KEY POINTERS TO SELF-KNOWLEDGE
The point of these pointers is to lead us home which we have never left!
Self-knowledge deals with who and what we truly are.
The Self, our true nature, is the ever-present awareness of our own being.
- Who am I? What is Self-knowledge? What is my true nature? All three questions point to the same thing: the innate, essential reality of our being?
- Our being is never in question. There can never be a doubt about: a) Do I exit? b) Am I aware?
- Our true nature is non-conceptual awareness-presence which is the source and substratum of all manifestation. All experiences (sensations, perceptions, feelings, thoughts) take place within this pure awareness. It is pure in the sense that it is untouched by any second thing. It is One, without a second (ekamevādvitīyam).
- Self-knowledge is the most direct, intimate, im-mediate knowledge of the fact of our being-ness or presence-awareness.
- Our knowledge of the world appears to be direct but in reality it is only a mediated knowledge—knowledge experienced through the medium of the five senses and the mind.
- Self-knowledge, the knowledge of one’s own true nature—being of the nature of awareness itself—alone is direct and im-mediate intuitional experience (sākṣāt-aprokṣāt).
- We exist and we know we exist (Sadeva Chit Chideva Sat). These are the only two facts that can never be denied, doubted or negated. Self cannot be denied: It is logically impossible to aver, “I am not.” Self cannot be doubted: Your own being-presence is beyond any doubt whatsoever.
- Because it is our essential nature, and because it is already present spontaneously, it tends to be easily overlooked.
- “I am” is a self-evident fact. “Who am I” is a discovery and a revelation. I know I am, but I do not know that I am Brahman. My true nature needs to be revealed to me. How so? Even if we have eyes, we still need a mirror to see our face. Vedānta—the science of truth about our existence—acts as a mirror to reveal the true nature of “who am I.”
- Vedānta says you are not the limited ‘body-mind-senses’ complex that you take yourself to be. You are One limitless Consciousness. Know yourself to be so and be fulfilled.
- You are already what you seek. Self-knowledge is not a fresh attainment or a new acquisition: it is always already here, right now. It is an ever-existent fact of our being, ever-present to be discovered and recognized as such.
- Self-knowledge is not a journey of becoming; it is a matter of being. How can you become what you already are?
- Self is self-existent, self-evident, and self-established. Self-shinning like the sun, our presence-awareness is always there as a substratum of all our experience.
- Strictly speaking, Self-knowledge is not a journey; it is a homecoming. As Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj once said, “What you seek is so close to you that there is no place for a way.” The metaphors of path and journey are eminently misleading.
- In the realm of Self-knowledge, the concepts such as “seeking” or “searching” could become a trap, for the seeker is the sought. What you are looking is what is looking. Seeking Self-knowledge is like looking for glasses, while looking through them all along!
- If you are looking for Self-knowledge in a book or by going places, know that your search is misdirected. Paradoxically, every step toward Self-knowledge is a step away from it. The journey of self to Self, a journey of recognition, is from here to here.
- Being of the nature of ever-present fact (nitya vartamāna svarupa), it is already attained. Therefore, It’s recognition as such is called accomplishing the ever-accomplished (prāptasya prāpati).
- Like eyes can never “see” themselves, you can never “know” yourself—as an “object,” for you are the ultimate “Subject.” The great sage, Yajñāvalkya, concludes his teachings, inquiring, “Through what should one know That owing to which all this is known!” [Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad 4.5.15]
- We are constantly saying ‘I’ ‘I’ all day long, all lifelong. We rarely pause to think what does this ‘I’ really mean. Self-knowledge is the art of closely examining the truth of ‘I.’
- For the most part, we take it to mean our ‘ego’ or ‘psychosomatic apparatus’ or the ‘me-notion’ that somehow stands apart from the core of being.
- Upon examination, ego as such is found to be non-existent, like water in a mirage. Ego turns out to be just an unexamined notion/assumption, a mere concept arising in the mind which comes and goes.
- Does your “ego” exist during deep sleep? Does your being cease to exist during deep sleep?
- Through Self-inquiry, once we directly come to know/see/realize that the ego is just a false assumption–an imposter–the game is over. All conflicts cease, for all problems arise from taking oneself to be a separate self that somehow stands apart from the deeper harmony of things.
- Unless this fundamental point is grasped, most spiritual seeking remains futile, like rowing a boat that is tied to a post. One has to first untie the knot of ego above all before embarking upon the spiritual quest. Paradoxically, the first step is the last step.
- Self-knowledge is a journey from the pseudo ‘me’ to the real ‘I.’
Song of the Self!
Your Self is already here, always.
It does not come and go.
You cannot take it, you cannot leave it.
That which is true is always with you!
The Sages remind us that life is short and can end anytime.
Therefore, one should first resolve the fundamental question—
“Who Am I?”—within oneself, by oneself.
Bon voyage and Godspeed!