What Am I

Some teachings given in lectures by Hari Prasad Shastri

One great thing which our life needs is inner illumination. We must increase the Light within ourselves, and we can do so as long as we live.

In our physical life what is the most important thing? The light which comes from the sun. But there is a light which is greater than the sun—the light which takes cognizance of the sun itself. There is a light which knows the rise of the sun and its eclipse, the light of which the sun is the object. Even this sun, the universal instrument of illumination, is subject to a certain light, and that light is the light of the Self, or Atman, of man and it is the greatest light. Our duty in life is to awaken that light in us.

On the pages of the Upanishads and the Gita, the way to this Truth is written in very large letters: ‘Come within, come within. Practise discipline and devotion to God. Meditate every day. Regulate your instincts. And then the inner door will open to you by means of which you will have access to the region of perpetual light, great peace and a bliss which nothing in the world can ever mar.’ Then you will know that this ‘I’—your own Self—is Truth. ‘Know ye the Truth’ means know the nature of ‘I’. When we try to know, we try to know the things which are nearest to us. And what is nearest to us? Our ‘I’ ‘I’, ‘I’.

What is ‘I’? Is it the body? Is it time and space? Is it the law of cause and effect? What is Truth? Is it the mind? The mind is not truth, conception and perception is not Truth, because they change with the changes in time, but the ‘I’ is Truth. Besides, do you not every day say: ‘My mind is tired. My mind is peaceful. My mind is agitated.’ Who is that who is saying ’my mind’? That is ‘I’. To know its nature, to realize its perfect nature, free from all delusions and errors, is to know Truth, and to know Truth is to be free forever, and to land in the realm of eternal light and bliss. Freedom and happiness are the result of knowing Truth. For when we know the nature of this ‘I’, we have solved the problem of life; we have acquired the water of immortality; we have acquired the real Eden or Heaven which is our own Self.

Let us therefore live in love, in benevolence, in peace; and in devotion to God, in study and in quickening our inner sense of comprehension of Truth and bringing our soul closer and closer to God within. This is the life of humility, the life of creative joy, the life of freedom for ourselves and for others, the life of the bliss which is interminable, and the life which uplifts our mind higher and yet higher. There is no greater gain than the achievement of the knowledge of the nature of Self.

This article is from the Autumn 2017 issue of Self-Knowledge Journal.