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Know thy true self

"You know yourself best" is a common saying. We believe we know ourselves intimately.

health and fitness Updated: Feb 20, 2004 20:20 IST

"You know yourself best" is a common saying. We believe we know ourselves intimately. But, in fact, we don't even know who we really are!

So often we hear the words 'Self Realisation'. Who is this 'self' that one has to realise? This self is the real us. Ask a stranger the question "Who are you?" He will probably reply, "I am Ramesh. I am an Indian. I am a Hindu. I am an engineer" and so on. He would have told you his name, his nationality, his religion and his profession; he would not have told you who he is. All these nomenclatures are bodily identifications. Then who are we?

Most religions believe that human beings are souls (atma). Some religions, however, say that only humans are souls, whereas religions founded on the Vedas believe that all-living entities, humans, animals and even plants are souls.

Because the soul cannot be perceived by our senses, its existence cannot be proved empirically as in physical sciences. But it can be inferred by reason.

When we say this is my body, the 'my' has to be someone other than the body.

This 'my' is the soul. When a person dies it is said, "Oh, he is gone", though the body is still there. The departed 'he' is the soul.

Some persons remember their past lives which gives credence to the concept of reincarnation, central to which is the soul.

Many persons have had 'out-of-body' experiences, where 'they' have witnessed themselves from outside their bodies.

This witness is the soul. References to human souls by most religions confirm their strong belief in the existence of souls. For example, Christians say, "May his soul rest in peace" and Hindus say the same thing "Us ki atma ko shanty milay."

First Published: Feb 20, 2004 20:20 IST