Chapter 1: The Tradition of the Upanishads and the Secrets of Meditation
Tasya nishchintanam dhyanam.
Meditation is the constant contemplation of That.
There are some points to ponder over before we step into the unknown. The unknown is the message of the Upanishads. The basic, the most foundational, always remains unknown; that which we know is always superficial. So some points must be understood before we can go deep into the realm of the unknown. These three words - the known, the unknown and the unknowable - must be understood first, because the Upanishads are concerned with the unknown only as a beginning. They end in the unknowable. The known realm becomes science, the unknown is philosophy and the unknowable belongs to religion.
Philosophy is the link between the known and the unknowable, between science and religion. Philosophy is totally concerned with the unknown. The moment something becomes known it becomes part of science; it no longer remains a part of philosophy. So the more science grows, the more philosophy is pushed ahead. The field that becomes known becomes science, and philosophy is the link between science and religion. So as science progresses, philosophy has to be pushed ahead - because it can only be concerned with the unknown. But the more philosophy proceeds ahead, the more religion is pushed ahead - because religion is basically concerned with the unknowable.
The Upanishads begin with the unknown; they end with the unknowable. That’s how misunderstanding arises. Professor M. G. Ranade has written a very deep book on the philosophy of the Upanishads, but it remains only a beginning, it cannot penetrate the deeper valleys of the Upanishadic mystery because it remains philosophical. The Upanishads begin with philosophy, but that is only a beginning. They end in religion, in the unknowable. When I say “unknowable,” I mean that which cannot be known.
Whatsoever the effort may be, howsoever we may try, the moment we know something it becomes part of science, the moment we feel something as unknown it is part of philosophy, the moment we encounter the unknowable - only then is it religion. When I say the unknowable, I mean that which cannot be known but which can be encountered; it can be felt, it can even be lived. You can be face to face with it. It can be encountered, but still it remains unknowable. Only this much is felt - that now we are deep in a mystery which cannot be solved. So before we enter this mystery some points have to be understood, otherwise there will be no entrance.