|Vedanta Spiritual Library|
Module - H
Unit - H01
Lesson H0107: Nature of SELF
By Raja Subramaniyan
SELF is the real meaning of the word 'I'. Until we inquired into the meaning of the word 'I', we did not have clarity on this. Firstly, we analyzed the meaning of the words SELF and EGO and then we understood the difference between them. Then we understood the role of SELF and EGO with respect to our internal and external thoughts. Finally we made a thorough inquiry and it is now clear to us that our real nature is SELF.
We now need to study the nature of SELF to know about ourselves.
1. SELF is a witness
A person can be called a witness only when an event takes place in his presence and he is not involved in the event. For example, no one will be more knowledgeable about a murder than the person who committed the crime. However, he is not called a witness. Similarly, if a person motivates another to commit a crime and then simply observes the crime, he too cannot be called a witness.
In order to qualify for the position of 'witness', one has to be present at the scene of the crime and at the same time he should not have any role to play in the crime.
SELF is a witness. All that happens in our life happens in the presence of SELF. However, SELF is not the doer, enjoyer or the one who motivates any events. SELF is completely uninvolved and unconnected to every object, person and event in our life.
A witness to a crime may not be aware of all the facts concerning the crime. However, in the case of SELF, nothing happens without its awareness.
SELF is a witness to four events.
(a) Presence of thoughts (Knowledge)
(b) Absence of thoughts (Ignorance)
(c) Beginning of the thoughts (Process of learning)
(d) Non accumulation of thoughts (Observation without comprehension)
EGO is represented by thoughts that concern 'I' and 'mine'. Therefore, SELF is aware of the birth of the EGO and its death.
Birth of EGO: When a mirror is shown in front of the sun, a reflection is born. EGO is born when the subtle body comes into existence. Since the subtle body has the capacity to reflect SELF, EGO is born when the subtle body enters a physical body.
Death of EGO: On death of the physical body, the subtle body is not destroyed. However, since the subtle body does not have a place to hold on, it stops reflecting SELF. At this stage it can be said that EGO is in a state of hibernation.
On death of the physical body of an enlightened person, the subtle body merges with the cosmic subtle body of God. Therefore, it does not take another physical body again. There is no further possibility of continuance of EGO. Thus, it ends.
SELF is a witness to EGO claiming that it is the doer of all the actions and the enjoyer of all the results of the action. SELF is aware of this ignorance of the EGO. After gaining sufficient mental maturity, EGO gains the knowledge that it is a mere reflection of SELF and incapable of any action. This is liberation from the self imposed bondage. SELF is a witness to such enlightenment as well.
It does not matter how the EGO gains knowledge. It may start running away from the world assuming the world is the cause of all the problems. Alternatively, world may be perceived as God and worshipped. Ultimately, the EGO has to realize that it is a mere reflection of SELF.
SELF is the witness to this imaginary bondage and liberation of the EGO.
2. SELF is the truth
SELF is the foundation on which the entire creation is projected as an illusion.
3. SELF is the knower
Everything in the creation consists of inert objects. The conscious principle that is seen in living being is SELF. When I say 'I know this pot', the real knower is SELF because it is the consciousness and it alone can know. However, it should be noted that SELF is one. There is only one knower as detailed in Module A.
4. SELF is eternal
SELF remains changeless at all times. It is beyond birth and death. It is beyond creation and dissolution of the universe.
5. SELF is complete in itself
SELF is infinite and by nature it is complete and fulfilled with joy. There is nothing other than SELF and it does not have any components or parts. It is ONE and it does not have any constituent elements.
When we gain this true perspective of SELF which is the meaning of the word 'YOU' in the essence of Holy Scriptures, 'YOU ARE THAT', then there is nothing more to be done and nothing more to learn. Life is joyful all the time.