Who am I?
Once a student asked his teacher, “Who am I? I want to know the truth.”
The teacher pointed to the student’s hand and asked, “Whose hand is this?”
The student was surprised. He answered, “It is I mine!”
The teacher pointed to his head and asked, “Whose head it this?”
The student said, “Of course, it is mine!”
After pointing to many parts of the body of the student and receiving the same answer, the teacher said, “Every part of the body I pointed to, you claim to be yours, but I ask you now, “Where are you?”
The student was perplexed. He realized that whatever part of his body the teacher pointed to, whether inside or outside the body, he would be obliged to answer , “It belongs to me.” Therefore, he could not say that he is the body. Just as he could not say that he is the house or the car or the clothes. He realized he may own many things, but he can still be different than those things.
All the things that the student claimed to be his could be lost or taken away from him or become obscured to his mind due to sleep or unconsciousness. Still, he would continue to exist. He pondered the thought that even in an unconscious state like a coma he could continue to exist. He began to wonder that death may only be a state of unconsciousness. So even if his body dies, he may continue to exist, but without consciousness.
He spoke to the teacher. “I understand now that I am not this body.
Whether I am awake, sleeping or in a coma, I continue to exist. But what happens if I die? Is death like a coma or deep sleep? Or do I cease to exist when my body dies? Do I exist separate from my body?
The student was perplexed.
The teacher asked, “How many times have you changed your body in your life?”
The student was surprised by the question. He said, “I have always had the same body.”
The teacher replied, “The truth is you have changed your body many times in your life. Think about it.” You were in your mother’s womb as a fetus. Your were pushed out by contractions as a baby. You grew into a little boy, an adolescent, a man. You will continue perhaps to become middle aged, then old age and finally death. At every stage of your growth and aging you changed your body, but you remain the same person who witnesses the changes.”
“Your body is a collection of atoms, molecules, chemicals, etc., which appear, and disappear, but you have remained the observer of all the changes of your body. Obviously, you are different than your body. Where is the body you had in the womb of your mother, Where is the body you had as a baby, as a boy, as an adolescent. All those bodies have died long ago, but you are still alive and continuing to observe the changes because you have not died. Death will be the final change of your body in this life because, as a material thing, it will be worn out and not able to function properly anymore. But you will continue to exist and, if you are not self-realized, you will receive a new material body that will again go through the same cycle as your previous body: namely, birth, old age, disease and death.”
“The following information is necessary to understand this cycle of birth and death. Beside a gross body made of earth water, fire, air and space, you also have a subtle body made of mind, intelligence and ego. You can experience this when you sleep. Your gross body sleeps, but you may continue to dream in your mind and experience so many things that seem just as real as when you are awake.”
“The subtle body does not die when your gross body dies. It is very durable and functions as the vehicle that carries your eternal soul from one gross material body to another.”
“The eternal soul is covered by two bodies, one gross and the other subtle. We can understand what the gross body is, but the subtle body needs some clarification. The subtle body is different than the soul. The subtle body is made of mind, intelligence and false ego.
The mind is considered the sixth sense because it receives information from the other five sense, which are the eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin. The mind stores the information received from the five senses like the memory of a computer. The intelligence is the faculty to discern or differentiate the information of the senses into good and bad, amusing, painful, etc. It refers to the power to analyze things in their proper perspective. The proper use of intelligence is to understand what is spirit and what is matter. Such discernment by intelligence results in spiritual knowledge or knowing the distinction between matter and spirit. Mundane knowledge that one may obtain in the university pertains only to matter.”
“Above the intelligence is the false ego, which is defined as the impression that “I am a product of material nature.” This false belief is validated by mundane education which teaches the theory of chemical evolution. This theory states that living entities arose from a collection of chemical substances through a progressive series of chemical reactions. This theory began to gain acceptance after the German scientist, Friedrich Wöhler, successfully synthesized for the first time an organic compound (urea) from inorganic reactants. He is quoted as saying, ‘I cannot, so to say, hold my chemical water and must tell you that I can make urea without thereby needing to have kidneys, or anyhow, an animal, be it human or dog.’ The chemical evolution theory developed after Wöhler because he demonstrated that an organic chemical can be produced starting with inorganic chemicals. Nearly two hundreds years later, no scientists has been able to produce a living being from chemicals even though scientists can make many organic chemicals.”
“The existence of a false ego implies that there is a real ego. The real ego is identifying oneself with the eternal soul and not with the temporary material body. When one understands that my soul is the eternal servant of God, one has purified consciousness and acts with real ego that directs the purified intelligence and mind to use the body and all material things uniquely in the service of God.”
“The ego is the self identity called “I am.”
“False ego identifies oneself as ‘I am the controller and enjoyer of all I survey. I am a product of matter.’ The two psychic divisions of this material consciousness or false ego are ‘I am the creator, and I am the enjoyer.’”
“The real ego is manifested when one has purified consciousness. ‘I am not the creator or enjoyer,’ is realized knowledge. ‘My real position is to be a cooperator with the original creator and enjoyer, God. I am part and parcel of God, just as a part of the body cooperates with the body, or the part of a machine cooperates with the whole machine. The Supreme Lord is the enjoyer and creator, and I, as a subordinate, am meant to cooperate to satisfy the Lord. Such cooperation is in my best interest.’”
“As long as one is not free of the false ego, the intelligence functions in the wrong concept that matter is all in all and manipulation or control of matter for temporary pleasures is the goal of life. This illusory concept contaminates the world view of the living entity. One can spend their whole life attempting to control and enjoy the temporary matter for sense enjoyment.”
“One develops strong attachments to temporary material things and relationships. Such strong attachments engender feelings of love and hate, happiness and sadness and many more dual feelings that further entangle and confuse the person.”
“Such entanglement is a result of the false ego and the reactions one experiences due to the laws of material nature or karma. These reactions are experienced as sickness, pain, mental disturbance, anxiety, stress, nervousness, disabilities, legal problems, poverty, natural disasters, political, economic, social problems, etc.
All of the above are unnecessary, but they are experienced as long as one is under the influence of the false ego.”
“Some false teachers put forward the theory that the ego must be destroyed or eliminated to achieve spiritual emancipation. This is also a false concept because the soul is eternal and the real ego cannot be destroyed. The false ego can be purified, but real ego cannot be destroyed.”
“Therefore, the subtle body made of mind, intelligence and false ego will continue to carry the eternal soul from one temporary gross body to another until the false ego, intelligence and mind are purified. When the subtle body is purified, it functions as the vehicle to liberate the soul from material entanglement. Using the mind, intelligence, the senses and the body in the service of God will liberate a person from the cycle of birth and death. By remembering God at the moment of death will free the soul to return to the spiritual world in its spiritual form as the eternal servant of God.”
The student was thrilled by the teacher’s explanation. He needed time to assimilate all the information. He realized he wanted to ask more questions to the teacher to understand how to specifically purify the false ego. He already understood that theoretical knowledge is practically useless without practical experience that leads to realized knowledge.
Another person’s eyes will not give you light
Oureehseen ahck-kuh kehzee louiyss chee dahr
We cannot see with the eyes of others
This proverb implies we must develop the skills to think for ourselves and see or analyze life situations correctly without always depending on others. It doesn’t mean we cannot take advise from others. It makes the point that we must develop the personal ability to understand life and make decisions based on our powers of discrimination once we have been trained to do so correctly.