In our daily life conversation, we use many words for which we really don’t have the necessary understanding and experience. For e.g. when there is a pain in the body, we say my body is aching. When our head is noisy, we say I have a headache. If we are going somewhere, we say I am going to New York City. Similarly, in almost every sentence which we utter we say, I did this or I did that. But have we ever asked ourselves Who is this ‘I’ to which we are referring to? Have we ever tried to explore the nature of this ‘I’? I think most of us have not done that. Which literally means we don’t even know who we really are. And if we don’t know who we are, then naturally anxiety and suffering will be inevitable. This particular article is dedicated to the exploration of our true identity (or TrueSelf) and knowing what is the nature of this true self.
Let’s start from the very fundamental aspect of our life. The moment you were born, nature gifted you with five faculties using which you can perceive life. These are Hearing, Seeing, Smelling, Tasting, and Touching. Which means these 5 sense perceptions are inherent to every human being irrespective of his cast, color, creed, race & nationality. Using these five senses we have different kinds of experience. For e.g When you look at a beautiful mountain, someone else may think that it’s a physical process of looking, but as far as you are concerned, you are having an experience within yourself. Similarly, If you are eating a Mango, someone else may say, that this person is eating a mango, but as far as you are concerned, you are having an experience of the sweetness of mango within yourself. What this implies is that whatever you perceive using these 5 sense organs, ultimately it gets converted into a living experience within yourself. Then you would ask me, What about mental thought? The thought is a mental experience which is again happening within yourself. So it wouldn’t be wrong to say that your life completely revolves around either physical or mental experiences. But ultimately these are just experiences which are happening within your own self.
I am sure up till here you are buying my point, but what I am going to say now might shock you or bewilder you, However, I am sure if you will explore this dimension deep within; you will agree to it. There is no such thing called as a Physical matter or Physical Object. I know, the next question which you will throw at me is, ‘Are you questioning the authenticity of Modern Science, particularly Physics’?. I have no intentions of doing the same. I am just proposing what is experientially real for me. So here is the valid argument for what I have just proposed. Let us take an example of the so-called physical object. You say, this is a Car or this is a house. Now if I go by usual understanding, everyone will think that both Car and House are Physical objects. Let’s go deeper and verify this using our own experience in order to know whether this is true or false. When you say this is a house, how do you know this?. The answer is, you can see it using your eyes, you can touch it, you can smell it, If you knock on the door you can hear the sounds, You can taste it if you want. Which means before even we label something as a house, it is an experience for you. The house is just a word to express that experience. The words are made up things by human mind which vary from culture to culture but you know within yourself that the experience is more fundamental than words. Words are not existential. These are just conventions to live in a society. But if you look from the basic life standpoint, everything which you are calling as a physical matter or object, it is an experience first and only after that your mind translates its meaning into a physical object which is nothing more than a word as I mentioned above.
Now taking the above-cited example as the fundamental approach, you think of anything which you call as matter. Be it a Microwave oven, Television, Aircraft, Car, Motorbike, Laptop, Mobile phone etc. Fundamentally you know all of these as an experience first before your logical mind labels them as physical objects.
If you have understood the analogy applied above and if you really applied your logical thinking to this analogy, then your own experience will verify this fundamental reality. Now let’s go to a more deeper stage and ask ourselves, how do we know that an experience has occurred? What is the knowing element in each of the experiences which we have ever had in our life? If you look within, you will find this is because of the quality of your awareness. Because there is awareness or consciousness within you, you are able to have & know an experience. Which means the very gateway to any experience in our life is the Awareness or Consciousness. So this wouldn’t be wrong to say that awareness is the inherent quality of any experience. If there is no awareness, there is no possibility of knowing of any experience. And if there is no knowing of experience, there is no life.
So the next big realization for us is; because there is consciousness, there is knowing of any experience. So let’s rearrange our priority list again. In normal context, we say there is body, mind, and universe. But all of these three are basically experiences. So experience is a pre-requisite for Body, Mind, and Universe to exist as far as an Individual human being is concerned. And the Awareness is a pre-requisite for any kind knowing of experience. So that’s who you are. You are pure awareness at the deepest level of the existence. Again, I will emphasize, please do not go with what I am saying, I want you to explore deeper and realize this reality by yourself. Because what I am proposing is a possibility for every human being on this planet. It just needs self-inquiry and you will experientially realize that you are just pure awareness which has no objective quality of its own. It is simply a presence or an element of energy & intelligence which makes knowing possible.
How to explore and experientially know the nature of this awareness or consciousness: There are a lot of tools which I have proposed below in order to help you to actualize the nature of awareness in your own experience.
Tool number 1: Ask yourself, what is the most intimate entity in any kind of experience in your life?
Look deeper and ask this question again and again, what is the most intimate entity associated with any experience. Suddenly you will realize, the most intimate entity is the Awareness itself. Which implies there can be no experience which is devoid of awareness. And if there is, you would never know it, which means it doesn’t exist for you. So your experience of anything cannot be separated from the knowing of it.
Tool number 2: Can you ever come in contact with anything which is outside your consciousness or awareness?
Again if you look deeper, your inner self will experientially tell you, the answer to this question is NO. As I mentioned before, if there is anything which exists outside your awareness, then there is no possibility that you can ever know it. The quality of awareness is inseparable from what we are calling as life.
Tool number 3: Has the quality of your consciousness ever changed?
Take two to three minutes and look within yourself. Explore and self-enquire this question. Is the present experience of awareness different from the awareness which you had when you were a baby or a teenager or an adult? If you look sufficiently enough, you will realize, this is the same experience of Awareness. Your body has completely changed from the day you were born both in shape and size. Your mind is always changing every moment, your thoughts and emotions are changing every day and night. But if there is one thing which has not changed is that quality which is the witness of all of these changes which you as a life form have gone through. Which ultimately proves the fact that if we have to know something about our fundamental reality, definitely body and mind cannot be that because they are changing all the time. Something can be fundamental only when it has an established principle and science of its own which serves as the basis of all the aspects which are dependent upon that fundamental reality. As I mentioned the example of a Cinema screen in one of my previous articles. You see in a movie, every minute the scenery is changing, the moods are changing, the story is changing, but what is not changing is the background cinema screen which is supporting and witnessing all these changes. So in this context, you are that Screen. You are not the drama which is happening on the top of that screen.
Tool number 4: Has your quality of consciousness ever aged?
The answer is No and this is experientially true for every human being on this planet. Even if you ask a 100-year-old living person, he can firmly say that in his experience he doesn’t seem to experience the awareness as some sort of aging experience. It’s the body who ages but not the quality of awareness or the awareness itself.
Tool number 5: Does your consciousness has a form or dimension?
The straightforward answer is No. Awareness has no shape and dimension of its own. Whatever situations our body and mind are exposed to; the awareness takes that form, texture, size or color. Which implies that it should be formless or dimensionless. Isn’t it? I leave this decision to your hands 🙂
Tool number 6: Have you ever experienced anything other than knowing of experience?
I believe I have already elaborated this aspect in the starting of this article. There is no such thing called as Body, Mind, and Universe. The only and only thing which exists is the experience and most importantly the knowing of experience.
So if we can summarize, we can firmly say that awareness is that ever-present element of your life which cannot be separated from you because that’s who you are. If awareness doesn’t have a shape and form then it must be dimensionless and formless, Isn’t it? Anything which doesn’t have a form actually means that it doesn’t have a defined boundary. If something doesn’t have a defined boundary means it should be infinite. If anything which is not changing in its own nature means it doesn’t have any objective quality of its own. It is simply there as a presence shining within each one of the human beings or any other creature on this planet. If something is not aging, then logically it means that it cannot be subjected to birth or death. So it wouldn’t be wrong to say that who you are essentially is that awareness which is dimensionless, formless, eternal, infinite, ever-present energy which is not subjected to birth and death. That’s who you are and that’s your inherent nature. This literally means that the being within us is immortal, though the outer coil which we call as the body is mortal.
That means when our body and mind die, we don’t go anywhere we just remain where we originally were. Let us understand it with an example. Imagine I have created a room of 20 by 20 feet. Now obviously there will be space inside that room. Now if I demolish that room, where would the space within that room go? The answer is Nowhere. That space was always there and will always remain there as it is. Another example could be an example of a soap bubble. Once you blow a soap bubble, the content of the bubble is air. If the bubble gets burst, the air won’t go anywhere, it just mixes with the external atmosphere. Similarly, when our body dies, the being within us just gets released and it still remains, it doesn’t die. This is that being which we are referring to as awareness. That’s your true identity. That is who you are at the most fundamental level of existence.
What is the significance of knowing the Who we really are?: I will just mention one thing which will justify the significance of this true knowing. The suffering lies in the untruth; Bliss lies in the truth. The suffering lies in ignorance; Bliss lies in the knowing. So if you are aware of the real nature of your existence experientially, then you literally become a boundless being; devoid of any kind of suffering. Joyfulness will become your natural way to express life. You will live a life which is highly exuberant and ecstatic. You will experientially know what fulfillment and blissfulness actually mean. What else do you want in your life 🙂
Peace & Love!