One of the more important questions that we all have asked ourselves at some point or are asking ourselves right now is “Who am I?” and “Why am I here?”. These are two very important questions that will help us not just develop a realization of the self, our identity but help us understand what it is that we are here to do. This article explores the answer to the 1st question – Who am I?
Why is it so important for us to answer this question?
- There is the fact that we want to satisfy our curiosity!
- Without knowing who we are, what our strengths and weaknesses are- essentially without a true understanding of our self, we can’t really answer the 2nd question of “why am I here?” or function properly in this world.
As an example, what is the 1st thing we do when we meet someone new? Introduce our self. What is the 1st question in an interview? Tell me about yourself. This is important because knowing your introduction helps the other person define you – understand your capabilities, talents, skills, nature, development areas etc. and thereby gives them an idea of what you can and can’t do.
- I can’t operate a device without knowing it properly or you will hurt yourself, or end up putting in too much effort unnecessarily.
- Similarly knowing the self empowers me, enables me to identify and harness my feelings, emotions, desires, strengths, powers, virtues and eliminate your weaknesses. In other words, we become true masters of the self.
The means to develop this self-mastery is Meditation. The method prescribed at the Brahmakumaris is Rajayoga.
- Rajayoga – Raja means King and Yoga means connection. And so Rajayoga stands for King of all Yogas and it also means that you are the king of the self when you connect with yourself
- What does being a “king of the self” mean? What are you really being a king of based on what we talked about earlier?
- Thoughts, emotions, feelings, desires etc.
- What kinds of thoughts, emotions, and feelings would you have if you were a king?
- So in other words, your senses are in check
- While Self-mastery is the primary benefit of Rajayoga, there are other benefits it offers as well such as improved concentration, better self-esteem, experience of calm and happiness and harmony in relationships.
So when you think of yourself, what is the image that comes to mind?
I think of the image I see in the mirror, this body and identify the self as this. Rajayoga teaches us that we are in fact not this body but rather the consciousness that we refer to as the Soul.
The soul is a tiny point of light – a dot, a shining star. It is the energy that operates this body which is made of matter and so by definition cannot function by itself. It needs energy to trigger action, function just as how an electric bulb cannot function on its own- it needs a flow of energy to trigger light. Similarly I am not this leg or this hand that is moving but rather am the energy that is triggering this movement or the energy that has issued the order to move this leg. This order is issued to the brain which in turn processes this order and then directs the body accordingly to perform the requested action. So again, it is not the brain that controls the body –the brain is also just another organ that is part of this body.
Point to Churn: So based on this, if we were to think of a car and a driver, what would the body represent? What would I, the soul represent?
So now we understand that the body cannot operate without the soul, so now let’s turn that question around and explore if the soul can exist without the body? The Soul can exist without the body but the soul needs the body to perform actions, to experience emotion, to feel because it is the body that has the sense organs.
Given the body is made of matter, it makes sense therefore that it perishes or that it has a shelf life. But given what we know about the soul – that it is energy, will the soul die? No, because energy can neither be created nor destroyed. So the soul is eternal. It neither takes birth nor dies.
Where is the soul located?
Based on what we know about the Soul so far, where do we think the soul is seated or located in the body? Remember that the soul issues an impulse to the brain to control the body. If we were to go back to the example of the car, the driver uses the steering wheel, brakes, accelerator to operate the vehicle. His seat is therefore next to these parts.
Similarly, it makes sense that the soul would be located in the center of the forehead near the brain.
What defines the identity of the soul? Or in other words, what differentiates one soul from another?
Given that all souls are a point of light and identical in size and shape, what about us set us apart? It really is our nature, our personality which in turns breaks down into our qualities. Rajayoga teaches us that each soul has three fundamental qualities.
The most fundamental of these qualities is Peace. This is what we experience this when we go to rest each night and when we wake up after an uninterrupted sleep. On the flipside, when we go without sleep for a few nights in a row, we simply cannot function. It is also, when you think about it, the most natural state of being. When you experience excitement of either a positive or negative kind, it does create an upheaval on the internal graph if you will. We feel best and at ease when it is a smooth line.
The second fundamental quality after peace is Love. At the end of the day everyone wants to be loved including the most hardened criminal.
The third fundamental quality is Bliss which is nothing but a state of supreme happiness.
Other than these qualities, there are of course other qualities that define a personality such as Patience, flexibility, trustworthiness, generosity etc.
Does the soul have negative qualities? Sure! I’m sure we all know a few of these such as Anger, ego, greed etc.
Rajayoga tells us that we are all inherently only positive and very special. Along the way however, we pick up or acquire negative qualities. It’s almost like we all start out with clean clothes before we embark on the journey of life. Along the way we pick up dirt that sticks to us. This is good news because it is usually harder or nearly impossible to change something that is in built or innate and much easier to wash off something that is not really part of the system but has attached itself to it. For example, it is easier to cut off a creeper that has attached itself to the plant, or easy to wash off a stain off a piece of what is originally a pristine cloth.
But why is it important to eliminate negativities in the first place? Negativities tend to cause sorrow to others which is the fastest way to cause sorrow to the self which in turn makes us peace less. Thinking back to the three fundamental qualities of the soul, negativities shake up the most fundamental quality of peace and drain the soul of its energy at a fast pace. Without peace, there can be no love or bliss.
No two souls can be alike – each one is unique based on the qualities they have. While the fundamentals may be the same, they exist in different proportions within each soul. And so based on that understanding we know that each soul will play a very unique role in this world and is irreplaceable.
- We explored the answer to the question of “Who am I”? through the teachings of Rajayoga. This was important for self-realization and to learn to become masters of the self
- Rajayoga means King of yogas and teaches us to become the king of the self.
- We are not this body that we’ve been identifying ourselves with for so long but instead we are a point of consciousness, energy called the soul
- We are a very tiny point of light, a very subtle energy located in the center of the forehead next to the brain
- The body is made of matter and cannot function on its own- the soul is what issues the impulse or the command. Similarly, the soul while it can exist without the body cannot experience anything without the body
- What differentiates each soul from the other is the nature, personality- qualities
- Positive qualities are innate while negatives are acquired and therefore can be eliminated
Please refer Soul 2, for how I, the soul, actually experience- think, make decisions etc. or in other words we will go deeper into the faculties of the soul.