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OM, AUM

Hinduism
Many Paths to One God

Svetaketus Education
a story explaining the concept of Self and Atman

There lived once Svetaketu Aruneya, grandson of Aruna. To him his father, Uddalaka, the son of Aruna, said, 

". ..In the beginning, my dear, there was that only which is, one only, without a second. ...It thought, may I be many, may I grow forth. It sent forth fire. That fire thought, may I be many, may I grow forth. It sent forth water. And therefore, whenever anybody anywhere is hot and perspires, water is produced on him from fire alone. Water thought, may I be many, may I grow forth. It sent forth earth [food]. Therefore, when it rains anywhere, most food is produced. From water alone is eatable food produced. Of all living things there are three origins only, that which springs from an egg, that which springs from a living being, and that which springs from a germ. ... 

"The red color of burning fire [agni] is the color of fire, the white color of fire is the color of water, the black color of fire the color of earth. ...Now learn from me, my friend, how those three beings, when they reach man, become each of them tripartite.

"The earth food when eaten becomes threefold; its grossest portion becomes feces, its middle portion flesh, its subtlest portion mind. Water when drunk becomes threefold; its grossest portion becomes water, its middle portion blood, its subtlest portion breath. Fire [i.e., in oil, butter, etc.] when eat- en becomes threefold; its grossest portion becomes bone, its middle portion becomes marrow, its subtlest portion speech.

"For truly, my child, mind comes of earth, breath of water, speech of fire."

"Please, Sir, inform me still more," said the son.

"Be it so, my child," the father replied. ..."As the bees, my son, make honey by collecting the juices of distant trees and reduce the juice into one form. And as these juices have no discrimination, so that they might say, I am the juice of this tree or that, in the same manner, my son, all these creatures, when they have become merged in the True [either in deep sleep or in death], know not that they are merged in the True. Whatever these creatures are here, whether a lion, a wolf, a boar, a worm, a midge, a gnat, a mosquito, that they become again and again. Now that which is that subtle essence, in it all that exists has its self. It is the True. It is the Self, and thou, O Svetaketu, art it. ..."

"Please, Sir, inform me still more," said the son.

"Be it so, my child," the father replied. "Fetch me thence a fruit of the banyan tree."

"Here is one, Sir."
"Break it."
"It is broken, Sir." 
"What do you see there?" 
"These seeds, almost infinitesimal." 
"Break one of them." 
"It is broken, Sir." 
"What do you see there?"
"Not anything, Sir."

The father said, "My son, that subtle essence which you do not perceive there, of that very essence this great banyan tree exists. Believe it, my son. That which is the subtle essence, in it all that exists has its self. It is the True. It is the Self, and thou, O Svetaketu, art it."

"Please, Sir, inform me still more," said the son.

"Be it so, my child," the father replied. "Place this salt in water, and then wait on me in the morning." 

The son did as he was commanded. The father said to him, "Bring me the salt which you placed in the water last night." The son, having looked for it, found it not, for, of course, it was melted. 

The father said, "Taste it from the surface of the water. How is it?" The son replied, "It is salt." "Taste it from the. ..bottom. How is it?" The son replied, "It is salt." The father said, "Throw it away and then wait on me." 

He did so; but salt exists forever. 

Then his father said, "Here also, in this body, forsooth, you do not perceive the True, my son; but there indeed it is. That which is the subtle essence, in it all that exists has its self. It is the True. It is the Self, and thou, O Svetaketu, art it."

Source: Chhandogya Upanishad, Prapathaka VI

See Also:

Universal Self (atman) and Ultimate Reality (Brahman)

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