My Comments: These excerpts of an ancient wisdom text, the Mandukya Upanishad, illustrate for me the attitude of the sages of antiquity when encountering many versions of “the truth”.
In the first passage, “Turiya” (the Fourth) is characterized and equated with “Atman”, which I would term, in our present day English, the Universal Being. The term “the Fourth” refers to a state (sometimes called the “no-state-state”) beyond the three states of waking, dreaming and deep sleep.
The second passage (Excerpt from the Chapter on Illusion), verses 16 through 32 illustrate how each of us, looking through our own filter, or point of view, will recognize a certain aspect of the Universal Being (Atman) and hold that to be “the Truth”. It is, indeed, our truth because it expresses our own unique experience of this One Being.
In verse 16 the commentator reminds us that “First of all is imagined the jiva, the embodied individual”, and so all then the rest of what we call ‘the world’, inside and out is further a product of imagination. We generally use the term “imagination” with the connotation of something not being quite real. Here it is stated that ALL of our world is actually imagined, so the force of ‘imagining’ is obviously extremely powerful and amazing. In the context of this philosophy, to say that what we imagine is not ‘real’ means that there is something else that is really Real, and we are invited to discover That.
I love how all the various viewpoints in verses 20 – 28 are recognized as ‘true’ for the one holding that perspective. In these times of conflicting information on all subjects from geo-politics to cosmology I find this stance a welcome correction of my own viewpoint. I see how all other points of view are valid, because they represent someone’s actual view and that I cannot dispute.
Of course, this ancient text will be most beneficial to you if you are able to contemplate what it is pointing to from a deeper place than merely intellectual understanding. Enjoy!
[for a dictionary of the spiritual terms used in this text, click here.]
The Mandukya Upanishad is 12 verses on the AUM Mantra. Gaudapada’s Karika is a commentary relating to those 12 verses.
Verse VII: Turiya is not that which is conscious of the inner (subjective) world, nor that which is conscious of the outer (objective) world, nor that which is conscious of both, nor that which is a mass of consciousness. It is not simple consciousness nor is It unconsciousness. It is unperceived, unrelated, incomprehensible, uninferable, unthinkable and indescribable. The essence of the Consciousness manifesting as the self in the three states, It is the cessation of all phenomena; It is all peace, all bliss and non-dual. This is what is known as the Fourth (Turiya). This is Atman and this has to be realized.
Chapter II [of Gaudapada’s Karika] — Vaitathya Prakarana (The Chapter on Illusion – excerpt)
16 First of all is imagined the jiva, the embodied individual and then are imagined the various entities, both external such as sounds, forms, etc. and internal such as the pranas, sense— organs, etc., that are perceived to exist. As is one’s knowledge so is one’s memory.
17 As a rope lying in darkness, about whose nature one remains uncertain, is imagined to be a snake or a line of water, so Atman is imagined in various ways.
18 When the real nature of the rope is ascertained, all misconceptions about it disappear and there arises the conviction that it is nothing but a rope. Even so is the true nature of Atman determined.
19 Atman is imagined as prana and other numberless ideas. All this is due to maya, belonging to the effulgent Atman, by which It appears, Itself, to be deluded.
20 Those conversant with prana describe Atman as prana; those conversant with the elements, as the elements; those conversant with the gunas, as the gunas; and those conversant with the tattvas, as the tattvas.
21 Those acquainted with the padas call It the padas; those acquainted with objects, the objects; those acquainted with the lokas, the lokas; those acquainted with the gods, the gods.
22 Those conversant with the Vedas describe Atman as the Vedas; those conversant with the sacrifices, as the sacrifices; those conversant with the enjoyer, as the enjoyer; and those conversant with the objects of enjoyment call It the objects of enjoyment.
23 The knowers of the subtle call It the subtle and the knowers of the gross, the gross. Those that are familiar with the Personal Deity call It the Personal Deity and those that are familiar with the void, the void.
24 Those that know time call Atman time and those that know space call It space. Those versed in the art of disputation call It the object of dispute; and those knowing the worlds call It the worlds.
25 The knowers of the mind call Atman the mind; the knowers of the buddhi, the buddhi. The knowers of the chitta call It the chitta; and the knowers of righteousness and unrighteousness call It righteousness and unrighteousness.
26 Some say that Atman consists of twenty—five cosmic principles; some, of twenty—six principles; some, again, of thirty—one principles; while there are yet others who describe It as consisting of an infinite number of principles.
27 Those who know how to gratify others call Atman gratification; those who are conversant with the asramas (four stages of life) call It the asramas. The grammarians call It the masculine, feminine and neuter genders; and still others, the Higher Brahman and the Lower Brahman.
28 The knowers of creation call It creation; the knowers of dissolution, dissolution; and the knowers of preservation, preservation. In truth, all such ideas are always imagined in Atman.
29 The disciple grasps only that idea which is presented to him by his teacher. Atman assumes the form of what is taught and thus protects the disciple. Absorbed in that idea, he realizes it as Atman.
30 Atman, though non-separate from all these ideas, appears to be separate. He who truly knows this interprets, without any fear, the meaning of the Vedas.
31 As dreams, illusions and castles in the air are viewed, so is the tangible universe viewed by the wise, well versed in Vedanta.
32 There is neither dissolution nor creation, none in bondage and none practicing disciplines. There is none seeking Liberation and none liberated. This is the absolute truth.
source and full text here