We Want Two Identities


Sri Swami Atmaswarupananda

Early Morning Meditation Talk given in the Sacred Samadhi Hall of Gurudev Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj, Sivananda Ashram, Rishikesh

The call to the spiritual life is a call from God to a better life. Whether our life has been a difficult one or whether it has been one with a minimum of difficulties, the spiritual call is a call to a higher life, a life of greater satisfaction. Ultimately, in Pujya Swamiji’s words, total satisfaction.

In the beginning our spiritual life does seem to bring about some changes; but after some time, no matter how many changes we may see, there seems to be something that fundamentally hasn’t changed at all. We still seem to be a long ways from the total satisfaction that our hearts long for.

We blame it on our behaviour. We see so many weaknesses in ourselves, so many virtues that we do not have. But if we will analyse it very carefully, we will find that the reason we don’t feel total satisfaction or even partial satisfaction is because at the core we haven’t changed. Our fundamental identity hasn’t shifted.

Gurudev put his finger on it. He said, “You are not the body, not the mind, Immortal Self you are. Realise this and be free.” We have been trying to realise the Immortal Self without, at the same time, realising clearly that we are not the body, not the mind. Indeed, the truth seems to be that we want to have two identities. We want to realise that we are the Immortal Self without giving up our identity with the body and mind.

But to have a double identity is neither logical, nor is it possible. Therefore, there is another way to describe the beginning of the spiritual life. That is when we recognise clearly that we cannot have two identities and that the fundamental change that is required is the willingness to give up our identity with the body and mind so that we can realise the Immortal Self that we already are.

The classic methods of doing this are to totally surrender our body and mind and our identity to God or to enquire into who I really am. The enquiry of “Who am I?” is actually to constantly discover who we are not. A fundamental error of the spiritual life is to think that the Immortal Self or who we really are is something that we can grasp, is some experience. The fact is that It is what is left over when time and time again we have recognised “Not this, not this.”

Whether our basic sadhana is one of surrender or whether it is one of “Not this, not this,” success is not something that normally happens overnight. As Pujya Swamiji would say, “Perhaps it happens suddenly once in a million times, but it would not be wise for you to think that you are that one in a million.” It is something that we must work on constantly, and indeed, integral yoga is the best way. Sometimes our path should be surrender. The next moment it may be “Not this, not this.” We must use every weapon that God suggests to us in this battle against our stubborn identification with the body and mind.

But above all, we must first recognise that if we want to see a fundamental change in ourselves, then that fundamental change must start with our identification. The identification with the body and mind is a false one and must be clearly recognised as such.

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