“Within the mental sheath, made up of waves of thought, there is contained the sheath of wisdom. It has the same form, with faith as the head, righteousness as right arm, and truth as left. Practice of meditation is its heart, and discrimination its foundation. Wisdom means a life of selfless service. Even the gods seek spiritual wisdom. Those who attain wisdom are free from sin, and find all their selfless desires granted.
“The wisdom sheath is made of detachment. Within it is contained the sheath of bliss, which has the same form, with joy as the head, contentment as right arm, and delight the left. Bliss is the heart, and Brahman the foundation. Those who deny the Lord deny themselves; those who affirm the Lord affirm themselves. The wise, not the unwise, realize the Lord.” ~The Taittiriya Upanishad
Waves of Thought
I find it fascinating that this ancient book speaks of thought waves which we think is a recent discovery of science. The idea that energy travels in waves is supposedly a fairly new one. This short section says much about thought, spirituality,and what today is called the Law of Attraction. Let’s look at some of it in more detail.
Spiritual Wisdom (the only real wisdom) has faith as its head, righteousness as its right arm, and truth as its left. Or that is how this Upanishad puts it allegorically. But it may not mean those things in quite the same way as we generally think today.
Faith today means believing in things we are told with little proof. Often, with no proof. We are taught from childhood that priests, doctors, and/or government representatives are faultless. Whatever the leaders say must be accepted as true. And now we have those who trust the internet to bring them truth and wisdom. I am always a little shocked when I see someone who seems to have a serious problem expecting it to be solved by a Facebook group.
That is not really faith at all but living in a world of fantasy like the tribe of Trumpery. What is really meant by spiritual teachers when they say we must “have faith” is that we must believe that we can find truth, that we can know truth. If we don’t believe it, it can’t happen. It means that we must believe in ourselves and our intuition rather than the authorities or the voice of the multitudes.
Righteousness brings us wisdom because wisdom is revealed only to those who will use the knowledge correctly. That means using it for the benefit of all, not just for yourself and the hell with others. When we have love in our hearts for all beings, we start receiving wisdom. When we want to save the world more than we want to get rich, wisdom will come to us.
Truth is, of course, a major part of wisdom. You cannot have wisdom without truth. But truth alone is not wisdom. Having truth, and knowing how to use that knowledge is wisdom.
It isn’t clear if this Upanishad is telling us we must live a life of selfless service to achieve spiritual wisdom, or that having spiritual wisdom makes us want to live a life of selfless service to others, especially to God. Probably both. While we may not have to be completely selfless to gain some spiritual wisdom, a very selfish person isn’t likely to gain any at all. A person who has gained some wisdom also understands that selfish behavior isn’t really self-serving in the long run. It is detrimental to your eternal Self, so is actually stupid. A life of helping others is wise because the gates of Heaven do not open for individuals. If we are to be saved, it must be all of us together.
Unlike those promoting the “Law of Attraction,” the quote says those who have selfless desires will see them granted. Not random desires, not greedy and self-serving desires, only selfless ones are granted. Occasionally, an exception may be made to teach the selfish person a lesson. It’s not the best way to learn. Getting things you haven’t earned and don’t deserve can carry some heavy karma.
Wisdom is Detachment
Wisdom is detachment. But only from material things and material concepts. Greed, competition, fear are all material level ideas and all are unworthy of the one who has spiritual wisdom. We cannot be attached to things or concepts related to the collecting of things. Things that we cling to act like anchors for our spiritual flight. The more things we cling to, the less we can fly. Let go of the things of the physical world and soar.
If you wish to cling to something, cling to God’s Great Plan for saving the world and making it spiritual again.