"I" - the mind or the Self?

Gregory Goode goode at DPW.COM
Fri Oct 10 00:57:22 CDT 1997

> Since the time i joined this list I've noticed quite a few statements like
> 'There's no 'I'' or 'there's no you nor me' etc. I would like to take a dig at
> this concept and see how far it's true.
> As is the concept of Advaitam, we're all either convinced or atleast
> believe or suspect that there exists a Self. We also recognize the fact
> that the very concept of 'I' is in question. When I say 'I', I generally refer
> to my body in conjunction with my mind. I recognize the maya concept of
> life but that still doesn't negate the existance of the body and the mind.
> The shruti expounds that a Self exists and that it's not the mind. We say
> that the 'I' is the Self. But is this concept truly applicable to a person who
> has not realized his/her Self?

This is a nice question.  It's related to "Who is the doer?"  There
are two shruti that I find quite helpful in answering these questions
on the relative level..

1. On answering "What is the Atman?" which is considered the Self, the
Mandukya Upanishad has a remarkable series of slokas (II.19 - II.30)
that explain what the Atman is imagined to be:

   "Those that know only Prana, call It Prana,
    those that know Bhutas call It Bhutas,
    those knowing Gunas call It Gunas,
    those knowing Tattvas, call It Tattvas." (II.20)

It goes on to list the Padas, objects, Lokas, Devas, Vedas,
time, space, the object of enjoyment, the Buddhi, Citta, Dharma,
mind, etc.  But as sloka II.28 says, "Really speaking, all these
ideas are always imagined in Atman."  That is, It is to be
identified with none of these in reality.

2. Tattiriya Upanishad very clearly states who the doer is.
It is the vijnanamaya kosa, the sheath of the intellect.  According to
Swami Chinmayananda (in _Self-Unfoldment_), the vijnanamaya kosa
examines and judges the stimuli received by the mind, sends
directives to the organs of action.  It also stores memories,
offers decisions and judgments.

The Tattiriya Upanishad explains the 5 sheaths in poetic language,

     Sheath of Food (annamaya kosa)
     Sheath of the Vital Breath (pranamaya kosa)
     Sheath of the Mind (manomaya kosa)
     Sheath of the Intellect (vijnanamaya kosa)
     Sheath of Bliss (anandamaya kosa)

Then it says in Sloka V.1:

     The intellect accomplishes the sacrifice;
     it also accomplishes all actions.

The purpose of both the Mandukya and the Tattiriya verses in
their context is to lead the student gradually from identifying
with a grosser aspect of the world to identifying to a finer
or higher aspect.  OF course no identification at all is the best!

--Greg Goode

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