To be able to perceive the reality of who we are and what this marvelous universe is all about, we must first realize that in our ordinary human state of mind that we are not truly conscious. We are not aware of who we really are or what is the true essence of our existence. This higher truth is what Yoga and Vedanta teaches us. We must learn to awaken to our inner being, not just gain more proficiency in the outer world.
The Limitations of the Mind
We undergo regular shifting states of mind through waking, dream and deep sleep, from birth to death, but our state of mind remains limited, conditioned, clouded and changing. We have waves of awareness as it were, but do not understand the depths of the ocean of consciousness or the unbounded light of awareness.
Our minds are enshrouded in an underlying ignorance or state of not-knowing in which we get caught in transient sensations and forget our eternal inner nature. This ignorance or unconsciousness consists largely of the imprint of the past, whether past biological conditioning, personal memories or deep-seated karmas. This ignorance underlies our movement of awareness and limits it to dualistic responses of attraction and repulsion, like and dislike, love and hate.
This existential ignorance is the basis of the state of deep sleep that is the shadow of unknowing behind our minds. Deep sleep is an unevolved state, a darkness at the core of the mind in which we are not aware. Until that darkness is removed by the light of meditation, we cannot know the truth of who we are, or the nature of universal reality beyond our conditioned responses and limited ideas.
If we live in the presence of pure consciousness, as the witness of all, we do not need the past to define us. The present is overflowing into eternity and infinity, not as a mere moment in time but as an all-pervasive radiance. If you are with a special friend of yours at your home, for example, you do not need their photograph or to think about your past with them. If you are aware of the presence of Being, which is the bliss within all, you do not need to define yourself by action and becoming externally.
Your true identity does not reside in body, name, reputation, property or productions of any kind. It is not something you possess, do or appear to be. Your true identity resides in your own awareness divested of all external ideas, constructs and associations. You are pure identity, unity with all that is everything as the immutable light of consciousness.
Everything we are aware of through mind and senses is external to our inner consciousness at the core of the spiritual heart. It is external to the seer, the one who observes the mind that is present in waking, dream and deep sleep alike. All that we see as an object is external to our core awareness and therefore apart from us. We are the innermost point of seeing, not the outer objects, qualities or thoughts that we observe. These shifting externalities do not affect our inner nature and our inherent peace and happiness. We can freely let them go without losing our true nature.
Not only is the outer world external to our inner consciousness, so is our own body, our breath, our senses, and every aspect of the mind that we can know or perceive as an instrument or quality. We are the silent witness of all, beyond body and mind, which are but our instruments.
The Supreme Self
The only true internal factor we have is our own consciousness, which can never be grasped, known or understood as an object, which can never become a thing, an other, a quality or a quantity. This revelation of the transcendent Self is the great Vedantic revelation, our unity with the universal. You are the unknown knower, the unseen seer, the unheard hearer, the unspoken speaker, the unbreathing one breathes. You are the inner light and energy through which all your faculties function but is not limited to any of them.
To lose the ego is to shed our outer identity, not to lose our true Self or authentic nature.
To know your true Self is to give up your false identity in the outer world as who you really are. All outer identity is ultimately false, no more than a role or a game that we assume for the short period of our lives. This internalization of awareness is the essence of Yoga and spirituality through which alone our higher potentials both as individuals and as a species can be fully unfolded.
Our lives are an adventure in consciousness that is the supreme adventure. It begins when we give our sense of our identity and dive deep into our core awareness that is beyond all memory and sensation, fear and desire, birth and death, time and space.