Before I begin my lectures, I always offer my respects to my spiritual teachers, our masters who bring this knowledge to us. All the information that I’ll be presenting comes from the Vedic scriptures. The Vedas are very ancient scriptures. Actually, they were written down 5 000 years ago. However this knowledge is eternal. So prior to be being written down, it was passed down orally from one perfect master to the next. Such a line of perfect teachers is known as a disciplic succession or a parampara. We are in the parampara which is known as Brahma-Sampradaya, and we feel very fortunate to receive our knowledge through this lineage. So this is not my opinion, I just pass on this eternal science.
As in our lecture last night to understand basically any subject of life… Last night was yoga lifestyle, tonight is love, it could be meditation, it could be any subject… We can’t fully understand it unless we understand who we are. This is where we must begin our understanding of life: with understanding our true identity. That’s why the Vedas say you should all ask yourselves a question “Who am I?” But unfortunately almost nobody does this because we think we already know the answer.
Certainly we do have our identities. We’ve had them our whole life. We’ve had them in our minds, we have had them on our lips, we even carry them around in our pockets, meaning this is who I think I am, this is who I tell others I am, and here is my proof: my passport, my documents. We accept this and so does everyone else. But is this our true identity?
And upon very close examination we quickly discover this is only a compilation of many labels. And a labeling process begins at birth. All of us here right now, as soon as we took birth, we received one of two labels: male or female. And we still identify like that today: I am a man or I am a woman. At the same time we get another label according to our race: Caucasian, Negroid, whatever it is. Our national identity can be very strong: I am Norwegian, I am American. And of course our family identity: we belong to a certain family. Actually this identity is so strong that every day on this planet one person kills another person simply because they have a different label. This is just the beginning.
Many labels come and go throughout our entire life. Once again, at birth we are also known as babies, then kids. We start school, now we are students. A few more years go by, we become teenagers and then finally adults. We take up some profession in life and we are known accordingly: doctors, lawyers, secretaries, nurses. Then we get married, immediately we become a husband or a wife. We have a child, now we are parents: fathers, mothers. A few more years go by: grandfathers, grandmothers. And this is how we see our self. We think of our self, “This is me, this is who I am.” And this continues on and on until we finally get the last label: dead.
But if we look closely, we see this is all in relation to our material bodies. Yes, it’s true, the body is male or female, black or white, old or young, big or little. Whatever the body is, it is; that’s true. The question is: is this who we are?
Every day we all take our pilgrimage to the mirror to see how ‘we’ look. Sometimes we are a little disappointed but we always come back the next day to see maybe there have been some improvements. But the question is do we really see our self? Are we this material body?
If we want the most authoritative answer, we should go to the revealed scriptures of the world. Then we will quickly learn: no, you are not the material body. However this is the modern world, very rare there is anyone who goes to scripture to find the truth in life.
However, we do readily accept the conclusions of the scientists. We like the scientists because they prove things. And uniquely enough in this case the scientists have proven in the laboratories that we are not our material bodies.
They discovered there’s no cell in the human body that lives more than 5 years. Some cells have a very short life. For instance, the lining of our stomach, those cells live 5 days. Our skin cells – 1 month. Liver cells – 6 weeks, etc. But in 5 years everything has changed.
So if I’m looking at a photograph of myself taken 10 years ago, the eyes in the photograph are different than the eyes I look at the photograph with, they are actually not the same eyes. According to this scientific formula, if I am 35 years old, I’ve had 7 bodies. But of course we all know we are not 7 different people, everybody knows, “Hey, I’m still me.” So the changing factor is the material body, the constant factor is our self. We are not these material bodies.
Now at this point some people become introspective or meditative. They begin to look inside to find out who they really are. And when we do look inside, what do we find? Emotion, desire, sentiment, feeling, will. It’s all very real. It’s easy to conclude, “Aha, this is who I really am!” Maybe we even have an experience that enforces this. Let’s say we are very emotionally upset. We recognize that when people look at us, they don’t see us. All they see is the outside cover. Maybe we feel very lonely and might even say, “Gee, nobody really knows me.”
But we must confirm this with scripture and especially the Vedic scripture because they are very detailed in this knowledge. When we do, we find we’ve made yet another mistake. This is not who we are either. This is actually another material body. It’s called the subtle mental body. Sometimes it’s called the austral body.
So really we have two bodies: we’ve got our physical body, we’ve got our mental body. It’s like having two layers of clothing: we have an outer layer and an under layer. But the question still remains, who am I?
So once again we go to the Vedas. And there we find that we are in a different category of energy. Everything is energy. Our bodies are material energy. We learn that we are spiritual energy. We further learn that we are tiny little spark of spiritual energy.
We learn that material energy is temporary. Very easy to see, we know all too well our bodies are very temporary, so much so we don’t want to talk about it, “Hey, hey, hey, don’t talk about that!” But even a more permanent thing like this building: come back here in 1 000 years, “Gee, where was that lecture?” Temporary.
However we learn that spirit is eternal. Eternal means no beginning and no end. So we are eternal. We also learn that material energy is non-living. Easy to see, once again. This table or this candle, no life here.
But we learn that spirit is life itself. There is no such thing as live matter, there is no such thing as dead spirit. We are the life force in the body. And as long as we are present in the body, the body is called alive. But actually that is not true: the body is dead, we are alive. That becomes very clear at the time of death. At the time of death we leave the body and at that moment the body reveals its true nature: it can’t even sit in a chair, falls on the floor. We are the life force in the body.
Therefore our true identity is spirit souls. Spirit meaning that we are spiritual in essence, soul meaning the individual spiritual sparks that we eternally are. We never become someone else, and we never cease to exist. Now for some people this is very depressing news, “What? I will always be me? Gee, I thought it’s going to be over soon.” Sorry, it’s never over. However, when we learn the truth in life, this becomes very wonderful news. So once again, we are spirit souls.
And we further learn we are part and parcel of the Supreme Soul. There is a Supreme Soul from which we all come. We are known as the atma and the Supreme Soul is the Paramatma. Now, understanding this truth about our identity, who we really are, then we can begin to discuss our subject of love.