Sages of the New Covenant
Ishavasyam idam sarvam yat-kincha jagatyam jagat;
Tena tyaktena bhunjitha -ma gridha-magrdhah kasya-svid dhanam.
In this changing world everything is subject to change, yet everything is covered by the Lord. Practice renunciation and be strong in the consciousness of the Self. Do not run after anyone’s wealth.
Everything animate or inanimate that is within the universe is controlled and owned by the Lord. One should therefore accept only those things that are necessary for him / her-self, which are set aside as his / her quota, and one must not accept other things, knowing well to whom they belong.
This Upanishad got the name “Isha”, because the first sloka (verse) starts with the word ‘Isha’. In the introduction, I have briefed the meaning for ‘Isha’, which I once again repeat for your understanding. Isha means the Lord who is the inmost Self of all.
From the following verses from the Bible, we understand that God dwells within every human being:
“Know you not that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? – 1Cor. 3:16
“… do you not know that your body is the temple of Holy Spirit (God) who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s." – 1 Cor. 6: 19 & 20
“… you (every individual) are temple of living God. As God has said: ‘I will dwell in them …..’ - 2 Cor.: 6:16
“in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a habitation of God in the Spirit.” – Eph. 2: 21&22
In fact the word ‘v-asyam’ means “to be clothed”, “to be worn as a garment” and “to be inhabited” which gives an extrapolated meaning to the word ‘Ishavasyam’:– God who is present in our Self is wrapped all over the world like a garment.
This sloka also drives home the message that NOTHING IS PERMANENT THAN CHANGE, except God. What we think as permanent is a maya (illusion). If we look at some of the biblical charters, you would agree how true this statement is!
In fact the life of King Saul was a complete rollercoaster. As the most handsome and tallest man among the Israelites, Saul became the first king of Israel. He had initial success and later had to feel the shame, when Samuel, (who anointed him as the first king of Israel) anointed a shepherd the boy David as a King. Before his disgraceful death in the hand of his enemies – Philistines, his own people (Israelites) have elevated King David above him.
This sloka warns not to run after another person’s wealth. St Paul list the people who cannot inherit the Kingdom of God in Galatians 5: 16-21, in which, he had listed ENEY among the ‘Work of the Flesh’. After detailing the ‘Fruit of the Spirit’, he concludes by saying:
“Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” – Gal. 5: 26
St James too talks about the evil-effects of jealous as follows:
“… where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.” - James 3:16
In one of the collections of proverb by King Solomon, one can learn the following:
“A sound heart is life to the body, but envy is rottenness to the bones.” – Proverbs 14:30
I used to wonder, why God has selected Abram (later God changed his name as Abraham, who can be termed as the forefather for Jews, Muslims, Christians and the Bahá'ís) to bless. But there were several good reasons for God to select him. Abram had least attraction for wealth and particularly of others. When God ask Abram to leave his native place, his father’s house to the land God wanted him to dwell, he immediately obeyed. At the Valley of Shaveh, when the King of Sodom tried to barter Abram’s men in lieu of his wealth, the astounding reply given by Abram exhibited his dislike for kasya svit dhanam (anyone’s wealth). The following is the reply of Abram:
“… I will take nothing, from the thread to a sandal strap, and that I will not take anything that is yours. …” – Gen. 14:23
Abram did not want to touch anything that wasn’t his. When we develop covetous for others wealth, it leads us to become a green-eyed monster. Amidst the relief work in Uttarakhand, I am pained to know that some of the stranded pilgrims and local ‘babas’ (priests) have looted money and jewelry from victims, even by cutting off fingers of the dead. What is the use of taking such pilgrimages, if one cannot control his / her lust for material wealth! These green-eyed monsters bring ruin for themselves and others as well. Let me give two examples from the history:
Why do people envy? Because, we are descendants of Adam, who had tasted the forbidden fruit. Eve and Adam tasted the forbidden due to their sheer greed to become God-like. Actually they were already God-like (“...God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them". – Gen. 1:27), which they had failed to realize.
Eve and Adam succumbed themselves to an illusion (maya) – “… the day you eat of it (forbidden fruit) your eyes will be open and you will be like God …” [Gen. 3:7] - that they are not like God. This maya that they are not God-like earned Death; because by eating the forbidden fruit, Eve and Adam affirmed that they NOT God-like.
We need to realize that the creation of human beings is different from that of others. God created everything in this Earth with His verbal commands, except mankind. God handcrafted man in His own likeness (qualities / attributes) and gave His own breath (Gen. 2:7) to make man alive. As long as humanity believes that they are not God-like, jealousy will continue to dominate the human character. In addition, St James says the following:
“… where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil things will be there” - James 3:16
Those who believe that this maya (sin) is nailed on the cross by Jesus Christ, realizes that they are God-like and consider others too God-like.
Is it not a sin for the human beings to think that they are God-like? No. It is the other way round. If you think that you are not God-like, then you are under the bondage of ‘illusion’ (sin). To drive home this point let me bring the very words of Jesus about How God Will Judge?. Please give a patient reading to the following passage from the Bible (Matt. 25: 31-46):
31“When the Son of Man (God) comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’
40 And the King (God) will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’
41 Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’
44 “Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’
45 Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’
46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
From Matthew 25: 31-46, it is easy to understand that God equates the following people as His brethren – those who are: 1. Hungry, 2. Thirsty, 3. Strangers in our respective places, 4. Naked, 5. Sick and 6. who are in prison. In simple terms, God wants us to see the God who dwells in other human beings. This Isha was the central theme of the Thamizh film: “அன்பே சிவம்” (Anbae Sivam – Love is Lord).
Could we see ‘the God who dwell in human being’ only in the LEASTs? In my commentary to the INVOCATION sloka, I had explained how the creation cannot be seen in isolation without the Creator, by bringing an analogy of dance and the Dancer. Hence, if we understand that God dwells in everyone, including with those whom we feel covetous about, would we envy him / her? Envying others amounts to envying God. Would you envy God? If we apply this principle, we can put an end to this maya (illusion) of being jealous on others.
Why I call jealousy an illusion? Because, it arises from untruth or from another illusion. You may envy somebody thinking that he / she has something special than what you have; but at the same time, you may be aware that the very same person may be envious about you, thinking that you have something special. Hence, the feeling of others to be having something special is an illusion. This illusion (misconception) produces another illusion (sin of being jealous).
It is easy to sermonize not to envy; but how could we keep away this maya (sin) from us? There are two things one need to do:
I can understand the thought process that goes in the minds of the readers. Renunciation? Why? I am taught that I am supposed to inherit the blessings of Abraham and Jacob.
I have to admit to my readers that the “Prosperity Theologians” are successful in putting more dust on the soul, by kindling the passion for material wealth. Some even go to the extent of deeming the people who are materially poor as ‘cursed’ people, as they claim material prosperity is the yardstick for measuring the divine blessing. This is the maya (illusion) of our mind – the after effect of Adam eating the forbidden fruit. The sons of Korah (Psalm 49) had realized that material wealth cannot redeem his soul and had given a good description about the end of those who honor material wealth.
At this juncture, I would like to narrate an instructive incident that happened between the evening of 10th June and the evening of 11th June 323 B.C. in the palace of Nebuchadnezzar II in Babylon, where a mighty conqueror all of a sudden became a great philosopher through his Self-realization. Read the following:
He now longed to reach home to see his mother’s face and bid her his last adieu. But, he had to accept the fact that his sinking health would not permit him to reach his distant homeland. So, the mighty conqueror lay prostrate and pale, helplessly waiting to breathe his last; may be poisoned or suffering from typhoid fever and malaria. He called his generals and said, “I will depart from this world soon, I have three wishes, please carry them out without fail.” With tears flowing down their cheeks, the generals agreed to abide by their king’s last wishes.
“My first desire is that,” said mighty conqueror, “My physicians alone must carry my coffin.” After a pause, he continued, “Secondly, I desire that when my coffin is being carried to the grave, the path leading to the graveyard be strewn with gold, silver and precious stones which I have collected in my treasury”.
The king felt exhausted after saying this. He took a minute’s rest and continued. “My third and last wish is that both my hands be kept dangling out of my coffin”. The people who had gathered there wondered at the king’s strange wishes. But no one dare bring the question to their lips.
His favorite general kissed his hand and pressed them to his heart. “O king, we assure you that your wishes will all be fulfilled. But tell us why do you make such strange wishes?”
At this the conqueror took a deep breath and said: “I would like the world to know of the three lessons I have just learnt.
His last words: “Bury my body, do not build any monument, keep my hands outside so that the world knows the person who won the world had nothing in his hands when dying“. With these words, the king closed his eyes. Soon he let death conquer him and breathed his last.
This was the end of Alexander, the great Macedonian king. Alexander, the Great realized how his conquests, his great army, his sharp sword and all his wealth were of no use against his racing death. What a great realization!
At this point time, I want the readers to know what Jesus had said while talking about the Kingdom of God:
“ … Therefore I say to you, so not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which has neither storehouse nor barn; and God feed feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds? And which of you by worrying add one cubit to his stature? If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow thrown into the oven, how much more He clothe you, O you of little faith? And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father (God) knows that you need these things. But seek the Kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.” – Luke 12: 22-31
In addition, I want to brief the incident that is mentioned in the Gospels. A rich young ruler met Jesus to know the means to inherit eternal life (Kingdom of God). During the interaction with him, as Jesus came to know that this young man had been following all the commandments God, hence, He suggested to the rich young ruler the following:
“Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.” – Luke 18:22
This is the renunciation, this sloka is talking about. We learn from the following passage that this practice was religiously followed in the Early Churches during the time of apostles:
“Now all those believed (the liberation the humanity has got from the Maya at the cross, with the bloodshed of Jesus Christ) were together, and all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods and divided them among all, as anyone had needed. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from houses to house, they ate good with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people”. – Acts 2: 44-47
If you look at the current practices of churches, it is quite different from the early churches and the reason being that at a subconscious level, the Theologians and Preachers have brain-washed the congregation hat they are not God-like with their phony sermons and books; and as a result human beings fail to realize their original ‘likeness’. Hence, nurture this consciousness – Human-beings are God-like and become oblivious to all the illusions of the World.
My grandfather had given my mother a big-piece of sandalwood as Seethanam (marital-gifts). During my childhood days I used to make sandal-paste by rubbing it with water on a scratch-stone, and apply it on my body as smoothening agent for summer prickly-heat. As sandal-powders are available, we did not use it for long time and my mother had kept the sandalwood in her wardrobe. When I picked-up the sandalwood recently, it did not smell like sandalwood, because of the chemical fresheners, my mom had kept in her wardrobe – the fragrance of the sandalwood is suppressed and only the odor of chemical fresheners prevailed. But, when I rubbed the sandalwood little on stone, the odor of the chemical fresheners disappeared and the natural fragrance of the sandalwood became predominant once again. Similarly, the inner core of human-beings cannot be changed; because human-beings are created in the likeness of God. All illusions that are rotting the human mind will wane away, once Self-Realization sets in and in the process the attachment to the material wealth will also disappear. But we have to keep reminding ourselves the following:
Let me conclude my commentary with the following words of St Paul, which he had stated, while making a call to pray for Self-realization, to the people of Ephesus (a commercial center of Asia Minor):
“… He (God) would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height – to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God". – Eph. 3: 16-19
Everything animate or inanimate that is within the universe is clothed by the God and susceptible to change, except God, who is in control of the individuals and the universe, apportioning the resources according to the needs. Those who renounce wealth and do not have covetous for another person’s possession enjoy what God has given them, as they have become conscious of their Self (which is the dwelling place of God).
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Sages of the New Covenant