12. Know thyself

Children are normally made to arrange bits together to get a picture. A boy was given bits of world map and was asked to arrange it. He was at a loss to do so and sought his father’s guidance. To the backside of the map was a human face. So the father advised, ‘You arrange the human face, you will automatically get the world map.’ The moral of the story is if you change the individual, you can change the world.

Gandhi too believed in the same concept - if you change the individual, you can change the society. A patient went to a doctor and said, ‘Doctor, suddenly all the members of my family have become dumb!’ The doctor asked, ‘How did this happen?’ The patient replied, ‘My God, you too have become dumb! You are not able to reply!’ Then the doctor understood his problem. The people have not become dumb, he had become deaf suddenly. So he should understand himself first and change his attitude or approach to others.

We attend yoga classes, they tell us to look inside, to know ourselves! The doctors tell us ‘understand your body and how it works! Don’t strain your body. The psychologists talk about right brain and left brain. They tell us how best we can utilize our brain and so on. Ultimately we come back to the question what are we?

Lord Krishna says -

Nainam chindanti shastrani nainam dahati pavakaha
Nachainam kledayam tyapo na soshayati marutaha

Yenam - this soul, shastrani - weapons, na - not, chindanti - cut, yenam - this soul, pavak, fire, na - not, dahati - burns, yenam - this soul, apaha - water, na - not, kledayamti - wet, cha - and, marutaha - wind, na - not, soshayati - dries.

Weapons cannot cut this soul nor can fire burn it, water cannot wet nor can wind dry it.
Let us analyse logically what we are! Am I the body? An ignorant person thinks ‘I am the body’ because he thinks,

‘Dehe Pushte Aham Pushtaha
Dehe Nashte Aham Nashtaha’

When the body is healthy, I am healthy, when the body is destroyed, I am destroyed.
But the word my body is like my car, my pen. We are the possessor of a car or a pen but we are not the car or the pen. So also I am not the body.

Am I the mind? According to ‘Vedanta, Vritti pravaha iti manah ‘which means, flow of thoughts is mind. If I am the thought, when the thoughts vanish, I must also vanish, but I don’t! So I am neither the thought nor the mind.

Am I the experience? Experience appears to be true, but in reality it is not! We think the stars are very small but the reality is they are thousands of times larger than this earth! Since experience is not reality I am not experience.

Am I intellect? I am a doctor, a teacher, a lawyer an engineer, but I am not born as a doctor. I gained this knowledge of medicine later. I was born as any other human being and acquired it later. So I am not intellect.
Am I ignorance? I may be ignorant of many things but I know I am ignorant of something. If I know that I do not know something, how am I ignorant? So I am not ignorance.

Am I non existence? If I am non-existent, I cannot say this statement. So I am not non-existence. If I can say there was nobody there in the hall, it means that I am existing there. If I am existing I cannot say I am non existence.

Am I a wife? I am not born as a wife! I am wife to somebody, sister to somebody else, mother to another and daughter to yet another person. These are the roles I play, but I am not the role, so I am not a wife.
To conclude once again, if I am not a body, not a mind, not an experience, not an intellect, not an ignorant one, not a non-existent, not a wife then what am I?

Vedanta says, ‘You are chaitanya’, Chaitanya means, awareness or consciousness. I am aware of my body, the mind, the intellect. I am basically awareness through which everything is seen, everything is objectified, known and perceived. Therefore ‘aham’ which means ‘I’ is pure consciousness, pure awareness or chaitanya.

Can this awarness be seen ? No, it has no form it is ‘aroopam’ or formless. Anything that has a form is limited. The formless one is non-existent or infinite. Since it is not non-existent, it is infinite. So it cannot be destroyed. Since it cannot be destroyed it is called Sat. ‘Sat’ means eternal. Consciousness is ‘chit’ It is just in the present. It is sheer existence ‘isness’. This consciousness is ananda. Ananda means ‘poornatvat anandah iti uchyate! That which is full is ananda.

Consciousness is limitless and so it is full. If it is full it is ananda. A person who realizes this fact that atma is sat chit ananda, experiences a total sense of fullness and happiness, wherever he is.
When we realize we are Sat - Chit - ananda our fundamental desire is fulfilled. Desires are of two types - Topical and fundamental. Topical desires are finite and lead us to misery and fundamental are infinite and lead us to eternal joy.

Vedanta says - This desire for sat, chit, ananda exists within us. We are unconsciously putting an effort to fulfil it, but we don’t know we are sat-chit-ananda.

Once ten youngsters went to a fair and wanted to check whether anybody was missing. When they counted, they got only nine, invariably missing themselves. An old man helped them out. He pointed out to the person who was counting and said ‘Tat Twam asi’ you are that. ‘The seeker is the sought.’ The same way we are seeking for sat, chit, ananda outside when we are that !

Sat means to live a day more. But we ignorantly think we don’t feel so if we are in troubles. Ananda is not a mixed happiness but an infinite one. Chit is the desire to know. The desire to know doesn’t mean to know Physics, Chemistry etc but the desire for knowledge itself.

A woman lost her money in a hut but was searching for it outside her hut. When she was asked the reason for it, she said it was dark inside. This is how we are also searching for happiness outside. Krishna says ‘Antah Sukham’ inner happiness, the sukham we are searching for is within us.

Once a man wanted to see sun. He got up early in the morning. He proceeded on his quest for sun, not in the direction of sun but in the opposite direction. He travelled for long but in vain. Ultimately he came across a saint and explained his situation. He laughed at him and said, ‘You don’t have to travel any further. Just an about turn from where you are shows you sun right in front of you.

So, let’s just take an about turn. From knowing the world, let’s try to know ourselves. It is a small knack. That’s all!

Know thyself
change thyself not the world around !