Hinduism Today Magazine Issues and Articles
Who Do You Think You Are?
Category : May 1999

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Who Do You Think You Are?

Knowing your true identity and how the mind works promotes progress on the path to enlightenment

Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami



Most people do not understand that they have a mind, that they have a body and emotions, that what they are is something far more lasting and profound. They think they are a mind, they presume they are a body and they feel they are a given set of emotions, positive and negative. To progress on the spiritual path, they must learn they are not these things but are, in fact, a radiant, conscious soul that never dies, that can control the mind and directs the emotion toward fulfillment of dharma and resolution of karma. While living in a normal agitated state of fears, worries and doubts, seeing the deeper truths is impossible. To such a person there is no doubt about it: "I am fearful. I am worried. I am confused. I am sick." He says such things daily, thinking of himself in a very limited way.

This wrong identification of who we are must be unlearned. Before we actually begin serious sadhana, we must understand ourselves better, understand the three phases of the mind: instinctive, intellectual and superconscious. This takes time, meditation and study--study that must culminate in actual experience of the instinctive mind, the intellectual mind and the transcendent subsuperconscious state of the mind.

Seeing the mind in its totality convinces the seeker that he is something else, he is the witness who observes the mind and cannot, therefore, be the mind itself. Then we realize that the mind, in its superconsciousness, is pure. We do not have to purify it, except to carry out its native purity into life: into the intellect by obtaining right knowledge and transmuting the instinctive or animal qualities. This is accomplished from within out. It is not as difficult as it may seem.

We must live in the now to follow the path to enlightenment. In the lower realms of the mind, where time and space seem very real, we are worried about the past or concerned about the future. These two intermingle and limit conscious awareness. A person functioning in the now is in control of his own mind. He is naturally happier, more successful. He is performing every task with his fullest attention, and the rewards are to be seen equally in the quality of his work and the radiance of his face. He cannot be bored with anything he does, however simple or mundane. Everything is interesting, challenging, fulfilling. A person living fully in the now is a content person.

Most people have not realized that they are and were God before they search for God. They are confined to their own individual identity, their personal ego and ignorance.

We have to change our perspective and begin to realize that beautiful body of the soul which has been growing through the many, many lifetimes that we have spent on the Earth. It's an indestructible body, and each lifetime it grows a little bit stronger in its inner nerve system. That is called the soul, or the psyche.

This body has been in existence for some thousand years or more on this planet, through the reincarnation process, and it is rather mature when the individual asks for the realization of the Self. It has lived so many lifetimes and gone through so many different experiences that in its maturity it wants its last experience on this Earth, that of Self Realization.

So, therefore, our individual existence, our individual life, should be identified with the immortal body, not with the physical body, not with the emotional body, not with the intellectual body, not with the astral body, which of course, is the instinctive-intellectual body, but with the body of the soul that has come along and had one body after another. It's come along on the physical plane and had a physical body. Then it was overshadowed by an astral body. Then it was overshadowed by another physical body. Then it was overshadowed by an astral body. Then it was overshadowed by a physical body. And the layers went onto the body of the soul--the instinctive, the intellectual, the physical.

The Self, God, is within all of this. It is beyond all bodies. It is beyond all form. It is beyond all intellect, beyond time, beyond space. That is the big realization on this planet, the thing that should be yearned for, sought for; all desires should be pointed in that direction. And then, once realized, you live out the life of the physical body and do what you can do in service to fellow man who is also coming along the same path that you have walked on before.

When we realize that we have come from God, the way back to God is clearly defined. That is half the battle, to realize we came from God, live in God and are returning to God. Knowing only this much makes the path clear and impels us to return to Him, to our Source, to our Self. We only see opposites when our vision is limited, when we have not experienced totally. There is a point of view which resolves all contradictions and answers all questions. Yet to be experienced is yet to be understood. Once experienced and understood, the Quiet comes.

On the spiritual path, you don't have to be a great rishi or a highly trained yogi. You don't have to be a great philosopher. You don't have to know Sanskrit. Just love God, which is the Life of the life within everyone. And to realize that God is the Light of the light within everyone, you have to be very simple, very uncomplicated, so that obvious realization can manifest through your conscious mind, through your subconscious mind, through your superconscious mind.

It's very simple: the energy within our body is the same energy that pervades the universe, and it's all emanating right out of God. It's very simple: the light that lights our thoughts--that light doesn't care--it has no preferences--whether it's a good thought or not a good thought. That light is illuminating every thought. Take away the thoughts, and you realize that you are just light.

The path I am describing is one of worshiping God on the outside and realizing God on the inside, and when the two come together--transformation! That means that you are different than you were. You have different desires. You have different motivations, different goals in life, because you've been transformed.

You look at your previous life and you say, "That's another person." Why? Because you have found something real on the inside of you. Thoughts on the inside of you--they're not real, they're always changing. Feelings on the inside of you--they're not real, they're always changing. God on the inside of you is right there--never changes. Those of you who hear the nada, it's the same inner sound, morning, noon and night, 365 days a year. The light that lights your thoughts, 365 days a year, twenty-four hours a day, is the same. It lights up your dreams also. And the energy of your body--all coming from God.

The only change that occurs within the Self-Realized soul is the awakening of the sahasrara chakra and the perspective that a mind has which has undone itself, transcended itself in formless Being and Non-Being, and then returned to the experiences of form. The experiences are all still there, but never again are they binding. The fire or life energy which rises in the normal person high enough to merely digest the food eaten, rises to the top of the enlightened man's head, burns through a seal there, and his consciousness has gone with it. He is definitely different from an ordinary person. He died. He was reborn. His perceptions are correct, unclouded and clear. His thoughts manifest properly in all planes of consciousness--instinctive, intellectual and superconscious or spiritual. He lives now, fully present in all he does.

The internal difference that makes a soul a knower, a jnani, is that he knows who he is and who you are. He knows Truth, and he knows the lie. Another difference is that he knows his way around within the inner workings of the mind. He can travel here and there with his own 747, without extraneous external conveyances. He knows the goings-on in far-off places. He is consciously conscious of his own karma, dharma and that of others. For him there is no apartness. His only gift to others, to the world, would be blessings, an outpouring of energy to all beings from the higher planes where he resides. It is the jnani, the enlightened being, who sees beyond duality and knows the oneness of all. He is the illumined one, filled with light, filled with love. He sees God everywhere, in all men. He is the one who simply is and who sees no differences. That is his difference.