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What is the meaning of "I"?

Updated on April 12, 2014

Pointers of Truth!

Real "I" and false 'i'

Today’s topic of the hub is ‘mistaken identity’. This topic verily pertains to human beings on earth. For eons, we are all living under the mistaken identity. We consider ourselves as the physical form with a thinking and analytical mind. This is the basic flaw in human thinking. Mind has the capacity to hoodwink the human beings. We consider the mind as our well-wisher. Sadly, the answer is a big NO. The mind is just like any other instrument in the cognition process. The only power of the mind is that ‘without its aid, man cannot cognize the world.

The senses may be sharp. His sense organs may be perfect. Yet without the mind being there, nobody can be aware of ‘what is going on’? A simple example! You are watching a TV show but your mind is immersed in some problems at the Office. Though you are very much in front of the TV, and the eyes are focused on the program, yet you are not able to discern, what goes on in the TV. The reason is your mind is absent. This is known as ‘absent mindedness’ and every one of us undergoes bouts of absent mindedness during many times in our life. The mind is not focused. Hence everything will be blurry. When someone questions your identity, you simply retort, “I am so and so! This is the case with everybody in the world, whether he is intelligent or fool.

The purport is simple. We point to the bodies since we identify ourselves with the bodies. It is a natural instinct of all beings to identify themselves with the bodies. This body attachment is the chief cause of all the troubles, man experience in the world. When we start identifying with the body, we go through the ups and downs of existence. When the body is healthy, we exult. When it becomes ill, we become naturally depressed due to our strong body attachments. But the prophets, sages and saints tell the human beings everywhere ‘You are NOT this perishable body and evanescent mind! You are “Existence, knowledge and Bliss. They assert “You are the immortal Self! The body is just like the dresses we wear. The SELF, wear the body. Bodies come and go but the Self is the only reality. But who listens? Only after undergoing multitude of troubles and grief in many births, man slowly realizes that he is not the body or mind.

There is one more example. We all live in the houses or flats. Do we consider ourselves as the house or flat? No. It is ridiculous. We are the occupant of the house. In the same manner, the SELF is the occupant of the body which is like a house. When the body loses its usefulness, the Self, relinquishes the particular body and occupy a different one which is fresh. In human parlance, we call it as ‘death and birth’. When the dresses we wear are torn or beyond use, we wear a new dress. Is it not? This is how the Self changes the bodies.

Now, let us come to the second part of the story. How the body is useful to the Self? Why a body is needed at all? This is the most complex question faced by all the thinkers and philosophers alike. The creation itself is a great illusion, says the Advaitin or Monist. He asserts that there is only ONE and there is no second entity. Then how about all the things we see or hear or taste or touch or smell? This is the work of the master strategist called the mind. The mind has the power to veil the reality and superimpose some other thing over the Real. Let us again see an example. Many times in my previous hubs, I have elaborated this point. “A coir lying on a path looks like a snake in the twilight hour. Why? The visibility is poor. The coir lying on the road looks like a snake coiled and this gives rise to ‘fear’. When we examine this deeply, it is only coir. When a light is focused on the place, we are relieved of our fears. We are ashamed and our fear vanishes.

This is the quintessence of Advaita philosophy. Due to ignorance, man considers coir as a snake and is frightened. Which is real? It was all along coir only! There was no snake at all. The snake is only an ‘imagination’. This imagination arises due to our mind. The sages and scriptures assert “All along, there is only ONE (we call it god or almighty or self). The world is pure imagination of the mind aided by the false sensory impressions. I would request our readers to ponder over this point.

In conclusion, the real “I” is the SELF within and not the imaginary body!


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