In this episode, The Bearded Mystic Podcast discusses how the spiritual inquiry into 'Who Am I? is the question of all questions that needs to be explored. Through this inquiry, we can come to the realization of who I am.
To know more about this, it is definitely recommended to check out the famous Mystic Ramana Maharshi's treatise on who am I? The original title is Nan Yar. You can read his famous treatise on Who Am I on this link: https://www.sriramanamaharshi.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/who_am_I.pdf
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Hello and welcome to the 14th episode of The Bearded Mystic Podcast and I'm your host, Rahul N Singh. Thank you for joining today and for watching or listening to this episode. Today, we're going to be discussing one of the most important and famous questions that ever existed in the spiritual journey of many and that is Who Am I? and we're going to be exploring this and getting to the bottom of what this really means. What does 'Who Am I?' really point to? Is it a question that we ask and we get to an intellectual understanding? Or is it a question that points to something a lot deeper, which triggers a beautiful start, a beautiful beginning towards the journey, which will be of immense joy and we're going to discuss this today. Often we find out that there's a point in our life where we start questioning, what have I been doing? Imagine that you've gone through life and you've got a family. You got a nice house. You got a wonderful car. You've got a good job. You're at a great position in the company or you've got your own company and yet there's something within you that's feeling unfulfilled. You've gone through this whole journey and you feel that you've been on autopilot. Have you ever felt like that? Some of us feel it a lot sooner than others. I felt it when I was a university, some of us may feel it maybe 50, 60, 70. Some of us may feel it when we're 45, that may be our midlife crisis and we realized that we'd just been on autopilot for our whole lives. But when we have this recognition that we've been on autopilot, what does it lead to? It's interesting because a lot of people may claim to be on the spiritual journey, or they may believe they're on the spiritual path or they believe in a religion and they follow that religion and it's practices, it's customs, it's traditions, it's doctrines. It believes in its dogmas. Yet, really, they're still consumed by the world. Spirituality is just a very casual event. It's a very casual thing. Going to church is casual. Going to the mosque is casual. It's something expected. We'd go to the Gurudwara. We go to the Mandir because our family wants us to, it's something we've always done. Our parents did it, so now we do it. Consumed by the world and we get busy. We go through life without realizing what the true purpose was and we may realize it right at the end, that we've never ever asked this one question ' Who Am I?' We've had many experiences. We go through all our memories and yet we've not discovered who we really are. The fact is that until it becomes an existential crisis, we don't feel that drive to know who we are. Forget the drive, we don't even question this, we don't even care about the question. It's not important. The next big house, the next car is more important, but the one question that can bring happiness and joy right now, that's not important. That's not even considered the question of 'Who Am I?' I sometimes think what if I went through life without knowing this question even existed? The question is, how long am I going to remain an autopilot? Even if I know this question exists, I may come across it somehow, but it may not mean anything until, like I said, we get to that existential crisis where we were trying to process who we really are and what we've done with our lives. The sad thing is, and this is tragic in itself, is that normally a tragedy makes us question the purpose of life. Normally when we go through some illness, or we lose a loved one, do we start thinking about the purpose of life? We start wondering who am I? Then we start reflecting on who we are. It's these tragic events that open up a can of worms, you could say of an internal inquiry into our existence and that's when we suddenly realize that we just don't know who we are. We realize we can't depend on this body. We realize we can't depend on this mind. This mind is so fickle. It jumps from one thought to another, one desire to another. I still don't feel fulfilled. I am not the object of my desires. Suddenly that is realized. Then it's like, well, who am I? Even when we look in the mirror, we can't recognize who we are. We suddenly start feeling like a stranger in our own body, in our own mind. This type of intense feeling is built up. And that's when we start wanting to know who you really are in existence. Now there's several ways we can go around this. Some of us, we just stick with it. We're like, this is everything. This body is everything. After this body, there's nothing. Some of us are stuck with our mind. Without this mind, there is no experience. Without thought, there is no experience. Once the mind goes, there's no such thing as experience. It begins and ends with the mind. Some may even stick with they're soul. A soul that becomes another form of identity. It creates a subtle image of a form. Some of us see the soul as a spark or light. If you believe in a soul, either we enter a heaven or we come back and be reincarnated. Again, we created a story for the soul, but is that who I am? And the funny thing is, is that when we actually open to any answer. Then the question really arises of 'who am I?' and we are willing to go towards that answer? We're willing to travel the whole way, the whole journey when we have an open-mind, if we don't have an open mind and we have an answer that we just want to stick to, then we end up just being stuck with the answer that we always kind of knew. It's always what we believed in. So there was no aspect of growth. The Ultimate Reality, this Brahman or this Atman, the true spiritual self. The true self that I'm talking about can only be explored with an open mind. If we have any idea that fixes us to an identity, it cannot be explored if we stick with an image or a form, that's it. We're only going to be bounded by that form and by that image. So the question is, who is this 'I'? Who is this 'Me'? Who is this 'I am'? When I say, 'I am this person' who is this I am? Then I say, I am Rahul, but who is saying, I am. Does this 'I am' stay after my existence on this earth? When this form disappears, does this 'I am' remain? This is a journey towards non-duality. When we start asking who is this 'I am'? Who is this 'I'? When you hear spiritual people mention ' I', often you will see that Ramana Maharshi talks about exploring the 'I'. The capital 'I. He's really on about our true form of existence. Our true reality. He's not pointing towards the body, he's not pointing towards the mind or thought. He's not talking about what we project ourselves to. He's talking about something a lot deeper. This then becomes the practice of who am I? Like I said when that moment appears when we are open to any answer then this question, this inquiry, this self-inquiry into 'who am I?' begins. It takes it's true place in our spiritual practice. This question has to go so deep within us. This inquiry has to go so deep that this question has to rest at some point. It has to come to a point of stillness. It has to embed itself. We have to stick with the question of 'who am I?' until we get to the answer. The answer that will fulfill the question. From my own experience, whenever I have gone towards a body, it's not stuck. The answer just doesn't feel right. When I think that I'm the mind and I say that is who I am, even then it just doesn't feel right. It doesn't rest. The question still appears because the body and mind are stuck in time and space and for some reason, this 'I', this 'I am' isn't bounded to time and space. Whenever the inquiry ended with the body or ended with the mind, it just never settled. I will still find myself in the form of crisis. Even in that journey of trying to identify with the body or mind, we end up coming to a point where we find that there's an awareness that is asking this question and this awareness doesn't want an answer. This consciousness that is asking doesn't want any answer because an answer will require a form. It will require an image. It will require a thought. It will require an intention. This I am doesn't need anything to affirm itself. No affirmation will do justice to, 'I am'. This 'I am' is simply consciousness, simply consciousness, just pure consciousness. It cannot be modified. It cannot be manipulated. It cannot decay. It cannot grow. It cannot get smaller. This consciousness, just remains as it is. That's when we find out that this consciousness is who we are. We know for a fact that our beliefs are only related to the body and to the mind, if I believe in a God its because our mind finds rest in that belief. Our mind feels a little bit of calmness with that belief, a little bit of solace with that belief, but really I'm just making myself comfortable, it's a false sense of comfort because tomorrow, I will again feel agitated if some things aren't going my way. Something happens to my body. I'd get a disease. Suddenly my mind is disturbed again. Anything that's related to the body and mind can not give a true answer. That belief is not eternal and no belief or faith rests in realization. Realization doesn't require belief. It doesn't require faith. If realization requires belief or faith, then it's not eternal. When we talk about self-realization, this is an eternal thing. It's a timeless experience. If it's subect to faith or belief, then it's subject to nature. It's subject to time and is subject to the one who believes, but who is this who that believes? This is the fundamental question. Once awakened, it's not faith that drives us, its that being in the awareness of the only reality that is Brahman, we feel it internally as the only truth. We experience it, it is our own truth. It's our own reality. Nobody can give this to us. Nobody, they can point to it, but we have to walk to it. Someone can tell us about the question who am I, they can even say what the answer will be, which is pure consciousness, but until we realize it, it's not reality. It's just another belief. So we have to experience it. If we are sincere in our asking, we will only get to realization. We will not get towards blind faith or belief or another system of belief. Fundamentally, we know that this consciousness does not go to heaven or hell. We know that this consciousness does not believe in sin or vices. In itself, it does not do good deeds, nor is it virtuous. It does not accept anything and does not reject anything. Can you get to that point, that consciousness that doesn't require any of those things? As your own existence, can we get there? Have we ever felt this? It does not move and neither is it still. It does not arrive at one point and then depart from that point. There's no arrival, there is no departure. This is the true I am. This is the true understanding. This is pure consciousness. When we know the reality of I am. That's Brahma Vidya. When we understand that there is only pure consciousness and that is who I am. To conclude this episode, life is about discovering who we are, but life again can also distract us while we're living in duality. The more we live a dualistic life, the more we'll be distracted. We may go towards a spiritual journey, but we will end up being diverted somewhere else. We'll be distracted with a new toy. A new desire will appear even the desire for enlightenment. Who is it that wants enlightenment? Isn't the one that we really are already enlightened? Neither is it enlightened, neither is it in ignorance. Have we come to that realization? Is it our experience? The Sage or the mystic only goes towards experience. Nothing more, no belief, no doctrine. Just realization. Sometimes it's unfortunate, but tragedy makes us question who we are. It shows us we're not really happy. We thought we were happy. We thought once our desires were being met, it gave us another dopamine hit. After we realized the fickleness of desires, the finite nature of desires. It led us to ask who we really are and the practice of who am I is one of deduction. Until we reach the answer that doesn't need an answer, this is the beauty of this question. It doesn't need an answer because it's not even a question. It's such a paradox, such a paradox that it's sometimes very difficult to even portray this. As I've mentioned this many times, and you'll notice in every podcast, I am more or less coming back to this same point. There's a reason why. I need to remain firm in it. It will come back to this one point where what we're talking about can not have any words to describe it. It can not have any experience to experience it. Yet we have to use this form of language, this dual nature of language. Even if we have to use duality, may it be done in a way only to describe what is true. Let me know if you'd been practicing self-inquiry. I would love to learn more about what you've experienced and we can discuss it together. The beauty of this journey of knowing 'Who Am I?' Is about the sharing of it. The more you share it, the more open you become to the realization if you haven't got there. If you have realized who you are, then the more you allow yourself to stabilize in this, the more firm you get in understanding there is only Brahman, this pure Ultimate Reality, this Pure Consciousness. The more stabilized we are, the less likely fear will arise. The more we rest in this Ultimate Reality, the more we are open to love, to compassion, towards kindness, towards acceptance. This is the whole purpose of the spiritual journey. May we all ask this question 'Who Am I?' And may we all be open to the answer with an open heart, with an open mind. Thank you for watching this episode of The Bearded Mystic Podcast. Please do subscribe to this channel and do like and comment on the video below. You can also share this episode with your friends and family who you feel will really enjoy this episode. You can follow The Bearded Mystic Podcast on social media and I leave the links in the description below. Do remember that an episode of The Bearded Mystic Podcast is uploaded every Sunday and every Thursday. Take care. See you again soon. Bye.