II.
[Translation]

The knower of the Eternal obtains the supreme; therefore this is declared: Real, wisdom, endless is the Eternal; he who knows that, hid in the secret place, in the supreme firmament of the heart, he obtains all desires through the Eternal that is wisdom.

From that, verily, from this Self, shining-ether was brought forth; from shining-ether, breath; from breath, fire; from fire, the waters; from the waters, earth.

From earth, growths; from growths, food; from food, seed; from seed, man.

He verily, this man, is formed of the essence of food. His head is here; his right side, here; his left side, here; this is himself; this is his basis and support.

As this verse declares:

From food, verily, beings are born,—whatsoever beings dwell on the earth; then by food they live, and to food also they go, at the end.

For food is the eldest of beings, therefore it is called the cause of all growth; they all gain food, who worship food as the Eternal.

Food is the eldest of beings, therefore it is called the cause of all growth :—from food, beings are born; when born, they increase by food; beings are eaten and eat; therefore this is called food that is eaten.

But besides this, formed of the essence of food, there is another inner self, life-formed.

By this, that other is filled; and this, verily, is of the nature of man,—according to the manlike nature of that other, this also is of the nature of man.

Of this life-formed self, the forward-life is the head; the distributing-life is the right side; the downward-life is the left side; the ether is the self; the earth, the basis and support.

As this verse declares:

By life, the bright ones live, and men and cattle also; life verily is the life of beings, and therefore it is called the cause of all life.

They verily reach completed life, who worship life as the Eternal.

This, verily, is the embodied, self of that which comes before it.

But besides this, the life-formed, there is another inner self, mind-formed.

By this, that other is filled; and this, verily, is of the nature of man,—according to the manlike nature of that other, this also is of the nature of man.

Of this mind-formed self, the Yajur, verily, is the head; the Rig, the right side; the Sama, the left side; instruction the self; Atharva-Angirasa the basis and support.

As this verse declares:

That from which voices turn back without gaining it, and mind; knowing that bliss of the Eternal, he fears not for evermore.

This, verily, is the embodied self of that which comes before it.

But besides this, the mind-formed, there is another inner self, knowledge-formed.

By this, that other is filled; and this, verily, is of the nature of man,—according to the manlike nature of that other, this also is of the nature of man.

Of this knowledge-formed self, faith is the head; righteousness, the right side; reality is the left side; union is the self; the world-soul is the basis and support.

As this verse declares:

Knowledge draws forth sacrifice, it draws forth works also; knowledge all the bright ones worship, as the eldest, the Eternal.

If he knows knowledge as the Eternal, if he wanders not from this; in the body, putting off all darkness, he attains all his desires.

This, verily, is the embodied self of that which comes before it.

But besides this, the knowledge-formed, there is another inner self, bliss-formed.

By this, that other is filled; and this, verily, is of the nature of man,—according to the manlike nature of that other, this also is of the nature of man.

Of this bliss-formed self, what is dear is the head; joy is the right side; rejoicing, the left side; bliss, the self; the Eternal, the basis and support.

As this verse declares:

Being non-being, verily, this comes into being; he who knows the Eternal as non-being,—if he knows that the Eternal yet really is,—him they know as really being.

This is, verily, the embodied self of what goes before it.

Then there are these questions: whether he who has not attained wisdom, on going forth from this world goes to that world; and whether he who has attained wisdom, on going forth from this world, attains that world.

He formed the desire: Let me become great, let me produce beings. He brooded with fervor; having brooded with fervor, he put forth all this existence, whatsoever exists. Having put forth this, he went forth after it, and entered into it. Having gone forth after it and entered into it, he became the real and the outward; the defined and the undefined; the encompassed and the unencompassed; knowledge and unknowledge; reality and the untrue. He became all that depends on the real, whatsoever there is. Therefore they call this dependent on reality.

As this verse declares

Non-being was this, verily, in the beginning.

Therefrom being was born. This he made as himself. Therefore this is called well made. And as this is well made, therefore it is excellent in essence. He, verily, who has gained this essence, becomes full of bliss. For who would live, who would breathe, if this shining-ether were not bliss? This therefore is the cause of bliss.

For when he finds the fearless, the resting-place in this invisible, selfless, undefined, unencompassed being, then he is one who has gained the fearless.

But he who makes for himself antagonism in this being, for him fear is; fear is his who sees and believes thus.

As this verse declares:

Through fear of that, Breath blows; through fear of that, rises the Sun; through fear of that, Fire and Moon; and Death runs as fifth.

This, therefore, is the measuring of bliss:

Let there be a youth of excellent nature and fully accomplished, well taught, full of firmness and power; let this whole earth be full of riches for him. This is one human bliss.

And if there be a hundred measures of such human bliss, this is one bliss of the celestial singers of human form, or of a sage who has ceased from desire.

And if there be a hundred measures of the bliss of celestial singers of human form, this is one bliss of the divine celestial singers, or of a sage who has ceased from desire.

And if there be a hundred measures of the bliss of divine celestial singers, this is one bliss of the fathers who dwell in the long-lasting world, or of a sage who has ceased from desire.

And if there be a hundred measures of the bliss of the fathers who dwell in the long-lasting world, this is one bliss of the divine beings born in the birth-world, or of a sage who has ceased from desire.

And if there be a hundred measures of the bliss of the divine beings born in the birth-world, this is one bliss of the divine formative beings,—those who through works ascend to the divine beings,—or of a sage who has ceased from desire.

And if there be a hundred measures of the bliss of the divine formative beings, this is one bliss of the pure divine beings, or of the sage who has ceased from desire.

And if there be a hundred measures of the bliss of the pure divine beings, this is one bliss of the Sky-lord Indra, or of the sage who has ceased from desire.

And if there be a hundred measures of the bliss of the Sky-lord Indra, this is one bliss of the great lord of Vrhaspati, or of the sage who has ceased from desire.

And if there be a hundred measures of the bliss of the great lord Vrhaspati, this is one bliss of the lord of beings, Prajapati, or of the sage who has ceased from desire.

And if there be a hundred measures of the bliss of the lord of beings, Prajapati, this is one bliss of the Eternal, or of the sage who has ceased from desire.

And the power that is here, in man, and the power that is there, in the sun, is one and the same.

He who knows thus, on going forth from this world reaches and is united with the self formed of the essence of food; he reaches and is united with the life-formed self; he reaches and is united with the mind-formed self; he reaches and is united with the knowledge-formed self; he reaches and is united with the bliss-formed self.

As this verse declares:

That from which voices turn back without reaching it, and mind also,—knowing that bliss of the Eternal, he fears nothing any more.

This thought no longer burns in him:

What have I not done well, what have I done ill?

He who knows thus, embraces them as Self; he embraces them both as Self, who knows thus. Thus the Book of Hidden Wisdom.


Commentary: The Five Veils of the Self

Who could live, who could breathe,
if that shining-ether were not bliss?

This sentence strikes the note of the teaching, that has been called the Lotus of the bliss of the Eternal.

It contains two distinct chapters or phases of those instructions which are spoken of as following and crowning the four Vedas. The first phase is the teaching of emanations; the second is the teaching of the five veils of the Self, or, as they are called here, the five inner selves. But, by some accident of memory or arrangement, the second part of the teaching of emanation has been divided from the first by a long intervening section on the five veils, which, again, is separated by a section on cosmogony, from the verses that form its legitimate conclusion. This separation and intermingling of incongruous material is, perhaps, the result of accident; perhaps the result of design,—a simple expedient to turn away at the outset students whose sole motive is curiosity, or who “having no depth of earth” will bear only a swiftly growing, swiftly withering crop of good intentions.

But if this be the design, it is so transparent that one needs only to rearrange the sections to give the teaching perfect sequence and lucidity. First, the teaching of emanations.

“Being unmanifest, verily, That comes into manifestation; he who knows the Eternal as unmanifest, and yet knows that the Eternal is, him they know as really being. . . . He formed the desire: let me become great, let me produce beings. He brooded with fervor. Having brooded with fervor, he put forth all this, whatsoever exists. Having put forth this, he went forth after it, and entered into it.
“From this Self, verily, shining-ether was brought forth; from shining-ether, breath; from breath, fire; from fire, the waters; from the waters, earth; From earth, growths; from growths, food; from food, seed; from seed, man.”

Here, as everywhere in the Books of Hidden Wisdom, there is a very clear sevenfold classification; the seven outward stages of manifestation: The Eternal, Manifestation or the Voice, Ether, Air, Fire, Waters, Earth.

Then again, a return along these stages back toward the unmanifested; with Man as the fifth stage of the homeward journey.

Then the second division of this chapter, the teaching of the five veils of the Self, or the five inner selves; again requiring the paragraphs to be arranged, and no more, in order to make the instructions perfectly clear, regular, and symmetrical. The five veils are described thus:

“First, the inner self formed of the essence of food,”—the form of the body of man. It is clearly not the physical body, for, later on, we are told that, on “going forth” from the physical body, the man first reaches and is united with this inner self of the essence of food. This “going forth” has evidently two meanings, here as elsewhere; it is either the upward return of death, after a single life, or it is the far greater upward return, after the whole circle of births and rebirths; the great upward return to the Eternal, along the “small old path, stretching far away; the path that the sages tread,” as another Book of Hidden Wisdom calls it.

Then, after this form of the body of man, comes the next veil of the Self, the next inner self:

“The life-formed self; by this life-formed self the form of the body is filled; it is also of the shape of man,—according to the manlike shape of the other, this is also of the shape of man.”

This vital self or vital veil contains the five-fold life: the upward-life, uniting-life, forward-life, distributing-life, downward-life. And this vital self is the self embodied in the preceding formal self.

Then above this vital self, and embodied in it, comes the emotional self or the mind-formed self, as it is here called; the veil of the impulses that set the vital forces in action.

The comparison of these impulses with the four Vedas and the secret instructions as fifth, is not so fanciful as it at first sight seems, because the songs, hymns, chants, and charms of the Vedas were considered as impulses and forces, set in motion by the worshippers, and impelling the “gods” to bring to the worshippers a desired return in the form of some satisfaction or gratification. These gratifications, in far the greater number of cases, were “sons, grandsons of a hundred years, horses and elephants and gold;” the chief utility of the sons and grandsons being to pray their progenitor into paradise, and keep him there by the force of their yearly rites.

Therefore the comparison of the Vedic songs and chants and charms with the impulses of the body of desire is far more just than a first glance shows. As before, this self of impulse is embodied in the vital self that precedes it.

Within this self of impulse, again, another inner self is embodied; the knowledge-formed self, the knowledge-formed veil of the self. It is the knowing, apprehending part of man; the part that stands above the impulses, and gradually comes to comprehend their meaning, direction, and tendency, so that, in due time, these impulses and forces may be turned to the purposes of of the Self. The five elements of this inner self, as understood by the teachers of this book of hidden wisdom, are: faith, righteousness, reality, union, the approach to the world-soul. They make up the inner sense of the trueness of things and the real values of things; and especially the sense of the truth that the self is one with the Self; that the individual is one with the Supreme. The end of this knowledge, we are told, is the putting off of all darkness while in the body, so that, on going forth, the Eternal may be attained. This knowledge-formed self is embodied in the self that precedes it,—the self of impulse and desire.

Within, above it, is the bliss-formed self, whose parts are joy, gladness, rejoicing and bliss; whose proper home is the Eternal. From the Supreme Self it is divided only by the thinnest vesture of illusion, the illusion of separateness from the Eternal.

Then the five veils: formal, vital, impulsive, intellectual, spiritual. They very evidently correspond with the form, vitality, body of desire, mind, and soul, of another sevenfold classification; but their relation to the more usual threefold or fourfold division of the Upanishads is not so immediately evident.

This threefold division that has already been examined at great length is of course that of the three fires, the three vestures, the three selves, the three worlds.

Taking the last, the three worlds, we find that they are often spoken of as earth, mid-world and heaven; or again, as earth, the waters, and radiance; or, yet again, as waking, dreaming, and dreamless intuition.

How, then, are the five veils of the Self, the five-inner selves of the present teaching, to be correlated with these three worlds so often found in other teachings? Apparently in this way: to the outermost of the three worlds belongs one veil; to the innermost also one; to the midmost, three, Of these three, the lower is a reflection of the outermost world in the waters, from below; while the higher is a reflection of the highest world, from above. Thus the formal body, the formal veil, of the fivefold series belongs to the lowest and outermost of the three worlds,—earth, or waking, physical life.

The vital body is a reflection of this in the mid-world, the mirror-world of the “waters;” it shares the nature of the world of the “waters” in the ebb and flow of vital life; it bears the imprint and reflection of the outermost world, as “after the manlike shape of the formal body it has a manlike shape.”

The emotional, mental veil, the mind-formed, the body of desire, is most characteristic of the mid-world, the world of the waters, and shares its proper nature. Like the waves and currents of the waters, the impulses ebb and flow, rise and fall, flow this way and that; and this fugitive, fleeting nature of theirs is very well brought out in the philosophical definition of mind. “What is mind?” it is asked, in Shankara’s Catechism; and the answer is, “Mind is that which intends and doubts;—which builds together and unbuilds again,”—to give the words their strictest and most simple meaning. It is, of course, clear that this is a quite different use of the word “mind,” from that which would identify it with spirit; so that, perhaps, it would be better invariably to use some word like emotion or impulse, which really build up and unbuild again, and to avoid the word “mind” altogether.

Then the knowledge-formed veil, also belonging to the middle world, but being a reflection in it of the pure intuition of the third and divine world above; this makes up the three veils that belong to the mid-world of the waters, of dream, of fluid life; one reflected from below, one from above, one between these two.

To the divine world belongs the last veil, the bliss-formed; because bliss is part of the proper nature of the divine world, as are also eternity and wisdom; the opposite of these, misery, death, ignorance, being no more than abnormal, unnatural departures from the divine world, and exclusions of the divine world.

Separated by “the measuring of bliss” from the rest of the teaching of the five veils, stands a paragraph, whose true place is clearly immediately after the teaching of the veils, in answer to the questions as to those “who have gone forth,” and the worlds they reach.

“He who knows this, on going forth, reaches successively and is united with the formal self, the vital self, the emotional self, the intellectual self, the blissful self”.

The “measuring of bliss” seems to embody a teaching of the worlds above the human world, and the lives and dwellers therein; it may well be compared with the Buddhist teaching on the same question, that follows the teaching of the Noble Eightfold Path.

Then the conclusion of this, as of every teaching, the divine Self “from which voice turns back, and mind also, without reaching it; knowing that bliss of the Eternal, he fears nothing any more.”


Part III of Taittiriya Upanishad