Pure Perception of the Self. ~ Jagdish Kohli, PhD

Via elephant journal
on Jul 19, 2012
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Knowing the Self” has been an area of deep interest for philosophers, saints, scientists and ordinary folks from time immemorial. Here we continue the same exploration to enhance our awareness of the “True Self.” This heightened awareness of the self leads to a more peaceful, enjoyable and satisfying living experience. The insight shared here has been extracted from ancient Vedic literature of the East.

Our Physical Self

Nature assembles every self by using earth, water, fire, air, space and a spark of life. The five elements of the self-have corresponding sense attributes of smell, taste, vision, touch and sound. Our five body organs of nose, tongue, eyes, skin and ears constantly bring in information from the outer world and keep the self up-to-date. How each element educates the self and cellular memories is captured in Table 1.

As we intake the information from our environment we have no control on the quality of information flowing in. With unawareness we can absorb negative and damaging information creating disharmonious beliefs. Even a single damaging belief (such as anger, violence, greed, hatred, hurt etc.) can totally ruin the quality of living experience of the self.

Our material self has been explored extensively by scientists and a number of other details have been uncovered such as:

  • >>The average adult human body is made up of “50 trillion” cells as estimated by some scientists.
  • >>The number of bacteria living within the body of the average adult human is estimated to outnumber human cells 10 to 1.
  • >>Trillions of cells and micro bacteria work in concert to keep a healthy balance in our body’s ecological system.

Our Energy Self

Today modern science accepts that everything in the universe is made up of energy vibrations. This reality was observed and documented by sage scientists thousands of years ago in the East. In addition matter and energy are interchangeable. All creation in the universe happens from an infinite field of cosmic energy shown in Figure 1. This infinite source of intelligent energy is the cause of all manifested life in the universe.

According to Ayurveda, a human being is constituted by three modes of primordial nature—pure, undifferentiated, universal energies. These three energies are “Casual Energy, Subtle Energy and Gross Energy” as shown in Figure 1.  In our casual conversation we refer to these three energies as “Spirit, Mind and the Body”. These three energies present the natural evolutionary process through which energy transforms from one form to another as a “cause and effect” phenomenon.

In ancient Vedic literature a human-being is represented by five sheaths (Koshas) of energies. Here kosha means “layer” or “vessel,” and maya means “made of.” So we have, moving from the subtlest to the grossest energies:

  1. Anandamaya kosha (vessel made of bliss)—Awareness of this layer of energy provides a blissful living experience.
  2. Vijnanamaya Kosha (vessel made of intuitive wisdom)—This level of the self provides knowledge to raise the level of consciousness.
  3. Manomaya Kosha (vessel made of mind)—Mental layer has the power to create one’s own destiny.
  4. Pranamaya kosha (vessel made of breath, or life force)—Awareness of pranic level of the self creates an interest in spirituality.
  5. Annamaya Kosha (vessel made of food)—Awareness of food layer of the self allows one to live a balanced life.

Subtler than the subtlest of these five energies is the cosmic energy which is singular in nature and is referred as “The True Self, The Supreme Self, The Ultimate Reality or Atman.” These five layers of energy along with the source of their creation are shown in Figure 2.

Our Interconnected Life Energies

The five elements and five koshas discussed above are connected with our five invisible wheels of energy (Chakras) along the spine. Each of the Chakras has a corresponding Endocrine system shown in Table 2.

The state of our mind is determined by the type of active thought at any moment of time. There is a direct correspondence between the state of our energy and thought quality. This relationship is shown in Table 2. The quality of our life energy and degree of happiness can be raised by invoking the corresponding positive thought. The same thought has the healing power at the cellular level of a particular gland.

Barriers to Knowing the Self

As we have reviewed above, we are “energy beings” made up a number of layers of intelligent energies starting from the lowest physical layer to the highest Cosmic Singular layer. Our “knowingness” of our own self is based on the depth of our perception. Each person’s perception is made up of limiting and negative beliefs and associated energy vibrations.

Our lack of intense desire to know the truth of our existence creates a veil of ignorance. This becomes a stumbling block on our journey to discover the reality of life. Inspiration to break this barrier to learn about the self can be acquired by understanding the creative processes of nature.

As we look around, a large segment of humanity is not even fully aware of the inner physical self. This is an ongoing human tragedy and is the cause of disharmonious living in the world.

Becoming the Self

Knowing the self and becoming the self is a journey and a process. When this journey is undertaken with some degree of seriousness and commitment, progress is natural. In terms of process one has to follow a discipline such as meditation to transform lower level energies to the level of blissful layer.

By dropping/dissolving all the five energy states of the self-discussed above one raises the quality of one’s perception to the highest level. The Buddha called this “Pure Perception.” This is the state in which one discovers one’s “True Self” and is called the state of enlightenment.

“Knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is Enlightenment.” – Tao Tzu

Jagdish Kohli holds a Ph.D. Degree in EE from IIT Roorkee, India. He worked as a Communication Scientist at Bell Labs., Bell Communication Research and AT&T for over 21 years. His research contributions have been published in a number of technical journals and magazines. He also presented his findings at a number of national and international conferences. He was invited to contribute a comprehensive article on “Medical Communications” for the Encyclopedia of Telecommunications. Jagdish also has held faculty positions at Panjab University, Chandigarh India, IIT Roorkee, India, New York University, NY and has been an invited speaker at Stanford University, California USA. For the past eight years Jagdish has addressed issues related to the quality of our daily living experience. He has published and presented insights on “Wealth & Quality of Life”, “ The Journey of Human Thought & Happiness”, “Many Facets of Human Mind”, “Our Dynamic Cellular Body” and “Nurturing The Self.” Jagdish and his wife Shashi live in San Francisco bay area and are members of SKY. They have two children and two grand children. Jagdish can be reached at: [email protected]


Editor: Ryan Pinkard


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53 Responses to “Pure Perception of the Self. ~ Jagdish Kohli, PhD”

  1. susan says:

    This article has a lot of depth and it will take some time to absorb this Vedic knowledge. Can you pl. explain how violence crepes into human perception ?

  2. Adarsh says:

    This is a wonderful article with a deep analysis of our selves giving detailed information which can enable some people to get or to be able to creat postive energy levels for themselves and thus improve quality of daily lifes.

    My question to the Author is how does Meditation work in controlling the Koshas??

    Can a criminal minded person be trained to use these concepts to become a normal person??

  3. Jagdish says:

    Our five Koshas are different states of our existence and display of corresponding energies. These energies can be awakened but not controlled.
    Meditation is not something doing, it's a discipline to follow and we go into a state of meditation. There is a preequisite of intense longing to know the TRUTH OF LIFE before getting into meditation. Thought purification can help us to walk on this path of achieving a better living experience.
    Hard core criminals have a high intensity energy which can be tranformed into positive energy easily. Meditation experiments in some prisons have converted many crininals into useful citizens.

  4. Nagarajan Madhavan says:

    This article connects various elements of nature with self. Correction in energies can truly solve human problems.
    We humans are in the middle of evolutionary process of the 6th sense. Epitome of 6th sense is anandhamaya kosha. Nature will guide us (through enligtened Gurus) and continue to provide opportunities to help humans evolve to this state and become one with the divine.

  5. Jagdish says:

    Thanks for your thoughtful observations. We are the microcosm of the vast nature (macrocosm). If we sincerely observe the creative processes of nature we can know alot about our own self.
    Our 6th state is the supreme state of the self out of which we were created. Most of the humanity has lost connection with this source of creation. This is the main reason for all the chaos and suffering on the planet. Our MIND is absorbed in the material existence and has currently accepted the lowest state of existence. Unless humanity trnsform's its mind and recognizing its higher states of energies, the problemd of poverty, disease, hunger, violence will continue to persist.
    Raising the level of human consciousness through human dialog with learned masters is one possible way.

  6. Nagarajan Madhavan says:

    Agreed with your view that human mind is absorbed in the material existence and it has to transform to higher states of energies.
    I see this as an evolutionary process. If we look at the history of the world, humans are more civilized today than they were 2000 years back. More and more humans are moving out of Annamaya Kosha to higher layers. This trend will continue. Its a carrot and stick approach of nature, were Carrot is the guidance that we get through learned masters and Stick is the Cause and Effect law of nature.

  7. Kapal Madra says:

    Dr. Kohli's topic to discover "who am I" is o the highest order if a person can achieve. , I think it is very difficult for a common man to knowThe Self till the person has an adequate training and knowledge to jump into this venture. I request Dr. Kohli to explain the methodology and/or steps to prepare for this highest goal. However, I would like state some of the steps to prepare for this. 1. One has to be physically and mentally fit. 2. Not to be selfish and greedy. 3. Training the mind so that one is capable of screening the thoughts which should be helpful to have peace of mind. 4. Detachment . 5. Be compassionate to the sick and poor persons. 6. Start treating all humans equally irrespective of their faith etc. All the above
    eventually help us purify our mind.
    In B. G. after seeing the Virat Roop of Lord Krishna, Arjuna told the Lord " Thyself know Thyself by Thyself " . As "who am I"
    is in reality is the Self. Thus by working and practicing we can also know the Self but it is a long road.

  8. phalguni Kikani says:

    Kohli Uncle, great article and outstanding work in past 8 years. Thank you for sharing with us.

  9. Jagdish says:

    Thank you for your encouraging feedback. Check back later for more contributions.

  10. […] I try to recover the wreckage of me, I look into the mirror and say Remember: You love […]

  11. […] “I am getting older and they don’t want me be left on the shelf. They are also telling me I am being selfish if I go and do something for myself. They say if I want a relationship, I just have to give up things for myself.” […]

  12. Harpreet Singh says:

    It is a very nicely written article by a very competant writer. My congratulations .

  13. Murali K Sreenivasan says:

    Dr. Kohli has articulated his thoughts around enlightenment and the boundaries of the mind efficiently. May these words inspire everyone that reads it.

    Best Wishes.

  14. Kamlesh Kamdar says:

    Thank you Dr. Kohli for providing this in-depth article. This document provides us fundamental knowledge of what we are built off and types of energies/Koshas are. Further, this articles ties together all elements nicely. This is a great material for each of us to follow and truly know “Who am I”
    It is easy to get confused by reading so many books, following many streams of knowledge, following ever advancing technology. These things could add layers on “Pure Perception” We are trapped deeper and deeper in worldly “Maya”. All these things make it more difficult to know “Who I am”. Knowing “your shelf” requires “Shelf Inquiry”. Simply detaching from this body and mind, and focusing on “I” – Who am I, What is source of I, Whom does these thought come. Asking these questions and going deeper and deeper within leads towards knowing “Who am I”
    Ultimately you will succeed knowing “Who I am” and resulting in to awakening.

  15. Saurabh says:

    Uncle ! This is a great article ! Very scientific and logical. Hoping to see more of these.

  16. Veena Jian says:

    Dr. Kohli has written such a compact article – who we are. How five elements, five senses, five organs and five kosha are connected together to be spirit -mind-body. It is so clear I am the awareness in which all concepts exist and all the objects of concepts exist. And therefore, between awareness and this body or any body that exists- there is no distance. The title of the article – Pure Perception of the Self – it exist only in deep stillness. Thank you.

  17. Seetharam says:

    The integrative links between the five elements, the five senses, and the five human values of love, truth, peace, right conduct, and non-violence provide the basis for appreciating the link between the universal consciousness and the individual action. When this link is confirmed by scientific research it will help make a giant leap towards peace and harmony.

  18. Jagdish says:

    Thank you for your observation of interconnectedness of all aspects of human life.

    The same Unity also exists in all manifestations in nature. The source of all energies in the Universe is the INFINITE COSMIC ENERGY.

    This oneness can be experienced in every moment of creation.

  19. Raj Pal Singh says:

    I am deeply touched by some of the comments my friends have made about 'knowing the Self'. It is very important that one knows oneself before knowing others. Sometimes it is sad that a person measures others by one's own standards and not know what one's own standards are. Unless I know how long a foot is I can not percieve how high I am flying in a plane at 35.00 feet. Whether it is Vepassana (seeing yourself clearly) or Vivekanand talking about Self Awareness, there is only one goal that is to know yourself. This goal leads you to inner limitless peace and a freedom from pain and sufferings of your daily life. You also become an ocean of compassion for others.

  20. […] Yoga has existed in some form, or other (depending on who you ask), for thousands of years. Why now all of a sudden is there a “need” for the addition of so many 21st century western modifications to a long established, effective science of self-realization? […]

  21. Nina Gupta says:

    This article written by Jagdish bhaisahab has lot of depth.Well i do not understand koshas and chakras so much.after reading the article again n again what I could absorb into my life is..Purification of thought can help us lead a better life.Raising the level of consciousness is possible with learned masters,and quality of energy and degree of happiness can be raised by positive thoughts and these thoughts has lot of healing power.By coming to meditation has certainly got me to the level of GOOD PERCEPTION, but yet to achieve PURE PERCEPTION.
    Still could not understand WHO I AM.

  22. […] dabble around? Do you want to become absorbed by the practice from the outer kosha of the body and dig deep into the inner one of ananda (bliss)? Photo: Heather Mortan (Tripura Harasana […]

  23. HEATHER says:

    Well, an interesting mantra by Gary Kraftsow when he was quite sick was to go through all FIVE KOSHAS as a mantra. It helped him to deal wtih the physical pain and the mental anguish of what was happening. He started from the outer most layer of the body to the energy level, to the mind, to the intellect and to the inner realm of ananda. Most people understand the blissful state….ananda as being emotional bliss, but that is NOT what the rishis and yogis meant. It was a state beyond the attachment to the body and our minds.

    What most people probably do not understand abotu the koshas is that they are not linear. What I mean and what I understand and using the example above.. is that we return to the body again and again and again. The biggest misconception is that you just drump the body off somewhere. I mean, we still have to deal wtih it no matter what…like it or not.

    As Gary used the koshas as his personal mantra…it kept repeating itself from the outer realm to the inner one and again.
    We can spent a whole life time..and many more burning through all this.

    Knowing oneself is extremely complicated and yet simple too….sort of like Chriistopher Robin in Winnie the Pooh…who like to do nothing…because it felt right and not bothering with much.


  24. Balachandran says:

    In-depth and compact information about the self and its functioning.

  25. Dan Leftwich says:

    Thank you Jagdish for this concise description of a profound energetic, biological, and spiritual process. This constant interaction and communication of information from the Field of pure cosmic energy to our 50 trillion cells is then translated into a response mechanism for evolution of our body, mind, and spirit, that includes an exchange of new information back to the Field through our thoughts, actions, words, and subtle energy. Many in the West have been conditioned to follow a fixed view of genetic evolution that does not account for this dynamic exchange of energy and transformation. Bruce Lipton, the cellular biologist, has written a book called Spontaneous Evolution that highlights the coming together of the traditional Vedic science on these processes with a new vision of Western science that shows quite clearly that we are evolving every second of every day into a Universal Humanity. Anything that furthers this process of understanding the wisdom of ancient science and evolved modern science brings us closer to our true Self as a Universal species.

  26. Priyaa Balamurugen says:

    That's a very thoughtful article.Thankyou Dr.Kohli for sharing your views.As an Ayurvedic person & a follower of Vethathiri Maharishi's Kundalini Yoga I could thoroughly understand the message in this article.Karmic imprints are those which bind us in the layer in which we operate in the five Koshas/Sheaths. Meditation is the only easiest way to change/overwrite the existing karmic imprints and get into the Anandamaya kosha where we operate as space/Atman/Life force and in that level of consciousness see everything as one. And following the two-fold moral principle as not to harm others physically or mentally & Help those in need in all possible ways while in the path of meditation will allow love & compassion to flow naturally among fellow human beings & Nature.Lets keep Blessing the World.

  27. Sunita Kamdar says:

    Jagdishji, Excellent Article. Its a combination of Phylosophy with scientific approach, which makes it more practicle.
    Here are my thoughts:
    Introduction is very effective – you are bringing audience from history to present time and summarizing benefits in one sentence.
    1. In the description of "Our Physical Self" 6 elements are described, but In Table 1 – Building blocks of our Physical Self – I see 5 elements – do we consider “spark of life” as an element or it is non-visible critical element for any life?
    2. The knowledge you have provided under "Our Interconnected Life Energies" – Excellent flow, provided by gradual alignment with previous topic – "Energy states of the self"
    3. Question – Is there any relationship between Interconnected life energies and sense attributes?

  28. Kirit Kamdar says:

    Enjoyed reading the article – in particular the relationships between the five elements, five sense attributes and five corresponding sense organs.; and further tie-ins to Koshas and Chakras.

  29. susan says:

    Thanks for sharing the energy model of human life to learn about the self.
    Should we spend all our life in search of the self?
    Does it gurantee to give us happiness as we meet our obligations/responsibilities in the real/physical world?

  30. […] let us dissect the mind (also called manomaya kosha) to study its many functions, its building blocks, how it works, reasons for its desperate state of […]

  31. […] To me, true self is the part of us who doesn’t judge our world, others and ourselves. It’s the eternal […]

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