In the last two posts of this series, we went through the enquiry of the common error to get stuck at a certain level of limited self-identity. Whether it be with the body, or with the mind and emotions, it can cause tremendous damage if unable to overcome. One can end up living with the constant feeling of insignificance, while this is in fact the opposite of what you are!
But... the question still remains.. If I am not the physical body, not the emotions, not the mind, not the intellect, nor the swinging moods of happiness and unhappiness (सुख दुःख sukha dukha), then what is it that I am?
Vedanta gives the answer.You are the presence behind each one of them. You (the truth of you, the soul, आत्मा atma) is the self-evident truth which is not dependent on anything else.
In Kenopanishad, the first mantra asks "Willed by whom, is the mind made to fall upon objects? Directed by whom does the main prana (life) function? Willed by whom do people talk? Which divine principle directs the eyes and ears?"
The answer is:
"That principle indeed is the Self (Atma), which is the Ear of the ear, the Mind of the mind, the Speech of the speech, the Prana of the prana, and the Eye of the eye".
The truth behind yourself is pure consciousness, pure existence, limitlessness: सत् चित् आनन्द sat-cit-ananda. Because of you, the mind works. Because of you the body functions. Because of you, eyes can see and the ears can hear. You are limitless, wholeness, fullness, पूर्ण purna.
Now this sounds big. But what does it really mean?
The vision of Vedanta comes down to one thing: Oneness. The essence of you, is the essence of me. The reality behind you, is the same reality behind me- making it ONE. I can see in you, what i see in me. It's not just you and me, but the entire world that is around us. It is all from the same divine source, and not separate from it. This is one of the reasons why in India everything, from all the five elements, is worshipped. Because everything is divine.
Look at it this way- Taking a drop of water from the ocean, what is the reality behind it? It's nothing but the ocean. And the ocean is nothing but water. A drop from the ocean really has no independent existence on its own- its existence is water. It only has a particular shape, form, and name, making it a drop. Similarly, we have a world full of shapes and names, but the reality behind it is one. This oneness in Sanskrit is called ब्रह्मन् Brahman. Vedanta says अयम् आत्मा ब्रह्मन् this Atma is Brahman. The self which we are talking about, is this reality.
Knowing this, we can save ourself from a whole lot of trouble in this world. If you and I in reality are no different, then immediately our sense of fear, hurt, anger, guilt, etc will go. We turn ourselves from being small, to being ever big. This knowledge neutralizes the smallness within us, and instantaneously brings in compassion. Compassion towards each other, towards animals, plants, etc. With our bigness we are prepared to take up each situation, but now with the freedom from struggle.
Pujya Swamiji always says "You are the only significant thing in this world". It is true. If you can see the greatness behind you, then what else matters? If a bad mood comes, let it come. Invite it, and witness it. Nothing can touch you! We are just a witness of all that happens within our lives.
In the Mayan culture, which is hundreds of years old, they understood this. When greeting eachother, they would say In Lak'ech which means "I am (another) you", and reply with Ala K'in "And you are me". Similarly, in Hindi, we say Namaste. Namaste is namah te- my salutations, worship, respect to you. This Namah is no different from the Namah used in Om namah Shivaya. The worship done to the lord, is extended to one another. Because in each of us, the Lord/ the divine/the all pervasive shakti is there.