Who Do You Say You Are?
We’ve been told by the Masters that we are spiritual beings. To some extent, in living day to day, we believe this is true. However, when someone asks us who we are, we typically provide them with our name, occupation or role in life. But truly, who are we?
In the Gospel of Matthew 16:13, Jesus asked his disciples, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” We know that we too are sons and daughters of God. But actually, what does this mean?
It means, in part, that we are taking our soul home by following what our Master has told us to do at the time of initiation: to do our meditation, to do our simran whenever possible throughout the day, to attend satsang, to abstain from eating meat and other animal products, to refrain from drinking alcohol and using drugs, and to live an ethical, moral life.
Maharaj Charan Singh in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I, explains who we are:
What is the real self that we have to know? That is the soul, which is our real self.…We can only know our self when we get released from the mind. For example, you see the ocean. Some of the water evaporates, becomes a cloud, and goes up; it becomes rain and comes down again. It merges into the ground, becomes mud and dirt. At that stage the water absolutely forgets its real intrinsic value, its pure qualities, and thinks itself nothing but the dirt. Then it begins to realize: That dirt is something else and I am something else.… I thought I was part of this dirt. When it leaves the dirt, only then does it realize that its real self is something different from the dirt. Similarly, it is when the soul gets released from the mind that it really begins to know itself. Then it realizes where its origin is, which is that supreme Father, that cloud. Then it evaporates, leaves the dirt behind and merges back into the cloud.
That’s exactly the true condition of our soul. It is the essence of the Lord – the supreme Father. But the soul is a slave of the mind, and according to our karmas we are part of the fabric of living in the world. With the help of meditation, we can untie the knot of the soul and the mind, and the soul can again merge into the same supreme Father. As long as we are separate from the Father, we are slaves of the mind; therefore we cannot say, “I and the Father are one.”
In order for us to attain this awareness, we have to rely on our Master. In the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche is quoted as eloquently expressing the vast and noble qualities of a Master:
He is a great ship for beings to cross the perilous ocean of existence, an unerring captain who guides them to the dry land of liberation, a rain that extinguishes the fire of the passions, a bright sun and moon that dispel the darkness of ignorance, a firm ground that can bear the weight of both good and bad, a wish-fulfilling tree that bestows temporal happiness and ultimate bliss, a treasury of vast and deep instructions, a wish-fulfilling jewel granting all the qualities of realization, a father and a mother giving their love equally to all sentient beings, a great river of compassion, a mountain rising above worldly concerns unshaken by the winds of emotions, and a great cloud filled with rain to soothe the torments of the passions.… To make any connection with him, whether through seeing him, hearing his voice, remembering him, or being touched by his hand, will lead us toward liberation. To have full confidence in him is the sure way to progress toward enlightenment. The warmth of his wisdom and compassion will melt the ore of our being.
So who do we say we are? We are spiritual beings who have realized that the purpose of life on earth is to achieve union with God. We have been sent to a strange, dark country to realize and embody our true being. There is only one way to do this, and that is to undertake the spiritual journey, with the Master’s guidance, with all the ardour, intelligence, courage and resolve that we can muster for this magnificent transformation.
I have heard, O Lord, that you are
the saviour of the fallen.
I am fallen, and you are the saviour of the fallen.
We are so well-suited.
The Teachings of Goswami Tulsidas