Hinduism Reflection Paper

After reading the assigned material, define the Atman in your own words. Do not simply quote from the Upanishad excerpt. Explain what is the

nature of the Atman, its qualities and characteristics, and how is it related and/or not related to us as human beings, as well as to the other

creatures and phenomena of the world.

Excerpt from the Chandogya Upanishad

Chapter IX
1−2
“As bees, my dear, make honey by collecting the juices of trees located at different places and reduce them to one form,
“And as these juices have no discrimination so as to be able to say: ‘I am the juice of this tree,’ or ‘I am the juice of that tree’−even so,

indeed, my dear, all these creatures, thoughthey reach Pure Being, do not know that they have reached Pure Being.
3
“Whatever these creatures are, here in this world−a tiger, a lion, a wolf, a boar, a worm, a fly, a gnat, or a mosquito−that they become.
4
“Now, that which is the subtle essence−this whole world has that as its soul. That is the Real. That is the Self (Atman). That thou art (Tat

vamasi), Svetaketu.”
“Please, venerable Sir, give me further instruction,” said the son.
“So be it, my dear,” the father replied.
Chapter X
1−2
“These rivers, my dear, flow−the eastern toward the east and the western toward the west.
They arise from the sea and flow into the sea. Just as these rivers, while they are in the sea, do not know: ‘I am this river’ or ‘I am that

river,’
“Even so, my dear, all these creatures, even though they have come from Pure Being, do not know that they have come from Pure Being. Whatever

these creatures are, here in this world−a tiger, a lion, a wolf a boar, a worm, a fly, a gnat, or a mosquito, that they become again.
3
“Now, that which is the subtle essence−this whole world has that as its soul. That is the Real. That is the Self (Atman).
That thou art (Tat vamasi), Svetaketu.”
“Please, venerable Sir, give me further instruction,” said the son.
“So be it, my dear,” the father replied.
Chapter XI
1
“If, my dear, someone were to strike at the root of this large tree here, it would bleed but live. If he were to strike at the middle, it would

bleed but live. If he were to strike at the top, it would bleed but live. Pervaded by the living self, that tree stands firm, drinking in again

and again its nourishment and rejoicing.
2
“But if the life (i.e. living self) leaves one of its branches, that branch withers; if it leaves a second, that branch withers; if it leaves a

third, that branch withers. If it leaves the whole tree, the whole three withers.
3
“In exactly the same manner, my dear,” said he, “know this: This body dies, bereft of the living self; but the living self dies not.
“Now, that which is the subtle essence−this whole world has that as its soul. That is the Real. That is the Self (Atman). That thou art (Tat

vamasi), Svetaketu.”
“Please, venerable Sir, give me further instruction,” said the son.
“So be it, my dear,” the father replied.
Chapter XII
1
“Bring me a fruit of that nyagrodha (banyan) tree.” “Here it is’ venerable Sir.” “Break it.”
“It is broken, venerable Sir.”
“What do you see there?”
“These seeds, exceedingly small,
“Break one of these, my son.”
“It is broken, venerable Sir.”
“What do you see there?”
“Nothing at all, venerable Sir.”
2
The father said: “That subtle essence, my dear, which you do not perceive there−from that very essence this great nyagrodha arises.
Believe me, my dear.
3
“Now, that which is the subtle essence−this whole world has that as its soul. That is the Real. That is the Self (Atman). That thou art (Tat

vamasi), Svetaketu.”
“Please, venerable Sir, give me further instruction,” said the son.
“So be it, my dear,” the father replied.
Chapter XIII
1
“Place this salt in water and then come to me in the morning.”
The son did as he was told.
The father said to him: “My son, bring me the salt which you placed in the water last night.” Looking for it, the son did not find it, for it

was completely dissolved.
2
The father said: “My son, take a sip of water from the surface. How is it?”
“It is salt.”
“Take a sip from the middle. How is it?”
“It is salt.”
“Take a sip from the bottom. How is it?”
“It is salt.”
“Throw it away and come to me.”
The son did as he was told, saying: “The salt was there all the time.”
Then the father said: “Here also, my dear, in this body you do not perceive Sat (Being); but It is indeed there.”
3
“Now, that which is the subtle essence−this whole world has that as its soul. That is the Real. That is the Self (Atman). That thou art (Tat

vamasi), Svetaketu.”
“Please, venerable Sir, give me further instruction,” said the son. “So be it, my dear,” the father replied.
Chapter XIV
1
“Just as someone, my dear, might lead a person, with his eyes covered, away from the country of the Gandharas and leave him in a place where

there were no human beings; and just as that person would turn toward the east, or the north, or the south, or the west, shouting: ‘I have been

brought here with my eyes covered, I have been left here with my eyes covered!’
2
“And as thereupon someone might loosen the covering and say to him: ‘Gandhara is in that direction; go that way’; and as thereupon, having been

informed and being capable of judgment, he would, by asking his way from one village to another, arrive at last at Gandhara−in exactly the same

manner does a man who has found a teacher to instruct him obtain the true knowledge. For him there is delay only so long as he is not liberated

from the body; then he reaches perfection.
3
“Now, that which is the subtle essence−this whole world has that as its soul. That is the Real. That is the Self (Atman). That thou art (Tat

vamasi), Svetaketu.”
“Please, venerable Sir, give me further instruction,” said the son.
“So be it, my dear,” the father replied.

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