After going to the ashram, I was taught that this outer or exterior body, or this form covered by skin and flesh, is not my ‘real identity’. Body, name, hair, car, house, title, designation, family, qualification, relationships, etc., do NOT make-up or constitute my ‘real identity’ as the guru highlighted to us. And this was the beginning of overcoming all adversities, doubts, and confusion in my mind, and life.
‘I‛, I was told, am Soul. ‘I‛ am NOT my body, not even my mind. In fact, I am nothing material or ‘seen’. Now, who is this Soul or Self then? How do I know It?
For a beginner student, this may be a little difficult to comprehend initially, and that is why further enquiry and investigation have to be done to learn, understand, and develop in this path. But to understand the Soul is very self-evident. The only thing that separates something that is living versus something that isn’t living, is Consciousness. Material things do not have Consciousness, but Man does. This is Soul.
The Soul is the subject, whereas the world and all its contents form the object. If the subject does not engage with the object, the object is non-existent, and the subject will have nothing to cognise or workout, and is therefore at a state of rest and peace. So the Soul or Self is the subject.
The body happens to fall within the material realm and not the subtle or spiritual realm. It is classified as ‘material’ because as the Upanishads explain, anything that changes cannot be the Self because the Self is unchanging or immutable indefinitely, hence known as the “Immutable Self”.
The body cannot be unchanging or immutable and therefore cannot be the Self because it goes through continuous change. It was once a baby, in a very small body, then it grew to become a teenager, and later on old, and one day, it will disappear. The body is always changing, and this is why our ‘real identity’ cannot be something that changes over time nor can it be attached to something outside of us, such as, our wealth or assets, or position in society that creates our false identity. What changes cannot be Absolute.
Soul, as stated in the Scriptures, is unchanging and constant. It was never born, and will never die. It cannot be dried or wet. It existed before time and will continue forever. It is immortal. The Soul wears the human body like a human wears clothes. When the body is old, just like man, the Soul will discard the “old clothing”, in this case, our bodies. Soul is what ‘gives life’ to a human body and makes all its organs function. It is the life of all the bodily faculties of a human body. It gives thought to the mind, a beat to the heart, hearing to the ears, speech to the tongue, and smell through the nose. Soul like God, is the doer of everything, not the mind or body.
To witness something move or change, the observer has to be unmoving. The seer and the seen both cannot move at the same time, then motion cannot be seen. The face of the clock cannot, at the same time, move with the hands of the clock, then time cannot be told. Therefore, the Soul is unmoving and constant, and this is how we get to witness changes, like the changes of the body, the seasons, and everything in the world.
As Swami Satprakashananda said in his book:
“The real man is the knowing Self, the central principle of Consciousness, which is the unchanging witness of the changing condition of the body, the organs, the mind, and the external world. The indwelling Self is the only constant factor in human personality that integrates all the physical and the psychical factors into a coherent whole and co- ordinates the diverse functions of the mind, the organs, and the body. It maintains the identity of man despite all changes, external and internal.
Man is essentially immortal spirit, ever shining and that is mainly responsible for the livingness of the psychophysical organism. ‘He is the life of life’, says Keno Upanishad”.
Soul is also known as the “indwelling God” in us.
To sum it up, spiritual knowledge says that anything that is devoid of consciousness must be a machine or a material thing. Man is a conscious being, and this ‘consciousness’ originates from Soul, and the Soul is also known as the resident God.
So, Who am I?
“I AM SOUL”.
“It is because of the real self is the nature of pure Consciousness that every individual knows spontaneously that he is. He is aware of his own existence and the existence of all else that comes in his way. It is this self-awareness that distinguishes all sentient creatures from material things. It is self- evident. It requires no proof” – Swami Satprakashanand
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