A Real Life Question
A Real-Life Question
“Who am I?” Maybe you’ve never even asked yourself this
question. You might think you already know who you are. Unfortunately, however,
it’s likely that you don’t know who you are at all. And if you don’t know your
real identity, you’re in trouble. You’ll spend your life in a kind of dream
state—you’ll falsely identify yourself as something or someone you aren’t.
Then, on the basis of this false identification, you’ll determine the goals of
your life and the purpose of your existence. You use these goals to gauge
whether you are making “progress” in life, whether you are a “success.” And you
are aided and abetted in this delusion by a complex network of relationships
with other dreamers. Of course, at death (and sometimes before), the whole
thing turns into a nightmare.
So knowing who you are is a very practical necessity. The question “Who am I?” is not a philosophical football meant to be kicked around coffeehouses by pseudo-intellectuals. It’s a real-life question. Nothing is more important and more relevant than to know who you are.
If you, the self, erroneously identify with the physical body—if you believe “I am the body”—then this deluded condition is called false ego.
Your body has a beginning and an end; your body is subject to birth and death; but you, the spark of life within the body, are eternal.
Every one of us continues to live, even though our childhood bodies have long disappeared. Your “baby” body and “childhood” body have ceased existing, but you have not ceased existing.
Because our materialistic society considers the acquisition of wealth and power to be the goal of life, the more wealth and power you possess, the more “successful” you are considered to be. If you are materially poor, you are considered a failure in life, whereas if you are wealthy and powerful (regardless of how you acquired such wealth and power), you are considered a great success. So obtaining material wealth is not only essential for your direct sense gratification, but also for your feelings of self-worth. In other words, you feel only as valuable as the things that you possess and control. Lacking appreciation of your real value as an eternal, blissful spark of the Original Cause — falsely identifying the temporary body as yourself—you try to achieve feelings of self-worth by acquisition and control of material things. To achieve such economic development, you may end up engaging in illegal activity—in other words, you might become a crook.
Those who engage in the culture of nescient activities shall enter into the darkest region of ignorance. Worse still are those engaged in the culture of so-called knowledge.
~Sri Ishopanishad, Mantra 9
Unfortunately, most of humanity spends the majority of its time in the culture of ignorance. We cultivate ignorance by serving our tongue, belly, genitals, and other senses like obedient slaves. The vast majority of our energy goes into this mad pursuit of sense pleasure. Left with frazzled nerves, frustration, anger, jealousy, envy, greed, hate, loneliness, and confusion; we seek an escape in alcohol, cocaine, heroin, and a myriad of other legal and illegal consciousness dimmers. This is the cultivation of ignorance.
The negative social results of a society populated primarily by hedonistic people should be obvious to anyone. A society of self-centered, animalistic people who have no other interest than their own sense enjoyment cannot be at all peaceful or progressive—either materially or spiritually.
If you believe that you are your body, you will strive endlessly to give your body sensual pleasure. You will struggle to fill up your inner emptiness with fleeting sensual flashes. But no amount of sensual pleasure will satisfy you. No matter how many taste orgasms, sexual orgasms, and other kinds of orgasms you may have, you still won’t be actually satisfied. You’ll always have a never ending desire for more.
If you erroneously identify yourself with your body, you will conclude that your existence will end with the destruction of your body. But if you know that you are the eternal self within the body, you know that your existence will not end when your body dies.
If you identify your body as yourself, you will try to satisfy yourself by trying to satisfy your body. You’ll think, “I am the body and I want to be happy, I want to be satisfied.” Thus, you’ll try to satisfy the belly, the tongue, the genitals, the ears, the eyes, the nose, and so on, believing that this will bring you the inner satisfaction and happiness you crave.
But sense gratification does not satisfy. This is further evidence that you are not the body. No matter how much sense pleasure you have, you are still never satisfied within.
Sense gratification does not satisfy. This is further evidence that you are not the body. No matter how much sense pleasure you have, you are still never satisfied within.