A magnificent compilation of sacred writings from all traditions and the perfect companion to Stephen Mitchell's poetry collection, The Enlightened Heart, and the bestselling Tao Te Ching.
About the Author
Stephen Mitchell's many books include the bestselling Tao Te Ching, Gilgamesh, and The Second Book of the Tao, as well as The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke, The Gospel According to Jesus, Bhagavad Gita, The Book of Job, and Meetings with the Archangel.
Read an Excerpt
The UPANISHADS (8TH?--5TH? CENTURY B.C.E.)
The first four sentences of this first selection are an epitome of all spiritual teaching, a sword to cut through the Gordian knot of theodicy, and a great delight. As for the Self. call it Self, God, Buddha; say that it is everywhere, say that it is nowhere; describe it as darkness or as light. it doesn't matter. What matters is to taste and see.
That is perfect. This is perfect. Perfect comes from perfect. Take perfect from perfect, the remainder is perfect.
May peace and peace and peace be everywhere.
Whatever lives is full of the Lord. Claim nothing; enjoy, do not covet His property.
Then hope for a hundred years of life doing your duty. No other way can prevent deeds from clinging, proud as you are of your human life.
The Self is one. Unmoving, it moves faster than the mind. 'Me scum lag, but Self runs ahead. Unmoving, it outruns pursuit. Out of Self comes the breath that is the life of all things.
Unmoving, it moves; is far away, yet near; within all, outside all.
Of a certainty the man who can see all creatures in himself, himself in all creatures, knows no sorrow.
How can a wise man, knowing the unity of life, seeing all creatures in himself, be deluded or sorrowful?
The Self is everywhere, without a body, without a shape, whole, pure, wise, all knowing, far shining, self-depending, all transcending; in the eternal procession assigning to every period its proper duty.
The Self is the ear of the ear, the eye of the eye. it is the mind of the mind, the speech of speech, and the life of life. Not clinging to any of the senses, not attached to any thought inthe mind, the wise become one with the deathless Self.
Eye cannot see It, tongue cannot utter It, mind cannot grasp It. There is no way to learn or to teach It. his different from the known, beyond the unknown. In this all the ancient Masters agree.
That which makes the tongue speak but which cannot be spoken by the tongue--that alone is God, not what people worship.
That which makes the mind think but which cannot be thought by the mind--that alone is God, not what people worship.
That which makes the eye see but which cannot be seen by the eye--that alone is God, not what people worship.
That which makes the ear hear but which cannot be heard by the ear--that alone is God, not what people worship.
If you think that you know God, you know very little; all that you can know are ideas and images of God.
I do not know God, nor can I say that I don't know It. If you understand the meaning of "I neither know nor don't know," you understand God.
Those who realize that God cannot be known, truly know; those who claim that they know, know nothing. The ignorant think that God can be grasped by the mind; the wise know It beyond knowledge.
When you see that God acts through you at every moment, in every movement of mind or body, you attain true freedom. When you realize the truth, and cling to nothing in the world, you enter eternal life.
THE BIBLE (7TH?-3RD? CENTURY B.C.E.)
"The whole of wisdom," said Ramana Maharshi, "is contained in two Biblical statements: 'I am that I am' and 'Be still and know that I am God.'"
And God looked at everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.
Jacob was left alone; and a being wrestled with him until daybreak. And when he saw that he could not defeat him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him. And he said, "Let me go, for daybreak has come." And Jacob said, "I will not let you go until you bless me." And he said, "Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel: for you have wrestled with God, and have won." And Jacob said, "Please, tell me your name." And he said, "Why do you want to know my name?" And he blessed him there. And Jacob called the place Peniel: "for I have seen God face to face, and my life has been saved."
Moses said, "When I tell the people that the God of their fathers has sent me, they will ask his name. What shall I tell them?" And God said, "I am what I am. Tell them that I am has sent you."
"You shall love the Unnamable with all your heart and with all yourmind and with all your strength. And these words which I com-mand you today shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach themto your children, and speak of them when you sit in your house andwhen you walk on the road and when you lie down and when you rise up; and you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand and they shall be like a pendant between your eyes; and you shall write them upon the doorposts of your house and upon your gates."
"Love your neighbor as yourself."
For this pattern which I give you today is not hidden from you, and is not far away. It is not in heaven, for you to say, "Who will go up to heaven and bring it down for us, so that we can hear it and do it?" Nor is it beyond the sea, for you to say, "Who will cross the sea and bring it back for us, so that we can hear it and do it?" But the teaching is very near you, it is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.