Instructions to Students

Instructions to Students

Traffic Lights by Vicuna R
Traffic Lights by Vicuna R

In the 9th Anuvaaka of the Taittiriiya Upanishad, truthfulness and self-control have a priority, behind recitation of the Veda. In study, they consider recitation in Sanskrit the most important as it entrains you to the flows of nature and knowing.

Truthfulness can help us move closer to what is and away from our stories that support an ego narrative. It’s also one of the legs of dharma.

Self-control in this context isn’t resistance, it’s being conscious of our behaviour and not entertaining shadow impulses. Of course, this depends on our clarity. Often we’re noticing after the fact when we’ve strayed.

The 11th Anuvaaka goes into more detail and describes the parting instructions to students. In dharma, marriage and family life come after study. This is the instruction when full-time study completes.

Having taught him the Veda, the teacher instructs his student:
“Speak the truth,
Follow dharma.
Do not neglect your study.
After you have brought your teacher a [parting] gift, pleasing to him, do not cut short the line of the offspring [children].

“Do not neglect the truth.
Do not neglect dharma.
Do not neglect health.
Do not neglect your well-being.
Do not neglect learning and recitation of the Veda.
Do not neglect your duties to the gods and to your forefathers.

“Honor your mother as divine.
Honor your father as divine.
Honor your teacher as divine.
Honor your guest as divine.

“Those actions that are without fault, do those and no others.
Those good actions done by your teachers, do those and no others.

“Those Brahmanas who are more distinguished than us should be made comfortable with a seat [place to rest].

“You should give with respect.
You should not give without respect.
You should give with abundance.
Yous should give with modesty.
You should give with care.
You should give with understanding.”

– Translation from The Upanishads, A New Translation by Vernon Katz and Thomas Egenes

Of course, such precepts are from another culture and time. They’re not well-supported now, even in their home country. For example, it’s not as easy to see others as divine if they’re not also following such precepts. Happily, this does get much easier when we come to see everything is immersed in the Divine. In the meantime, there are basic principles here we can favour. Not to control and manipulate, just to favour when we have a choice.

Average rating 5 / 5. Vote count: 12

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.


  1. Sharon

    D, I’ve been wondering a lot about Sanskrit recently. Do you think when one recites
    Sanskrit, one automatically comes from the pashyanti level? And can you explain
    that level? I remember that it falls between the mental and transcendental levels.
    But I forget what its level is called. Thanks

    1. Hi Sharon
      Not automatically, no. It depends on the level of the attention. The average person would just be on the surface. A long term meditator would be able to speak from Pashyanti. This is essentially first impulse, the finest relative (celestial, causal). But they may also be able to speak from Para, the transcendent. More so if they are familiar with being able to think while in samadhi such as in the siddhis practice or are clearly awake. To some extent, it depends on where we habitually operate.

      They 4 levels of speech are:
      – Para – the beyond
      – Pashyanti – the first impulse, flow
      – Madhyama – thoughts, the mind ‘speaking’
      – Vaikhari – spoken aloud

  2. Lynette

    This is beautiful. I have a question on mother or father being divine. I have a problem with this. Because this assumes you have loving parents. What if you have abusive parents, does this hold true; we still need to hold them as the divine? Isn’t that mood making? When you don’t see your parents as divine?

    1. Hi Lynette
      You raise good points. The context here is with someone who has been in spiritual practice and study for some time.

      This is where recognizing the layers is useful. At essence, we’re all Divine. Our higher self and jiva or soul are both born of That. But then, we have a bunch of garbage overlaid over that. This doesn’t assume you have loving parents, it assumes you recognize our true nature. The Namaste greeting is essentially saying the Divine in me sees the Divine in you.

      So it means honor your parents for their true nature and for the opportunity to bring that nature into a suitable life. It doesn’t mean honor the garbage.

      It also doesn’t mean toss out our discrimination of right and wrong (as the further lines mention) nor make a mood.

      If you can recognize their Divine nature, under all the junk, that’s because it’s alive in you and because you’ve shed enough of your own junk. If not yet, that’s fine and normal. Continue your spiritual practices and it will come. You will put down the load that they passed down to you, leaving you with the gift of life. You will forgive them, and yourself.

      1. MaladroitMystic

        “It will come” is deeply reassuring, as someone who has to take a lot of responsibility and shoulder the burden for a toxic and abusive family, being the older child and groomed with that role.

        With TM and its advanced programs, there’s a lot of positivity that’s come about. There’s patience and strength, but is that the best we can do? This problem remains one that has the potential to make life bleak which it easily does every second day or so (I’ve probably done more meditations interrupted by yelling and fights than without). There’s no way that this can be “right”, and it doesn’t seem to go away. Your statement sounds like it comes from a place of knowing, which I will take in good faith.

        1. Hi MM
          Yes, I do speak from experience. Karma, especially ancestral within the family, can be a beast. We’re immersed it in it before birth. But it’s not permanent.

          I know little of your circumstance but by your wording, I might ask why these choices? There’s a difference between being responsible and shouldering the burden of the family. By this I mean the distinction between doing what is right & needed and carrying the garbage. Family members can develop co-dependent habits around that. Is there a white knight meme in there, feeling it has to rescue them?

          Karma often comes with a shadow making the distinction hard to see. But when we can see, we can put the latter down. Others may balk at how we’ve changed without recognizing in what way.

          Relationships take 2 to tango. When we dance, we can amplify the discordant energy. When we stop dancing, it dissipates as it has nowhere to land. These are not easy dynamics to see and let go of. Ego can feel its a way to control and be safe, even when it’s ineffective and causes suffering. But the effort to let go can be worth it. Healthy boundaries can be helpful as we disentangle. For example, is their fighting their unconscious way to get your attention? Children may learn to misbehave to get the attention of their saturated and distracted parents. Adults may continue that. Negative attention is better than none. (I touch on this more in other comments too)

          Time and karma move in cycles. At some point, the cycle will complete or change. Circumstances will change. This is especially true for meditators as we’re moving through our backlog more. Patience in the meantime can be difficult to muster.

          Because of the way karma is, often we begin to see through it near the end as it’s thinning. One way to get a sense of where we are in the cycles of time is through jyotish, if you’re so inclined.

          1. MM

            Very insightful, thank you. I don’t think it’s a white knight thing – if anything, I was definitely eyeing to leave them to their faults and misery every single day before I started meditating and felt a clearer sense of responsibility. Ironically it seemed that with every positive step from my side they got crazier, so I think there might be a lot to the mechanics of karma as you’re saying. Thank you; I was hesitant to write this message so publicly and permanently but I think your answer has been quite helpful.

            1. You’re welcome, MM. I write from and to the collective so this may also speak to someone else. It can be helpful for others to know they’re not alone. Otherwise, it may sound beyond what they can reach.

    2. I’ll note a curious thing here. Relationships are 2-way. When we heal and drop habitual reactivity and patterns, we become much more present to the other. They may balk at first as you’ve stopped behaving as expected. But in due course, they adjust and a new form of relationship arises.

      Many experience a version of this when they break the parent-child habits with their parents and develop an adult relationship. This goes deeper.

      1. Bernie

        Beautiful. I love the way you elegantly articulated your thoughts here and the one right before this, David. It’s so true, when one’s reactivity drops, behavior of the other/s changes and a better relationship develops. Both sides enjoy a more open, more natural relationship.

  3. harrison snow

    I was reminded by a friend recently of the adage in systemic constellation work that when we fully accept everyone in our family system just as they are the system heals. It takes just one member of the system (you or me) to have that impact. A similar movement is possible, I believe, in other systems we belong to. There could be a healing movement in accepting fully everyone in our work team just the way they are or everyone in our community or in our school. Acceptance here does not mean refraining from speaking our truth or being co-dependant or not advocating for what we believe in or lacking healthy boundaries. It’s more about seeing and knowing our shared humanity and letting go of judgment/reactivity and all the related stories our minds can indulge in. These days this is a radical form of inclusion and Oneness.

    1. Hi Harrison
      Yes, I’ve seen Constellation work done beautifully and badly, reinforcing the dramas. But yes, when we let go of our expectations, habits, and stories about our relationships, we see them as they are now, in front of us. This is deeply healing to both ourselves and the relationship.

      Sometimes, the other side will hold on to their drama but when we cease playing that game, their energy dissipates instead of being reinforced and our interactions can become more peaceful. Sometimes, we’ll still need discrimination. Some can be very invested in their stories even when they’re way out of sync with how you or the world are. We’re seeing a lot of this playing out in the collective theses days. But sometimes, this can be how they come to see. When our story is out of sync we’ll suffer. Pain can be a great motivator. 🙂

      Well put. Agreed, this is acceptance of what is, not buying into the stories and drama. It’s surrender to our higher nature, not surrender to egos.

      Yes – enlightenment is radial acceptance. It is totally inclusive. Transcendence isn’t an escape, it’s a way out of the stories and into our higher nature, then that coming forward and washing away the contractions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest