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Asian Med - Rel 370 Mahony The Permament Among the...

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2/28/08 Rel 370: Mahony The Permament Among the Impermanent The Katha Upanishad tells the story of young and inquiring Naciketas, son of Usan Vajasravasa, who is troubled by his father’s material sacrifice and travels to Yama’s “underworld” to ask for an explanation of the nature of sacred fire. “First of many...[and] midst of many”, Naciketas’ is granted three boons for his steadfastness. 1 Disturbed by his father’s attempt to reach the celestial through mundane means, the youth requests an explanation of ritual’s role in connecting human and divine worlds. Yama validates Naciketas’ question, explaining that the coveted answer lies in a “secret place”, but that is not a secret that can be revealed; instead, it is an endless reward that must be won. This secret place, says Yama, is in the self and is the only permanent entity among the impermanent parts that we believe make up our individual selves. Furthermore, it is the only thinker among thinkers , and is therefore the not the source but the location of all intelligent life. Naciketas understands that “what is called treasure is impermanent, that what is constant cannot be got through inconstant means”, and only by properly building the Naciketa-fire can humans burn through impermanent objects to reach the permanent. 2 Therefore the difference between Naciketas’ and his father’s sacrifice is in the purpose of
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