The Vedas mention that the Self is not the body. When we say “My name is Shankar”, we are calling our body as Shankar. But, the True Self is not Shankar. Shankar is only a name that our family gave us. It could have been Ram, Vignesh, John or Azeez. It was only by chance that in this life, Shankar was known as Shankar. So, our name is not our true identity. It is only accidental that we got our names.
We are not Our Body
It is by chance that we got our particular body. We have no control over our being born as male or female. We have no control over our race into which we are born. We could be South Asian, African, Mongoloid or European based on chance. We do not have any authority over our being born into our particular body. The Atman chose our parents and our home to manifest itself in our particular body. A true realisation that our life is a result of circumstances we are born into, will wake us up from the play of Samsara.
If the Self (“I am”) is not the body, the difficulties experienced by the body is not “Mine”. The phenomena of Birth, Growth, Old Age, Sickness and Death are body phenomena. The Self or the Atman is not born. The Atman is not prone to old age, sickness or death. The Atman does not go through any difficulties. So, why should we identify with our problems when the problems are belonging to the body alone?
When we are injured, we say “I am injured”. The wisdom to say “My body is injured” will release us from a lot of troubles that is offered by this world. The Atman is separate from the body. The experiences of the body perceived through the senses do not affect the Atman. So, the Atman is not affected by what we see, hear, taste, smell or touch. Our life experience is based on our Senses. Our efforts are focused towards experiencing the sense objects. But the True Self does not require any of these sense experiences. It is not identified with the Sensory experiences.
“Who are you?”
“I am the one who smells the perfume. I am the one who sees my family. I am the one who feels the touch of my beloved. I am the one who hears the News. I am the one who tastes my lunch.”
This is our everyday life. But, a deeper understanding of the scriptures reveals the shortsightedness of such a perception. The Self or Atman is the very object that livens lifeless objects. The Self is Life itself. Without the power of Self, we are dead. Death is that process which happens when Self or the Atman leaves the body. We do not call a dead body his name. We call it the “body”. The dead one is no longer the “person”. Self or the Atman is that which makes a body a person.
We are not our Mind
Mind is the flow of thoughts that occur within us. It is an ever changing entity based upon the change of nature and content of our thoughts. A man with no thoughts cannot remain human. “Humanness” is a result of the presence of thoughts along with our bodies. Without thoughts, we are no different from animals.
Now the question arises, if we are our mind. We have a mind. We are not our mind. The mind belongs to us. We are not mind itself. Mind is an ever changing thing, whereas the Atman or the Self (or the “I am”) is a constant thing. The object that we experience as our mind is our creation. We experience mind as a flow of thoughts. These thoughts appeared as a result of our desires, which happens due to our interaction with the world.
The Mind gets its power to think from the Atman. The Atman is separate from the Mind. With the realisation that the Atman is separate from the Mind, we are no longer affected by the troubles of the mind such as Fear and Sadness.
Self is the ultimate truth that we can realise. The acceptance to move beyond our identification with the Body and Mind bestows a lot of power on us.