THE REAL “I” AND THE FALSE “I”
THE REAL “I” AND THE FALSE “I”
Let us try to understand the two types of “I” – the real “I” and the false “I”. Most of us think of the “I” as the physical body and when we say: “I am”, we refer to the physical body. Everybody thinks of the physical body as themselves. But in spiritual life, that is not entirely correct. The physical is called mithiya i.e. the false I, and it is associated with the ego, the senses and the material things. The “I” that we want to realize in meditation is the Soul, which is called the Real Self. This Self is spelt with the capital “S”, as opposed to the ordinary physical self that is spelt with a small “s”. So the Self refers to the Soul that is the real “I”, the Consciousness, the Divine part in you which we say is always in union with God. It is never separated. What causes that sense of separation is our ego, ignorance and our identification with the physical body, and the physical world.
In order to know God, we do not have to search for God. In order to know the soul, we do not have to search where the soul is. Knowledge of the soul is the natural state. What we need to do is remove the false identity. Remove the ego and identification with the physical body. Remove the ignorance. Remove the obstacles. And what remains is your true Self – the reality. It is just like finding a diamond in the dirt. How do you know it is a diamond? You just remove the coverings. The diamond is already there. Just so the soul, your reality, the Real Self is already there. It is self-existent. It is Eternal. To realize it you remove the coverings, the material things, the ego and the false identity.
Think of the state of sleep. When you are sleeping you are not aware of the material body or the physical world. Yet you exist. That existence of the soul, when you are not aware of the physical body, is the natural state of the soul, because the soul is already there. What has been removed is only the awareness of the physical things. In meditation it is as if you are going into a kind of sleep, and yet it is not unconsciousness. It is a conscious removal of all the physical obstacles. Your mind is withdrawn from all the physical objects. You are not aware of your home, name, family, children, work, etc., and you are ultimately not aware of your body. That means that you are removing layer by layer of all the physical things, and what is left over is your Real Self. That is the real “I”. So when you say I am, I exist, it does not refer to your physical, but to your spiritual Self.
The French Philosopher Descartes said, “Cogito ergo sum” (I think, therefore I am.) Now that is his philosophical way of saying, “I can think; I can decide; I can imagine, therefore I exist.” That is not the same thing as saying that I exist, as spirit. If you follow his kind of logic or philosophy, then the person who is sleeping does not think, therefore, he does not exist. So you can see the falseness in that assertion. But the spiritual teaching is, “I exist.” I know that “I exist.” But to say that you know that you exist and to actually feel the realization that you exist, are two different things. The former is intellectual, and the latter is spiritual experience. But having said that, we are not aware that we exist as spiritual beings. The former means I exist as a body, a person, a name, an ego, an identity. Why doesn’t it occur at the same that when I say, “I exist”, I immediately recognize that I am a soul? This is due to our conditioning and identification with our physical being.
Since we are born we are taught by parents, teachers, priests, etc., that we are physical beings. Hardly does anyone teach us that we are the soul. Even the churches teach us that we have a soul. But you do not have a soul. You are the soul. You can say that the soul has a body, but they reverse it, and say that you have a soul. Yet the body could not exist if the soul were not there. So what comes first is the soul, or the creative energy of the soul, and that then produces a body. You can then properly say that the soul has a body. So we have to differentiate between these two “I’s”, which is the real “I” the soul (reality, divine, eternal, infinite), and the little “I”, the false I, the ego I; the physical I which has its limitations. There is birth and death to it, because it is the physical part. The real I is non-physical and is birthless and deathless. It is merged into Divinity, and is realized in meditation!
Dr. J. Das