We are familiar with the one sun we see in the sky, but there are countless suns like ours. When night comes the sky is full of stars. Though we call them stars they are all suns, but being very far away they look small. Our sun is not very large. Among the countless suns it is of average size.
There are much larger suns in the universe. One calculation by scientists estimates that there are about forty million suns. The experience of the sages is that there are countless suns, but the sun referred to in this sutra is that supreme sun from which all other suns receive light. The reference is to the supreme sun which is the root and primal source of light - and from which radiate all the interwoven rays in the universe. The whole of existence is the manifestation of this sun.
Remember, life, existence, is unavoidably linked with the sun's rays. At present scientists are very worried because they fear that our sun will cool down during the next three or four million years.
It has cast its rays for long enough and is losing its radiation. It is now a waning star whose rays are diminishing every day. At the most, they say, it will radiate for four million more years, and one day it will be completely cold and life on earth will become extinct, because the whole of existence is dependent on the rays of the sun. The whole of existence - the blossoming flowers, the singing birds, the throbbing of life in man - is dependent on the sun's rays.
In this sutra is described that great sun with which the existence of all the suns is joined. This great sun can never be attained to by our journey and search without. As I told you this morning, our sun is the manifest Brahman. The great sun which is being described here is the unmanifest Brahman.
It is the seed-Brahman. This whole existence is an expansion of that unmanifest source. From it this whole universe of qualities and forms is expanding and being created.
The sage prays here, "O sun, withdraw the network of your rays." Many things are implicit in the drawing in of the sun's rays, because the whole expanse of existence is linked with them. The sage says here, "I have overcome death, O sun; now withdraw the very spread of your existence." It is just as I told you: "I have overcome darkness, now withdraw the light as well!" In this sutra the sage prays to that great sun to draw all the expanse of life into itself. "I have transcended death, now I wish to transcend life also."
This is really the longing to transcend all dualities, because as long as duality persists the other is always present, no matter what we may achieve. However much life we may find, death will always accompany it. It is duality, it is the other side of the same coin. It is impossible to keep one side of a coin and throw away the other. All we can do is keep one side turned down and the other side showing. But the hidden side is waiting to show up, just because it is there - it has not gone away.
Nobody can throw away the one and save the other at the same time, but throughout his life man foolishly behaves as though this is possible. He prays, "O God, save me from miseries, and give me happiness." They are the two sides of the same coin. He wants to retain happiness but does not appreciate that unhappiness will surely follow it. He prays for honor and respect, not seeing that dishonor follows. He prays, "I don't want death, I want life," and in praying for life, he forgets that death is sure to follow it. In this world when a person demands the one, he gets the other without asking for it.
You must be willing to accept both or neither. Whoever is willing to accept both becomes free from both; and whoever is prepared to leave both also becomes free from both. To willingly accept both life and death is to hold no preference for life and no aversion towards death. Holding no preference for life, one is liberated. What happiness is there in happiness and what misery is there in misery for one who accepts both happiness and misery? Both negate each other when both are willingly accepted and a void is created.
One who says, "l am willing to give up both happiness and unhappiness," also goes beyond them.
But mind persuades us to leave unhappiness and to hold onto happiness. There are ways to break this pattern of the mind: either to be prepared to accept both, or to become indifferent to both. Their polarity, their opposition towards each other, is simultaneous; they are aspects of one and the same existence. So the sage says, "Withdraw your rays, O sun, so that all of life may be drawn together and contracted inwards."
Everything goes forth from this great sun. So if we understand the longing of the sage correctly, it is this: "I long to see that from which everything goes forth, and towards which everything is drawn.
I desire to see the root, the original. I long to see that from which the whole universe is created and into which the universe, in its ultimate annihilation, is absorbed; from which this vast expanse of existence spreads out and into which the great destruction draws it all back."
It is for this reason that the sun is also known as Yama - the god of death. Bear this in mind: Yama is the god of death and the sun is the god of life. But remember, death comes from the same place from which life comes. Death does not come from any other place, because the two cannot be separated. It is not that life comes from one place and death from another. If this were so we would keep life and abandon death. So the sun is called Yama also. The word yama is useful in other senses too. Those who named death Yama were remarkable people. The word yama means the controller. They have called death the controller of life. If death were not to control life, there would be great anarchy and confusion. Death comes and quietens all mischief. Death is rest. Just as a man sleeps and rests at night after a hard day's labor, so death gives us rest.
There would be great chaos in your life if you did not sleep for five or ten days. Your brain would be perplexed, agitated, disordered. Sleeping at night saves you from this anguish and agitation. It gives you order and refreshes you for the morning. Looking deeper into death, one sees that it is like a night's rest at the end of a lifetime of tumult and unrest - the respite from a hard life's labor refreshing you for the dawning of a new life. Hence the god of death is called Yama. He controls and brings order to life. If he were not there, life would be a puzzling and confused thing. Death is not the enemy of life. Yama declares death to be the friend of life. If death were not there, our life would be insane and chaotic.
You will be very surprised if you look at this phenomenon from other perspectives, because from its larger implications many flowers blossom - many valuable hints. If a person finds abundance of happiness and no miseries at all, he will go mad. This statement looks strange, it is difficult to grasp it. If you have happiness unmixed with miseries, then happiness will drive you crazy. It is interesting to observe that there are few lunatics in poor and miserable societies. There are far more lunatics in happy and affluent societies. At present, America has the greatest number of lunatics on this earth.
What has happened?
Misery is a balancing influence, a regulator. We feel the thorns in a rosebush as enemies, but they are for the protection of roses, they are a kind of regulator. Life controls, regulates itself through polarities; through opposites the balance is maintained. If you watch an acrobat walking on a tightrope, you can see a metaphysical fact in his trick. We watch, but we fail to see. When he walks on the rope you will see him balancing himself with a long bamboo in his hands. When he swings to the left, it is to avoid falling to the right, and when he is likely to fall to the right, he swings to the left. Thus he balances, preventing himself from falling by swinging between the opposites. To maintain the balance he has to swing to the opposite side.
Death is the balancing factor of life. Unhappiness is the balancing factor of happiness. Darkness is the balancing factor of light. Material objects are the balancing factor of consciousness. This is what makes the people who called death Yama extraordinary. It is certain that they had no enmity with death. They knew the essence, the truth of death. They said, "We know that you, death, are the controller of life; if you did not exist there would be great anarchy." Think a bit. Suppose nobody died in a house for several hundred years; it would not be necessary to send anyone to a lunatic asylum, because the house itself would become a madhouse. On one side the old pass away and on the other side children are born; a balancing like that of the acrobat is going on, and will continue for all time.
Therefore the sage says, "O great sun, O Yama, you are the giver of life, you are the balancing controller of life and death. Withdraw all your rays. Withdraw your life. Withdraw your death also. I want to know the element which is beyond both life and death, which is never born, nor ever dies. I long to know that original source. I long to know that first moment when there was nothing - when there was total void from whose nothingness everything was created. I long to know that ultimate moment when everything will again be absorbed and nothing will remain. I long to know that void from which everything is born. I long to know that void in which everything is absorbed. I pray you, withdraw all the profusion of your rays."
Surely this is not a prayer addressed to any sun seen without. This is a prayer made after reaching that place within, beyond which lies the final destination from where a jump is taken into the beginningless and endless. This prayer, "O sun, withdraw everything of yours," belongs to this moment. A great courage, a final daring is required to make such a prayer, because one may think, "Can I be saved where life and death are shrunken away and all the rays of that great sun withdrawn?
I too shall perish."
But the longing of the sage is this: "I may be saved or I may perish; this is no longer the question.
The matter is only my longing to know the one who always is. I long to know the one who is, even when everything is lost and destroyed. I also will be lost, but I want to know that which is not lost."
Countless people during countless ages have searched for truth in this world, but nowhere in this world has such a search been made as the one made through this inner land. There is no parallel instance anywhere in this world of such an ultimate search and such a final test of courage as that dared by some of the explorers of this inner land.
Even after making long investigations I have been unable to find people who were willing to be annihilated in their quest for truth. There have been many seekers of truth in this world who made but one condition, "Saving myself, I want to know the truth." But as long as 'I' is saved, you will know only the world - samsara - because 'I' is a part and parcel of the world. If someone tells seekers such as Aristotle, Hegel and Kant, "You will be able to know truth if you search within yourselves,"
such people will reply, "What purpose is there in knowing such a truth? What is the use of knowing a truth which annihilates us?" Their search is with this one condition: "We want to save ourselves and know the truth."
Those who, seeking truth, sought also to preserve themselves, never knew the truth; instead they fabricated it. They manufactured truth. That is why Hegel wrote long books and Kant propounded deep and subtle theories and principles on truth. But there is absolutely no value, no importance, in the writing and principles of those who are not prepared to seek the self. If you ask Kant or Hegel for their opinion of this sage of the Upanishad, they will say, "He is a lunatic. What value is there if you lose yourself attaining truth?"
But the sage's understanding is profound and deep. He says, "'I' is part and parcel of untruth, a part of the world, of samsara. If I desire that this mundane existence go away, that truth come to me, and that my 'I' within remain intact, then I am trying the impossible. If this worldly existence is to go away, it has to go completely - from within as well as from without. On one side, the objects without must disappear, and on the other side, the 'I' within must disappear. The form without and form within must pass away, leaving a void within and without. Therefore if truth is to be found, the unavoidable condition for it is to lose oneself. I pray to you, O great sun, to consume everything of yours unconditionally. Withdraw your whole expanse. Return to your seed of origin. Return to that place where there was nothing, so that I may be able to know that from which everything proceeds!"
This is the ultimate jump. When a man gathers the courage for this jump, he becomes one with the supreme truth. It is not possible to be one with the supreme truth without losing oneself. Hence Western philosophers, in their attempt to seek truth, have been unable to go beyond human, worldly truth. Theirs is a search of man; it is not existential, it pertains to human beings only. The search of the sage of the East is not for worldly, human truths but for existential truths. He says, "What will you ever know about the ocean by standing on its shore? I shall know it by sinking into it." But even sinking into it we do not merge into it completely - we and the ocean still remain apart.
So the sage says, "Since this is the case, I shall become an effigy made of salt so that I can dissolve into it. I shall know the ocean by merging into it - by being the ocean itself. I shall be one with the ocean. I shall be salty as it is salty. I shall be water as it is water. I shall be a wave in its waves. I shall be an endless depth in its endless depths. Then and then only will I be able to know it."
It is not possible to know it before all this. Before this, we can have an acquaintance with it but not existential knowledge. Standing on the shore, we can only become acquainted with the ocean. To know it, we must dissolve into it.
Enough for today.
Now let us prepare ourselves to dissolve.