The Search for self identity
[00:00:50] Who We Are and What We Are
Today, we are going to investigate the subject, “The Search for Identity.” Really the entire thrust of Vedic knowledge, Vedic Meditation, of the knowledge of Indian philosophy, all is in orbit around this one search, that is. To gain an understanding of not just who we are, but what we are.
And we see all around the world, particularly accentuated today, but all around the world, always since the dawn of time, people wanting to have a particular kind of identity, something with which they can identify. Community or political or sexual or gender (we can make a distinction between those two these days. It used to be simply literary, but now it’s gone far beyond that) or racial or economic or religious.
And like that, trying to piece together an identity, a sense of who I am and what I am, what makes me, what is it that goes into the making of me?
[00:02:02] “I’m a This. I’m a That.”
Ever since genetics has jumped into the popularization of methods like 23andMe, we hear people saying things like, “Well, I’m 50% Irish and 50% Chinese,” and, “No, not 50%, maybe 48.1%. And I’m 0.5% Neanderthal.” and, “I’m a this. I’m a that.”
“And, looking at my genetic heritage. That will give me a sense of what I am and who I am, what makes me the way I am, what makes me tick. What is it that gives me something to which to aspire? What is it that is explanatory of the way that I feel?”
“I feel certain ways. Is there anybody else who feels this way? I need to join a tribe. I want to be a member of some kind of a tribe or a community that shares the way that I’m experiencing stuff.”
When this extends to every aspect of our life, people so frequently, you know, “Well, I can’t really process dairy very well, and that’s because I have Chinese genes, and it seems to be that Chinese people don’t process dairy as well as non-Chinese people. So that kind of explains who I am,” or “I have this kind of predilection.”
[00:03:17] “Nobody Knows Me at All”
Even in Ayurveda, we see meditators who are studying the Vedic approach to health. “I am Vata dominant. I’m Pitta dominant. I am Kapha dominant. I am, oh, triumphant, all three in perfect balance, all three at the same time. I have this. I have that. I’m one of these. I’m one of those.”
And the one common thing with all these senses of identity is they don’t bring satisfaction. And the reason they don’t bring satisfaction is because, deep inside of us, we have a sense that we’re the only ones who know ourself.
“Nobody knows me at all,” says the person who has a happy family life with the spouse and with children. “Nobody knows me at all,” thinks the monk, who is often a monastery seeking spiritual enlightenment.
“I’m the only one who really knows my experiences, and my thoughts. I’m the only one who knows, and what I’m presented with, even with my knowledge, is doubt. And why do I have doubt?” Because all of these things, these predilections, these wishes, these desires, these preferences, they’re all relative.
[00:04:30] The Distinction Between Consciousness and The Absolute
So, in the Vedic worldview, we have a distinction line, the line between The Absolute, the one indivisible, whole, unmanifest Unified Field of consciousness.
Consciousness in its non-changing, ever-the-same, one indivisible whole status without differentiation in it. A field of pure potentiality, a field of pure potential creative intelligence, that pure existence with consciousness, but not yet expressed, the unexpressed, but with infinite potential to express as anything. This is The Absolute.
And then we have The Absolute breaking its symmetry, and we can look at this either in a linear history fashion, where once upon a time there was a singularity where all qualities, all space-time were condensed into a point, the point of a point, infinitesimally small, and then at some point, this singularity began to expand at a speed, which to the singularity may not have seemed all that fast, but by the standards by which we go in everyday time, in earth time, one 10,000-billionth of a second, all of the space-time in the singularity expanded out to at least 50% of the current size and mass basis, matter, of the universe. One 10,000-billionth of a second.
This phenomenon is known as the Big Bang, and it was not so long ago in universe time; it was about 20 billion years ago or so, give or take.
[00:06:21] Change Defines Relativity
And then, we have the vertical way of looking at the same concept. There is a layer, a layer of pure existence, which then becomes conscious. When existence or ‘Is-ness’ becomes conscious, then Is-ness has become ‘Am-ness’. And then from this, a breaking of symmetry and rising vertically into, in this vertical model, rising vertically into manifestation, the unmanifest becomes manifest.
And so we have, whether we look at it in a linear, historic fashion, or we look at it in a vertical model, we have The Absolute, the unmanifest, manifesting into that which is relative.
And what is it that defines relativity? Change. Constant change. Change with three characteristics. Change, which is innovative, which is inventive, which is creative, which is coming up with new connections between already existing things. This we call the creation operator force of change.
Maintenance operator that force, which maintains anything which continues to lend itself to an evolutionary process. And so we have this evolutionary process coming into concept where all forms and phenomena are subject to a fundamental law of Nature, the gathering together of tendencies to become more and more sophisticated.
[00:07:57] I Exist
In the study of biology, the concept of the genesis of life, or a living thing or a life form, where inanimate molecules, things that are not yet alive, amino acids and proteins and whatnot, make a jump into being able to be qualified as living.
And again, we could look at that as an historic phenomenon in a linear timescale of years. Once upon a time, there were, relative to today, relatively few, on earth, life-forms, and then, from those few life forms, or perhaps even a singular life form, burst forth a multiplicity of life forms.
Well, that’s very interesting. That’s Darwinistic evolution, but the big question is, how did that initial life form come into being out of simply molecules?
How did existence become conscious and have tendencies that are expressed in moving away from too much heat, moving away from too much cold, moving toward the right level of temperature, moving in the direction of reproduction, and the ability to self propagate?
And then with the creation of, eventually, evolution of neurons, the capacity first to self identify and get an idea that, “I am an I and I exist, and those are other things, and they exist.”
[00:09:28] The Evolution of Psychology
And so then this fundamental big bifurcation that happens, there is a self, and there is non-self. “There is me, and there is other,” just as in an infant, “There is me, a sense of I, and then there is mother. Mother, that which is the nourisher and nurturer of me, on which I depend absolutely.”
And so, we can look at this in a linear fashion, and we can look at it in a vertical fashion. Coming up from less and less sophisticated brain states into more and more sophisticated brain states, evolution can occur within a singular being within the period of one lifetime. As one’s brain begins to organize itself, and become more and more capable of building models, models that are based still on this concept.
“There is the me inside here, and then there is the non-me outside of me.” And then we start to notice a tendency. The self likes to identify with things that feel ‘selfie’; things that feel self-like, that which is self-like, is something that is akin to me. I feel that I relate to things that are like me.
And so, predilections and preferences and likes and dislikes and things to which you warm, but then psychology starts to become more and more sophisticated.
And as the science of psychology evolves and is shared with people, people begin to ask the question, “Why? Why is it that I don’t like those things, and I do like these things?”
[00:11:13] Nurturance Shapes the Way You See Yourself
And psychology offers up to us, “Well, perhaps it’s because you had some negative experiences with some things in your early, more vulnerable years, and you had some positive experiences with other things in your earlier, more vulnerable years.
“And this is why you’re leaning toward those things, those behaviors, those kinds of people, those kinds of phenomena, those kinds of flavors, those kinds of predilections, and shying away from others.”
In other words, your sense of self is something that is styled by a nurturing phenomenon. Your sense of self is partly a creation of where you’ve been and where you’ve not been or where you have yet to be. Desires that bubble up inside you that are not yet fulfilled also style a sense of self. “I have a very strong sense of self around my yet unfulfilled desires.”
So, there’s one way we can look at ourselves, that is to say, we are a composite of experiences that we’ve had so far and have satisfied, that have created for us some kind of identity. And we are also, part of this composite, made up of the unfulfilled desires. That is to say, those things which we wish to experience that we do not yet have in our experience base.
And so we are to think of these things, those experiences that we’ve had already as “possessions,” we possess them already, we’ve experienced those things, versus our “non-possessions,” that is to say, those desires, which are yet to be fulfilled.
[00:12:47] The Vedic Concept of Psyche
And so if I’m a composite of that which I’ve experienced and that which I wish to experience, but have not yet experienced, I’m a composite of my possessions, to which I pay very little attention because they are already there, a foregone conclusion, and my non-possessions, which rather have a greater capability to possess me and identify me, those things that I am yet to experience fully or in a way that is fulfilling or satisfactory.
And so, in the Vedic concept of the psyche, we’re not just taking into account the psyche of the human, we’re taking into account the psyche of the Unified Field itself.
Why does the Unified Field of consciousness move from being either vertically or linearly, move from being Is-ness, or pure existence, into Am-ness, conscious of myself, and then to explode and bifurcate by breaking its symmetry into many, and then through those many forms, through those nervous systems, through those phenomena, go about the process of trying to identify what it is.
What is our great fascination? If we look at thematic social forms of entertainment, books and novels, and television and films, we see an enormous fascination with what scientists refer to as exobiology, the exo part meaning, outside of the structure of earth biology, life forms.
[00:14:24] Are We Alone in The Universe?
Is it possible (and we invest billions in looking into this scientifically), is it possible that there is any form of life extant anywhere in this massive universe that might be some way by which we can compare ourselves and get a sense of where we are on the evolutionary scale? Will they be more sophisticated beings than us? Oh goodness. What could that mean?
Or if other beings exist elsewhere, besides the earth, will they be less sophisticated beings than us? Oh, colonization possibility.
So, are we alone in the universe, is a very interesting thought, and a thought which intrigues human beings, even if they don’t count themselves as being UFO followers or alien believers, still, people are fascinated by the idea that there could be something extraterrestrial, that is, a thinking being that might even know about us, whether or not we know about them.
[00:15:21] “What Are We Actually?”
And so we have these fascinations, which, ultimately, any good psychologist would say is still a search for identity of self. We’re still trying to figure out who and what we are through a process of comparison.
“Compared with this, or compared with that, what am I? And then I get a little more satisfaction in that if I have a bunch of us all agreeing that we should look into this because now I have a tribe, a tribe of seekers. Seeking what are we? It’s not just what am I anymore, now I have people who feel like me. What are we?”
What are we actually? We know that on one level, we can answer this in terms of bodies, but bodies are never all that satisfying. Why?
[00:16:05] The Body is Constantly in Flux
Well, because you have 70 trillion cells that constantly are in flux, in flow. Skin cells that last about a month in your epidermis, the subdermal cells that might last another two or three months before they come up to the surface and become the skin cells, fascia cells, the muscle cells, the sinews and ligaments, and tendons and bones, all of which are subject to a period of replacement time.
And in the instance of the epidermis, exfoliated in entirety within a month, our surface-most layer of skin, our largest organ, changes itself over, cell by cell, about once every month.
And then as we go deeper into the longer-lasting cell matter of the human body, we have cells that might exist only about seven years before they’re replaced in entirety. But virtually every cell in our body is replaced, all of the 70 trillion cells, over a period of about seven years.
Some elements, some systems of the body, are replaced many times in that seven years; others are replaced a little bit more slowly. For example, our skeletal mass.
[00:17:15] Unsatisfying Pronouns
I feel like I’m the same me inside here, even though I can remember what it was like to be 10. I am the same me inside here as I was when I was 10. I was not as well-informed at the age of 10, but I feel like I’m the same me inside here. And yet, it’s clear from taking a strictly scientific point of view about the true nature of this body, I cannot be this body.
Because the body, cell by cell, has replaced itself in entirety many, many, many times toward the end of my seventh decade. And so, my body cannot really explain what I am. My body can’t explain who I am. And my body’s predilections also cannot explain what I am in truth, the greater truth about me.
In this day and age, there is a rampage for breaking up all old forms of giving people senses of identities, the changing of pronouns and the changing of gender concepts. At last count, and I did count it once with one of my children who is gender fluid, there are about 14 different flavors of gender identity with which one can now identify and insist upon others identifying oneself as one of those, but it will still be unsatisfying.
And the reason is, we know that everything changes. “Will I have the same predilections at the age of 95 that I have at the age of 12?” Highly unlikely.
[00:18:46] Out of Africa
And with modern science and hygiene and nutrition sciences becoming better and better, as our life expectancy continues to grow, the possibility of us growing on average to be a very good percentage, a very high percentage, of a hundred years of age at our most mature, being able to say, “Well, I’m a ‘this’ at 12 or 13 or 15 or 19 or 20, and I will still be absolutely a ‘this’ at the age of 100,” is a little bit of a stretch of the imagination.
One of the areas where we give ourselves great grief is to decide upon a sense of identity. I’m a ‘this,’ some kind of racial characteristic, when we know, in studies of human beings, that all of us came from Africa, every single human beings’ ancestors were members of groups that came out of Africa.
And we were all at one time, a very uniform color, and it wasn’t black or white. It was darkish, not quite black, not quite white, maybe very dark brown.
Everybody was in that category, and then as our races began to subject themselves to more or less levels of sunshine, and more or less levels of melanin exposure, and other kinds of environmental pressures over the last, say, 250,000 years of reproduction, some of us ended up lacking as much melanin as others. Some of us got recessive, genetic characteristics, light-colored irises of our eyes.
Others retained the melanin, heavy, darker colors of skin and eye color, and eye characteristics, but we’re all generated from common ancestors.
[00:20:28] What Are You Actually?
In fact, any good geneticist can talk to you about the scientific Eve, E-V-E, borrowed from the concept and the Judeo-Christian Bible of Eve, the first woman. There was, in fact, one woman who lived multiple hundreds of thousands of years ago, who is the one common ancestor, female ancestor of all human beings on earth.
And you can look this up. It’s non-controversial genetic knowledge, based on the logical sequence, the singular logical sequence that can exist, when looking at the way that we have, as a declension of genetic structures, evolved over a period of time from smaller populations to a much larger population.
So, what are you actually? This is the larger question.
[00:21:20] Tat Wale Baba
Once when I was in India, a London Times journalist came to visit Maharishi, and she and I and a couple of others went off on a little side excursion up to the cave of a famous Rishi. The Rishi was known as Tat Wale Baba.
A man who would be, if he grew up in the United States, and it’s a kind of hilarious idea to contemplate, would have been selected or sought after by the National Basketball Association because he was near about seven feet tall, very, very tall for an Indian.
And he had some unique characteristics. His face had no facial hair on it at all, like a woman.
His hair hung in dreadlocks. That is to say, matted locks, and you know how matted locks work. The hair doesn’t grow straight down. It grows to the left. Then it grows to the right. Then it grows frontward, and then it grows backward, zigzags its way down in a massive, other hair’s, tangled mass, until eventually growing and growing and growing, several large ropes of hair came from the head. And these ropes of hair these dreadlocks in India are known as jata, jata.
And Tat Wale Baba’s jata, when he stood up at his full six foot 10 or 11, whatever it was, that jata dragged on the ground behind him, three or four feet. Now imagine how long it takes for jata to grow even one foot, to say nothing of 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 feet, or so of hair.
[00:22:49] Ageless Rishi
It was reputed that Tat Wale Baba at the time in which I met him, which was late sixties, early seventies, was something akin to 130 years of age. And this conclusion was arrived at by just people saying, “Well, he was the guru of my great-grandfather, and we have a photo of him with my great-grandfather back in 1900, and strangely enough, he looked just like this. He looked like this.”
Tat Wale Baba had the look of a man who might have done a lot of swimming exercise. He had those elongated muscles, the musculature of a swimmer, and had no wrinkles anywhere on his body, except around his knees where, he had spent so many decades of his life sitting in cross-legged positions, lotus position, and other cross-legged positions.
He lived in a cave. We knew he was, at least genetically, or at birth, a male because he wore no clothing whatsoever, unless he was out walking about and knew that he was going to come into contact with people, in which case he wore very small little loincloth. A thing which, by the way, in India, is fully acceptable culturally, unsurprising to anyone to see a holy person of that status walking around virtually naked.
[00:24:07] A Forest Dweller
He didn’t appear to need any clothing, even in wintertime, when the Fahrenheit temperatures in the Rishikesh region would regularly drop in the night, down into the low forties of Fahrenheit degrees, water didn’t freeze round there, but it came very close.
And he lived in a cave. He never used fire because it was part of his austerity, not to ignite fire in his cave. He never shivered or anything like that. He could make his diet purely from roots and other kinds of things that were dug up from the ground, and certain kinds of leaves and whatnot.
So he, he didn’t sit around eating Indian food, nobody was serving him curries, and chapatis and naan bread and things like that. He ate from the land literally. He was a forest dweller and had been a forest dweller for decades and decades and decades, however old he may have been.
[00:25:00] “I am London”
So, my London Times journalist friend and I climbed up the mountain to the cave of Tat Wale Baba and sat with him, and she offered to him to bless a string of beads that she was wearing, something that is a tradition in India. And he took the string of beads to bless them. And we all sat in silence for a long time.
And then she said to him in English, “Tat Wale Baba-Ji, I would really, really love for you to come because I’ve heard from some of your disciples, the great wisdom that comes from you. I would really love for you to come to London one day. I would arrange everything. I’d make all the arrangements; you’d have great accommodation and so on.”
He listened to all of that. And then, after a moment, skipping a beat, taking a moment, he just quietly said, but in a very deep voice, “I am London.” And she looked at me with this astonished look, “What can he possibly mean?”
This is very consistent with the kinds of utterings of these great enlightened people.
[00:26:04] “That Also”
I remember once approaching Anandamayi Ma. Anandamayi Ma is the name of a great woman saint who, in India, is attributed with being an avatar or an embodiment, a divine embodiment of Mother Divine herself.
She lived for some 80 years, from the late 1800s to the early 1980s, one of the most photographed people in the history of India. She had a wondrous effect, a magnetic effect on anybody who had a camera. People always felt compelled to take photos of her.
And Anandamayi Ma, who began to circulate, not just in India, with thousands of devotees behind her. She walked everywhere she went, and thousands of devotees would walk behind her and sit and just listen to her, her talks and speeches.
And one day, one of my friends said to Anandamayi Ma, this person was new to India, said to Anandamayi Ma, “Are you a Hindu?”
And she looked at him, and she said, “That also.” And he said, “Well, what does that, what does that mean?” I said, “Ask her another question.”
[00:27:10] Also “That Also”
He said to her, “I noticed that when we went past the Muslim place of worship, that you went in there, and you were speaking in Arabic and participating in the Muslim prayers. Are you a Muslim?”
She looked at him, and she said, “That also.” And he said, “But when we went past the Roman Catholic Church in that particular village, I noticed yourself crossing yourself, Father, Son, Holy Ghost, the way that Roman Catholics do. Are you a Catholic?”
She said, “That also.” And one began to get the impression that almost any question you asked her, if you offered her a choice, she would say, “That also.”
So, “I am London,” and “That also. That also. That also”, what does all this mean?
[00:27:55] A Mantra is Resonant With the Thinker of It
Ultimately it is consistent with a thing that happens when we continue our twice-daily practice of Vedic Meditation. Our consciousness begins to grow and grow and expand and expand as each time we close our eyes to practice our technique, using our methodology, where we take an individualized mantra are given to us by a qualified teacher of the Shankaracharya tradition. That’s the Vedic Meditation tradition.
You learn how to use your mantra absolutely effortlessly with eyes closed, sitting comfortably in a chair, and this is a mantra that’s assigned to you by a qualified teacher.
And then, as you think the mantra in an effortless repetitive fashion, the mantra rapidly changes from simply being a word with no meaning that you’ve learned, into being a pulsation of sound, whose characteristics are mellifluous.
I love that word. Mellie for honey and fluous for flowing, a sweet honey flowing sound, mellifluous sound.
And the mantra is resonant with the thinker of it because it’s been chosen specifically to match the bundle of vibrations that the individual is. And when you think the mantra effortlessly, it becomes softer, fainter, quieter, and, as it does so, more and more charming, the charm of it growing and growing, draws the mind into the ever-increasing subtlety of this pulsation of sound.
[00:29:19] “I Am Totality”
And the sound continues to get more and more soft, less and less well-defined. It is, in fact, defocusing, the opposite of focus. It’s allowing the mind to experience ever-growing, expansive awareness states. Awareness states that are not defined by strict boundaries, where the thinking starts to become, in those more abstract states, non-sequential non-logical thoughts.
And then beyond that, in the faintest state of the mantra, as the mind is being drawn into those very, very subtle strata, the mantra just disappears. And for a moment, the mind is left in that state with no mantra and no thought replacing it. And this is that moment of the experience of Being, capital B.
This is the individual mind dropping into The Absolute, the individual mind loses all of its individual characteristics for a moment and identifies with the one indivisible, unmanifest Unified Field of consciousness, the unmanifest field of Being, and that experience very delicately, but very definitely, imprints itself on the individual mind.
The mind of the person that has spent its life wanting to have an identity now has an additional identity added to it. And what is that identity? “I am Totality.”
Because this Unified Field quality, though it doesn’t speak the words, “I am Totality,” on the level of pure knowingness, it knows that it is the baseline of all things, all forms, all expressions. All change comes from this one, non-changing, underlying reality, the state of pure consciousness, Being.
[00:31:13] A Return to Homeostasis
And so as we practice our meditation twice, each day, the restful nature of the experience of transcending, to transcend means to step beyond. So, we are stepping beyond thought on a regular basis, letting our mind identify with that unboundedness or moving in the direction of that, in every sitting of meditation, for about 20 minutes, twice every day.
There are many changes that occur in the mind and in the body. As the body follows the mind into this less-excited state, the body enters into unprecedented levels of deep restfulness. The body, during meditation, is resting many times more deeply than it is able to rest at any point in a night’s sleep, and this allows the body to have all of its physiological functioning restored, a return to homeostasis.
This is the scientific word that means the full repertoire of every cell in the body, rather than a limited repertoire brought about by what? Overloads of experience that we’ve had in the past, where the world, when presenting us with something, to which we cannot adapt, presenting us with an experience that’s an overload, perceptual overload, emotional overload, intellectual overload even, we end up having a stress reaction and our identity gets all wrapped up.
[00:32:35] In Symbiosis With Our Environment
Our sense of what we are gets all wrapped up in these overloads of experience that we’ve had in the past, and we ended up adding to our identity, all of the wounds, the injuries, the overloads.
The things to which we couldn’t adapt, start to become part of our sense of what we are and may drive us into likes and dislikes that are simply the expressions of stress, not really the expressions of our essential nature, our own essential nature.
So with transcendence, as our body is experiencing greater and greater rest, twice every day, on a very regular basis, the body is able to release and relieve existing stresses, and also is able to build layer upon layer of adaptation energy, that energy that gives us stamina, that gives us the capacity to meet demands interactively with creativity, with intelligence.
The ability to not only, on a regular basis, remove the distorting effect on our sense of self, the distorting effect of overloads of past experience, but also to move forward into life in an adaptive fashion, interactively being in symbiosis with our environment.
[00:33:48] The Microbiome in Our Gut
You know the word symbiosis? In biological studies there are types of beings which coexist together and which bring benefit to each other. And the very best example of it may be the way in which certain bacteria, and we have to have, in order to be healthy, somewhere between 20,000 and 60,000 species of bacteria growing in our gut, and without that, we’re not considered by most doctors to have a healthy gut.
And so the microbiome, that is to say, the microscopic biology that exists inside of our body, is in symbiosis with us. Those bacteria give back to us capabilities that we wouldn’t have for perfect health if we didn’t have them, mostly digestive capability, the ability to ingest and metabolize successfully, those things that we take in as nutrients.
We know for a fact that people who have weak digestion, who have a very poor microbiome, very small number of bacteria in their gut, even if they eat nectar-like food, even if they eat food that is grown properly, which is processed or cooked with love and laid before you, if your digestion is no good, your body can turn that into toxin.
Likewise, someone who has powerful digestion because of the symbiosis they have with tens of thousands of bacterial species in their gut, could even eat food that is virtually toxic, and their body can turn it into nectar.
[00:35:18] An Exchange of Energy and Intelligence
And so then our capability to process the environment into our physiology, just like our capability to process the psychological environment, the perceptible environment, into the psyche of our mind is not dependent on what you take in, it’s what you do with what you take in. What do you do with what you take in?
When we have consciousness that’s been made healthy because it’s experienced its baseline. And the body that came from that is the body that has released and relieved all the stresses and become a super-adaptive body, this consciousness and this body had the capability to interact and, dare we say it, to transact.
This is what symbiosis means, that we are in exchange. There’s an exchange of energy and intelligence between us and the elements of the relative world. This is transaction, and so we are in symbiosis or in transaction. We give something to the elements of the world, and the world gives something to our status, our existence, our state of Am-ness, our state of Being.
As our meditation practice grows and grows with regular practice, our awareness continuously, every day, has one thing that is absolute, that is added to its sense of fundamental characteristic of what I am. And that one thing is that state of Being.
[00:36:38] I Am Not this Body that Changes Constantly
All other things change. “I noticed my toenails getting longer, and I trimmed them; they’ve changed. I noticed my hair changing color as I age; it changes.
“Somebody might once have referred to me, and I really believe if I look at my old passports, I’m referred to as being blonde haired. That was back when I had some hair on top of my head. And then as I look at later, passports, light brown hair, and then later passports brown hair, and then later passports, gray hair, and in my most recent passport white, white hair.
So, am I a hair type, or am I the Knower deep inside me? Obviously, I’m not this body. It’s changing all the time, body weight, body shape, body look, and so on. Sometimes because of so many decades to have in photographic expression, people look at some photographs of me and my home from many, many decades ago, and they go, “Who’s that? Is that one of your children?”
“No, that’s me.”
“Oh, you look so different.”
“Yes. I didn’t have a one-foot-long beard when I was 12. So, of course, I look different. That was me when I was 12.”
“Oh, who’s that?”
“Oh, that’s me too.”
“Really? How old were you there?”
“I was 15.”
“Oh, 15. Oh, you look so different.”
“Of course. I’m not the body. Get it?”
[00:38:03] The Crescendo of the Development of Human Consciousness
These are bodies that we possess. And the bodies that we possess have infinite capability for expression, infinite capability for expression. Infinite possibilities in the field of Being can find expression in an infinite variety of preferences, likes, dislikes, behaviors, all kinds of behaviors that are generated by our hyper adaptability to meet the need of the time, where we take our big consciousness, and we meet the need of the time with an abundance of energy, stamina, creativity, and capability to embrace change progressively.
And so then comes the crescendo of the development of human consciousness, that one has now identified a baseline that’s never changing. “My body is ever changing. My body likes and dislikes, ever changing. My cultural identity, the relevance of me behaving in particular ways, ever changing.”
What is it that meets the need of the time? Ever changing.
“I’m not a this or a that or a this-ism or a that-ism. I am a human being who is capable of being super adaptive to the need of the time.”
A set of behaviors under one particular climatic condition at one elevation with a particular group of people might be completely irrelevant five years later, at a different elevation, under different climatic conditions and so on.
[00:39:32] Rigid Attachment
And so, if we do not have the ability as humans to be nimble, to be versatile, to be adaptive, then we end up getting bound up in rigid attachment to one sense or identity. And we run the risk of that one sense of identity, which, once upon a time, may have been super relevant, but over a period of time, that same sense of identity, that same sense of what I am, could rapidly become irrelevant.
And one of the saddest things to see is someone who holds a rigid attachment to something that was once upon a time relevant but no longer is relevant, no longer is relevant. And so then, this is one of the ways that we assess, and especially in the West, old people, somebody who’s really old.
[00:40:23] “Don’t Say the C Word”
I can remember an uncle of mine who you could never mention one particular word because if you did mention the word, there would be ranting and raving that went on for hours. And what was that word? Communism. If you ever, even by mistake, uttered the word communism, there’d be no end of ranting and raving about that subject.
I’m not even going to give you the pleasure of letting you know whether or not he was for or against. It’s just that that word had that effect on him that prompted in him a rambling of irrelevant sentences that went on and on and on for hours, sometimes to the point that he’d completely forget to eat a meal and lost his appetite.
So effusive was he on the subject that started with the C. And so then as youngsters, the word went around, “Don’t ever mention that, don’t mention that word because if you do, then all of these things that don’t make any difference to you are going to come tumbling out of that mouth for hours.”
This is rigid attachment. Rigid attachment doesn’t give us the capability to embrace change progressively. The embrace of progressive change is not possible when we become rigidly attached to specific timings, specific preferences, specific events.
[00:41:45] There is Nothing Worse Than a Human Being Not Knowing Why They Exist
When we decide that I’m a this, whatever that may be, and if that thing is not the absolute Unified Field of consciousness, it’s going to change. And when that changes, and if that is your identity, then when that thing reaches its use-by date, whatever it might be, then your own personal sense of identity also has lost its relevance.
And there is nothing worse that can happen to a human being than for that human being not to know what their relevance is, what the purpose of their existence is.
“What is the purpose of me actually existing, of my being at all, interacting with the world, experiencing what I’ve experienced? I don’t even know what it’s all about. I’ve no idea.”
So, in growth of consciousness, as we keep adding more and more of that quality of The Absolute to our experience, day after day, week after week, year after year, our sense of what we are becomes more and more grounded in that part of us that never changes.
I am The Absolute, the one indivisible, whole omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient field of pure knowingness, the source of all things.
[00:43:01] Vedanta – The Highest Science of the Vedic Worldview
Growing into that state of consciousness is something that happens in stages. The first stage of it, we call it cosmic consciousness, where the ground state has been established, but then the perceptual capability of the person is still restricted to the regular five senses perception that one has in the waking state.
And then, as we continue practicing our meditation technique, we move through different states of consciousness and end up in the pinnacle of the highest possible consciousness state in which the strongest sense of identity is, “I am the Totality. I am Totality.”
Totality means that one indivisible, whole consciousness field that is permeating all matter, all forms, all phenomena. “I am That.”
And this is the declaration that comes out of the highest science of the Vedic worldview, which is called Vedanta, Veda-anta.
Veda is the Veda, that is to say, the knowledge, that fundamental set of experiential-based knowledge that comes from one’s own inner being or existence, in the least-excited state, the fundamental knowledge and blueprint of the whole of the behavior of the laws of Nature and all of their cascades of cause and effect. This is called Veda.
And Anta, in Sanskrit, it means the final conclusion. Literally means the end, but the end, as in, a means to an end, the end being the conclusion, the conclusory statement, the final conclusion of the Veda, the Veda-anta, Vedanta is, “I am That.” Meaning this one indivisible, whole consciousness field.
[00:44:44] Brahman and Brahmin
You are also That. To whatever extent you know it is another matter, but you’re also That. From my perspective, you are That, and all of this is nothing but That. I am That. You are That. All of this is nothing but That. And what is That?
It’s referred to in Sanskrit as Brahman, B-R-A-H-M-A-N. Not to be confused with the caste, the priestly caste in India, known as Brahmins, B-R-A-H-M-I-N, Brahmin.
Sometimes people conflate these two separate words that pronounce differently, brahmin and Brahman. Brahman is Totality, and it’s not ‘the’ Totality, it is simply Totality, because the article “The” is the separator article. It’s the thing that makes something separate to me, not the Totality, just Totality.
And the statement in Sanskrit is Aham, Aham is I am, and Brahmasmi. Brahmasmi means Brahman; the asmi part on the end of it is the part that identifies it with oneself unambiguously. I am Brahman. I am Totality. I’m not ‘the’ Totality.
Very often in more new age, as it was once called, circles of thinking, that is to say, the neo-synthesis of some Eastern philosophy concepts that percolated into the Western psyche called new age philosophy, people will say The Universe a lot, “Oh, The Universe doesn’t want me to go here. The Universe wants me to go there.” The Universe, The Universe.
[00:46:26] Totality is Not Separate
And this is people’s way of avoiding the use of the word God because that’s become a little bit old fashioned, and you don’t want to sound old fashioned. You want to be with it. You don’t say God anymore; you say The Universe. You don’t say I’m religious anymore; you say I’m spiritual, I believe in The Universe. And it’s just a kind of a language format to try to break away from some of the old assumptions of organized religion.
However that may be, ‘The Universe’ is making Universe something other than me. There is me, and then there’s The Universe, the non-self, the non-me, that which is not me, The Universe. And the Vedic language of Sanskrit, we get past all of that by eliminating the word “The.”
“I am Totality.” Not “I am the Totality,” separate to you and separate to everything.
Totality is not separate to anything. It is everything. Sometimes people call it all-pervasive, and I want to get beyond that, or all-permeating. Both of those words have a similar meaning. Pervasive or permeating means there is a thing, and there’s another thing that goes through and through that first thing, and so that second thing is the thing that’s pervading the first thing.
[00:47:46] Brahman is Not Pervaded or Infused into Anything; It IS Everything
And so the way in which water pervades a sponge, so you take a sponge, and you fill it with water, and you can say it’s a water-permeated sponge, but there’s a sponge, and there’s the water, and the two things are still separate. And so, Unified Field, Brahman, does not permeate anything or pervade anything. It IS everything.
In this case, it would be water shaping itself into a sponge; imagine that, a square of water that has the ability to shape itself into a sponge. It is nothing but water. It’s not permeated with water.
Totality Brahman is everything. Unified Field is not a thing separate to the other things. It is all things. It’s all space, all time, all forms, all phenomena.
A very good analogy is the colorless sap in a flower that makes itself into a color, or makes itself into a fragrance or a shape, though it itself is not round or flat or green or pink or fragrant. The colorless sap, though, can make itself into any of these things. And if we take any one of these things, the thorn, the stem, the petal, and so on, and we mush them up and break them down into their essential ingredient, they are nothing but colorless sap, in fact.
[00:49:07] The Fulfillment of the Search for Identity
And so then the one indivisible, whole consciousness field, when my identity is one with That, then I have achieved success in the search for identity. This is the fulfillment of the search for identity, and there is no other stopping point along the way which is going to bring satisfaction.
I’m a this. I’m a that. I’m one of those. I’m this kind of person. I’m that kind of person. Maybe I’m not a person at all; I’m just a being, and so on and so forth. We’re always trying to invent new ways of languaging, these various kinds of experiences that basically are an expression of, “Nobody knows me at all. I’m the only one who knows myself.”
“But I do want to find those who are like me, as like me as possible. I mean, I’m a one of these and he or she is a one of those, or they are one of those. And then, I can identify with their ‘they-ness,’ but they don’t really think quite like me in every area because nobody actually knows me, but me. Nobody actually knows me at all.”
[00:50:07] The True Santosha
And this identity crisis that we’re facing cannot be satisfied by simply inserting some ever-changing relative form or phenomenon, like or dislike, preference or any other kind of cultural, racial, or economic, or any other kind of identity to it, and then letting that be my rigid definition, because ultimately, consciousness becomes whatever it sees.
And if consciousness sees The Absolute, it will become that. And if it sees it with great regularity, that means experiences it with great regularity, consciousness identifies with The Absolute.
And this brings about the ultimate justified contentedness, not complacency, ultimate justified contentedness. The true santosha.
Santosha is the word for contentedness, justified contentedness. That peace of mind based upon, “I know not just who I am, I know what I am. Aham Brahmasmi. I am Totality.”
Jai Guru Deva.