This question “Who am I” comes because of the Vedic statement of atma, the self, being what is not construed to be. Being the opposite. I think I am a mortal, I am incomplete, imperfect. I am just an individual and the whole world is different from me. This is my opinion about myself.
The Veda has a vision about myself. And the vision is, I am the opposite of what I think myself to be. I am mortal. I was born at a given time, and will die. I am time bound. The Veda says you are not.
I think I am insecure; you are not, you are the security, you are the meaning of insecurity.
I think I am incomplete. Always a sense of incompleteness. I always feel dissatisfied. Dissatisfied with the world. The people. With myself. Except those moments I laugh for a slapstick joke, or whatever.Veda says you are purṇa, you are the whole. The meaning of satisfaction.
So the vision of the Veda about myself is just the opposite. How will you arrive at that? That is spiritual. “I am just an individual”. No, you are the cause of the world.
How are you going to arrive at that on your own?
First, we have to understand the position of the Veda with reference to the subject matter it unfolds. All other means of knowledge that we use do not have access to the subject matter of the Veda, so they cannot handle it. The Veda talks about it in the Upanishad which are a part of the Veda.
It talks about me. I cannot look at myself any more than what I know. The whole question is common to many people, it is not one’s person’s question. Many people have the same question. Let us understand it.
Any knowledge of the self anywhere in the world, is Vedanta if it says you are the whole. But nobody teaches Vedanta except the Upanishad. The Upanishad teaches this. No scripture, no mystic, teaches this. This vision has gone abroad. It has no national boundaries.
Some mystics experience the oneness. Experience is as good as your interpretation of it. Interpretation is as good as you know. If you don’t know, you don’t know how to interpret and without interpretation, the experience came and went. Some people tell me, “Swamiji the day before yesterday, I experienced oneness. Today it is gone”. So you have to know.
What “is” is you. The stars are you. The space is you. Time is you. This is the vision of the Veda, the vision of the Upanishad. Veda is a pramana a means of knowledge in the form of words - shabda. Veda is called shabda; shabda is a pramaṇa. Upanishad belongs to the Veda, it is a pramana.
All over the Veda this vision is there. It is not only in the Upanishad; in the Upanishad it is taught. There is a Svetaketu, there is Uddalaka, it is taught. There is a dialogue - a teaching dialogue, a samvada - a teacher student dialogue.
“Shri Krishna-arjuna samvade, prathamo’dhyaya”, then will come dvitiyo’dhyaya.
Vada can be a discussion or a dialogue. Samvada is a teacher student dialogue.Uddlaka Shvetaketu samvada is presenting the subject matter as a samvada - a subject matter to be learned from a teacher.
There is no other way of knowing. The question doesn’t arise. When there is no other way of knowing, then the Shastra is the only pramana.
As a seeker you are taught that you should experience atma. Who is to experience what? If I have to experience myself, I am the subject; I am the object. Long ago I said this pursuit as an experience of atma is silly, I distributed all my Vedanta books to people. Whatever you want you take, you also suffer!
What is commonly taught is “You will have eternal mortal supreme bliss””. These are all Vedanta words translated in some form and repeated as something to be experienced.
Limitless is to be experienced?!!!. Supreme is to be experienced!. Bliss of course is to be experienced! B capital!!!
With this kind of teaching .... And I gave away the books, I decided to burn all my boats. Distributed all the books. ….Then I met Swamiji Pranavanandaji, he was the first to say that Vedanta is a pramana - a means of knowledge. I never turned back. That is what grace is about. At the time, the right person comes in your life. Changes your life.
.... adapted from excerpts from Talk at AVG, Annaikatti on 3/1/2015