The simplest solution to all our problems is a constant and sincere pursuit for an answer to the question ‘Who Am I’. It was the self-realised Sri Ramana Maharshi (1879-1950) who gave this simple solution. He was the living embodiment of the Indian tradition of Advaita Vedanta, which focuses on the oneness of God with the human soul and everything else in this universe.
For those who are interested in this simple pursuit, it may be equally important to enquire about ‘What Am I’. What is the Self made up of? An equally simple and logical answer is necessary for us to be rationally satisfied. Man Make-up has great significance and it can even ease our spiritual pursuit of striving to understand about ‘Who Am I’. All great sages (and in fact all of us know) very well that we are not this body of ours alone. Neither are we the life energy inside or the mind or the knowledge. In reality we are a combination of minimum four components – body (physical form), soul (life energy), knowledge (intelligence) and mind (consciousness). Perhaps all living beings are of the same make-up and the non-living without the soul part alone. Let us deliberate further on the four parts that constitute Man Make-up.
Physical Form (Body)
Human body is one of the most complicated machines that can be thought of and our knowledge is yet to uncover most of its complexity. Like everything else in this universe our understanding is diminishing as we try to understand more about the secrets of human body. A simple fact like the variety of looks that a human face can take as a permutation and combination of the seven organs (eyes, ears, lips, teeth, nose, eyebrows and hair) is unbelievable. The same marvel holds good for each and every part of the human body. The complexities are much more astounding when we learn about the various systems that keep the body alive. Yet in the final analysis it is only a few grams of a few elements and a huge proportion of water that makeup any human body. And in the ultimate analysis it is again a loose collection of atomic and subatomic particles that forms a human body. All of us are alike in many ways and different in every aspect. All of us are insignificant and unique at the same time.
Life Energy (Soul)
Soul is that which differentiates between a Man in deep sleep and his dead body. Both are motionless and unaware of the surroundings, but still there is a difference. Science and religion acknowledge the phenomenon of soul in different forms. Science is still in the dark about the secret of soul because of its obvious failure in creating one artificially. But all religions are clear about the involvement of God in it. For the top two organized religions, soul is a proprietary item under God’s command and control; for them it is created by God and it returns to God after death for judgment. The one and only religious thought that considers soul as a flash of God itself is Hindu Sanatana Dharma (PTBH – Proud To Be Hindu) and voluminous documentations are available to substantiate such a claim. Since God is eternally present everywhere there is no question of souls coming or returning to God at any time. It is born and born again until it dissolves permanently into God. And our lives are nothing but a series of dramatic effects (including visuals) enacted on the arena of unchanging God.
Intelligence is closely associated with the spark of life found in all living beings and just like human body our knowledge also grows with us. It is very interesting to note that there is an element of built-in knowledge (like ROM in a computer) that is readily available for all living beings which takes them through the initial period of survival. This is perhaps lowest in the case of humans, but we make it up with the next phase of acquired knowledge (like RAM in a computer). The extent of knowledge accumulation that is possible for humans is truly amazing and needs no explanation when we think of people like Sankaracharya, Albert Einstein etc., and our own Vedic literature. All successful beings (including Man) are those who realize the skills (vasanas) in their ROM and accumulate more of it in their RAM. Evolution is taking us much forward and the days of super human beings, as envisaged by Swami Aurobindo, are just few millenniums away.
Consciousness is perhaps the most intriguing part of our make-up. It is definitely a part of us and yet we have not yet identified its exact location. It is truly amazing to note that there is only one instrument that can ‘see’ the entire universe at a time – just close your eyes and imagine. According to me the basis of Big Bang theory lies in here. The entire universe has originated from the explosion of a speck of consciousness that now encompasses everything in this universe. This is exactly what we loosely call as God, which is omnipresent and omnipotent. The capacity and capability of our minds are infinite and its realization is possible only through dedicated efforts, unless it occurs ‘automatically’ like in the case of Sri Ramana Maharshi or Sri Ramakrishna. And those with realized consciousness can definitely guide us (and not show or give us) towards the direction of realization.
Make-up of man is as fundamental as the question of Who Am I, which Sri Ramana Maharshi (www.ramana-maharshi.org) wanted everyone to seek. Realisation of Self is complete only when we have clearly understood our make-up and recognized the true nature of our consciousness. We need to understand the shape and other features of the bottle before we can fully realize the nature of its contents. The three intangibles of Soul, Knowledge and Mind that reside in our tangible body can bloom into their full potential if we make conscious efforts to understand them. And that is what we identify as Self-Actualisation in the hierarchy of human needs in modern management and we Indians know as Self-Realisation in Hindu Sanatana Dharma (PTBH).