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Body Is Not I

by Swami Sivananda

This is a world of diversity. Intellects are different; faces are different; sounds are different; religions are different; faiths are different. Colours are different; faculties are different tastes and temperaments are different. But one thing is common to all every one of us wants nitya sukha (eternal happiness), infinite knowledge, immortality, independence and freedom. These things can be attained by knowledge of the self alone.

Everybody wants happiness that is not mixed with sorrow and pain but he does not know where he can get this supreme bliss. The best means to acquire this knowledge is by the enquiry, "Who am I?" This has the potentiality of producing the quiescence of mind which will enable it to wade through this ocean of samsara (cycle of birth and death). It demands a sharp, subtle, pure intellect, bold understanding and gigantic will. The commonplace 'I' that everyone is glibly talking about and relishing acutely every moment of his life, from the babbling baby to the garrulous old man, must be clearly understood.

The physical body is not the 'I', it is the product of food it lives on food and dies without food. It is a bundle of skin, flesh, fat, bones, marrow, blood and a lot of other filthy things. It does not exist before birth or after death. It lasts for a short intervening period. It is transient. It undergoes changes such as childhood, youth and old age. It has six changes existence, birth, growth, modification, decay and death. It is not of one homogeneous essence; it is manifold, insentient, inert. It is an object of perception like a chair or a table. You continue to live even when hands and legs have gone.

How can the body be the selfexistent, eternally pure atman, the knower, the silent witness of the changes that take place in the body and in all things, the inner ruler of all ?

You have learned that body and mind are not 'I'.

You have learned that prana is not 'I'.

The world is unreal, this thou hast understood.

Thou hast understood that Brahman alone is real.

Now meditate on the formula 'I am Brahman'

Lose thyself, unite with him.

Rest there peacefully, joyfully.

This is the proper place, the abode of the pure.


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