We’re not defined by our mind or body

Am I my body? Am I my mind?

You are the body. You are the mind. You are simply not limited to the body or the mind. You are boundless. You are nondual. You are not two – Advaita.

According to Advaita Vedanta philosophy, which dates back thousands of years, we’re told of and systematically guided to the realization that we’re not defined by or limited to our personality or our body, not even to our localized consciousness; they are purely temporary, equal expressions of supreme reality, or the ground of existence, which Vedanta calls Brahman. Indefinable, Brahman is life’s ultimate underlying Source, the fundamental reality, and we’re invited to know this truth directly.

Our supreme Self, Brahman, illuminates our every mode of life—it’s what makes existence possible. It’s without a trace of duality, without a beginning or end, prior to universal laws such as cause-effect and time and space, unlimited, undivided, changeless. Calmly and silently, it permeates our every experience. It is the heart of unconditional love and joy. It is nondual. It’s the life that you are.

The reason we don’t already know our Source experientially or intellectually is due to our innocent ignorance (inadvertence, restlessness, desiring and fearing the impermanent), which is a delusional state. Experience and intellect can only take us so far. Our imagination is a symptom of the veiling power of illusion—maya, in Sanskrit—which gives the many expressions of Brahman, creating forms in the formlessness. Maya causes us to be preoccupied with the imagined outer world which prevents us from focusing on our inner life, which is the full breadth of life.

When we awake to our absolute Self, the dream is less convincing. The performance, however, goes on as before. Only we are no longer fooled by the roles we play or the artificial props on the stage.

We need to distinguish what is real from what is unreal, to debunk the illusory. When we earnestly question this way, we unveil an inner richness.

Sri Adi Sankaracharya said that the Self is real and that the universe is unreal, but the universe is the Self. The universe is unreal because it’s perceived and as such, imagined. If neti-neti is the negative method, seeing Self in everything is the positive. The universe is one creative manifestation of the Self, and the body-mind you call you and yours is another, so, as the Self, you’re not limited to them and they don’t ultimately define you.

Each finite expression points to fullness yet each cannot contain fullness, just as a single snowflake cannot capture the vast snow of Antarctica. Existence originates from you (as Self, or Brahman), exists in you, and will return to you, declares the Chandogya Upanishad (a Sanskrit text which forms a portion of Vedanta philosophy). In other words, all is you.

The bodymind you think you are limited to is like an apparently separate, but beautiful, snowflake. Every snowflake melts eventually and merges back into the whole. Even before this melting and merging, each snowflake shares the same origin as every other expression of water.

From ‘Living the Life That You Are: Finding Wholeness You Feel Lost, Isolated, and Afraid’ by Nic Higham

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