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Who Are You?

We are not our physical body nor are we our mind...

Have you ever thought about who you are? Most probably not. Normally, we are too busy to even think about it. It may be of interest to us to know who we are, so let’s try to look into this question.

Imagine a situation where you are looking at an object like a chair or anything else. If we take a broader view of the process of seeing, it can be said that the process of seeing consists of the chair seen on one side and you as the seer on the other side. Now rather than looking at the object, if you reverse your attention from the object inwards towards the seer, what do you find? Who is seeing? Do you think the seer is the body or is it the mind or something else? Rarely does such a question arise in our mind. We have a vague idea that the seer is a combination of body and mind and we simply call it “I.” I see the chair, I see the computer, I see the table. This “I” is most used word by all of us. We seldom pay attention to this “I” to see what it really is. An effort will made in the next paragraphs to figure out what is this seer which we call “I.”

To know the seer "I" we must know it’s nature. The first thing we know is that the seer is aware. It is due to awareness “I” sees everything around it. Without “I” having awareness “I” won’t be able to see and recognize the surroundings. Anything qualifying to be called seer "I" must have this quality of being aware. We will examine body and mind to see if they possess this quality of being aware. Let us investigate the body first. We all know that the body is not aware. In Siri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS), body is said to be made of clay. In fact, the body is said to be a puppet made out of clay.

ਮਾਟੀ ਕੋ ਪੁਤਰਾ ਕੈਸੇ ਨਚਤੁ ਹੈ || (ANG 487 SGGS)

Clay is nescient matter and is not aware. Consequently, the body cannot be aware. As such, the body cannot be called the seer “I.” Now let us investigate if mind is aware. Mind is made of thoughts, sensations and perceptions. Watching thoughts, sensations and perceptions closely we find that they have no awareness either. Thought cannot see, hear or touch, so how can it be aware. Same logic applies to sensations and perceptions. Additionally, the seer "I" is aware of the thoughts, sensations and perceptions but the reverse is not true. That means the mind is not aware and hence does not qualify to be called the seer “I.”

So we have discovered that seer “I” is neither the body nor mind but something beyond body and mind. By its very nature it is aware, so it is called Awareness. This Awareness is not anything special but is the everyday awareness that we all have. This Awareness (ਬਿਬੇਕ) is termed as Guru in SGGS.

ਬਿਬੇਕੁ ਗੁਰੂ ਗੁਰੂ ਸਮਦਰਸੀ ਤਿਸੁ ਮਿਲੀਐ ਸੰਕ ਉਤਾਰੇ || (ANG 981 SGGS)

Bhagat Kabir ji says that I have found the Guru whose name is Awareness.

ਕਹੁ ਕਬੀਰ ਮੈਂ ਸੋ ਗੁਰ ਪਾਇਆ ਜਾ ਕਾ ਨਾਉ ਬਿਬੇਕੋ|| (ANG 793 SGGS)

Bibek is a Sanskrit word and it means Awareness. This means that the seer in us is the Guru or the Divine and not the body or mind. In fact, we do not have an independent existence. It is only the Divine that is working through us. We ignorantly think it is our self, as body and mind, who is working. This is the play of ego in us. We forget the Divine in us, and think ourselves to be body and mind.

Guru Ji says we are not, only He is.

ਹਮ ਕਿਛੁ ਨਾਹੀ ਏਕੈ ਓਹੀ|| ਆਗੈ ਪਾਛੈ ਏਕੋ ਸੋਈ|| (ANG  391 SGGS)

Guru Ji asks us to recognize our Self — that we are Divine.  

ਮਨ ਤੂੰ ਜੋਤਿ ਸਰੂਪੁ ਹੈ ਅਪਣਾ ਮੂਲੁ ਪਛਾਣੁ|| (ANG 441 SGGS)

Scolding us Guru Ji tells us that one who does not recognize his True Identity, is insane. “He alone is insane, who does not understand himself. When he understands himself, then he knows the One.” 

ਸੋ ਬਉਰਾ ਜੋ ਆਪੁ ਨ ਪਛਾਨੈ|| ਆਪ ਪਛਾਨੈ ਤ ਏਕੈ ਜਾਨੈ|| (ANG 855 SGGS)

We are all lost in a grand illusion of thinking ourselves to be what we are not.

We are Divine but think ourselves to be our little body/minds. In the following Shabad Bhagat Ravidas Ji makes it very clear what has happened to us. He says that due to the illusion, things are not what they appear to be. We are like a king who has fallen asleep upon his throne and dreams that he is a beggar. His kingdom is intact but separated from it he suffers in sorrow. Such is our condition. We are asleep and dreaming. In this dream we think ourselves to be body and mind even though we are, in fact, Divine.


ਮਾਧਵੇ ਕਿਆ ਕਹੀਐ ਭ੍ਰਮੁ ਐਸਾ ||

ਜੈਸਾ ਮਾਨੀਐ ਹੋਇ ਨ ਤੈਸਾ ||

ਨਰਪਤਿ ਏਕੁ ਸਿੰਘਾਸਨਿ ਸੋਇਆ ਸੁਪਨੇ ਭਇਆ ਭਿਖਾਰੀ ||

ਅਛਤ ਰਾਜ ਬਿਛੁਰਤ ਦੁਖੁ ਪਾਇਆ ਸੋ ਗਤਿ ਭਈ ਹਮਾਰੀ || (ANG 657 SGGS)


“O Lord, what can I say about such an illusion? Things are not as they seem. It is like the king, who falls asleep upon his throne, and dreams that he is a beggar.”
May God awaken us all to recognize our Real Self.

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