This is the 1st of a 3 part series called “Finding Myself”.
In the attempt to come to know who I really am (self-realization), it is necessary to answer three questions: 1) What is my essence? 2) What is my position? – meaning where do I fit in the big picture, and 3) What is my natural function?
In this talk, we explore how “you” are an eternal spiritual being, separate from, but residing within, the physical body and covered by the mind. To come to appreciate this reality is a huge thing and will completely alter how we see “ourselves”, others, and the world.
and this is an audio link for those who prefer that – https://soundcloud.com/acharyadas/silent-witness
Aum Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya
Namaste and welcome. So this is going to be the first of a three-part series on the topic of finding myself. This is a very common phrase that we hear people using, “Really trying to find myself,” or, “I’m going to go out and find myself,” and it’s a huge question. And answering this question, “Who am I, really?” is fundamental to my happiness and to my well-being. So today I’ll be presenting a spiritual perspective on that subject.
We really [rarely?] actually think of or seek to answer this question, “Who am I? What am I in essence?” So I’d like to start by showing you a little clip now. I have some friends in Europe who have been working on a documentary, a multi-part documentary series, where they actually explore this; and they went out on the streets of London and talked to a big variety of people, as you will see, fundamentally posing this question, this very big question, “Who am I?”
So take a look:
[Video playing, cutting to different people’s responses, so not a continuous interview:]
Interviewer: We’re doing a research study on identity, and we just have one question.
Interviewer: Can you please tell me who are you?
Christy: My name is Christy. I am an American student. I’m from Colorado.
Zoe: My name is Zoe. I’m from Cyprus.
Vitorias: Vitorias, from Spain.
Mark: My name is Mark.
Gemma: Who am I? Well, my name’s Gemma, that’s who I am.
Man: I’m successful, handsome, French guy.
Old man: I’m 82 years of age but I’m—I feel I’m 18.
Natalie: Right, what else do you want to know?
Interviewer: I want to know more than just your name.
Natalie: My job? Where I live?
Interviewer: No. I want to know your essence, who you are in essence.
Natalie: My essence?
Lady: Happy person. I’m a happy girl. I…
Pierced lady: Someone who’s trying to go through life as happy as I can.
Young man: A sassy fun kind of guy, who just likes to have fun, and, yeah…
Sunglass girl: I see myself as quite unique, different. I’m quite energetic.
Interviewer: Your core essence, who are you, not so much—take away the traits, the culture, the family, the boyfriend, where you live, where you’re from, take all that away, and tell me, who are you?
Young lady: To be honest sometimes I don’t even know who I am.
Natalie: That’s a really hard question.
Interviewer: It is.
Old man: Who am I? Oh…
Young man: Waaaaf… [bemused sound]
Man in dog costume: I’ve no idea.
Interviewer: You have no idea?
Man in dog costume: No idea whatsoever.
Man: Don’t know myself, so…
Interviewer: You don’t know?
Moustached Man: Hmmm… I’m a bit lost.
Sunglass man: A very small piece of the universe, that’s what I am.
Sunglass lady: My essence is a person in the midst of a very fast technological world that is gone crazy and lost all sight of the real—of the self.
Interviewer: Your core, your core being, who are you?
Sunglass African man: I have no idea. Actually that’s a tough one. Uh, well, I have no idea what to say.
Big sunglass lady: The essence of myself?
Big sunglass lady: I don’t know.
Suncap man: I wasn’t prepared for such a deep question. I never really think of myself too much in that way. I get on with it. Umm… what is my essence? I don’t know how to answer you. I really don’t know. I’ve never considered it.
Glasses lady: I think that’s a difficult question. Does anyone have a ready answer?
Young lady: For me I don’t know. No. To be honest I don’t know. No.
Black T shirt man: I don’t think you ever really know who you are. I think you just go through life as a journey to find out who you are, but you never really know who you are.
Cap man: Now I’m realize I don’t know who I am, really who I am. Yeah, is a good question.
Interviewer: Yeah it’s a very good question.
Dimple lady: But what do you mean, like, who am I?
Interviewer: Yes, who are you in essence?
Dimple lady: In essence? Oh no, that’s hard.
Old man: That’s a little bit philosophical for me, to be honest. I’ve never thought of it like that. Who am I? To be honest I don’t know.
Interviewer: Your core…
Asian lady: It’s such a difficult question.
Interviewer: It is. It’s a very difficult question.
Asian lady: In essence?
Asian man: Laughs. I don’t know.
Checked shirt man: It’s really complicated. I mean… If you’d asked me all this stuff when I had a drink I’d probably answer it better. I don’t know if I can say any more about it. I mean you kind of caught me out on that one.
Fringe lady: It’s really hard.
Interviewer: It is.
Fringe lady: It’s really hard to know.
Fringe lady: Yeah and it’s really interesting to be asked such questions, so you will have an idea, and think about it.
Fringe lady: Yeah.
Acharya das: Why is this question so challenging? The reality is that we find ourself living a life that is based upon things that we say “we know” to be true, but when we are questioned deeply on the subject then we are filled instantly with doubts. And why is that? So everybody is living under certain assumptions that we actually refer to as truths, but when we are asked, then all of a sudden this big question mark begins to appear.
How do you identify yourself? When—we see in the clip, when people are asked they—their go to is to begin to describe either their physical appearance, “I am male,” “I am female,” “I am…” tall, short, a nationality, an ethnic extraction, an age, or a personality trait, or a collection of traits; and this is generally how we identify ourself. But when we’re faced with a scientific reality, that your body is constantly changing, I mean like really, really dramatic changes, then it’s sort of like if I take that one into consideration, then it really does undermine many of my assumptions.
You know, every single atom within the body is going to be replaced within a maximum five years. I mean for the bones, which we think are very concrete and solid, in reality they change. All the atoms making up the bones are going to be replaced, changed, within a one year just, a single year.
And so when we are faced with this idea of changing bodies, our bodies are constantly changing, the big question is, well could that really be us? Because in reality our experience is that we remain the same person. We retain the same identity all throughout these changes.
I want you to take a look at another clip here. [short video clips and still images of same man aging] Now just take your time and kind of look through this. If I look at still images from this time lapse, I might assume that these images are—these still images are of actually different people, but the reality is there is only one person who is experiencing these outer or physical changes.
So I am very deeply conditioned by ideas that are factually untrue. The most significant one of these is this idea that I am my body, that I am young, I am old, I am male or I’m female, I am brown, white, black, beautiful, plain, or even ugly; and this is all based on a variety of bodily labels
I’d like to just bring something to your attention. There’s a German anatomist, Gunther Von Hagens, and he puts on these exhibitions in museums and all around the world, and they really throw a spotlight on this idea, the notion of the body as being the self. And, just a little warning that some of the pictures that I am about to show you may be quite disturbing.
So this is Gunther, and he’s standing in front of one of his models. So he’s developed a process of impregnating bodies with plasticisers and permanently preserving them. This allows the stripping away of skin and other outer tissue, revealing the structures underneath. So he exhibits, as I said, in museums and galleries. And when people would come and see these, many people found them to be very startling and even scary, so he did something actually quite interesting. They started arranging these cadavers, putting them into physical postures that we can relate to when we see a live body, and this puts people a lot more at ease. But the exhibits, they reveal the true nature of the body as a very highly complex and sophisticated vehicle which we mostly are completely forgetful about in our life.
So this particular picture [Cadaver stripped of skin in the same pose as live female model behind it] allows us to see that there is a stark difference between a body which is showing the presence of life and one that is not. When there is the symptom of life in the body it is attractive, but when the person leaves then you are left with a body which not only is no longer attractive, but in most cases it will even repulse us.
Now, take a look at this slide. You have a young child with a parent, an adult and looking at the skeleton of an adult with a young child, so it’s almost a reflection of what she is experiencing as being her life, and you look at her face it—or we realize how unaware we are of the nature of the body. When we look at somebody’s body we don’t see the skeletal structure, we don’t see the underlying tissues and muscles. We don’t see that reality. We look at what we think to be a person.
The body in the presence of this spiritual spark, what is called the atma or—in Sanskrit—or the self, it has such a powerful influence on the body that we no longer see it for what it really is. We look at a body and we see a person.
If we understand that the nature—from a scientific perspective the nature of the body constantly changing and yet the presence of a constant identity, that the life principle remains constant throughout, then we can easily agree, “Okay, I can accept this idea that the body is not who I am.” But then if a person is questioned, “Okay, if you’re not the body, then who are you, or where are you located in this?”
So take a little look at the continuation of this series of interviews conducted in London.
Interviewer: If I were to ask you to point to yourself, where are you? Where is your self?
Cap man gives a bemused look.
Natalie points to her head.
Old man points to his head.
Interviewer: Your head. Your brain? Or your head?
Old man: In Spain we call it coco, the cerebral—the brain.
Interviewer: Point to yourself, your essence. Where is your self?
Sunglass girl: Myself?
Man: Where is myself?
Man: Wherever my head is, generally. That’s kind of, I don’t know, that’s where I am, as such.
Interviewer: Your head, like your head here?
Man: Yeah. If my head is saying I’m something, and I’m there, and then I don’t have to literally be there, but I am there in my head, like a state of mind as such, maybe.
Interviewer: State of mind.
Indian man: Point to my finger, would be here. (points to his head)
Interviewer: Your mind?
Indian man: My mind.
Capped man: Where I am? So now I’m confused because I don’t know who I am, how I gonna know where I am?
Interviewer: Point with your finger where would—
Lady points to eyes: In there. Your eyes.
Interviewer: Your eyes?
Lady: Yeah yeah.
Interviewer: If you’re your eyes…
Lady: I am my eyes.
Interviewer: …and you lose your eyes…
Lady: Yeah, then I suppose you’d think, wouldn’t you? You’d still be there, but it might—I might feel I’m alone. But you do get a feeling of like something inside, yeah…
Acharya das: So we can see, with almost everyone here, there is this idea that somehow I must be located somewhere perhaps in this area of the body [indicating head area] and people even go further to think, well then maybe I must be the brain. And this is generally because the five knowledge acquiring senses, seeing, smelling, touching, tasting, is very much connected with and four of them at least are in this area of the body, so it would be natural for a person to come to this assumption that their mind is who they really are, or the brain. But this idea can—is being challenged by people that are very expert in the field. You—take a look at this clip.
Raymond Tallis, physician and clinical scientist:
A lot of people think they know how perception takes place. Take visual perception for example. They imagine that it’s very straightforward, that light comes from objects, it enters our eyes, it goes down the visual pathways and tickles up the occipital cortex of the back of the head, and that’s the sum total of vision, apart from other bits of the brain being tickled up as well. The trouble with that causal chain of events, it explains how the light gets in but doesn’t explain then how there is a gaze that looks out. Well some people indeed, not only think that personality and consciousness is produced by the brain, they think it’s identical with brain activity, but there are many reasons for questioning that. So I think we’ve got to think again about the relationship between ourselves, our brains and our bodies; and we won’t even start that process of rethinking until we set aside ideas that suggest that we already know the answer, that we already know that we are our brains, or we are our bodies.
So, since ancient times the yogis would actually practice a form of meditation called Silent Wiitness Meditation, where they would actually undertake, just like that woman in the street thinking that maybe she was her eyes, and then thinking about, okay, if your eyes were gone would you still be there? And she realized, “Yes, and maybe I’m kind of like somewhere in the dark, deep inside here.” And they would actually meditate on certain parts of the bodies and think, “Okay, if my hand was removed, or my arm, would I still be here, or would part of me be missing? Would I still be complete?” Not only would they have this type of meditation on this external garment, the body, but they would also do it in relation to the mind. They would sit back and watch the mind in action.
And the purpose of this meditation is to come to the realization that actually there is a perceiver, somebody who is like that scientist referenced, about we can understand how light, or information, gets in, but what science has not really understood is how there is a gaze looking out. And in yogic terms this was referred to as the drishta, or the seer. There is an actual seer of things. There is somebody observing, who is looking at all of these things that are going on, and evaluating and experiencing all this information that’s been fed into the body.
So in this process they would come to really deeply realize that if I’m going to make an effort to try and control my mind and what it’s thinking, try to get it to focus on something, close my eyes, try to see that image within my, what’s called mind’s eye, that I would be in fact experiencing the reality that I’m separate from my mind. If I can control my mind, if I can try to make my mind focus on some work or something that I’m doing, if I’m—if I can actually exercise my will to do that, it clearly indicates that I am different and separate from my mind, and when I do that with my body, that I am clearly different and separate from my body.
When we accept the body and the mind as being the self, or we accept these other labels, bodily labels, as being the self, we will experience a countless number of really miserable conditions. For instance, these ideas a lot of people are struggling with now, the ideas of self-worth or worthiness, the idea of lovableness, the problems that arise from being in a relationship and having an aging partner or spouse, where people then become all worried, all these insecurities, “Am I still going to be able to keep the attention, the affection of this—of my partner or my spouse?”
And there are other types of things also connected with this bodily identification. For instance the—or it often becomes manifest in a lack of empathy, at best, and even hatred for others due to perceived differences, sectarian ideas, having any kind of party spirit, like in political identities, or conflicts that arise from sexual identities or racial identities, a myriad of these different false ideas of who I am. If I’m going to be buying into this then it puts me in conflict with others.
So I’ll give you two practical examples of people that really suffered because of this condition, which I’m broadly calling bodily consciousness.
The first was a really wonderful woman. Her name was Stephanie Nielsen. She was from Utah in the United States, and she was, at the time that I’m going to speak about, she was 29 years old, and she was the mother of four really wonderful children. She was an avid blogger. She had—she was really into the makeup, the look, the physical appearances, the family. She really enjoyed this, the whole experience of having children and a really nice husband and everything.
Then, her husband was a pilot, and they had flown on his birthday to a friend’s ranch some distance away, and upon the return, and the trip down there, they had to stop for a refueling. And so they refuelled the Cessna, this light plane. And then when they attempted to take off they completely lost power, and the plane crashed, and it was fully loaded with fuel, and so it erupted in a huge ball of fire and as people—the three (there were two, the husband and wife, and another friend who was the actual flying instructor of the husband) as they struggled to get out of the plane, they were burned so badly. Stephanie was burned, she had third degree burns on 80 percent of her body. She said she could feel the skin melting and smell the hair burning in her struggle to get out of the plane.
So she was rushed to a burns unit, and she was put into an induced coma for three months so that they could attempt to deal with all of the medical conditions that she had to face and the painful process of skin grafting. And her face was really badly burned, like enormously badly burned. And her children were, of course, completely distraught. But because the husband was also being treated Stephanie’s sister took the children in, and during this time they weren’t allowed to come and visit the mother apart from once. So one of the things that was going to become very painful for Stephanie was her very youngest child began to—referring to her sister, the aunt, as being mummy.
So after many months of treatment, I think it was about five to six months of treatment, the children were finally allowed to come and visit. And Stephanie was absolutely petrified. For many weeks she refused to look in a mirror because of the bad burning, and she was very concerned that the children become very fearful. And so when the first child was allowed into the room, the elder daughter, who was about nine at the time, I think, or a bit less, when she saw her mother she absolutely recoiled. She could not relate to her, could not speak to her. It was like she was looking at a monster. And she somewhat hurriedly left the room, and told her brother, “Don’t go in there.” But the brother did go in and similarly recoiled. And what was happening with Stephanie, it was like she’s crying out inside, ‘It’s me, Mummy. I’m still your mummy. It’s me. I’m the same person.”
And what we’re seeing in this situation is how the children were so deeply affected, of course, by the just—the physical ex—the change in the exterior, that they could not relate to this being their mum, and it was still her.
In an interview I saw with them, the daughter when asked, “When was it that you started to, you’re able to recognize her?” She’d–it took a long time, and she was at home with her mum and talking to her, and she looked deeply into her eyes while they were talking, and it suddenly dawned on her, “Yeah, this is my mum.” There was this recognition that was still there.
So Stephanie, she went through this quite extended period of this unbelievable pain, where she wanted still to be the mother of her children, and she was completely rejected by them, and in the beginning, I mean, they were very fearful and very troubled by seeing her.
Interestingly, Stephanie wrote another blog at one time where she said that, “Mothers, the most important thing to that you can teach your daughters is to teach them that they are not their bodies.” I mean she had had that realization of the pain that comes, and the difficulties that come, for people when they are overly absorbed only in this exterior thing, thinking it to be who we actually are.
So in the second example I want to give, which is kind of like really quite different. It’s about a famous model. Her name was Kate Upton; and she sort of really burst onto the scene in the mid—or around about 2011, 2012. She started doing things, you know, youtube videos, and people really—she got people’s attention she was particularly curvaceous, her body was very curvaceous and voluptuous, and she was very pleasant looking person, very attractive.
And in one interview, when she was being interviewed, she was quite forthright in saying that ever since she was a young girl that she really prayed every day for this particular body, to have these type of breasts and to have this very voluptuous and curvy body; and it was like this is something that she had wanted all her life. So of course, there’s going to be no doubts about it, that if you’re so invested in the external appearance, then this misidentification of the body is being the self, who I am, is going to be particularly strong.
So she was invited to feature on Sports Illustrated, their swim suited edition or issue in 2012. And that hit the stands, and of course she was elated to be offered such an opportunity, but she had this horrible experience immediately upon the magazine coming out. The sort of feedback that she was getting from people, men in particular of course, was that they looked at her purely as a sexual object to be used, and this completely devastated her. And about a month later, in an interview, she said that she felt absolutely terrible about herself for a solid month. These were her words, after this coming out. And she qualified it by saying that, “I’m not a toy. I am human. I’m not here to be used.”
So you know, that’s a natural product, though, of being overly invested in the body and putting that forward as who you are, seeking love, seeking validation, seeking acceptance, ideas of worth or worthiness, all tied completely to the body, this can only lead to unhappiness and tremendous insecurity. And yet we very much live in a time where society is heavily invested in this shallowness, and it causes tremendous amounts of suffering and unhappiness for people.
So these are just two examples which demonstrate both the consequence and the pain that can come from assuming a false identity, and also it points to our ability, it provides an opportunity for us in these situations to become more aware of the reality that our bodies are not us. I mean whether it’s Stephanie lying in a burns unit, who is begging her children to still accept her as being their mother. I mean she’s fully aware of the reality that this body is not me, this scarred burned mess that you’re looking at is not me. I’m here still inside. And the same thing with Kate Upton, who had invested so much effort in the physical appearances and thinking this was going to bring her all happiness and everything that she desired, by seeing people’s, men’s, reaction to her, she was able to experience the reality, “But you don’t care about me. You’re only interested in my body.” And that’s just like a—that’s an amazing statement: “You don’t care about me. You only care about my body.” So who is the me? Who am I? And when we think about these, we consider this, it really points so clearly to the need to really understand who I actually am.
So the things that we went through—and I haven’t gone into any great detail about the scientific reality of how you’re not the body. I think that’s commonly understood, or can be easily appreciated, but there’s a huge amount of scientific research that points to this reality. But learning that I’m not the body, or that I’m not the mind, doesn’t really answer the question about who I am. It tells me who I am not, but if that’s not me, then who am I in reality?
So in order to be able to answer that question it’s necessary to do it in three parts. So we learn from the yoga process and any real scientific exploration, that if we want to know about something we should come to know what is its essence. Fundamentally, what is it made of? What is its essential existence? What is its position? Meaning, where does it fit in relation to other things within its environment? And thirdly, what is the natural function of this thing? What purpose does it serve?
When we use this framework to self-discovery it becomes an opening for real self-realization. So the ancient yogis, they applied this framework to the quest for self-discovery for thousands of years, and they they referred to this as the science of identity. The process by which we really try to discover our actual identity. And we do it in an inquiring, in a scientific manner.
So one of the processes that they would practice in doing this, it was to engage in this process I mentioned earlier about this Silent Witness Meditation. So I’m going to put a link with this video. Just take a look for where it’s posted, to a Silent Witness Meditation practice, a guided practice that you may want to experiment with yourself and see if it comes to help with some understanding. But once again as I’ve stated, this tells you who you are not, but not necessarily who you are.
I think if we were to seek a higher understanding, we find it in the great spiritual teachers and the Vedic texts, or the yogic texts, that lay out some very clear information about the reality of our actual identity. So the first one I’d like to just share with you is something that was mentioned by Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda, one of my spiritual teachers, and he states:
“The individual soul, or atma, can be compared to a diamond whose value is not appreciated because it’s covered over. A beautiful diamond may lie deep underground covered by layers of dirt and rock. Though it exists in darkness it is still a diamond, but because it’s so covered up its intrinsic beauty and value go unrealized.”
So there’s a very wonderful way of beginning to appreciate the reality of my spiritual identity, my quest to really know who I am.
So in the Upanishads, they would give some—particularly Mundaka Upanishad it gave some actually finer detail about the existence of the living being, the spiritual being within the gross material body. So they state,
“The atma, or self, is atomic in size and can be perceived by perfect intelligence. This atomic soul is floating in five kinds of air, (prana, apana, vyana, samana, udana) and is situated within the heart and spreads its influence all over the body of the embodied living entities. When the atma is purified from the contamination of the five kinds of material air its spiritual influence is exhibited.”
So this is quite an astonishing revelation. They speak to the reality that the actual spiritual being, the atma, resides within the region of the heart, not necessarily within that muscle itself, but within the region of the heart, and they speak about five types of subtle air that permeate all material bodies, and that the spiritual being, the atma, is floating within these airs and exerts its influence to all parts of the body via this subtle air or energy, this prana. And when the atma becomes—its—the consciousness becomes purified from the contamination of these material coverings, then the true spiritual influence is actually exhibited.
So in another verse I’d like to share with you, it’s from the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali, from the second pada, the 25th verse,
“When ignorance is destroyed, the identification of the self, or the atma, with matter, or prakriti, ceases, this is liberation.”
So here we have a definition of what was considered the goal of yoga, to actually become liberated from the misconception that the body and the mind is who I am, and one actually discovers the reality of their spiritual existence and their spiritual identity.
So who am I? Well firstly we understand that I am not this body. I do not die. I cannot die. I do not die when the body dies. I am eternal and spiritual in nature, that I am the person living temporarily within this body, that I am an eternal spiritual being, an eternal spark of the divine, or God, or a higher spiritual reality.
Something that people struggle with, because of an actual lack of knowledge and clarity, is that I am not just an energy. I’m not an impersonal force or energy. That is not a correct understanding. This is actually incorrect. My being categorized as a person, my personhood, does not come from this body. It’s not my body that makes me a person. That is an inherent part or characteristic of the atma, this eternal spiritual being. In Sanskrit the term for this is called purusha. This has many levels of understanding this, but it literally means a person, and so the atma is described as a person.
Now there are some schools of philosophy that promote the idea, no, you’re just pure energy; and the answer is, yes, you are pure energy, but that pure energy is personal in nature. And we can see this when we look at the difference between a dead body and a live body. A dead body does not have personhood, it doesn’t have personality. It just has become instantly unattractive at the moment of death when the living being leaves that body. It is the living being that imparts the idea of personhood or personal existence to the body. The body by nature is impersonal. It is just energy. It is just chemicals. But the living being is a person, and it is this living being that creates the illusion that the body is the person when it is not.
It is my eternal right to exist, it is my natural condition to exist in a state of great spiritual wisdom and spiritual love, free from anxiousness and fear. This is my inherent nature; and to come to that understanding, to experience that reality is considered the initial state of spiritual enlightenment.
The result of actual spiritual enlightenment may manifest in the following way: When living in a state of bodily consciousness there is actually no possibility of experiencing peace. We will automatically find ourselves in some form of conflict with others based on perceived differences. And of course, we’ve run through some of these before, you know, conflicts between different nations, between the sexes, between—infinite variety of differences give rise to a wide variety of conflicts. As I become enlightened to a higher spiritual reality the result is manifest in in the following way, and again I’ll use a quote from the Srimad Bhagavad-gita. It speaks about the need for a compassionate vision where all living beings are seen equally. While I am convinced of differences, individuals having differences based on external things, I cannot have a real understanding of equality. That equality can only come about when I become free from these concepts of false identity.
So we have this wonderful verse from the Bhagavad gita:
“The humble sages, by virtue of true knowledge, see with equal vision a learned and gentle brahmana, a cow, an elephant, a dog and the lowest of people.”
So a brahmana was one who was considered to be possessed of knowledge, of spiritual knowledge, and that spiritual knowledge is manifest in the most foundational way in seeing the equality of all living beings regardless of the nature of their bodies. So equality and harmony with others resides in our spiritual identity, not in false bodily identities.
In another verse it states:
“He is a perfect yogi who, by comparison to his own self, sees the true equality of all beings, in both their happiness and their distress, O Arjuna.”
So this is another wonderful verse, where a person, a transcendentalist, is inspired to look upon others and to see them with this spiritual wisdom, this understanding, how in all their—in their happiness and in their distress that all living beings are equal and are exactly like me.
So in another verse still it states:
“Such a liberated person is not attracted to the material sense pleasures of this world, but is always in a transcendental state enjoying the pleasure within. In this way the self-realized person enjoys unlimited happiness for he concentrates on the Supreme.”
So one of the things I’d just like to introduce you to here is, the nature of the spiritual being is to exist in happiness, in profound and ecstatic spiritual happiness. That is our natural state and condition. And what happens is, because of being covered by the bodily conception of life and thinking this to be me, this natural desire that I have for happiness, I seek to fulfill it through the agency of this body. I stimulate the body with different types of sensual pleasure, which I find pleasurable and stimulating, but it never fulfills me. It never makes me completely happy. And what happens as a result of that, people then just go on this quest of consumption, just consuming, non-stop consuming, consuming, consuming, in an attempt to find fulfillment. But the reality is it doesn’t matter how much external or bodily experience one has or how much one stimulates the mind, it does not provide us with fulfillment, and it does not come anywhere near the actual happiness that we are seeking. That is an entirely spiritual experience.
And we will go into some of these things, particularly in the third video that we’ll be doing, but I just wanted to mention that here, that this is part of the realization of my spiritual existence, is that this desire for happiness is part of who I actually am, in the in the core of my being.
And so the thing that was used, the process that was used to bring about this discovery of my actual being, this experience of who I truly am, is the process of meditation. It is a method by which we can free ourselves from the illusion of thinking that the body is the self, that this body is who I am. And through the process of meditation one can come to experience the reality of my actual spiritual being.
And so I’d just like to introduce you very briefly here, just for a few moments, to a very simple meditation, and it is the use of transcendental sound, of spiritual sound. This is called mantra. The effect of spiritual sound is that it clears my consciousness. It cleans away the dust and dirt and debris and cobwebs from my heart and mind, and it awakens my true and eternal spiritual awareness, my true spiritual consciousness. It makes it so I can overcome this illusion of—this deep illusion of thinking the body to be the self.
So I’d like to just run you through a very brief meditation using a transcendental sound mantra. It is the Gauanga mantra, Gauranga, and if you can just sit back and close your eyes and we’ll just run through this very quickly.
Sit comfortably with your back supported. Close your eyes and bring your awareness to your breath. Draw your mind away from all other thoughts and focus on the feeling of the breath as it enters and leaves your body. Let your breath become slower and deeper. Become aware of how your body is breathing automatically. Observe it in a detached way.
Say to yourself, “I am watching my body breathe. I am not the legs, the arms, the abdomen, nor am I the body. I am an observer distinct from my body.”
Feel the inward breath rejuvenating the body, and feel the outward breath relaxing and releasing tension from the body. Feel your shoulders relax, releasing tension down through your arms, wrists and hands. Feel the entire body relax with each outward breath.
Now, become aware of your mind. Become aware of how you, the self, are distinct from the thinking process. Experience how you can watch the mind as an observer, simply watching the passing flow of thoughts, feelings and images. You don’t react. You are separate and detached from the mind.
Say to yourself, “I make no effort to think about thoughts, but they come automatically. I’m watching the thoughts flow through my mind, but I am aloof from them. I am the silent witness of my mind’s activities. I am the self, different from the mind and the body.”
Now that you are more relaxed, and your breathing has slowed down, we will begin meditation on the sacred Gauranga mantra. We will break the mantra into four distinct syllables: Gau-ra-ang-ga. While inhaling we will say the sacred mantra, Gau-ra-ang-ga, within our mind, and when we exhale, we will say it out loud. Stretch it out so the sound takes up the whole exhalation, and feel it resonate throughout your whole body. Let’s begin.
As we inhale, mentally say: Gau-ra-ang-ga. Now, out loud as we exhale: Gau-ra-ang-ga.
57:38-1:00:10 Gau-ra-ang-ga breathing practice
Keep your eyes closed and bring your breathing back to normal. Allow your mind to rest on the beautiful sound of the mantra, or join in if you are ready.
1.00:30 – 1.03:20 Gauranga kirtan
As you come out of the meditation just take a moment to listen to some sound within the room, or outside, or even perhaps my voice, and just become a little focused on that, and then slowly just open your eyes.
So I hope you had a pleasant experience, and please do avail of the resources that we’re making available to you along with this video, the tools that have been provided to teach you different types of mantra meditation, in order for you to be able to begin to build a daily practice, a daily meditation habit that will truly transform your life, and bring you, and anyone and everyone, an increasing enlightenment about our true spiritual being.
So, look forward to catching up again with you with the next video. Thank you very much.