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April 27, 2015
Yoga teachers, Gurus, and Swamis,
Many yoga teacher training interns ask, "Why read the Upanishads?" Please feel free to give your opinion of the Upanishads. But what are the Upanishads? This means to sit near as in listening to ones guru. Written around 600-550 BC. were a new approach for inquiry into the deeper spiritual meanings of life. They are commentaries on the previous Vedas, and are also known as Vedanta, which means end of the Vedas.
They focused on meditation and philosophy and today remain the basis for Hindu thought of the numerous schools. Philosophically, they are questioning the nature of reality by accepting a universal Oneness (Brahman) that can be experienced by an individual soul (atman). Altered states of consciousness, including dreaming and dreamless sleep, were explored. They wondered who was doing the knowing and thinking, what caused life, and why they existed at all.
There continued to be sacrifice, but on an internal and mystical level. To become free, they were taught to let go of their ego through study, meditation and wisdom. In one of the Samaveda commentaries, the Maitrayaniya Upanishad, we find ancient teachings on yoga meditation that uses the breath and the mind together in chanting OM as a way to let go of suffering. It is thought that this new method was meant to yoke together the universal Brahman with the individual atman.
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