of emotional life,—the life of the human self,—that old physical self, with all its partaking in the life of ape and tiger, became antiquated and out of date, and ministered only to the life of the human, self; in the same way, and with greater reality, on the dawn of the radiant life,—the moral life, the life of the soul,—that human self with all its partaking in the nature of peacock and nightingale, becomes out of date and antiquated, and ministers only to the life of the soul, the life of the divine self.

With the beginning of this real life,—lighted with the fire of genius, the glow of intuition,—the old sense of separateness, the pride of the peacock, the desolation of the love-sick nightingale, begins to cease. The intuition of self-hood in those other selves that surround us, begins to grow. We must become the brothers of our brothers as sunbeam is the brother of sunbeam. The great inflexible commandment thunders forth as the voice of triumphant moral law; the great inflexible commandment—that we shall love one another!

Then a the glowing fire of the Radiance, from being at first no bigger than a fire-fly’s lamp, begins to grow, it lights up suddenly one of life’s well-kept secrets. In burning up the illusion of separateness, so well wrapped in Its glamour-garments of space and time, it shews the pure, so long hidden, truth. The truth is, that there is no separateness; that all is one. That the many selves are brothers because they are at heart the One Self; as the sun-beams are brothers because they are all at heart the sun.

Then, as it is found that that old affinity of ours for the ape and tiger, their sensuality and selfishness, were the necessary and inevitable fruit of something rooted in the Real; the necessary and inevitable fruit of our forward striving after real life; so it will be found that the affinities of our middle life, the affinities with peacock and nightingale, were not less the necessary and inevitable fruit of something rooted in the real; that the pride of the peacock is nothing but the dim, thwarted exultation in real being; the first checked and hindered partaking of that Bliss which is the heart of things, the Bliss of the All; and the lovesickness of the nightingale was but the hidden sense of essential oneness; that lovesickness of ours was but the well-hid sense that we should never be separate; that we were essentially one in reality—from the very beginning; however well that oneness was hidden by the old sly glamours and disguises of space and time.

And as we were inflexibly and sincerely true, in the old days, to our physical selves, entering with our whole hearts into our affinities with the ape and the tiger, entering with our whole hearts into the selfishness of the tiger and the sensuality of the ape; so, when through the Waters we have found the Radiance,—when above emotional life we have found the real life, the life of the soul and oneness, we must be inflexibly true to that. As we entered in entire earnestness and seriousness, with our whole hearts into the peacock’s pride, the nightingale’s desolation, with hopes and fears, desires and hates altogether genuine and unfeigned; we must now with equal sincerity, enter into the life of the soul, the life of oneness; choosing the better rather than the dearer, and passing by dear and dearly loved desires. We must come under that imperious commandment of the intuition—that we shall love one another; but in pure sincerity of oneness, and not with shamefaced sentimentality of half-concealed desires.

Otherwise, as falling back from the real, tiger re-becomes tiger, ape re-becomes ape, peacock re-becomes peacock, nightingale re-becomes nightingale; so will man, falling back from the real, re-become all of these.

Desolation and pride and selfishness and sensuality will weld themselves together; and, becoming untruth, wrapping ourselves in untruth, upholding untruth, we shall fall once more into the wide-spread net.

But at last, becoming true to the higher world, as we have been true to the middle world, and the lower world, we shall reach the threshold of that lost wisdom; we shall learn that this Spirit is the Self of all that is, this is the Real, this the Self; and, last of all, we shall learn that this Self we are, that this Self is the real Self of us each and all.

Then will become intelligible the trilogy of the world; the drama of the lower life, the drama of the middle life, the drama of the higher life; of the Earth, the Waters, the Radiance. Then it will be known that the dramatist of it all was no other than that Self which is the real Self of all of us. That our very Self was the ‘inventor of the game’, who ordained all things wisely through endless years.

Thus, in the quaintest symbols and parables, was taught to Shvetaketu, Aruna’s grandson, the struggle of the Higher Self and its victory over the middle nature and the lower self; and its victory by which the true life of man begins.

When the true life of man has been lived,—that life by which man rises above the darkness, above sorrow and separation and longing, to perfect unity in the light, and at last to perfected unity with the light,—when this true life has been lived, man at last becomes one with the Eternal, recognizes his immemorial oneness with the Eternal, which is the Self of all that is; and the own nature of this Self is perfect Being, perfect Consciousness, perfect Bliss.