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Who am I?

Updated: Jun 6, 2020

The voyage I embarked upon in pursuit to seek 'Who I am' has culminated in the self discovery/realization that Who I am is 'Chit' or Pure Consciousness.

A rather simple question but the answer to it is not so simple indeed. Lately I've been finding myself ask this question again and again and the more I try to ponder over it, the more confusing and elusive it keeps getting. To answer this question, the first thing that needs to be done is to understand what exactly is the 'I'.

What makes me, well ME? Is it this physical body? Makes sense right, without a physical body there is no me. But that is not really true is it! I can still survive without parts of my body esp in this bionic era of trans-humanism where people are artificially enhanced so be it for valid, genuine medical reasons like handicap etc or just to push boundaries beyond our biological limitations. If that is the case then the 'ME' is not just limited to a physical body.

Well it must be the heart right? Lets face it if it stops beating then there is no ME. But again that is not true anymore because I can get a new matching heart and I am ME again. So back to square one eh! What makes me ME?

It has to be the food we eat. I mean that must be it. Because we are who we are because of the food we eat. Right? The food we eat gets broken down, assimilated and transforms into a part of me, making me who I am in the process. The proteins from the food gets broken down into amino acids, which are the building blocks of us; carbs into glucose, which gives us energy and help us to function; fats into fatty acids our storage; vitamins, minerals etc etc. So that's it! The ME is the food we eat.

Well this poses a whole new conundrum. What makes the food we eat what it is? Lets say I eat a piece of bread, which gets broken down and becomes me. So what makes the bread what it is? A lot of things go into making bread a bread, so if we were to take the main ingredient 'Wheat', then the question arises what makes wheat what it is? The plant, soil, water. So this is like a never-ending loop. However the bigger picture here is, if we look close enough; everything is everything. I am made of the bread, the bread is made up of wheat among other things; which in turn is made up of plants, soil etc. So where/when does the bread stop being itself and become ME or does it ever. Confusing and rather profound at the same time right? However this still does not answer the question at hand. It helps us understand what makes us in a more physical sense of the word however what makes me ME is still elusive.

Is it the Brain? Well it is what we attribute all of our cognitive abilities to right. Our ability to think, reason, seek, question; put simply, to function; and all thanks to this wee little organ called brain. Well again there are so many instances where people have lost a part of their brain and yet function fine or at least to some extent. So is brain the mind or rather is the mind in the brain? or is mind a completely different entity? If so where exactly is the mind? What is its connection with the brain?

The vedantic philosophy believes, the real self (atman) is distinct from the temporary body (Physical body), which is made of matter (prakriti). Atman is defined as non-material self, which never changes. It is distinct from both the mind and the external body and is unchanging, eternal and conscious. If this is the case then is consciousness and mind one and the same? Well again according to Vedanta, Consciousness (Samvit) or more precisely Pure Consciousness (Chit) can only manifest itself through the Mind (Manas), which is made up of our Vrithis (Experiences so be it feelings, emotions, thoughts, cognition, memories etc). Without Vrithis, Chit is dormant (doesn't mean it isn't there. Ex: Deep Sleep). It also says that a physical body is just a vessel, which does not have any awareness without consciousness.

So I am who I am because of my Pure Consciousness (Chit). So what exactly is this Pure Consciousness? where does it come from? Is it one and the same, which manifest in different bodies differently or is it unique to each entity?

Well, Vedanta says; we have three different realities; the waking state or Jagruth Prapancham where we are fully conscious and lead our day to day life. Like me writing this for example. Then there is the Dream state or Swapna Prapancham; where we are asleep and our physical body is shut down, yet our mind is in a different world of its own. We are very much self aware in that world and when we wake up, we are cognizant of the fact that we were dreaming. So which one is the real world? How do we know for sure? To make things further complicated there is another reality where we are dead to the world called Sushukti. No dreams, no thoughts nothing whatsoever.

Weirdly enough, according to vedanta, none of these realities are true and there is one underlying reality which is common in/through all of the other realities called 'Turiyam'. Without it none of the others can exist and this can only manifest itself through the other realities. It’s a bit like the water and the wave scenario. Without water, there is no wave and water is what comes in the form a wave. Well this is the Holy Grail and what makes me ME. The physical body can change, my dreams can change, I can be 10 years or 100 years, this consciousness or turiyam is constant, always there, soaking up information, acquiring knowledge and ever evolving into samskaras, which are deeply rooted inside and gives me character, conditioning me into this person and manifesting into thoughts or bhavana and finally transform into actions or karma.

So the voyage I embarked upon in pursuit to seek 'Who I am' has culminated in the self discovery/realization that Who I am is 'Chit' or Pure Consciousness and what makes me 'ME' are my Vrithis and this Consciousness is one and the same in all of the entities; only manifesting itself differently depending on the individual entity.

Now this leaves me with a new question. What is this consciousness and how did it come into existence, which leads to who/what created it, which invariably begs the question; is there really such a concept as GOD?

P.S: A lot of this is inspired by talks of Swami Sarvapriyananda!

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1 Comment

Nithin Kosaraju
Nithin Kosaraju
Nov 27, 2018

Precisely... I hope our generation changes the concept of love and marriage .. makes a lot of sense loved it !! Siri

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