The Mover of the Moved
In the world we see a prime duality: cause and effect. Yet, we see no cause for the worlditself. Inquiry into its cause naturally arises. The lazy and the cowardly insist there is no causeand pursue their exploitation of the world and its inhabitants. The worthy and the bold,however, seek to know. Many are the theories set forth by profound thinkers. But those whohave gone beyond thought into pure knowing have unanimously told us of the cause, and inthat insight have also come to perfectly understand the effect–the world and all within it.
The Kena Upanishad opens with a question that is answered in the rest of the upanishad.“At whose behest does the mind think? Who bids the body live? Who makes the tonguespeak? Who is that effulgent Being that directs the eye to form and color and the ear tosound?”
This is one of the few philosophical questions that really matter, for if we come to the wrong conclusion it will cloud, or even distort, our understanding of life. For example, if wesay God, or Nature, or happenstance, we will in essence be saying that we have nothing to do with our existence, that a force far beyond us is making all this occur to us, that we are likeseaweed being carried along on the wave of the sea, able to yearn for situations and things but unable to bring anything about. If we are theists we believe that if we somehow do theneedful, in response God will give us what we want, but still it will be his doing and beyondour capacity to accomplish or even hold on to once we have it. This view of ourselves asutterly helpless and therefore utterly insignificant in the vast universe will cripple and frustrateus, distorting us profoundly. You Are Nothing becomes the watchword of our life–a life whichbears that maxim out. Hopeless and helpless we drift along, controlled by everything that isother than us. This is truly a living hell.Into this darkness shines the realization embodied in the upanishads, a realization that we will somehow recognize from deep within us, for that realization is ours on the inmost level of our existence. We do not learn the truth–we recognize it. All right, then: who makes the mind think, the body live, the faculty of speech to manifest,and causes the senses to operate?
“The Self is ear of the ear, mind of the mind, speech of speech. He is also breath of thebreath, and eye of the eye. Having given up the false identification of the Self with the sensesand the mind, and knowing the Self to be Brahman, the wise, on departing this life, becomeimmortal.”
The ear, mind, speech, breath, and eye are only instruments, only messengers. The one who causes them to function, the hearer of hearing, the witness of the mind and thought, the3
Kena Upanishad 1:1. “By whose will directed does the mind proceed to its object? At whose command does the prana, theforemost, do its duty? At whose will do men utter speech? Who is the god that directs the eyes and ears?” (Nikhilanandatranslation)
Kena Upanishad 1:2
understander of speech, the source of the breath and the seer of seeing, is the Atman, the