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You Are Everyone and That is Your Power

The Upanishads are the source of "The Great Sayings", known in Sanskrit as the Mahāvākyas. I learned two of these four great sayings in one story, which I'm delighted to retell you here.


The Great Sayings, especially Ahaṁ Brahmāsmi and Tat Tvam Asi, are about seeing divinity in ourselves AND in everyone and everything else.

 

After many years of practicing, a student's teacher told her that she was ready to learn one of the greatest truths:


Ahaṁ Brahmāsmi


"'I am the Supreme Consciousness' and YOU are that."


The student was thrilled. She was THE Supreme Consciousness!


She was so delighted that she barely listened to the rest of her teacher’s lecture.


She marched out the door, head held high, into the busy marketplace, chanting to herself: Ahaṁ Brahmāsmi, Ahaṁ Brahmāsmi, Ahaṁ Brahmāsmi…


She was so involved with chanting her new found identity as Supreme Consciousness that she started bumping into people and knocking things over.


Others in the marketplace started yelling at her in anger.


She brushed aside the angry comments, saying to herself, “They are so ignorant. They can't see that I am the Supreme Consciousness.”


Soon the angry shouts turned to shouts of fear and warning. An elephant was charging through the marketplace straight at the student.


When she looked up and saw what was happening, she said to herself, “That elephant will move for me. I am the Supreme Consciousness. I won't be afraid or move for an elephant.”


The charging elephant did not stop but instead picked up her with its trunk and tossed her aside.


Alarmed but not seriously hurt, the student trudged back to her teacher's place to confront her teacher and complain about the poor instruction and a teaching that didn't work as promised.


After listening to the student’s complaints, the teacher smiled and said,


“It is true: Ahaṁ Brahmāsmi means I am Supreme Consciousness and you are that.


But people were warning you about the oncoming elephant. And you felt the power of that elephant's trunk as he threw you aside.


That is called:


Tat Tvam Asi


It means 'you are that'. Supreme Consciousness is in everyone and everything without exception.


Why didn't you listen when Supreme Consciousness was trying to tell you that you were in danger?


Why didn't you use the Supreme Consciousness within you to see it in others?”


The student left and walked back out into the marketplace. The world looked very different as she now chanted Ahaṁ Brahmāsmi Tat Tvam Asi, Ahaṁ Brahmāsmi Tat Tvam Asi, Ahaṁ Brahmāsmi Tat Tvam Asi...


 

If you'd like to explore the source texts for these sayings, here's where to go.


For more on "Ahaṁ Brahmāsmi", read a translation of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad , 1.4.10 specifically.


"Tat Tvam Asi" is a huge part of one of my personal favorite texts. Go to chapter 6 in a translation of the Chandogya Upanishad.


Chandogya Upanishad manuscript, verses 1.2.6 through 1.2.14, from Lalchand Research Library, Ancient Indian Manuscript Collection, DAV College Digital Library Initiative, Chandigarh India

 

Restorative Yoga and Yoga Nidra are great practices for resting into our individual expressions of Supreme Consciousness. Join me and Deb for these upcoming online workshops:



If you'd like more stories like this to inspire your yoga practice, join me for live-streaming classes, special topic courses, or a retreat.

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