You know many things in the objective world, but you do not know the subject. You are not conscious about yourself. You do not know yourself; you have never met yourself. Your state of mind is as if you had gone to see a film. On the screen the film is running, and you have become so absorbed in it that the only thing you know is the film, the story, whatsoever is appearing on the screen. Then if someone asks you who you are, you cannot say anything. You see everything except yourself; you feel everything except yourself; you know everything except yourself. This self-ignorance is the sleep. Unless dreaming ceases completely, you cannot awaken unto yourself.
Enquiry of ''Who am I?'' is what Vedantists call Atma-Vichara (self enquiry). The self enquiry lead us to self knowledge or self realisation. All the ancient science and arts of India directs every human being to the path of self realization. All the scriptures talk nothing but just self realisation. Vedanta is considered as the ultimate intellectual scriptures ever written under the sun on this topic. As the word means its the end of vedas(knowledge) itself.
We all like to show or project ourselves as an intelligent person infront of others. So here I will also take that famous analytical process "Neti Neti" (not this, not this) of Vedanta to analyse 'Who Am I'.
Why Knowing Self.
Whether Abraham Maslow calls Self Actualization, or Indians call the Self realization (Atma Sakshatkar), God realization, Moksha, Nirvana, Eternal Freedom, Eternal Happiness, Self Knowledge (Atma Gyan or Brahma Gyan), to reach or experience that state, in India there are different technics been developed and used by great Yogis and Sages for more than 8 thousand years ago.
Each and every human being can develop and utilize his full potentialities by knowing himself. If we want to drive a car, we should know about that car and its mechanism properly. The same way, if we want to perform well we need to know ourself.
Is knowing self, religious or spiritual?
If we carefully analyse we will know that every being is after eternal happiness (nitya sukha ), infinite knowledge, immortality, freedom and independence. These things can be gained or experienced by knowing the Self alone.
Every action we perform is only for our self happiness, no matter whether we call it love or hate or whatever. We all know that a husband loves his wife not for the sake of wife, but for his own sake and vice versa. Similarly its not for the sake of money we love money, but for the sake of us only. What we call love is nothing but selfishness.
Why religions made heaven & hell and projected it to the ignorant people? It just took advantage on the self nature of all the beings. Everyone is after heaven(happiness), religions made them greedy to get heaven, for that they need to do all the stupid things and torture themselves expecting some heaven somewhere, we call them religious, but these poor people don't know that a greedy person will never become happy or even go to heaven. Because of the heaven and hell, greed and fear become the part of the religion. Greed is part of the heaven and fear a part of the hell. Neither greed or fear will make a being happy.
When spirituality gets perverted we call it religion. Spirituality is concerned about our own spirit or self. Religions talk about a fake happiness or heaven existing somewhere else. Our very nature is happiness and spirituality helps to unfold it, contrary to it, religions misguides and make people think that happiness exists somewhere else in a place called heaven. Its true that , the religion is a roadmap to get lost.
Do I Exist?
We know that each and every person had a multi dimensional existence. These dimensions are generally classified as 'Physical, Mental, Emotional and Energy. They wrongly identify themselves with these dimensions and thinks that they are this physical body, mental body, emotional body, etheric body.
Physical: Many people think that they are just this body. But truth is that, a person never feels himself diminished when limbs or part of his body is removed. Neither he feels that he is somebody else when vital organs like heart, kidney, liver... has transplanted.
We identity ourself with this bundle of flesh, fat, bone, skin, blood and filth. Moreover this identification with the body is the root cause for human sufferings. When we are attached ourself with our body, Mamata (mineness) arises. You identify yourself with your wife, children, house, etc. It is this identification or attachment that brings about bondage, misery and pain. You never wept when millions of Germans died in the war. Why? Because, there was no identification and attachment. But, you weep profusely when your son dies, on account of this attachment. The word "My" Produces wonderful influence in the mind.
Note the difference in effects produced in the mind when you hear the two sentences: Horse is dead and my horse is dead…
Physical body does not exist before birth or after death. It lasts only for a short intervening period. It is transient. Its bundle of food we eat. It undergoes change such as childhood, youth and old age. It has the six changes (Shad Vikaras), viz., existence, birth, growth, modification, decay and death.
''I am'' is always constant. Body only always changes. So I am not this body.
Mental: Every man has a mental world of his own, his own views, his own sentiments, his own feelings, his own habitual thoughts, his own experience and his own mode of thinking. The vast majority of men know not the existence of the mind and its operations. Even the so called educated persons know very little of the mind subjectively or of its nature and operations.
Western psychologists know something. Western doctors know only a fragment of mind. The afferent nerves bring the sensations from the periphery or extremities of the spinal cord. The sensations then pass to the medulla oblongata at the back of the head, where the fibres decussate. From there, they pass on to the superior frontal gyrus or superior frontal convolution of the brain in the forehead, the supposed seat of the intellect or mind. The mind feels the sensations and sends motor impulses through the afferent nerves to the extremities i.e.: hands, legs, etc. It is a brain-function only for them. Mind, according to them, is only an excretion of the brain, like bile from liver. The Medical fraternity is still groping in utter darkness. Their minds need drastic flushing for the entry of Hindu philosophical ideas. It is the Yogins (Those who practices the Yoga) and those who practice meditation and introspection that know the existence of the mind, its nature, ways and subtle workings. They know also the various methods of subduing the mind.
Mind is not a gross thing, visible and tangible. Its existence is nowhere seen. Its magnitude cannot be measured. It does not require a space in which to exist. Mind can be said to be immaterial only in the sense that it has not the characteristics of ponderable matter. It is not, however, immaterial in the sense that Brahman (Pure Spirit) as such is. Mind is the subtle form of matter and the prompter of the body.
Mind assumes the form of anything it contemplates. When you think of an object, your Subconscious Mind shapes itself into the form of that object. When you change your thought, your mind also changes its shape. Many modifications continually arise in the mind. Your thoughts rapidly change. Your Subconscious mind also changes its shape rapidly. Every moment, mind is continually creating hundreds of these thought-forms and continually dispersing them again. It never holds on steadily to one thought-form for some time. Every thought has a certain name and a certain form. Form is the grosser and names the finer state of a single manifesting power called thought. But, these three are one. It is the unity in trinity, the three degrees of existence of the same thing. Wherever the one is, the others also are there.
Six important powers of the mind are, will power (ichha sakthi), power of knowing (jnana sakthi), action to have the desire gratified (kriya sakthi), power of imagination (bhavana sakthi), power of judgement (manisha), power to hold or concentrate (dharana sakthi)
While we see that western philosophy are more limited to simple mental games, starting with 'I think, therefore I exist' and contradicting it saying 'I exist, therefore i think. Its just a mind game which mainly limits itself on mental dimensions.
Mind is also not the ''I''. The mind is a bundle of thoughts.
Emotional: When we are emotional, we will become mentally clouded, intelligence can't peform well. Based on the internal and external influences it fluctuates. Though it also gives colour to our life, it is not 'I'.
Energy: Without the support of this dimension, neither physical, mental and emotional dimensions can perform well. After a good sleep or rest, we will feel fresh, Prana or life-breath vitalises all the other dimensions. It is not 'I'.
Then Who Am I?
The technic 'Neti Neti' can show you that you are neither physical, mental nor emotional, you are beyond that. Since its beyond mind, you will never know 'Who you are' with your mind. That's why the Sage Patanjali wrote in yoga sutras, 'Cessation of the activities of mind is called Yoga'. To know 'Who am I, we should go beyond mind.
Ramana Maharshi, his whole life, was giving only one technique to his disciples. He will say, ”Just sit down, close your eyes, and go on asking ’Who am I? Who am I?’
Go on asking it. Your mind will answer many times that you are a soul, you are a self, you are divinebut don’t listen to these things, these are all borrowed; you have heard these things. Put them aside unless you come to know who you are.
Nobody else can answer who you are; nobody else can give you a ready-made answer. You will have to search yourself; you will have to dig it within yourself.
So if you feel that you don’t know yourself, then don’t go to anybody
to ask "Who am I?" Nobody can answer you. You are there inside, hidden. You have to penetrate to
that dimension where you are, encounter yourself.
The Spiritual Plane
To know spiritual plane we should know what spirituality means.
Spirituality is not thinking of God, talking about god, killing/converting others for God, eating for god, fasting, praying of God. Being a good person or bad person is not spirituality.
Going to mosque, temple, church or visiting different places is not spirituality. Kneeling down or looking at sky, idol, symbol or facing a direction is not spirituality. Spirituality is not begging like give me this, give me that, or having any business deals like, if you give me this I will give you that, or i will do good things you give me heaven.
Spirituality is that about the spiritual plane. As we have the physical plane, emotional plane, intellectual plane, we have the spiritual plane too.
Thinking about god, crying about god are all on those physical mental and emotional planes. Thinking is just a mental activity. Spiritual plane can’t be understood or known by the mind or intelligence. You can only experience it.
When the mind calms down yoga happens.(Yoga chitha vruthi nirodha - Patanjali Maharishi) .