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