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Article LXXIII: Within or External

It can be quite challenging to orient oneself to the Divine, or to follow the path toward enlightenment. Righteousness and duty may sometimes be clear, but often it is not. One must discriminate between what advances one along the path to enlightenment versus what does not. A basic tenet of Vedanta and Hinduism is that the Divine lies within. Beneath the layers of the body and the mind is the Self (Atman), which is truly Divine and ultimately no different than Brahman, supreme existence-consciousness-bliss, beyond space, time, and causation. One of the great sayings (mahavakyas) of the Upanishads states that: This Self is Brahman - Ayam Atma Brahma.

By searching within, one may approach that Self, which can guide one's actions and allow one to orient one's life with the Divine. However, one may also approach that Divine Self though devotion and surrender to any form of Iswara, like Krishna, Shiva, Saraswati, etc. The Divine that is represented by any form of Iswara is ultimately no different than the Divine that lies within. Hence, one can be guided by a deity, or one can be guided from within. Either will allow one to progress along the path of enlightenment. Meditation and reflection upon scriptures are a few ways to search within for the Divine path while prayer and devotion are a few ways to obtain Divine guidance from a deity. Depending on one's temperament, appropriate paths may include different components of both of these as well as other approaches to enlightenment.


Katha Upanishad

The context of this scripture is a dialogue between Naciketas, a spiritual aspirant, and Yama, the god of death:

III.15: Having realized that (Atman) which is soundless, touchless, formless, imperishable, and also without taste and smell, eternal, without beginning or end, even beyond the Mahat, immutable, -- one is released from the jaws of death.
III.16: The intelligent one, having heard and related this ancient story of Naciketas told by death is glorified in the world of Brahman.
III.17: He who repeats this supremely mysterious (story) with great devotion in the assembly of Brahmanas or at the time of Sraddha ceremony, obtains thereby infinite rewards.

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