The White Streams of the Soul


The Milky Way. The constellation of Cygnus appears in the top of the image.

Milk is like the soul, says one Upaniṣad.i How come?

In milk, butter is hidden… As in potency… It must be churned and it appears.

In the soul, knowledge also is hidden… As in potency… When the spirit searches, it increases its strength, makes it grow, and knowledge comes.

Another metaphor: from two sticks rubbed together, fire springs forth. From the soul and the spirit rubbing together, comes the Brahman.

The word Brahman (ब्रह्मन्) is neutral. It designates a principle: « growth, increase, strengthening ». It comes from the verbal root BṚH- , to strengthen, to increase, to augment, to enlarge.

In the Bhagavad-Gītā, the Lord defines Brahman as his own Self:

« The universe is entirely pervaded by Me, invisible, formless. All beings are in Me, but nothing that is created is in Me, and I am not in them. Behold My supernatural power! I sustain all beings. I am everywhere present. I remain the source of all creation. Just as in space the power of the wind is established, and everywhere its breath, in Me stand all beings. »ii

The Lord, transcendent, descends incognito to earth, and He does not mince His words:

« The fools denigrate Me when in human form I come down to this world. They know nothing of my spiritual, absolute nature, nor of my supremacy. Ignorant, they go astray. They believe in demons, not in Me. Vain are their hopes, vain are their interests, vain are their aspirations, vain is their knowledge. « iii

Neither fools nor vain, are the « great souls », the mahatmah.

« Those who are ignorant of ignorance, the mahatmah, are under the protection of the divine nature. Knowing Me as God, the Supreme, original, inexhaustible Person, they absorb themselves, they devote themselves. Unceasingly singing my glory, they prostrate themselves before Me. Determined in their effort, these spirits, these magnanimous souls love Me.” iv

What happens then?

« Those who know, look at me: I am the Unique Being. They see Me in the multitude of beings and things; My form is in the universe.”v

If the Self is the Whole, it is also in each one of the forms in it, in their infinite variety, their total sum, and their common nature.

« But it is I who am the rite and the sacrifice, the oblation to the ancestors, the grass and the mantra. I am the butter and the fire, and the offering. Of this universe, I am the father, the mother, the support and the grandfather, I am the object of knowledge, the purifier and the syllable OM. I am also the Rig, the Sâma and the Yajur. I am the goal, the support, the teacher, the witness, the abode, the refuge and the dearest friend. I am the creation and the annihilation, the basis of all things, the resting place and the eternal seed. I am heat, rain and drought, I am immortality and death personified. Being and non-being, both are in Me, O Arjuna.”vi

But the Veda itself is not enough, nor the rites. The most important thing is yet to attain knowledge, the only necessary knowledge. Where is it hidden?

« It is indirectly that they worship Me, the men who study the Vedas and drink soma, looking for delicious heavens. They are reborn on the planet of Indra, where they enjoy the pleasures of the devas. When they have enjoyed these celestial pleasures, when their merits have been exhausted, they return to this mortal Earth. A fragile happiness, such is the only fruit they reap, after having followed the principles of the Vedas. But those who worship Me with devotion, meditating on My absolute Form, I fill their lacks and preserve what they are. Every oblation that man with faith sacrifices to the devas is destined for Me alone, O son of Kunti. For I am the sole beneficiary and the sole object of the sacrifice. Those who ignore My true, absolute nature, fall back. Those who worship the Devas will be reborn among the Devas, among the ghosts and other spirits those who live in their worship, among the ancestors the worshippers of the ancestors: likewise, those who are devoted to Me will live with Me.”vii

Following that logic, let’s wonder: from all the « whited sepulchres » of the world, what will really be reborn? New whited, sepulchral worlds? New whited, sepulchral galaxies?

The poet said: « the Milky Way, – luminous sister of  the white streams of Chanaan, and of the white bodies of the lovers ».viii

But it seems to me that the Milky Way, with all its grandeur, has less milk and less light than one living soul… As for the streams of Chanaan and the bodies of the lovers, that’s still an open discussion, to compare their ´milk´ to the soul.

__________

iAmṛtabindu Upaniṣad 20-21

iiBhagavad-Gītā, 9

iiiBhagavad-Gītā, 9, 11-12

ivBhagavad-Gītā, 9, 13-14

vBhagavad-Gītā, 9, 15

viBhagavad-Gītā, 9, 16-19

viiBhagavad-Gītā, 9, 20-25

viii(Guillaume Apollinaire. La chanson du Mal-Aimé. Alcools.)

« Voie lactée ô soeur lumineuse
Des blancs ruisseaux de Chanaan
Et des corps blancs des amoureuses »

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