Hinduism and the Meaning of the Self, an excerpt from Huston Smith:
“…Pleasure, success, responsible discharge of duty, and liberation—we have completed the circuit of what people think they want and what they want in actuality. This takes us back to the staggering conclusion with which our survey of Hinduism began. What people want, that they can have. Infinite being, infinite awareness, and infinite bliss are within their reach. Even so, the most startling statement yet awaits. Not only are these goods within peoples’ reach, says Hinduism. People already possess them.
“For what is a human being? A body? A personality that includes mind, memories, and propensities that have derived from a unique trajectory of life-experiences? This, too, but anything more? Some say no, but Hinduism disagrees. This infinite center of every life, this hidden self or Atman, is no less than Brahman, the Godhead. Body, personality, and Atman-Brahman—a human self is not completely accounted for until all three are noted.
“But if this is true and we really are infinite in our being, why is this not apparent? Why do we not act accordingly? ‘I don’t feel particularly unlimited today,’ one may be prompted to observe. ‘And my neighbor—I haven’t noticed his behavior to be exactly Godlike.’ How can the Hindu hypothesis withstand the evidence of the morning newspaper?
“The answer, say the Hindus, lies in the depth at which the Eternal is buried under the almost impenetrable mass of distractions, false assumptions, and self-regarding instincts that comprise our surface selves. A lamp can be covered with dust and dirt to the point of obscuring its light completely. The problem life poses for the human self is to cleanse the dross of its being to the point where its infinite center can shine forth in full display…”
From Huston Smith’s book The World Religions
Image is the symbol for Om, a sacred sound, a spiritual icon and a mantra, that means, roughly, Source, or Supreme, or Ultimate Being
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