In our own self, in the deepest recess of our own heart, there is a great secret. This is the subject of this chapter. We carry within our own self a great mystery. No one can be a greater mystery than our own Self. Everything else is capable of definition and understanding, but one’s own Self is the greatest enigma in the whole world. Everything can be investigated into, but not one’s own Self, because it is a great secret by itself. It is not an open box where we can pick out whatever we like merely by sense perception. It is a tremendous mystery which hides, within its own bosom, the miracles of the whole creation. Such is the heart of man which is the pivot of every kind of activity, whether internal or external.
The great teacher this Upanishad tells us that there is the city of Brahman, the Absolute, in our own Self. A very small lotus-like abode exists in our own heart, and in this little abode, there is a little space which shines by its own light. What is there in that space? To know this is our duty. It is our duty to understand what is inside this little space in our own heart, which is inside the city of Brahman, which is very small and looks like a lotus. This is the city of God. Some people may ask, “What is inside this? What is this great secret you are speaking about?” The answer is being given below…
“You ask me what is inside this little space. I tell you that everything is inside here,” says the teacher. It is like a speck of sunlight. Though it may look like a speck, it contains constitutionally everything that is in the orb of the sun. Similarly, that which is in this little space can magnify itself to any extent. It is an emblem of the cosmic secret. Whatever is the extent of this vast space that is outside, that is the extent of this little space in our own heart also. So, one should not be under the impression that it is little in an arithmetical sense. It is little in a different sense altogether. It is not physically small. It is not a little handful of space. It is really as expansive and as extensive as this universal ether that we see outside. The whole of the heaven and the whole earth can be found inside this little space. The principles of the five elements—earth, water, fire, air and ether—and whatever you see outside, is all present here in this little ether. The sun and the moon and also the stars can be seen inside this very heart of ours. They have a corresponding emissary planted in our own heart. We need not look up to the sun outside. He is inside our heart and he shines in the same way as he is seen outside in outer space. Even the lightning and the thunder that are seen outside are taking place inside our heart. Everything that happens in any manner, even the littlest thing, takes place here inside. Whatever we see in the outside world and whatever we cannot see in the outside world—all those things are inside our heart.
Well, the heart inside seems to be a greater mystery than the outer world. Whatever we cannot see in the whole world also is here, says the Upanishad. Why is it that we cannot see everything in the outer world, and why should everything be inside our own heart? Because our heart, which we call the selfhood of our being, is the true representative of the ultimate Reality. The outer world cannot be regarded as such a representative. The externality that is characteristic of the outer world prevents it from revealing everything that is in the Supreme Being, whereas one of the aspects of the Supreme Being, which is subjectivity, is present in us. Externality is not a characteristic of God. Ultimately, He is subjectivity, and that aspect is present in us, although the outer aspects are not. Hence, while the incapacity of probing into the subjectivity of the external universe prevents us from knowing everything in the universe, there is a possibility of diving into our own Self and knowing all things at one stroke.
As a matter of fact, all investigation in the field spiritual is internal and not external, because when a thing is externalised it is divested of the divine content. It thereby gets partially abstracted. What we call the outer world is only that aspect of Reality which can be comprehended by the senses. Whatever the senses are incapable of grasping cannot be contained in the external world. Only a little bit of the total value of the ultimate truth can be taken out by the vessels of the senses, more than that they cannot contain. What is sensed by the senses in the form of sensation is not the whole reality. They can take up only what they can contain and what they are able to cognise. It is the five elemental features of the external manifestation that the senses can present to us in experience. But, there are other aspects which they cannot contain within themselves and about which they cannot, therefore, give any kind of information.
This is the secret, as the Upanishad puts it. This heart is a great secret, and by an introversion of Consciousness into its depths, it would be possible to plumb the mysteries of the whole cosmos. The reason is that the tentacles of all planes of being are centred in one’s heart. It is as though this heart is the centre of a universal circle. The radii of this circle converge into this little centre of Consciousness which we vaguely call the subject of perception.
Absolute is universal in its nature, it is not merely an individual subject. But, this is a very hard thing for the mind to comprehend. One’s mind can never know what universality is and, therefore, any amount of instruction given to it from this point of view would naturally go over one’s But when this confines itself to the heart of the individual, it does not limit itself to the body of the individual. For, the heart which we are speaking of is not the physical heart. It is not your heart or my heart, not that which is in this bodily encasement. It is a symbol used for the centre of pure subjectivity in us and, therefore, the heart means the consciousness which is apparently located within the walls of the body, but which can never be restrained or limited on account of its super-physical nature. Physical encasements cannot limit it in any manner whatsoever. We will gradually be taken to the point where the ‘little thing’ that we speak of at present as being in our own heart is found to the same as the ‘universal thing’. The two are one. Whatever is there is also here.
– The Chhandogya Upanishad by Swami Krishnananda