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How Is Atman Realized? Upanishad Answers

Atman is realized through the cultivation of four essential primary qualifications (sadhana-catustaya).

  1. Discrimination between the Real and the unreal.
  2. Non-attachment to the result or fruits of enquiry by personal desires, worldly or otherworldly.
  3. Cultivation of the six psycho-ethical virtues such as calmness of mind, control of the senses and forbearance of all difficulties on the way without agitation or reaction.
  4. Intense desire to be free from all bondages, material and spiritual (mumuksutva).

The Atman is to be realized by hearing about the Truth from the scriptures and competent spiritual authorities, deep reflection on it rationally and resorting to necessary concentrated meditational practices. (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, 2.4.5)

The Brihadaranyaka and Chandogya Upanishads exhort, Yat sakshat aparokshat brahma ya atma sarvantarah; The Atman, which is the directly perceived and immediate Brahman within the in most core of all beings [is to be searched for]. (3.4.1-2); Sa anveshtavyah, sa vijijnasitavyah. It must be thoroughly enquired into and sought after. (8.7.1)

The Taittiriya Upanishad urges, ‘Tapasa brahma vijijnasava’; Realize Brahman through the concentrated effort of the mind and the senses. (3.1.2)

The Mundaka Upanishad points out, The Atman is realized through devotion to Truth, concentrated effort of the mind and senses, perfect knowledge attained through sublimation of the sex instinct and firm control of all extrovert desires.