Faith

Search for Self identity

Study of Vedanta focuses on the search for the ultimate reality and this begins and ends in self knowledge, atma jnana. This knowledge grows from the practice of dissociating the self from the body. But body identification is as unavoidable as the reflection in the mirror and one cannot wish it away, pointed out Swami Anubhavananda Saraswati in a discourse. But an ardent spiritual aspirant always tries to rise from the body level to the mind and further to the level of consciousness. After all, the mirror image is not independent and exists only because of the person in front of it.

The mirror cannot reflect the image of one who is not present in front of it. The person alone exists and the reflection is a mere appearance. Likewise, one has to understand that the self alone always exists in each being; and that the body mind personality is able to function only owing to the self. The self is the ‘I’ sense or the ‘ahamkara’ and its identity is shaped by each one’s perception of it. It could be seen as the ‘I’ with a certain name, status, scholarship, who is involved with this world during one’s lifetime. This ‘I’ then takes up various roles as father, son, husband, etc, with great earnestness.

The other option is to ponder over what it means if the ‘I’ is someone else altogether with no connection to the body mind personality at the moment. Then certain issues get revealed in the consciousness. This is the journey to be traversed and it is not in time and space but in the inner experience of each individual. One has to start playing the game of what it is like to be someone other than the body. This exercise helps one to shed body identification. It can free one from the stress and strain of daily living and can confer equanimity.

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Printable version | Jun 2, 2020 8:42:43 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/faith/search-for-self-identity/article31221507.ece

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