Individual Self: Who am I?


Hari Om! Namaste!!

We discussed earlier that the real meaning of yoga is just – union of Individual Self(Atma) with Ultimate Reality (a.k.a Universal Self, Paramatma).  So, before we practice yoga, it is extremely important for us to know: what is this Individual Self ? What is its nature?  Let us give it a shot to know this as clearly as possible.

Think of Ultimate Reality(Universal Self) as a large pond(mahahrida).  Just like a drop of water from the pond put in a bottle, the Individual Self is caged in our body after getting separated from the ocean of infinite power, the Universal Self .  The Individual Self gets the information from the senses like eyes, uses mind to interpret the external data(seeing) and applies I-ness(“I am seeing” feeling) and gives final opinion on the picture using intellect(beautiful flower) .

Since this entire process happens so quickly, it becomes very difficult to isolate the Individual Self  from mind. We tend to mistakenly think mind itself to be our own Self.

The Individual Self is the witness of everything: mind, thoughts, body etc.  It is the background which observes everything. When you say “my mind”, that real you who said it –  is nothing but the Individual Self.

Okay! By now, someone among us would ask: “This is all great. But, this complicated psychology is too much for me. Is there a simple technique to understand Individual Self?” Yes, fortunately, there is one!”

Upanishads in our Indian philosophy offer us a simple technique to know the Individual Self or atma . It is called neti technique of Self inquiry. It is a negation thought process of sequential “neti, neti” (not this, not this) to explore deeper into our own Individual Self.  Actually, Individual Self is nothing but the absolute answer to the great philosophical question:  who am I?

In Charpatapanjarika Stotra,  Shri  Shankara Bhagavatpadah  says:

Kastvam koham kuta ayatah kame janani kome tatah… ||

It means: who am I(really)? Who is my(real) mother? Who is my (real) father? …  Asking these questions and finding answers progressively leads us to  know  the individual self.

Suppose somebody asks us “Who are you?”,  here are our typical answers:  “I am  son of Rama”, “I am the mother of Krishna”, “I am from Delhi” etc.  Strangely, our name alone  is not helping us to completely describe ourselves. So, we resort to associate ourselves with some other person or place or even address! Interestingly, we are not answering the real question on us!

Now, just for fun sake let us try to have a question and answer session using neti technique of “not this”, without bringing relationships, as follows:

  1. “Who am I?”
  2. “I am Rama.”
  3. “Am I really Rama? Or calling my body Rama? Since I am calling my body, looks like the name is for my body. So,  I am not this!
  4. Who am I then? Is it my mind? Saying “my mind”, So, I must be different.  I am not this.
  5. Is it my brain? Not this! Because,  I am saying “my brain” implying I am or myself is separate from brain.  I am not this.
  6. ………..etc.

If we dig deeper like this, at the end we will get to know our own selves!

So far, we had been asking questions after questions centered around: “Who am I?”

But, what is the answer?

Again, our Upanishads furnish the authoritative final answer:

“Tatvamasi!” (The ultimate reality is really you, the individual self!)

That which talks internally within us like –  “my mind, my body, my intellect, …etc.” – is our Individual Self which is different from these. Individual Self  is  the Ultimate Reality confined in a body.

We cannot realize it because of ignorance due to our karmasSo, we need to surrender to a Realized Master to obtain the Grace via Shaktipat. The Master’s Grace annihilates ignorance, doubts and misconceptions to shine the light of the Highest Knowledge to  show the clear path to realize the the power of Universal Self within us.

How can we realize ourselves?

Parama Guru Baba Muktananda offers us a timeless solution:

“Honor your Self. Worship your Self. Meditate on your own Self. God dwells within you as you.”

That is enough for now. Enjoy!

Taamaadi Shaktim Pranatah Sma Nityam ||

Let us keep praying that divine primordial power always!!

Om Namah Shivaya ||

– Kalidas

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