“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”
If I were to tell someone that they are not their body, but in fact, an anatomic soul within and controlling the body, they would think I’m crazy. At the same time, if I were driving a Prius and called out to another driver saying I am the Prius, I’d seem crazy.
But what makes me so sure we are not these bodies, what proof is there? The same proof we have that air, radio waves or sound exists. We cannot perceive air with our eyes, but we experience its symptoms and effects. We can hear wind and see its effect on our environment for example, but without wind we can only accept that air is there out of principle. Our senses are imperfect, birds have sharper sight than we do, dogs and pigs have a greater sense of smell, rabbits have better hearing than we do, yet we believe there is no mouse in the grass five feet from us when a hawk 50 feet above us can see it. For a long time, man knew nothing about radiation or radio waves until science and technology advanced enough for us to perceive them with the aid of various instruments. Why then, do we think the soul does not exist, simply because science has not yet proven it?
Like the wind mentioned before, we can perceive the soul by its symptoms and effects. But what are the symptoms of the soul? Consciousness. Another question; what is the difference between you and a recently deceased person? All the same parts are there, if we assembled all the parts of the human body it wouldn’t come to life. We can build cars, but without a driver it will not move. Without consciousness, without a soul, these bodies have no life. So, the car metaphor is quite accurate.
“Consciousness cannot be denied. A body without consciousness is a dead body. As soon as consciousness is removed from the body, the mouth will not speak, the eye will not see, nor the ears hear. A child can understand that. It is a fact that consciousness is absolutely necessary for the animation of the body. What is this consciousness? Just as heat or smoke are symptoms of fire, so consciousness is the symptom of the soul. The energy of the soul, or self, is produced in the shape of consciousness. Indeed, consciousness proves that the soul is present. This is not only the philosophy of the Bhagavad-gītā but the conclusion of all Vedic literature.” -Beyond Birth and Death (Chapter 1)
Gen Z is on the cusp of realizing this. Many of them do not associate with their body and hate being identified as such. Unfortunately, due to a lack of knowledge about the soul or spirituality, they try to find a material solution to a spiritual problem. Some feel that if they alter their appearance to be identified as something different from their current body then the problem will be solved. But that is like trading in our proverbial Prius for a Corola and saying to other drivers that we are a Corola. In truth, we are none of these material things. We are not this body or any other. Identifying with any body will only lead to frustration.
‘mātrā-sparśās tu kaunteya
tāṁs titikṣasva bhārata
“O son of Kuntī, the nonpermanent appearance of heat and cold, happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed.” (Gītā 2.14)’
The Bhagavad Gita points out how all of our joy and sorrow is due to false identification with the body. Let’s say we are sitting in our car in a thunderstorm. The car may be soaked and cold, but inside the car we are warm and dry. Similarly, the soul, being spiritual in nature, is unaffected by any material condition that affects the material body. Finally realizing for ourselves that we are not a Prius, but a driver safely situated within, may be the only permanent solution to all of our suffering.
That’s all fine and good. It’s easy to say, I’m not this body, but if someone pokes us in the back with a safety pin we will immediately identify with the body and the suffering associated with it. It is no easy task, perhaps the most difficult thing most people will ever try to overcome. Yet it is a fulfilling and satisfying journey filled with spiritual joy and triumph. Your journey of self-discovery will be long, but satisfying and fulfilling.
Where do you begin? Well, you already have. Everything you need to begin your journey can be found at chantnow.com. Firstly, the company of others seeking a deeper truth to remind you and keep you inspired. Secondly, mantra meditation cleanses the heart and mind. Finally, reading the Vedic literatures that explore these topics in detail.
Armed with these three things, there is nothing you cannot overcome. I hope you will take advantage of the opportunity and find yourself, your true self, amid a world of steel and technology.