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The equation you are that

Am I the body or mind?

The equation 'you are that' has two sides and the inquiry starts with the meaning of the word 'you'. The immediate meaning of 'you' is the individual, I. What is this I? It seems clear and easy. I will reply that I am a male, was born 40 years ago, I am 70 kg and 1,75m tall, I am short sighted, I am healthy, I am happy. Implied in this answer is the conclusion that I am as good as the body, the capacity of my senses or the condition of my mind.

Am I the body?
Let us examine the status of the body. This body is known to you; therefore it is an object and not the subject 'I'. Still you think I am as good as the body and claim I am tall, young, mortal. Theses are in fact characteristics of the body. What is the body? It is nothing but numerous cells put together. But the present cells of my body are not the one I was born with. Cells undergo changes every moment. If you take your body at a given time, in the next twelve years, none of the existing cells will remain. What does it mean? This whole group of cells disappears but you remain to know their transformation. This clearly shows that you are not the body 57, but somehow you have concluded that I am as good as the characteristics of my body.

Am I the physiological functions of the body?
But then what is this I? Another statement you make about I is 'I am hungry, thirsty, sick, or healthy.' What about these conclusions? You can see that these conclusions are connected to respiratory, digestive and other physiological functions of the body. Again, all these conditions are known to you. The hunger comes and goes. You are the one who knows the presence as well as the absence of hunger. Since you know both, you are none of the two. Therefore you say at different times, I am hungry and then I am not hungry any more! You are neither one nor the other as you cannot be both! Hence, 'I am sick, I am hungry, I am thirsty, etc.' are not right conclusions about I.

Am I the senses?
So what am I? Maybe I am the senses. Therefore I say 'I see, I hear, I smell'. However, when I examine this further, I can understand that it is not that I see but my eyes that see. It is not that I hear but my ears hear. In fact I am able to see if my eyes see or not! I am aware of them as they function or not function. Then, any conclusions that I have about the nature of 'I' based on the capacity of my senses are wrong.

Am I the mind?
You can say it is clear now: I must be the mind. Therefore I say, 'I am sad, I am agitated, etc.' Now, let us examine what is the mind. In fact the mind is nothing but thoughts. These thoughts depending upon their function, can be divided into four types, emotions, intellect, memory, I sense or ego.

emotions : are because of which I say 'I am sad, angry, agitated, etc.' However, these emotions are momentary. They change frequently. Therefore, at times I find myself happy and other times sad. In fact, I am neither happy nor sad or any other emotions which vary. I am the one who observes the coming and going of the emotions. I am not the emotions.

intellect : is the capacity of the mind to know objects and concepts. Let us examine what is involved in the knowledge of the objects. The object 'rose' which is outside is known by you. How? The physical 'rose' does not enter in your mind, what happens is a thought occurs in the mind, which is in keeping with the object 'rose'. All knowledge, whether it is about tangible objects or ideas or concepts, takes place when the thoughts that take place in the mind are in keeping with objects, ideas or concepts. However this cognition using which I know various things comes and goes. I cannot conclude that I am the very thought which leads to a discovery of a given thing. Because even without this thought, which led to the knowledge of a given thing, I am very much there.

memory : may be I am memory? Again, I am the one who gathers and recollects memories of my childhood and what I ate yesterday. I cannot be me memories that constitutes the autobiographic I, since I am aware of coming and going of all the thoughts related to past.

I sense or ego : If I am neither body, nor senses nor emotions, nor intellect nor memories, finally, I must now say: I am the subject, the individual who is aware of all these body, senses and mental activities. But what is exactly this I sense? For example, while you read this page, you are aware not only of the page you are reading and the words on the page, you are aware of the changes of thoughts as you go along with the ideas presented, you are aware of the emotions triggered by them but you are also aware of yourself reading the page. Try to see this as you read this page. This is the 'I' thought. Or when I jog in a park, I can see the trees around me, and I am aware not only about my heart beat and the pain in my muscles, but also aware of myself jogging.

This capacity to relate to the external world and one's own body, mind and senses is also a product of a evolved neurobiological processes in the brain that gives rise to this sense of I, of being a conscious being, knowing and doing various things. The brain has been designed in such a way that it includes the self reflective capacity that gives rise to sense of I. This 'I' in turn has the ability to know the internal activities of the body, mind, senses, etc, and the capacity to know external things.




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