Have You Ever Thought? WHO AM I?
“Who am I?” This is one of the questions which we never think about too much or never really care to. It is due to the fact that we think we already know it and it does not require any additional effort to devote time to it. If somebody asks us, “Who are you?” We instantly speak our name like, “I am Jay!” He may ask, “What do you do?” We say with pride, “I am a software engineer.” Labels have been attached to us when we were born by our parents. They gave us a name through which we could be identified easily and we are comfortable using that label for the rest of our life.
The label is fair, it is legal and when we attach that label with our photograph there will not be much left to answer. The labels will work when you get lost in a crowd while getting admission in a school and everywhere else(It will also be used to identify a person on whom FIR is filed or a person who is to be put behind the bars and is in the WANTED list:) )
I will tell you an interesting incident about a person who unknowingly got an answer to the question, “Who Am I?” after he met a sage.
One day a man was passing by the forest and he lost his way. The man tried to find some person who could help him find the way but he did not find any. Then his eyes fell on a sage who was sitting beneath a tree and was reading some holy book.
The man went to the sage and asked, “Sir! I want to go to the city but I have lost my way. Please guide me.”
The sage looked at the man and asked, “Who are you?”.
The man replied, “I am Mark!”
The sage told him, “I can understand that your name is Mark but who are you?”.
The person got confused and added, “I am a businessman of a huge financial firm and I have a wife and two kids.”
The sage said, “Good Enough! You are talking about your business and family. But tell me exactly who are you?” The man became clueless. Initially, the man thought that the sage was mad or was making fun of him. But then he realized that the sage was very enlightened and he was asking questions to explain something very deep to him.
So the man began to think deeply about the question which the sage asked him “Who he was”. The man got committed to finding the answer.
The man told the sage, “Please give me some time, I will think about the answer and come back tomorrow!”
The sage smiled and showed him the way towards the city area.
The man went to his home. The man looked at the mirror for some time. Then he opened his album and saw the photograph of his childhood, then his photograph when he was in school, then he looked at the photo at the time of his marriage and finally he looked at the mirror. He realized, “If I am this body if I am Mark? How do I keep on changing? The box I can see does not change, so it is fit to be called a box. The same thing applies to all other nonliving things. But this body keeps on changing, if a person looks at me now and then he meets me after 20-25 years he will not even identify me.” The man came to the conclusion that he was not the body.
He thought deeply about it and he began to discover a few answers. The next day he went back to the sage.
He told the sage, “I have found the answer to your question. I am not the body because the body is subject to change. But I am the mind, I am my thoughts. The mind is not subject to change as the body is.”
The sage asked him, “Are you really your mind? Do you not feel happy at times and confused at other times? Did you not become anxious when we had met for the first time and I raised the question to you? If the body keeps on changing so does the mind. And understand, the mind is even more turbulent than the body. It will take you one moment to New York and in another moment it will take you to Mumbai.”
The man began to wonder that what the sage was saying indeed made sense and he was not the mind. The sage told him that he was closer but he needed to think deeply. The man bought some time and promised to come back the very next day.
The man went home and started to do more analysis of this question. Due to his desperation to find the answer, he became very focused and became fully concentrated. During those moments when there was no other thought reverberating in his mind, he experienced great joy and divine peace. He realized that the bliss he experienced was neither of the body nor of the mind. He came to the conclusion that indeed it was something else. It was his soul, it was his Atman. He realized that he was indeed the soul and it could only be experienced if one is fully concentrated and in a deep state of meditation. He dismissed his false identification with his body and mind.
He again went to the sage and told him that he was neither the body nor the mind but he was the soul that could not be seen by the eyes but can only be felt with a compassionate heart. The sage smiled and nodded his head.
The sage went on to explain him, “If we show something to another person we say THIS IS MY CAR or THIS IS MY HOUSE. We also say the same about our body, THIS IS MY BODY and THIS IS MY MIND. If we say that. it is my body, then it means that we are not the body. The body or mind belongs to somebody who is saying THIS IS MY BODY!”
The man said, “Sounds very interesting!”
The sage explained to him, “The tree never says that THIS IS MY TREE because it is itself a TREE. So we can conclude that we are just a tiny part of something higher, universal energy, something which cannot be seen but only realized if one is indeed serious about discovering it as is the case with you!”
This example clearly demonstrates the wrong notion that we are our bodies. It also rejects our thinking that we are the mind. It proves that we are the soul but it would not really make sense or seem practical if we do not experience it ourselves. For this, we need to be open-minded and ask questions to our self like, “Who am I?” “Why have I come to this earth?” “Is there anybody controlling the universe?” If we do introspection like this gradually our understanding will become broad and we will start getting concrete answers about the question “Who Am I?”
There is also one another method that is provided to us in the scriptures and will help us in realizing God who is dwelling within us. It is more practical and we have to use our reasoning for that. Whenever you come across anything. Ask yourself this question, “Will this thing help me to realize God?” or “Is this thing God?” One by one we will keep on rejecting all things in the world. In the end, we will come to the conclusion that there is a universal soul controlling the whole universe and there is no need to search it anywhere as it is dwelling in all of us.