Consider your identity. You become a father when your kids exist. Similarly you can call yourself an employee when you work with an employer. Say your kids cease to exist or you resign from work. You are no longer a father or an employee. But, does the existence as “You” stop when the Qualities that defined your identity stop existing? There is something that still exist after every layer of identity is stripped off. This identity is beyond words and language.
(Image Credit: Irina Patrascu Gheorghita)
Imagine you are asked the question, “Who are you?” What will be truest answer to this question? Our names are words given by our parents. We were still living before our names were given to us. What identity did we carry when we were in the womb? No name, no nationality, no descriptions – yet full of life. Say you are a human being born in the middle of jungle with no contact with other human beings. Language, words, concepts and lifestyle does not exist for you then. But, is there an identity that you carry in that case?
Truth Beyond the Material
We relate to things using things that we can see, feel and refer to. In that light, even a thought exists as a material reality. It may not have a form to see, a texture to touch or a sound to hear. But, we still perceive thought in our mind through intellect. So, thoughts are also sensed just like other objects. Hence, thoughts can be called as Material objects as well. What can be beyond thought as well? Those who have experienced thoughtlessness call it as a very potent silence. Now, what can be beyond silence also?
The ultimate truth exist beyond everything. It exists beyond the range of human capabilities and perception. On an earthly plane, Human Beings may be the most advanced of all beings due to our ability to think and speak. But, is there something that is beyond normal human perception as well? This is the question that the ultimate truth, the Atman provides solutions to.
Our world exists in three forms on a personal level – the sleeping state, the waking state and the dreaming state. Is there a state that defines all these three levels? In our non waking states, we are not aware of what happens around us. Still, an awareness is alive within us when are sleeping or dreaming. That Awareness is the Self (the Atman). How can we become aware of this Atman? It is an attempt that cannot be fulfilled by thought and intellectual exercises. We may need to transcend the human superpowers of thinking and speaking to reach there.
Space in Space in Space
Imagine there is a pot kept in a room. The pot encloses some space (Akasha). The pot is contained in the Akasha of the room. The room exists in the space that encloses the room (say a building or the great outdoors). Break the pot. The space inside the pot does not have a separate existence now. It is part of the space of the room now. Say we demolish the room. The space of the room is now part of the greater space.
Here, the space within the pot was part of the space inside the room. The room space was part of the great outdoors or even the outer space. No space has a separate existence. All of this is part of the greater existence. Similarly, the space within us is part of the greater space – the Atman itself. Even though we exist as separate people, we are all part of the greater whole.
“I am no different from others around me. I am no different from the dog outside the house. I am no different from the tree in the forest.” The space inside all these beings is the same. This realisation is the beginning of true devotion.