Yoga, Physiotherapy, Health, Sankhya, Metaphysics, Sanatana Dharma, Perennialists & Hinduism

Metaphysical Question of Identity? “Who am I?”

on December 20, 2011

Some thoughts on the “I” that I take myself to be!


1. Cultural Objective = cultural environmental based on religious foundation of migration (history) to transmigration (religious concepts)

2. Personal subjective = family, race & personal history = who we think we are in relationship to the objective identity

3. Philosophical contemplative = awareness as the  foundation of both objective and subjective identities and the consciousness that makes identification possible, ie. an investigation into, and inquiry within, as to who we really are in term of consciousness?

The Mystery of “Who am I?”

“The answer is never the answer. What’s really interesting is the mystery. If you seek the mystery instead of the answer, you’ll always be seeking. I’ve never seen anybody really find the answer. They think they have, so they stop thinking. But the job is to seek mystery, evoke mystery, plant a garden in which strange plants grow and mysteries bloom. The need for mystery is greater than the need for an answer.” ― Ken Kesey

The following is a series of philosophical questions of identity.


I am investigating into the nature of things… the world, the mind, the nature and relationship of the two; ….. and the ultimate basis of all philosophical assumptions starting with the identity… ie. who and what is this thing we call “I”?

Am I the body that is I feel and sense?

Am I the mind that appears to have thoughts and others think I am?

Is this mind separate from the world that appears in it?

Am I the intellect that compares and discerns between these thoughts?

Who am I when all these disappear?

Am I not there when the waking and dream states/worlds fall away in the deep thoughtless sleep state? For example, when I wake up and say “I” had a good deep sleep! Therefore, who is this I that persists through all apparent changes but remains permanent?

In order to make these queries the sages reveal it requires silent contemplation within to compare with outer observations of the world ….. the world appearing to be primarily dependent on mind in which it appears.

But to get to this place, we first often try and make a holistic picture out of the world first… ie. how everything inter-relates, and how human nature conducts itself in the nature of things. But as one goes deeper, it still all comes back to you being there to witness it.

In the Indian philosophy, they talk about the 5 inner sheaths (and 5 aspects of the mind – antarakarana) that interpret the 5 elemental world through the 5 senses; but that all these are based in consciousness which is one integral whole of change… the inner and the outer worlds of everything dependent on one principle of consciousness and …… that the Truth (ie. Nirvana) transcends this time and space phenomena in which all change appear.

But, perhaps the best thing to do is to remember there is the world outside you that seems to have an order and cause and effect, but that this effect of the world is dependent on the cause of your mind being there to perceive it… so there are 2 investigations to decipher to start with… i) the outer inter-connected world of natural laws and ii) your personal inner world of the mind and how it works to interpret your world..

Anyway, is it not to start questioning these philosophical questions deeply the real education that builds up your own philosophy and strength that becomes the foundation of your life and will power? Just staying true to ones insights and values and, …..earnestly turning the intellect within to use the question “Who am I?” and hold onto the source of thought. There is no rush to experience the altered states and states of love that help still the mind and consciousness to try and transcend this I as the experiencer!; as the tadpole tail of ego naturally falls off with the dawn of wisdom.

Testimony, as far as words are pointers to the wordless Truth, find that all knowledge is a form of ignorance as it is based on a primary assumption that the body (physical, body of knowledge or body of space) is real and permanent… and that it is this strong habit of identifying that keep the sense of ego and separation alive.. This is  why Gurus & Yogis promotes selfless service as it is the easiest way to melt this sense of separation when actions are done lovingly with no motive and , that when combined with the mantra helps substitute the selfish thoughts with the mantra which increases love and one-pointedness of mind to turn the mind within. However, to experience this truth of Oneness it is usually necessary to combine this practice with silent contemplation/meditation into the nature of this “I”. Meditation on a flame of light where the concentration is used to direct the mind within is often helpful…


As one goes about making sense of their world, always try to remember the dualistic nature of the intellect. It is always trying to weave a dualistic cause and effect (hierarchical) inter-relationship web of experiences one has received through the 5 senses and have filtered into a structured memory from which one continues to perceive things.

The intellects nature is to compare and connect cause and effects. As you know, karma is the Indian word for this… ie. the law of action that every action has a reaction. But most the time, the causes are so innumerable and difficult to trace, that we use this word arbitrarily to cover up our ignorance of why things happen (unless in some small controlled lab experiment). But the assumption in this process is that the world existed there before us, and that there is a real permanent world in which many people and things have always existed and that they have gone through some kind of progress of evolution.

This whole approach is the function of the mind in making holistic sense of ones world, but it does not bring you to turning the intellect within to investigate the very instrument in which it occurs ie. ones very own mind… ie. it does not put you in the test tube!

For this self-knowledge you have to negate the world as secondary and find out the awareness on which the consciousness of mind and world depend… as mentioned in the philosophy I.

Whilst the intellect in tracing causes and effects has to do with connections in time and place and a past to future… awareness brings you more and more to a present in which the only fact that is ever present within the realm of consciousness is the fact that one exists… that the “I” is ever there. This “I” is the ever present witness that contextually is there in the “Here and Now”. It is only from this point that all phenomena including past and future appear within the mind.

For this long-winded reason, I am suggest reading a book called the Power of Now and the New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. It is readily available and popular book written in modern clear language. I think everyone would like it as it is an easy read and not way out there. I have personally passed it to many friends who are not into any spiritual path and they have ended getting back to me telling me about how to be more present… ie. no worries, be happy, taking things (pleasant & unpleasant) as they come and staying focused and effective in the present.

It is also  good to have an appreciation of western (Greek-Socratic, Scientific-Descartes/Bacon & English-Analytic/Russel) philosophy for developing a skeptical, discerning mind (theory of how we acquire knowledge via the mind) against an Indian Vedantic Metaphysics (ie. the nature of the world)

ie. Indian Metaphysics = that the 3 inner states of waking, dreaming and sleep are the “I”s subjective foundation for the perception of the 3 objective states of nature ie. day time, dusk and dawn & night time.

That AUM is the cosmic (sound) hum of the Universe and, that the ether of Consciousness is the nature of what we call GOD;- as correlating to these 3 inter-acting subjective and objective states; where

G = Generation = Waking = Day time;
O = Organisation = Dream = Dusk & Dawn;
D = Destruction = Deep sleep = Night time.

To approach the western theory of knowledge, we need to analyse how we acquire knowledge… ie, what is language, argument, inductive and deductive logic, perception, memory etc…

Here, it is useful to acknowledge the Indian Sankhya philosophy that divides these aspects of acquisition into 5 components such that the;

5 elements = objective source of knowledge (ie. the world of nature)
5 senses = inter-active through your ears, eyes, touch, smell and taste
5 mind sheath = subjective means of knowledge (consciousness, Ego/identification/will, memory, intellect, perception)

and that; it is through the formulation of ones own analytical process that one questions and builds a structure of mind and philosophy and hopefully, inquires into the nature and source of the “I”… Who am I?… not as a question that requires an answer, but as a quest that gets rid of all questions with the mind and its miseries by finding the source of all bliss within.


Ultimately, it is simply to remember that everything comes back to oneself in terms of how you see the world. Books, television, traveling and other people give more and more expanded experiences of a holistic view of your world, but can never give one an experience of the truth. All knowledge is relative and has to referenced because it comes from outside and is never one’s own. It is all inferred and questionable but can, by correlation of your observations, approximate facts to your experience. Everything has to be tested and experienced for oneself. But, before searching for any absolute Truths beyond the world, it important to use the world as a guru of ones life to guide and train the intelligence to see things clearly.

So perhaps before looking at how the mind works in terms of reflecting your world to you, it is better carry on developing a synthetic philosophy of how the nature, world and man appear to integrally function. As you get more exposure and understanding of life, you can come back to doubt the very sources of information ie. your mind itself. This will make one detached and objective in not letting the ego see things only in terms of itself;… as the mind is as much a part of nature in which knowledge appears, and this awareness helps detach from personalising information too much.

In future posts I will add some of the tables that helps categorise the subjects we learn in school and, through which we interpret out world based on that conditioning.

From the foundation of i) Sciences (theoretical categories) to ii) Arts (historical categories) to iii) Humantities (geographical categories) to the abstract subjects of iv) Theory/Philosophy to v) Spirituality/Consciousness… it is useful to recognise how subjects inte-relate to each other conceptually, as most learning takes place by association… …especially when it is based on a creative inquiry process (See Edu-create Proposal Table 9)

To me, all searching ends with questioning this “I”? Our first experience of this happens with our mother when the construct of language makes us aware of an other ie. verbalizing with our mother as babies and gives a dualistic perception of the world ie. a you and me… then after that we are expanding this identification to family, race, country, humanity etc… but the end of this knowledge is Love as understanding the underlying Unity in all this apparent diversity – and that is Consciousness. To question the source of this Consciousness is to go within and question the “I”. But up until then we are always assuming things out of faith and eventually we will one day be ready to question the root of our own identity – to seek enlightenment.

OK… that’s the last of the philosophizing. Keep on building my own philosophy by questioning everything on the touch stone of my experience…. how does the validity of my beliefs hold up against correlating with the facts from the 5 senses through my mind to the “I” that identified it as my own knowledge.
Apart from all this heavy talk.. it seems that most spirituality wants us to  be cheerful and keep a philosophical wit about us. It is not supposed to be all that serious once it is demystified… is should become entertainment in this leela (play) called life and should be practiced in life! ie. walk the talk and be true to ones values by acting on them.


Have posted a summary chart about questioning the identity at the bottom.

ie. are you the body, mind, intellect, changing consciousness IN which everything appears, or the changeless awareness ON which it all appears.

It summarises the different levels of identifying…. eg. “I am the body living in a world” being the basic perception of identity etc…. a bit too abstract but good to be exposed to these ideas…

For example, most of us just think we are our just bodies living in a world; whilst other people think we are our minds and consciousness, whereas a realised Yogis or illumined souls reveals that what we really are is Awareness that reflects itself in our sense of Being (in the Heart) associated with having a body in Consciousness.

This body has 7 levels called chakras with the 7th highest called the thousand petalled lotus and connects the individualised consciousness with cosmic consciousness, but that the Truth of awareness transcends that too; beyond the body and consciousness, time and space!!

Here are the 5 philosophical steps from the body level to awareness level.

1. …. Body in a world (3 states of day, dusk & dawn, night) =>

2. Body/world in a brain (3 states of waking, dream, deep sleep) =>

3. Brain in the Heart (as the seat of consciousness) =>

4. Heart in Consciousness (inner and outer = 3 sounds AUM) = I am

5. Inner & Outer Consciousness as One on a trascendental Awareness = beyond time and space ie. eternal

1. I am “so and so” (individuation with name & form)
2. So I am (acceptance of individuality)
3. I am the witness (separate from everything ie. koshas including name & form)
4. I am everything (expansion to all names and forms ie. space of consciousness)
5. I am beyond (Tat – transcending names and forms and consciousness)
——————————————————————————————————– (you tube – “I am All.. All is I am”)



1. I & I makes WE

2. WE & WE makes ONE

3. And you are not THIS

4. we  are THAT …

5. TAT TWAM ASI (or “I”, as Consciousness”, am THAT)


As you can see, this mind likes categorising things into 5! 5 for the 5 senses, 5 elements and 5 limbs that make up man and connects him to nature through the fibonacci number (pattern found in nature such as the golden mean) and the pentagram (the occult symbol of man)



You tube – There is only One Truth

You tube – the Love Police

You tube – We are evolving

You tube – Child teaches the UN



You tube – Who am I?

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