Who are you?
Who are you? When this question is asked to us, the immediate typical response we give out is our name. Some times we also tell our profession like Doctor, Engineer, etc. This is perfectly normal in our day to day interactions with the people around us. But if you ask yourself this question and expect a correct answer, You will realize that it is a very difficult question to answer. This is because all the things we have now like our name, profession, etc are just associated with us. We can still live if we change our name or profession. Lets take another example. If you say you are the body then that is wrong and here is why it is wrong.
You know that you have a body that means your body is just an object like everything else and not the actual subject ‘I’. This body is continuously growing and you observe the change all the time. That means while your body undergoes continues changes you remain as it is to know this transformation. This body has certain characteristics like color, height, weight, etc. which also changes over time as you get old. Hence proved you are not your body.
Then you might say if I am not the body then I must be the mind. That is incorrect too. Mind is nothing but continues flow of thoughts. The thoughts arise due to change in emotions, intellect or attitude / ego or simply memory. You are aware of your thoughts and you can control these thoughts. That means you are not the thoughts and hence not the mind. In any case the ‘I’ inside you is always aware of your body, mind, emotions, thoughts, senses, etc while they are undergoing changes. The subject ‘I’ remains as it is. This ‘I’ is also referred to as “Self”, “Soul”, “Consciousness” or “Ultimate Truth”.
This ‘I’ has no properties or characteristics. You cannot view it or touch it or see it or taste it. You just know it is. Without this ‘I’ nothing will exist. In Bhagavad Gita Sri Krishna says
“Weapons cut It not, fire burns It not, water wets It not, wind dries It not.
This Self cannot be cut, burnt, wetted nor dried up. It is eternal, all-pervading, stable, ancient and immovable. ”
This, the Indweller in the body of everyone, is always indestructible, O Bharata. (Chapter 2 Verse 23-24 & 30)
“O conqueror of wealth, there is no truth superior to Me. Everything rests upon Me, as pearls are strung on a thread. O son of Kunti, I am the taste of water, the light of the sun and the moon, the syllable om in the Vedic mantras; I am the sound in ether and ability in man. I am the original fragrance of the earth, and I am the heat in fire. I am the life of all that lives, and I am the penances of all ascetics. O son of Pritha, know that I am the original seed of all existences, the intelligence of the intelligent, and the prowess of all powerful men. I am the strength of the strong, devoid of passion and desire. I am sex life which is not contrary to religious principles, O lord of the Bharatas. Know that all states of being—be they of goodness, passion or ignorance—are manifested by My energy. I am, in one sense, everything, but I am independent. I am not under the modes of material nature, for they, on the contrary, are within Me.” (Chapter 7 Verse 7-12)
Adi Shankaracharya at the age of 8 was wandering in the Himalayas, seeking to find his Guru, he encountered a sage named Swami Govindpada Acharya, who asked him, “Who are you?” Adi Shankaracharya answered with these stanzas, which are known as Nirvana Shatakam or Atma Shatakam.
I am not mind, nor intellect, nor ego, nor the reflections of inner self. I am not the five senses. I am beyond that. I am not the ether, nor the earth, nor the fire, nor the wind (i.e. the five elements). I am indeed, That eternal knowing and bliss, Shiva, love and pure consciousness.
Neither can I be termed as energy (Praana), nor five types of breath (Vaayu), nor the seven material essences (dhaatu), nor the five coverings (panca-kosha). Neither am I the five instruments of elimination, procreation, motion, grasping, or speaking. I am indeed, That eternal knowing and bliss, Shiva, love and pure consciousness.
I have no hatred or dislike, nor affiliation or liking, nor greed, nor delusion, nor pride or haughtiness, nor feelings of envy or jealousy. I have no duty (dharma), nor any money, nor any desire (refer: kama), nor even liberation (refer: moksha). I am indeed, That eternal knowing and bliss, Shiva, love and pure consciousness.
I have neither virtue (punya), nor vice (paapa). I do not commit sins or good deeds, nor have happiness or sorrow, pain or pleasure. I do not need mantras, holy places, scriptures, rituals or sacrifices (yajna). I am none of the triad of the observer or one who experiences, the process of observing or experiencing, or any object being observed or experienced. I am indeed, That eternal knowing and bliss, Shiva, love and pure consciousness.
I do not have fear of death, as I do not have death. I have no separation from my true self, no doubt about my existence, nor have I discrimination on the basis of birth. I have no father or mother, nor did I have a birth. I am not the relative, nor the friend, nor the guru, nor the disciple. I am indeed, That eternal knowing and bliss, Shiva, love and pure consciousness.
I am all pervasive. I am without any attributes, and without any form. I have neither attachment to the world, nor to liberation. I have no wishes for anything because I am everything, everywhere, every time, always in equilibrium. I am indeed, That eternal knowing and bliss, Shiva, love and pure consciousness.
Jesus was once asked when the kingdom of God would come? Jesus replied,
The kingdom of God, is not something people will be able to see and point to. Then came these striking words: “Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”
Look into every great religious, spiritual, and wisdom tradition, and we find the same precept — that life’s ultimate truth, its ultimate treasure, lies within us. Give this question a thought as it has a potential to change your life.