The Upanishads cannot be understood in an ordinary way. That is how scholars miss the whole point, linguists miss the whole point. Pundits miss the whole point because they work with language, with grammar, with everything that is pertinent, but still they miss. Why do they miss? The missing happens because their inner time is linear. They are working with their intellect, not with their being. Really, they are working on the Upanishad, they are not allowing the Upanishad to work upon them. That is what I mean when I say to just be present, then the Upanishad can work upon you – and that can be a transformation. That can transport you to different planes of existence.
So the first thing to remember is how to listen just by your presence. Absorb through your faith and trust – drink! Do not fight with reason, do not feel with feeling. Just be one with your being. This is the key – the first thing.
The second thing is that the Upanishads use words – they have to – but they stand for silence. They talk and they talk continuously, but they talk for silence. The effort is absurd, paradoxical, contradictory, inconsistent – but this is how it is possible, this is the only way. Even if I have to provoke you toward silence I have to use words. They use words, but they are completely against words and language; they are not for them. This must be remembered continuously, otherwise it is very easy to be lost in words.
Words have their own magic, they have their own magnetism, and each word creates a sequence of its own. Novelists know, poets know: they say sometimes they only begin their novel. When it ends, they cannot say they have ended it. Really, the words have their own sequence. They begin to be alive in their own way, and then they go on.
Tolstoy has said somewhere, “I begin, but I never end, and sometimes my own characters say things that I never wanted to say.” They begin to have their own life and they go on their own tracks. They become free from the author, from the novelist, from the poet. They become as free as children become free from their parents. They have their own life.
So words have their own logic. Use a word, and you are on a track. And the word will create many things. The word itself will create many things, and one can be lost. But the Upanishads are not for words. That is why they use as few as possible. Their message is so telegraphic that not a single word is used unnecessarily. The Upanishads are the shortest treatises; not a single word is used unnecessarily, because words can create a hypnotic sequence. But words have to be used, so be aware that you are not lost in words.
Meaning is something different. Even more than “meaning” – it would be good to use the word significance. The Upanishads use words as signs, as symbols, as indications. They use words to show something, not to say something. You can say something by your words, you can show something by your words. When you show something, then the word must be transcended, must be forgotten; otherwise words come in the eyes and they distort the whole perception.