By Jayaram V
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Before you proceed further let us ponder over these,
which I have formulated for the purpose of this discussion. If
you understand them, you will understand what this discussion is
going to be.
To know oneself by
oneself is to dream a dream within a dream and remember simultaneously
all the details of that dream without being part of that dream.
Truly each river is an illusion, just as everything else in the
objective universe is. Countless drops of water, grains of sand,
dirt and gravel, give you the illusion of a flowing river that really
does not exist as a river except in your mind. That river which
you see from the banks is never the same and never exists in the
same state. You cannot say you see the same river each time you
look at it or drink the same water from the same river, although
you tend to do. That river which you see from the banks is an impression
of the river you have seen before. You hold it in your mind as if
it has never changed. You may not agree, but the river does not
exist as a phenomenon, except in your imagination. Each moment
it is created and destroyed by a combination of factors. Indeed,
the river that you see is not the same that I see, although we may
stand side by side and watch the same flow. Indeed everything in
life is such, an illusion that we create and hold in our minds to
make sense of an ever-changing world that is difficult to contain
in a crucible of experience.
We cope with life by ignoring its impermanence and creating our
own sense of permanence and continuity.
Each day when I wake
up, I am a new person I rarely meet and hardly know.
It is difficult to know oneself. To the extent you are self-aware,
you control your life and destiny. Not many people succeed in this
quest, because it is the most difficult thing to do. It is
not that we are completely ignorant of ourselves. We know who are,
what we stand for and represent, but the self-images that we build
overtime and hold in our minds are shaped mostly by unverified beliefs
and conditioned thinking and may not actually represent our true
identities. Your senses stand between you and the world and the
awareness they create stand between you and your true identity.
As a result, you hardly know the truth. To the extent you can clear
the fog they create, you will see the truth clearly; but most of
the time we choose to live with it rather than deal with it. That
fog is identified in the yoga and the Hindu tradition as the impurity
(dosa or mala) that needs to be removed before you can see the Self
hidden within you in its own light.
In worldly life, our attention remains focused on the things
and problems we have to deal with. We rarely take time to look within
ourselves and know who we are behind the masks we wear and the dramas
we create. We choose to live with the illusions we hatch rather
than the reality that confronts us because illusions shield us temporarily
from the problems we face. To know yourself you have to deal with
many barriers that prevent you from thinking truthfully and objectively.
You have to be transparent and absolutely honest with yourself,
setting aside all pretentions and self-deceptions. You have to free
yourself from the conditioning that shape your thinking and behavior.
Are you what you are?
Therefore, we seldom get to know ourselves truthfully. If I ask
you who you are, you may tell me your name, your family background,
your profession or your accomplishments. These are aspects of your
personality; but do they truly represent you? Most importantly,
whether these aspects of your personality or individuality exist
because of you or you exist because of them? This is an interesting
question. Let us attempt to answer this question in a very practical
and direct way and see where we end up.
At the most basic and tangible level, a person is made up of
two parts, the mind and the body. We are not going to include the
intangible or the eternal Self here, because we are not usually
aware of it and in our waking consciousness we do not know anything
about it. However, what pervades the mind and body or what arises
from their association, is the sense of self, the identity, or the
notion of "I am." For the purpose of this discussion, we will consider this as the third part. Our attempt
here is to know this third part by understanding the other two and
analyzing them. The third part is fundamentally different from the
other two. We will realize the reason for this as we gradually expand
our discussion and understand its essential nature. Here is a
graphic representation of the components that make up a person.
Now the mind and body, both have numerous parts and sub-parts. If you
keep on dividing
both of them into their most basic and fundamental parts
beyond which further divisions cannot be made, the
total number of parts you arrive at in the process would add up to an
that would be difficult to express mathematically.
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