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Who am I?
February 8, 2014
By Nitai Prema Dasa
A few days back we had a post on "Who is God?" Continuing in the same direction, we now ask Who am I? This question has troubled mankind since time immemorial. The immediate question that comes to mind in relation to this topic is, Am I this body? Am I someone who is separate from this body? Am I someone trapped in this body?
The Mundaka Upanishad (3.1.9) explains that the living being is the soul, and that: “The soul is atomic in size and can be perceived by perfect intelligence. This atomic soul is situated within the heart, and spreads its influence all over the body of the embodied living entities."
This 'I' that we are intrigued about, is the soul. The soul is the reason the body has consciousness. When a person dies, we say that he or she passed away. Who passed away? The person is already there. It is the soul that passed away and that is now depriving the body of consciousness.
The Chandogya Upanishad (6.11.3) also states that although the body withers and dies when the self or soul leaves it, the living self does not die. Further enlightenment is given in the Srimad-Bhagavatam (7.2.22) wherein it explains that the spirit soul has no death and is eternal and inexhaustible. He is completely different from the material body, but because of being misled by misuse of his slight independence, he is obliged to accept subtle and gross bodies created by the material energy and thus be subjected to so-called material happiness and distress.
The scriptures explain that the spirit soul is a part and parcel of Krishna and hence has the same qualities as Krishna the Supreme Lord but in minute quantity. Just as a spark has the quality of fire,but not the same potency.
The eternal nature of the self is also explained in Bhagavad-gita by Lord Sri Krishna where He specifically says that there was never a time when He did not exist, nor any of the living beings, including you. Nor shall any of us cease to be in the future. The embodied soul continually passes from boyhood to youth to old age in this body. Similarly the soul enters another body at the time of death. But for one who is self-realized, there is no bewilderment through such a change.
The Bhagavad-gita further explains that the soul is imperishable and cannot be killed. When the body is destroyed, the soul is not destroyed. Rather, it migrates to another body depending on the karma it has accumalated.
Realizing one’s spiritual identity solves the problems and mysteries of life.
The more we realize our spiritual identity, the more we will see that we are beyond these temporary material bodies, and that our identity is not simply being a white body, or black, or yellow, or fat, skinny, intelligent, dumb, old, young, strong, weak, blind, etc.. Real blindness means not being able to see through the temporary and superficial bodily conditions and into the real person within. Seeing reality means to recognize the spiritual nature of everyone.