Living in the awareness of Isha


The Ishavasya Upanishad (īśāvāsya upaniṣad) declares that the universe we perceive is a manifestation of the Absolute Reality alone – ‘pūrṇāt purṇam-udacyate’.1 What this means is that our universe of multiplicity is a construct in the field of infinite consciousness which is referred to here as the Absolute Reality.2 Our mind and our senses apprehend this universe as space, time and vibrations of energy, yet there is a more subtle aspect to the universe which the Ishavasya Upanishad reveals to us. It says, ‘īśāvāsyam-idagṃ sarvaṃ yat kiñca jagatyāṃ jagat’ – All this, whatsoever moves in this universe, including the universe, itself moving, is pervaded by the Lord (Isha).3 Here is an assertion that the Absolute Reality is also immanent in this universe as the principle of universal intelligence. The Ishavasya Upanishad calls this dynamic principle Isha. This principle forms the foundation of the Hindu concept of God. Isha or Ishvara is also called the ‘total mind’. Isha permeates the entire universe and everything that exists within it. It is the intelligence that animates all the laws of nature. Isha is the immanent presence governing and facilitating all phenomena and noumena.

Although we feel that we exist in this world as separate individuals with a body and mind, we are actually at the same time inseparable from the Absolute Reality at all levels of our existence because the Absolute Reality itself is expressing as this universe on both the physical and mental planes. Not only is our body an organic part of this universe, our mind is also a fraction of the universal mind, Isha. Therefore, we are truly connected to a universe that is very much as alive as we are!

This is a universe which receives and responds to our actions (mental, emotional and physical). Very few people realise that behind every action we create, we form an intention, energy and vibration that become our communication to Isha. Every action brings effects according to the law of karma that is governed by Isha. As Sri Ramana Maharishi points out; ‘karturājñyayā prāpyate phalaṃ’4 – the process of dispensation of the fruits of our action happens by Isha’s will alone. The principle of Isha when well understood and observed in daily life can bring about a wholesome change in our attitude. As we anchor our mind in the awareness of Isha, we begin to observe with reverence and marvel at the Divine expressing itself around us. We see divinity in everyone and everything. We offer gratitude for our achievements instead of becoming inflated with pride over them. We appreciate the blessings and gains that life brings to us.

  1. That is Whole (Absolute Reality); this is Whole (manifested universe); from the Whole, the Whole becomes manifest. From the Whole, when the Whole is negated, what remains is again the Whole. – Ishavasya Upanishad (Invocation mantra)
  2. prajñānam brahma – Brahman is Supreme Consciousness – (Aitareya Upanishad 3.3)
  3. All this, whatsoever moves in this universe, including the universe, itself moving, is pervaded by the Lord (Isha). That which is left to (allotted to) you by Him, you enjoy. Covet (greed) not anybody’s wealth. – Ishavasya Upanishad (mantra 1)
  4. karturājñyayā prāpyate phalaṃ – By the will of the Supreme Doer (Ordainer) the fruits of action are gained. – Upadesa Sara (first half stanza of verse 1)

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