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The Self in All Brahman, The Lord of LoveThe One Becomes ManyControl, Compassion, Generosity

Upanishads/The One Becomes Many

Meditation and Reading taken from The Upanishads, translated by Eknath Easwaran
All other text is by Cynthia Stewart

For a historical introduction to this sacred text, see Leader Resource 1 - Historical Introduction -
Today's Themes

One of the basic tenets of the Upanishads is that the Self and Brahman (also called the Lord of Love) are one; another is that Brahman is the both the source of creation and the reality of all that exists. The Judeo-Christian scriptures speak of a God who creates out of nothing, but the Upanishads speak of Brahman manifesting everything from his very being. He became - and remains - all that is, including ignorance, fear and death. In our reading, Brahman is referred to as the Self, highlighting the fact that what we are in our true nature is the same as the divine being who is the Source of all. We also hear tell of Purusha, the cosmic being or spiritual element from which all elements of the universe were created; sometimes Purusha is used interchangeably with the term Atman or Self.

Our reading is a creation myth, one of dozens that populate Hindu writings. It begins with the Self creating the world and then its guardians, the gods and the humans; the differentiation between these is not clear in this myth, as humans are considered a microcosm of the macrocosmic universe. We also read of ambhas, marichi, mara and apa; the meaning of each of these is just as it is described in the reading.

Words used in this session:
ambhas – the highest world, held up by the sky
marichi – the sky
mara – the earthly, mortal world
apa – the world beneath the earth
apana – the force used to make something leave the body, like breath being exhaled

Call To Worship

Imagine a flower growing on a leaf.
Imagine the leaf springing from a branch.
Imagine the branch reaching outward from a tree.
Imagine the tree connected to its roots.
Imagine the roots flaring through the ground.
Imagine the ground supported by rock.
Imagine the rock dissolving into magma at the earth’s core.
Imagine the magma held in place by the spinning of the planet.
Imagine the planet spinning because of its relation to sun, moon and stars.
The flower grows because the cosmos move in space.
     Just as the flower is connected to the cosmos, so are you and I connected to each other, and to the cosmos,
     and to the Unseen Reality at the heart of all connection.


The Lord of Love willed: “Let me be many!”
And in the depths of his meditation
He created everything that exists.
Meditating, he entered into everything.

He who has no form assumed many forms;
He who is infinite appeared finite;
He who is everywhere assumed a place;
He who is all wisdom caused ignorance;
He who is real caused unreality.
It is he who has become everything.
It is he who gives reality to all.

          Taittiriya Upanishad II.6.4-7.4
          (Eknath Easwaran translation)


Before the world was created, the Self
Alone existed; nothing whatever stirred.
Then the Self thought: “Let me create the world.”
He brought forth all the world out of himself:
Ambhas, high above the sky; Marichi,
The sky; Mara, the middle region that is earth;
And Apa, the realm of waters below.

The Self thought: “I have created these worlds.
Let me now create guardians for these worlds.”
From the waters he drew forth Purusha
And gave him a form. As the Self brooded
Over the form, a mouth opened, as does
An egg, giving forth speech and fire; nostrils
Opened with the power of breathing the air;
Eyes opened, giving rise to sight and sun;
And ears opened to hear the sound in space.
Skin appeared and from it hair; from hair came
Plants and trees. The heart gushed forth; from the heart
Came the mind, and from the mind came the moon.
The navel opened with the downward force,
Apana, giving rise to death. The sex organ rose
With living water which gave rise to birth.

Thus came these guardians into the mighty
Ocean of existence.

          Aitareya Upanishad I.1-4, 2.1
          (Eknath Easwaran translation)


You are a part of the limitless whole,
     the creation and the destruction,
     the death and the rebirth.
You are a creature come straight from the divine,
     with the divine ability to dream a new thing into being.

Go now into the world created for us, the world that we continue to create with our actions.
And as you go, dream wisely.

OM shanti shanti shanti