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5 Philosophies From The Upanishads The World Needs Today

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The Upanishads are part of the Vedas — the ancient and comprehensive collection of teachings from the gurus of the Vedic period.

The Vedas themselves actually predate Hinduism. They contain the mantras, chants, and lessons of the Vedic order. And the Upanishads are an important part of that order. In fact, they contain some of the most influential philosophical teachings of the age.

What’s fascinating about the Upanishads is that even though its teachings are now thousands of years old, they are just as relevant today as they were back then.

We’re going to dive into the Upanishads to show you what they’re all about and what key lessons we can learn from these ancient, mystical texts today.

What Are The Upanishads?


The Upanishads are a collection of writings composed in India between 800–500 BCE. They contain many of the most fundamental spiritual teachings of the age.

The precise Upanishads definition is difficult to pin down, partially in thanks to its ancient origins.

In Sanskrit, Upanishad means: “sitting down near,” or “sitting close to.” The meaning alludes to the nature of the teachings. The lessons in the Upanishads were initially taught by spiritual sages and gurus. These gurus would sit to share their wisdom and insight with dedicated students.

upanishads definition

Who Wrote The Upanishads?

Now, hang on a moment. If the Upanishads are a collection of writings, who wrote them?

Well, there’s no single person responsible for the writing of the Upanishads. There are over 200 Upanishads, and the task would have been next to impossible for just one person.

Instead, the Upanishads were compiled by a group of poets, scholars, and students over the course of many years. Some of the noteworthy Upanishadic sages featured in the writings were Shwetaketu, Shandilya, Pippalada, and Sanat Kumara.

5 Essential Upanishad Philosophies We Can Learn From Today


The Upanishads belong to the Vedas, and are one of the most popular and beloved of the Vedic order.

Why? Because the Upanishads urged those seeking Enlightenment to turn away from ritual sacrifice and asked individuals to instead look inward.

The lessons in the Upanishads are timeless. They’re just as powerful and applicable today as they were thousands of years ago.

Here are five core Upanishad philosophies we can learn a lot from today.

samsara

1. Samsara, Reincarnation

The concept of samsara is prevalent in the Upanishads. Samsara, Sanskrit for, “wandering,” is the cycle of being.

It represents reincarnation, the concept adopted by several Eastern religions of being reborn after your die according to the karmic cycle.

Regardless of your personal beliefs, there’s something important to be taken from the samsara. Samsara tells us that all of life is in flux. The great wheel of life continues to turn, and nothing is ever stagnant:

This vast universe is a wheel, the wheel of Brahman. Upon it are all creatures that are subject to birth, death, and rebirth. Round and round it turns, and never stops.

—Svetasvatara Upanishad 1.6-8

Samsara suggests that energy cannot be destroyed or diminished. It is simply transmuted. And it really is quite a poetic perspective on the cycle of death and birth.

karma_action

2. Karma, Action

Now, here’s a word you might be more familiar with. Karma, literally translated, means, “action, work, or deed.” But it also refers to the spiritual doctrine of cause and effect.

The karmic cycle suggests that what you do today will influence your life tomorrow. And circling back to the concept of samsara, what you do today will also influence your next life.

The karmic principle urges you to reflect on what you do before you do it. Each action matters, and what you do affects your life and the lives of those around you.

dharma_universallaw

3. Dharma, Universal law

In the Upanishads, the concept of dharma represents order, truth, and ultimate universal law.

Dharma is a concept present in many spiritual beliefs, including Buddhism, Jainism, and Hinduism. But for the Vedic order, dharma was a little bit different.

Dharma in the Upanishads represents a whole and complete truth that can’t be refuted. It is the social obligation we have toward one another, the invisible law that governs our actions.

Dharma encourages us to fulfill our role in society to the very utmost of our abilities, carrying ourselves with respect, empathy, and courage.

moksha

4. Moksha, Liberation

Moksha, from the Sanskrit, “liberation, enlightenment, release,” is a powerful concept from the Upanishads.

Moksha is nirvana, the ultimate end of suffering. It represents the surpassing of all worldly pain, desire, and longing for true and ultimate peace. It is the final escape from the cycle of death and rebirth.

For us today, moksha represents a state within the self. We are capable of making a hell or a heaven out of our time on this earth, and moksha is attainable if we learn to let go of our attachments.

atman

5. Atman, Soul

Atman is the true self beyond the identity of the ego. It’s who we are at our innermost core. It’s the life beneath the exterior facade; beneath the clothes, the family, the friends, the job, the hobbies, the memories, and the experiences.

Beneath all we’ve come to identify with, atman represents something timeless and untouchable:

The eye cannot see it; the mind cannot grasp it. The deathless Self has neither caste nor race, neither eyes nor ears nor hands nor feet. Sages say this Self is infinite in the great and in the small, everlasting and changeless, the source of life.

—Mundaka Upanishad 1.1.6

It’s something we must strive to connect with and listen to. It’s something intangible but very real.

What’s one of the best ways to connect with this true self that lies within? Mindfulness meditation.

Deborah King, Author of Mindvalley’s Be A Modern Master Program, explains, “All spiritual progress is born out of self-awareness.”

Try some mindfulness meditation for yourself to access the self beyond the ego. You may be surprised by what you find.


Do you want to learn more about spiritual empowerment? Heal emotional wounds and past traumas that are holding you back and take the next step in your spiritual journey with this FREE Masterclass below:


So, which of these philosophies from the Upanishads did you find most intriguing? Tell us in the comments below.



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How To Make Your Meditation Practice Rock So That You Stress Less And Accomplish More

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Do you find meditation boring, time-taking, or too difficult? This interview with Emily Fletcher might just change your mind.

Emily Fletcher is the Founder of Ziva Meditation who has trained the teams of Google and Harvard on what meditation really means in the modern world.

In this interview she shares…

  • Why clearing your mind has nothing to do with meditating
  • Why top performers don’t go a day without their practice
  • What’s the difference between meditating like a monk and modern meditation
  • The science behind why meditation gives you a deeper rest than sleep and reduces aging
  • And how you can use meditation to perform better in every area of life

As Emily says,

We meditate to get good at life, not to get good at meditation.

If you liked this interview, check out Emily’s new book: Stress Less, Accomplish More: Meditation for Extraordinary Performance. It’s an amazing guide for everyone who wants to improve their relationships, level up at work, or heal themselves.

This is not just another meditation book. In Stress Less, Accomplish More, Emily teaches a powerful trifecta of Mindfulness, Meditation, and Manifesting to improve your personal and professional performance, clarity, health, and sleep.

You’ll learn how to cultivate Mindfulness through brief but powerful exercises that will help you stop wasting time stressing. Plus, you’ll get Manifesting tools to help you get crystal clear on your personal and professional goals for the future. Grab your copy on Amazon.


What’s your biggest motivation to get better at meditating? Share it with us in a comment below.



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What Part Of The Brain Controls Balance?

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Standing upright, maintaining balance, and walking are all pretty natural processes to us. We don’t consciously think about balance during our daily activities.

But have you ever wondered how you manage to stand on one foot? Or perform any sports activity? Or how you don’t fall down every time you stumble? Today we’re learning what part of the brain controls balance.

What Controls Balance In The Brain?

As your body moves , your brain grooves.

—Jim Kwik, Author of Mindvalley’s Superbrain Program

Maintaining balance is a very complex process in the brain. It’s performed by multiple parts of the brain and occurs as a result of the brain communicating with our environment.

The main part of the brain that control balance is the cerebellum.

But there are other parts of the brain that help out too, such as the brain stem which helps us develop healthy breathing practices.

The cerebellum or “little brain” is located in the back of your skull, above the amygdala (the part of the brain that controls emotions).

Besides controlling balance and posture, it’s also responsible for monitoring voluntary movement, eye movement, and speech.

What Part Of The Brain Controls Balance

What Part Of The Brain Controls Balance And Hearing?

The processing of sound happens in the temporal lobes which are a part of the cerebrum. The audio stimuli come through the ear and go directly into the primary auditory cortex located in the temporal lobes.

But how does the temporal lobe affect balance?

Have you ever heard a loud noise and reflexively found yourself moving away from the source of the noise?

That’s the temporal lobe at work. Your temporal lobe is directly connected to the cerebellum by neural pathways. This connection enables a quick reaction to loud noise.

Which Part Of The Brain Controls Balance And Posture?


We already mentioned that the cerebellum does not work alone. It controls equilibrium by combining sensory information from the outside world.

Those pieces of information come from the eye (visual), the ear (auditory) and muscles and joints (motor). The cerebellum sends information out to your body in order to stay balanced during movement. But that happens as a response to the information that comes in.

Consider standing on one foot. Your joints and muscles use receptors, called proprioceptors, to gather information about the spacial position of your body.

These receptors the send the information back to the cerebellum which adjusts your position by making you shift body weight, or even stretching your arms out to help maintain equilibrium.

Now, continue standing on one foot but close your eyes. It is much more difficult to stay in that position, isn’t it?

This is because you have limited the information coming to the cerebellum. It’s now unable to use visual information from the eyes and has lost a little of the spatial orientation.

Usually, we are not aware of these processes — they happen reflexively. But we often become aware of them when we exercise — especially exercise that involves a high degree of coordination.

For example, a ballerina doing a pirouette on one leg has to learn how to use surroundings in order to perform the movement without losing balance. And that’s no easy feat!

What Controls The Body’s Balance?


In addition to the cerebellum, two crucial structures in maintaining balance are the inner ear and the vestibular cranial nerves.

The vestibular system, located in the inner ear, enables you to be aware of the position of your head in relation to the floor. It’s responsible for helping you know that the object that you are looking at is not moving but that you have, for example, tilted your head.

Damage to any part of the brain related to balance can result in jerky, uncoordinated movements. Damage to any of these structures isn’t inherently life threatening, and movement is still possible. It simply requires a little more conscious attention than usual.


Are you skilled in any activity that requires good balance? Share it with us in the comments below!



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What is the Rig Veda? Behind The Veil Of History

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The Vedas are a peculiar topic of study.

They are one of the most primeval and mysterious texts known to man. They have no celebrated author and no timeline of origin… Yet, they have inspired world religions (namely, Hinduism) and their hymns are regarded as law — shaping societal, political, and economic philosophies.

The Vedas are split into 4 separate sacred texts, but are often compiled into a book referred to as the Chathurveda Samhitha.

The Rig Veda: The Book of Mantra

The Sama Veda: The Book of Song

The Yajur Veda: The Book of Ritual

The Atharva Veda: The Book of Spell

The Vedas were originally formed, recited, and passed down from generation to generation by Aryan nomads (considered “the noble ones”) in ancient India. It is most commonly believed that the Vedas were created during the Vedic Period (1,500 – 500 B.C.E.). Although, many scholars and great yogis today hypothesize that the creation of this oral tradition could have started as far back as 12,000 B.C.E.

However, it wasn’t until centuries later (long after the Vedic Period) that the Vedas were written into physical form, creating what we know today as the Vedic Texts.

The oldest and most fundamental of these texts is the Rig Veda.

What Is The Rig Veda?


Rigveda

In Sanskrit, the word Rigveda means “knowledge of the verses (or mantras).”

The Rigveda is by far the most prominent of the Vedas; it was the first Vedic text ever written and is the main source of history on the ancient Hindus.

The text is comprised of 1,028 hymns (sūktas) dedicated to various deities, including the Purusha Sukta and Creation Hymns. These hymns are all organized into 10 different books, which are commonly referred to as “circles” or “mandalas.”

The older books contain hymns that are more devoted to the praise of various gods and goddesses. The younger books are more concerned with philosophical questions, the virtue of dāna (generosity, charity) in society, and other metaphysical issues.

The hymns include praises, blessings, and sacrifices written in enchanting poetry and prose. When these beautiful words are chanted, one is transported to another state of mind.

This light hath come, of all the lights the fairest,

The brilliant brightness hath been born, far-shining,

Urged on to prompt the sun-god’s shining power.

Night and Morning clash not, nor yet do linger.

It’s awe-inspiring, to say the very least. But who wrote such wise and captivating hymns?

Here’s the thing about the Vedas — there is no acclaimed human author. They are simply a “language of the gods” in comprehensible human form.  

The Vedas were channeled by risis (the seers, the sages) from the very breath of “Source.” “Source” being the Paramātman: the “Primordial Self” or the “Absolute Atman.” The risis saw and interpreted the Vedas, but they did not compose them.

There are seven risis credited to channeling the Rigveda:  Atri, Kanwa, Vashistha, Vishwamitra, Jamadagni, Gotama, and Bharadwaja.

Just as one is transported to another state of mind when reciting the Vedas, it was within that same mind-state they were written — in a state beyond.

The Vedas contain universal truths that can help you understand and experience your connection to the Divine through study and practice. Sacred study reveals the practice, and practice helps you implement the powerful spiritual truths that can transform your life.

— Deborah King, Spiritual teacher and author of Mindvalley’s Be a Moder Master program.


Do you want to learn more about spiritual empowerment? Heal emotional wounds and past traumas that are holding you back and take the next step in your spiritual journey with this FREE Masterclass below:


Like the ancient sages, have you ever experienced mystical encounters with deities? Have you ever been transported to that “state beyond?” Share your experience with us in a comment below.



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