Who Am I ?

Chapter 1

Throughout life man remains confused because of the multiplicity of his numerous personalities. His perception of his own personality is always in a state of flux .It keeps on changing with environment, events and interactions with people, places and things. A verse in Chanakya Neeti (14-18) exhorts man to keep on questioning himself about his true identity. How does he identify himself from time to time? As a friend or an enemy of someone (I am friend/enemy of … ); as powerful or weak in relation to others (I command…/ I am subdued by…. ); as a resident of some place or country ( I belong to/am citizen of. …); as rich or poor because of plenty or lack of money and possessions (I am rich/poor on account of …); etc. The subject “I” in each case appears to refer to a different person. In other words, the ‘I’ with which the person identifies himself refers to his body. Ultimately the truth dawns that the real-self, real-“I”, the unchanging self, is not related to the material world; that, in fact, the real “I” is none other than an emanation – a local manifestation – of the omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, Supreme Being – the Unified Field of Existence – and therefore is endowed with all its attributes in potential. The perceived limitations are because of our false identification with the transient ego-self, which separates us from the Whole. There is only one primary reason behind all our problems and sufferings. Through the magic curtain of Maya (ignorance) we have forgotten our at-onement with the ultimate Supreme Source. The moment we awaken to our immortal identity as sparks (souls) of the Supreme Light (Universal Transcendent Spirit) we are freed from the shackles of fear – death, decay and
suffering. With this realization, the entire perspective of ‘I’ undergoes a metamorphosis. The seeker then reflects: When I am part of that Eternal Being, how can “I” -the Eternal Self take birth or die? Not being “life” in a body why should I feel the necessity of food and water for my existence at a particular place? I am also not the mind-stuff, which weaves personal and material relationships making me unhappy on loss of what I am attached to and happy when I get what I like. Not being the egocentric “doer”, the question of bondage to material world or deliverance from it does not arise. In other words, the real “I” is beyond birth and death, does not feel hungry or thirsty, is free from misery and sense of pelf and possession and is simply a witness to all activities of the mind-body-ego-knot. All acquisition of knowledge or information in this world is subject to our personal experience. Therefore it is always subjective and relative to our physical body, till we become aware of our true identity. Then and only then we get clear vision about our roles as embodied spiritual seekers. Therefore, awakened awareness of Self or Self-Realization is the supreme aim of human life. When you ask someone about himself, he identifies himself as a professional, a holder of some status, as follower of some faith, etc. On further inquiry he gives more details such as his place of residence, citizenship, lineage or occupation. Such identifications, however, are not casual replies. The individual firmly believes in these identities as his real self. Man is so obsessed with his body, that he considers the body and the real self as one and the same. As a matter of fact, heritage, race, business, profession or status are related exclusively to the physical body of man. Body is only a garment or an instrument of the real self, but illusion and ignorance make him identify entirely with the body. Consequently he ignorantly considers the well-being of the transient body as the well-being of the Eternal Self. Because of this illusion life becomes a perpetual flux of turbulence, anxieties and painful experiences.

SOUL IN THE BODY

It is true that a being independent of the body lives through a body. At the moment of death, when life departs from the body, there is no change in the apparent physiology of the body. Nevertheless, the dead body immediately starts to decay and to putrefy emitting foul smell. Devoid of life (life in its essence is an integral part of the soul till it attains salvation), the body acquires an abhorable state. It proves that although the being enlivens the body, it has an existence of its own, independent of the body. In parlance of spirituality, this separate entity is called Atma (Soul). This Soul is our true identity. Your right answer to the question “Who am I?” is “I am That Atma”.

THE REAL YOU IS NOT THE BODY

Everyone intuitively knows that soul and body in a living being are two separate entities and even in our speech we say: “My body” – signifying that ‘I am the possessor of the body and not the body itself’. Hardly anyone will doubt the separate existence of the soul. Whereas even a common man accepts this concept of differentiation in principle, his behavior reflects otherwise. Man behaves in such a manner as though he is inseparable from his body and the pains and pleasures of the body are his own (of the real self). A close observation of an individual’s thoughts, speech and actions would show that all of these pertain exclusively to his identification with the body. He thinks,
speaks and acts in terms of the body only. In other words when he says ” I”, he implies his body. Body is the lodgement and temple of the soul. Hence it is proper as well as necessary to look after its health, cleanliness and upkeep, but it is erroneous and fallacious to identify oneself exclusively with the body – thus mistaking the residence for the resident. It is due to this false and mistaken identity that man loses sight of the real interests of the soul – his true identity – and suffers the pangs of death, disease, separation in endless cycles of embodiments.

INTERESTS OF SOUL AND BODY ARE DIFFERENT

Since soul and body are two separate entities, their interests are also different. The requirements of the body are represented by the interests of the sensory organs. The ten organs of sense perceptions and actions and the eleventh mind are perpetually running outwards for gratification of their basic urges through the instrumentality of the body. The sensory urges are delicious food, stylish clothes, numerous things of beauty, beautiful women, melodious sounds and a variety of objects of comfort, pleasure and luxury .The mind on the other hand aspires for a high status in society, great wealth, widespread fame and authority. The entire life is thus spent in satisfying these insatiable hankerings of body and mind. When desires become cravings, the deluded person
frantically tries to satisfy them by any means – fair or foul. This is the primary cause of all sinful activities.

LUST AND GREED ARE ANIMAL TRAITS

If a human being exclusively and wholly lives for food, sleep, fear, sex etc., his would be considered an animal-like existence, devoid of any higher purpose. The least rise in the intensity of desire or impatience makes man take recourse to unfair means and turns the individual into a reckless devil. Individuals with such devil character traits make life hellish not only for themselves but also for others. Lust and greed are the two most powerful of these evil traits, which remain ever unsatiated. There is no end to cravings for sex and desires for acquiring more and more things for comfort, pleasure and luxury. Life is an endless cycle of desire, temporary satisfaction and still more intense craving.
The more one indulges in sex, acquires material things, the greater become agitations of the mind: worries, wants and anxieties; and these go on increasing day by day. Whatever pleasure one gets through sensual indulgence is followed by disenchantment, fatigue and unhappiness. The knowledge that the present sense gratification would not last long and its ultimate end would bring unhappiness of loss creates a vicious cycle. In this way, perspective of body-consciousness drags man towards immorality, suffering, craving and turbulence in mind. Nevertheless, man keeps on seeking true happiness in
material things. Real success and prosperity in life lies in remaining ever conscious of one’s true identity. When man identifies himself with Atma (Soul), his aspirations and
inclinations naturally begin to follow the righteous path of self-discipline, which provides true happiness to the Soul.

THE FOOD FOR SOUL

Whenever a person commits immoral acts like theft, violence, adultery, deception, he has a queer feeling of uneasiness within. His limbs start shaking and pulse- rate becomes irregular .It is nothing but an adverse reaction of the higher self (soul) to an immoral act or behavior of the lower animal self. Immorality is contrary to the nature and interests of the soul. On the other hand, virtuous acts involving altruism, philanthropy, kindheartedness, selfsacrifice and continence provide great inner satisfaction, lightheartedness, cheerfulness and exhilaration. Only those persons who are able to listen to the promptings of the soul (conscience) and act accordingly, are righteous and noble. Having risen above animal drives, a person tuned to the voice of conscience can never commit a sinful or evil act. Virtuous acts provide inner peace and joy to the soul in this world, as well as in the world beyond. Thus, the well-being of the soul lies in living virtuously. On the contrary, body considers its well-being in subtle and gross gratification of the mind and body. Unfortunately mass of humanity spend their entire lives in the blind routine of appeasing the urges of the body, which unlike the soul, is destined to decay and die; but in this process soul bound in ignorance keeps on
accumulating sins. No doubt such lifestyle gives fleeting pleasures to the body and to mind, but the soul is exposed to suffering in this world and in the world beyond. The body is required to undergo hardships in the course of performance of virtuous acts for the welfare of the soul. Unless strictly disciplined to abstain from sense-indulgence, the body cannot properly perform virtuous and noble acts. It is therefore required to be subjected to such disciplines as continence, sacrifice of self-interests, control of wayward
houghts, speech, actions; moderation in sex and philanthropy. It is therefore evident that well-being of body and soul are dramatically opposite. One has to choose between the two.

SELF-REALISATION IS REFLECTED IN BEHAVIOUR

There are two categories of people in this world. Those who identify themselves with their body, do not care about the welfare of the soul and spend their entire life in collecting material assets and things of comfort and pleasure. Life of such persons is reduced to an animal-like existence. Even while they are discussing nobility, rectitude, religion, ethics, life beyond death, benevolence, etc their interests remain focused on self-aggrandizement – here on earth or in heavens beyond. At times such individuals use religiosity as a facade for acquiring fame, for public acclaim of their nobility or for proving superiority of their scholarship; but their minds are always pre-occupied with
pursuit of physical pleasures and body-centered ego-inflation. But the moment a person realizes the necessity of soul-awakening, there is a sea-change in his attitude towards life. Sense-indulgence loses charm for him. When the wisdom of self-awareness dawns within, he realizes that the body is merely a garment of clay or an instrument for self-expression in the visible world; that this unique, invaluable human life should not be wasted in trivialities of self-glorification and indulgences in the comforts and pleasures of body. On becoming soul-conscious, he identifies himself with ATMA (Soul) and all his interests are directed towards well-being and joy of the soul. He singlepointedly uses every moment of his life in cultivating soul attributes. Thus, a body-engrossed person leads a miserably unhappy and animal-like existence whereas the soul-conscious person follows a life-path conforming to highest ethical and spiritual standards leading to abiding peace and joy.

REWARDS OF SOUL-AWARENESS

On becoming aware of the immortal indwelling soul, one does not get unduly influenced, agitated or disturbed by the evanescent ups and downs of life. Dualities of profit and loss, life and death, union and separation, respect and insult, attachment and aversion, etc produce very negligible reaction in a soulconscious person. He takes these as routine, natural happenings of this everchanging world. The man of awakened awareness knows that events happen as per Divine Will and not according to ego-centered individual likes and dislikes. The enlightened person disinterestedly views the passing show of happenings like a detached spectator – neither elated by so-called pleasant events nor dejected by unpleasant ones. A soul-conscious person easily escapes from the stresses and strains, which keep on tormenting and disturbing the
body -conscious persons and at times, under intense stress, driving them to take the extreme step of suicide. The key to living a life of purity, simplicity, nobility and dignity is to rise above body-consciousness and awaken to the reality of soul-consciousness. It brings true happiness, peace and gives a purpose to life. This is why spiritual masters
gave topmost priority to Sadhana of Self-realization: “I AM AN IMMORTAL SOUL “. The sadhanas given in this book are meant to inspire a sincere sadhak on the path to self-realization – the supreme purpose of human life. The discovery of the Indwelling Real Self makes a person realize that he is neither this body nor the mind-stuff (Sookchma Shareer) both of which are only soul’s instruments. Realization of this truth frees man from the bondage of body and mind. A fable would explain this phenomenon more explicitly: A monkey happens to come across a pitcher full of nuts. It puts its hand in the pitcher, grabs a fistful, but is unable to withdraw the filled fist because of the narrow mouth of the pitcher. The monkey starts crying in panic, believing that the pitcher is holding its hand. It is able to pull out the hand, the moment it realizes the truth and releases the nuts. Likewise, man suffers because he clings to his carnal weaknesses like attachment, likes, dislikes, sex, anger, etc. The moment he exercises his conscious willpower to shake off these self-imposed addictions, he is instantly freed from the bondage of ignorance. There is also that story about the lion’s cub, who, on being brought up in the company of lambs developed the timidity of Iambs; but when it saw its image, the true-self, in water, it regained its real lion-like confidence and strength. This is exactly what happens when we discover our true identity – the Immortal Soul.
It brings total relief from ego-inflicted sufferings and wants which keep on tormenting us each moment. There are numerous fields of knowledge in this world but The Supreme Knowledge, transcending all other fields of knowledge, is the Knowledge of the Self. (Atma Gyan) which unravels the mystery of life. Research scholars in the material and mundane sciences have uncovered many miracles of nature, such as: electrical energy and atomic power. In the same manner, on diving deep into the inmost recesses of the Supreme source and spirit of the universe, the sages, seers and the mystics have discovered the nectar of Atma (soul) transcending the limitations of the
material world, the experience of which makes man truly wise and bestows upon him mastery over mental and material forces and energies. Hence it is essential for man to first know his Real Self. He should repeatedly put this question to himself- “WHO AM I?” and find out the right answer through indepth analysis, contemplation and introspection. On knowing the true self, man gains the clear-seeing wisdom to discriminate between what is beneficial for true human well-being and what is not? Things, which are considered beneficial in a state of mind inclined towards materialistic pursuits and pleasures, for which man craves day and night, appear trivial, in fact harmful, when one becomes aware of the soul. Then many pursuits, which appear
useless, even foolish and abhorrent to a materially infatuated individual,
provide real inner peace and joy to the seeker of the Soul and become signposts
on his immortal journey back Home.

HURDLES IN SADHANA

Many persons aspire for spiritual progress but do not achieve the desired progress because of their halfhearted, lop-sided process of sadhana. The goal of sadhana is to violently shake man out of his body-conscious state of slumber, so that he becomes fully awakened to the reality of his true identity as an Immortal Soul. The holistic therapy for any disease involves treatment of the root cause of the malady. Mere palliatives do not serve the purpose. The same principle holds true in case of spiritual sadhana. No doubt, the conventional rituals of sadhana like continence, philanthropy, fasting, jap, anushthans, yajna, etc. are beneficial as initial steps. Nevertheless, they do not constitute the totality of sadhana. These rituals do enhance purity of mind, positive traits and
nobility, but these alone do not lead to Enlightenment, which reveals the illusory and transient nature of the phenomenal world and our free identity as immortal souls – sparks of the Divine. The purpose of this booklet is to help and guide a spiritual seeker to awaken to the Presence of his Indwelling Divinity. A person of awakened awareness of the Spirit effortlessly lives a life of nobility, righteousness and loving kindness. Once this paradigm shift of consciousness is accomplished, the confines of “I” and “MINE” expand infinitely to encompass the whole of the universe. Such a realized Soul feels that he has far greater responsibilities to shoulder than mere caring for his narrow physical-self and related persons and things. As one climbs higher and higher on this spiritual ascent, one’s sense of belonging expands accordingly and finally, looking around as far as one can from the top of a hill, one discovers that he is one with all existence. Earlier, a person had to take care, perhaps, of his children, siblings, a few relatives, a few employees, some possessions, etc., but now these thousands upon thousands of things and people around appear needing his personal care. In other words, as one’s field
of vision widens on climbing a hill, so does the perspective of Self on selfrealization.
The tiny egocentric, body-confined sense of I-ness vanishes for good. Let us try to understand this concept through an analogy. Let us consider the air in a balloon as the limited-self. Blowing air in this balloon expands it and it occupies more and more space, till it bursts. The air in the balloon becomes part of the vast expanse of air surrounding the earth. In the same manner, progressive expansion of self-identity ultimately leads to the realization that it was inseparably connected with all creation. It was the body-consciousness (the balloon), which was creating the illusion of an isolated, independent
existence of one’s own. In a nutshell, this is the vision of Self-realization. This is the basic tenet of the super-science of spirituality, which constitutes the core of the various religious faiths and mystic paths all over the world. In nutshell, this is the core of all disciplines of spiritual practices, irrespective of the people, places or varieties of worship.
Once having a glimpse of the true Self, the seeker can never return to the confines of the old narrow perspective of self. In common human life in each moment, there is a lurking worry and fear of a possible disaster. Man is in desperate search of a perennial source of happiness, but he is seeking it outside of himself – in possessions, pelf, power and relations. When one dying of thirst in a desert finds an oasis of cool water, would one ever think of returning to the wasteland of scorching sand? “Yadgatva Na Nivartate Taddham Parmam Mam” proclaims the Divine Teacher in Bhagwadgita. It means, “Having experienced the bliss of Self -realization who would like to come back for
suffering mundane worldly woes?” Having reached the destination, the question of losing direction does not arise. Does one forget the way back to home after homecoming? Vices like lust, anger, greed, infatuation and cravings for sensory pleasure keep man always entangled in the cobweb of misery .On account of the everchanging
nature of material world, one can never have lasting peace and happiness on this plane. Throughout life man keeps on lamenting for loss, craving for more and more of what he considers pleasant and getting frustrated on denial of his wishes. The attachment to the pleasant and repulsion from the unpleasant are two root causes of retrogression, which drag the being to births in sub-human species of animal kingdom. (Laws of science of spirituality state that in course of its progressive evolution, the soul of a being inhabits bodies of successively higher, more evolved species of biological kingdom and birth as a human being is the culmination of this evolution. It is further stated that indulgence in aforementioned animal traits sets the clock of progressive evolution backwards). The methods prescribed in spiritual practices in various faiths are meant to rise above the pull of these beastly tendencies. In the Bhagwadgita, human mind is personified as Arjun. In the battle of Mahabharat, which symbolizes the perpetual inner battle between the good and the evil within our own selves, he is exhorted by God-incarnate, Sri Krishna, to fight against and annihilate his own intimate relatives (evil traits) personified as the Kauravas. In the following chapters of this booklet simple exercises are suggested for elevating the level of consciousness of man to a super-conscious state where he becomes totally free from degrading traits of worldly life. Self-realization endows the seeker with celestial virtues of divinity. As mentioned earlier, progressive expansion of the ego-bound narrow-self ultimately bursts the balloon of body-consciousness and the
individual being attains at-one-ment with the omnipresent Supreme Being. Some scepters may interpret this path of soul-growth as the way of the recluse or the ascetic, who wants “Nirvana” (Deliverance) or who desire to be detached from worldly life for altruistic pursuits. One may even argue that this sadhana is only for those who are interested in the benefits of life beyond death, whereas all efforts of a common man are focused on the pleasures of this world only; that most of the time of man in his daily routine is taken up by such things as business, job, education, entertainment, etc; and he has little or no inclination or time to think of and provide for life beyond death. It is natural to have such doubts since in today’s world, the confused mindset of man treats well-being of self in this world and in the worlds beyond death as two different pursuits, whereas factually these cannot be compartmentalized. What pertains to this world is also covertly related to the other. These are inseparable like two sides of the same coin. The subject matter of this writing does not permit dealing in detail with this misconception. Suffice it to say that the cultivation of Self-awareness is the most efficacious method of success in practical life of this world as well. All progress in this world goes hand in hand with the progressive evolution of human consciousness. One, who is endowed with the inner-strength of soul, has the capacity to succeed in all avenues of life. The simple and natural method of communion with God is in knowing one’s true immortal self, appreciating dignity of human life, finding out the specific role of human species in the creation of God, and thereafter start functioning without any ego-centered motive as the Manager of His estate; whatever part to the real well-being of this world and the world beyond, leading you to the Supreme goal of Self-realization.
May God enlighten your path.

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