Jivamukti Focus of the Month: June 2013: That’s It
Tat Twam Asi You are That -Chhandogya Upanishad of the Sama Veda
It’s gonna be alright It’s gonna be alright Darling, its gonna be alright
But who is it?-that you are talking to? that’s it-it’s that!
And you can’t name that any better than that Any better than it, cause that’s it-Tat Twam Asi
You are that, and that’s that You are it-that’s it, I am that, you are that It is that, and that’s that
It’s gonna be alright It’s gonna be alright Darling, it’s gonna be alright It’s just that-it’s always alright
Often when we reach to comfort someone we tell them, “It’s going to be alright.” We don’t use the person’s name, for instance: “John’s going to be alright” or “Mary’s going to be alright”; instead we say, “It’s” going to be alright. Why do we do that? Why do we say it like that? I think it is because “it” is the truth. “It” is “that” which is always alright-all right-no matter how sad, injured, afraid, lonely or confused. “You” on the other hand might be-might be sad, injured, afraid, lonely or confused. But only because you, at that moment have forgotten who you really are. You have forgotten that you are it-that which is eternal existence, knowledge and bliss (satchidananada).
When we encounter the suffering of another, that suffering is a momentary forgetting of Self. The true Self is eternal; it is boundless, limitless joy; it was never born and will never die, and because of that, “It’s going to be alright” is the most reassuring and true statement that can be made. We, any of us, suffer because we are, at the time we are suffering, forgetting who we really are-we are identifying with a body or mind-this is called avidya in Sanskrit and it means ignorance-ignorance of our true identity. So avidya can also be defined as misidentification-thinking that we are someone who we are not. We all do it. In fact, most of us spend our entire lives, even lifetimes, mistakenly thinking that we are someone who we are not. We identify ourselves as our personality-as the body and mind. We think we were born and we think that some day we will die and in-between we live our lives. We have resigned ourselves to accepting that those lives will have ups and downs-we will have good times and bad times. So when someone that we care about is going through one of those bad moments, we often show kindness towards them with the assurance that “it” will be alright, and as we do that, we remind them as well as ourselves that we really are “it” and that “it” is alright. “It” is always all right-it is not possible for “it” to be anything else but “that.”
Tat Twam Asi, like Aham Bramasmi, is one of the mahavakyas, or great sayings from the Vedas. In essence, the summation of the Vedic philosophy, which underlies all of the yogic teachings, can be stated as: the supreme Self and the individual self are identical. Tat Twam Asi is the final teaching of the Upanishads. Those three words, often translated as “That thou art” or “You are That,” sum up the entire philosophical teachings of Vedanta. And since they are said by one person to another about that other, they can be used as a blessing: Tat Twam Asi-You are That, You are the Self, You are Divine. Yes, That’s it!-and with that it’s going to be alright.
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