Origins: The Chandogya Upaniṣad

Upaniṣad is Vedanta: ‘The end of the Vedas, of Vedic Understanding’, a word-play on the fortuitous convergence of the metaphoric and literal, as they are located at the concluding part of the Vedic contracting cone. Abstraction and metaphysical content rise as the cone shrinks.

The dialogues of Uddalaka and his son Svetaketu in the Chandogya Upaniṣad, the first of the two oldest extant Upanishads, lay-out the pioneering of the ‘Inward Turn’, the first seed that birthed the formulation of the Symbol ‘0’.

The assumed Subject had to be first clearly identified, the Inquirer’s Platform laid bare, prior to any investigation on an Object. Honest Inquiry began inwards, backwards.

It was here and for the first time, the Inquirer as the Subject of Inquiry, the platform from which he views his world, was being recognized as pivotal in any proper understanding and assessment of the Inquiry, of the results of the Inquiry.

The modern assumption that the Subject can be ignored as long as the Object was clearly in view was, after repeated and painful experimentation, found to be false.

In time there spread a wider appreciation of the issues involved. That this type of Inquiry was of a very special and perilous character, that any inquiry on the nature of the Subject, by an assumed Subject, was fraught with miscues, wrong turns and short stops.

The Inquirers of the Chandogya went further back than anyone else before them. But Śūnya and Śūnyathā were unknown constructs and their birth was centuries away.

They stopped at the point where all expression failed them, a point encountered by every serious Inquirer, and justifiably assumed that the point they had reached was Tát [literally, ‘That’], a term deified in the original Vedic corpus itself. [‘Tát Tvam Asi’]

Over time this terminus gets further conceptualized and reified and begins to be interpreted as ‘Subtle Inner Essence’. This is the also beginning of the idea of ‘True Self’ which pervades Vedantha and related schools.

A laying-out of the Inquirer, making transparent his presumptions and closeted prejudices, is part of the ‘Scientific Stance’, an integral element of what today is termed ‘Scientific Method’. The roots of Formal Meditation Practice begin here. See the later Posts.

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