Katha Upanishad: Does our self really need divine grace?

The Katha Upanishad (Kath Upanishad; Kathopanishad) says that material objects are superior to the senses, the mind is higher than the objects, the intellect is higher than the mind, and the self is higher than the intellect. Furthermore, nature is superior to the self and the Supreme Person is even higher than nature (1.3.10-11).

This implies that a material object can allure our senses unless our mind is disciplined. If our mind is weak, we can use our intellect (discrimination) to tame it. And if our intellect is weak, we can still align ourselves with dharma through our soul force, our inner strength that manifests as optimism and trust in dharma. The self (jivatama) is very powerful, and we can harness its power to achieve pretty much everything in the material world. However, it has a limitation: its power is not adequate to transfer us out of the universe, for nature cannot be transcended through the spiritual strength of the jiva alone. No matter how focused and self-assured we are in our spiritual pursuit or how strongly we scream for liberation, we cannot transfer ourselves outside the world by our own potential. This is why “surrender” is so important. Surrender of the self to the Divine brings his grace, which is our ticket to realizing our true relationship with Brahman.

Last edited on March 28, 2019

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