BUT WHILE WE are confined to books, though the most select and classic, and read only particular written languages, which are themselves but dialects and provincial, we are in danger of forgetting the language which all things and events speak without metaphor, which alone is copious and standard. Much is published, but little printed. The rays which stream through the shutter will be no longer remembered when the shutter is wholly removed. No method nor discipline can supersede the necessity of being forever on the alert. What is a course of history or philosophy, or poetry, no matter how well selected, or the best society, or the most admirable routine of life, compared with the discipline of looking always at what is to be seen? Will you be a reader, a student merely, or a seer? Read your fate, see what is before you, and walk on into futurity.

Thoreau’s Walden


There lived once Svetaketu. . . To him his father Uddalaka . . . said: “Svetaketu, go to school; for no one belonging to our race, dear son, who, not having studied, is, as it were, a Brahmin by birth only”

Having begun his apprenticeship when he was twelve years of age, Svetaketu returned to his father, when he was twenty-four, having then studied all the Vedas,conceited, considering himself well-read, and stern.

His father said to him: “Svetaketu, as you are so conceited, considering yourself so well-read and so stern, my dear, have you ever asked for that instruction by which we hear what cannot be heard, by which we perceive what cannot be perceived, by which we know what cannot be known? ”

“What is that instruction, Sir?” he asked. . .

“Fetch me . . . a fruit of the Nyagrodha tree.”

“Here is one, Sir.”

“Break it.”

“It is broken, Sir.”

“What do you see there?”

“These seeds, almost infinitesimal.”

“Break one of them.”

“It is broken, Sir.”

“What do you see there?”

“Not anything, Sir.”

The father said: “My son, that subtle essence which you do not perceive there, of that very essence this great Nyagrodha tree exists.

“Believe it, my son. That which is the subtle essence, in it all that exists has its self. It is the True. It is the Self, and you, . . . Svetaketu, are it. ”

“Please, Sir, inform me still more,” said the son.

“Be it so, my child,” the father replied.

“Place this salt in water, and then wait on me in the morning.”
The son did as he was commanded.

The father said to him: “Bring me the salt, which you placed in the water last night.”

The son having looked for it, found it not, for, of course, it was melted.

The father said: “Taste it from the surface of the water. How is it?”

The son replied: “It is salt.”

“Taste it from the middle. How is it?”

The son replied: “It is salt.”

“Taste it from the bottom. How is it?”

The son replied: “It is salt.”

The father said: “Throw it away and then wait. . .on me.

He did so, but the salt exists forever.

Then the father said: “Here also, in this body, . . . you do not perceive the True, my son; but there indeed it is.

“That which is the subtle essence, in it all that exists has its self. It is the True. It is the Self, and you, Svetaketu, are it.”

–Chandogya Upanishad


Therefore, make an inspection of yourselves as to what your purity really is. For it is impossible – to purify your bodies entirely–for each day the body is disturbed and comes to rest through the excretions of feces from it–so that the action comes about without a commandment from the Savior. The purity, then, which was spoken about, is that which comes through knowledge, a separation of light from darkness, of death from life, of living waters from turbid, so that you may know that each is . . . one another and . . . .the commandments of the Savior, so that . . . might redeem the soul from annihilation and destruction. This is in truth the genuine purity, which you were commended to do; but you departed from it and began to bathe, and have held on to the purification of the body, (a thing) most defiled and fashioned through foulness; through it (i.e., foulness) it (the body) was coagulated and having been founded came into existence

–Mani (Concerning The Origin Of His Body)