Who Am I ?

“Many ask Amma, what a human being’s real dharma, or duty is. The goal of human life is to know oneself. We should know the answers to the questions, “Who am I”, “What is my real nature?” This is our ultimate duty.”  ~Amma

In Vedic Astrology the Zodiac is called kalapursha, or “body of time” – the cosmic self (purusha) that is expressing itself in the dimension that is ruled by time (kala).

Each zodiac sign has its corresponding part of the body, as well as a corresponding stage in our spiritual evolution. Aries, or the first house, corresponds to the self (who I am) and the head portion of our body. Pisces, and the twelfth house, to the end of the self (who I am not) and the feet. In Hindu Dharma it is believed that the highest blessing a spiritual master can bestow upon you is to place his feet on your head because you are now ready to surrender the self.

Each of us is born with a very unique frame of reference that colors our view of how we perceive our self and how we participate in the world. Who is this self and why do Yogi’s seek to be liberated from it?

Modern psychology has shown that much of what we think of as our self is a result of our brain activity beyond our conscious awareness. While our conscious mind has the capacity to think freely, acquire new information and create new ideas our subconscious mind dominates with stored memories that impel us to react automatically with previously learned behavioral responses.

The yogic seers of India were very well aware of this roadblock in the human psyche. They refer to these subconscious mental and emotional patterns as samskaras. While science considers the store house of the subconscious mind to be a result of our early experiences (usually before the age of six) in Yoga philosophy it is the result of accumulated experiences from the present and past lives that have taken deep rootin our psyche. Samskaras can result in both negative and positive predispositions – both can exist simultaneously in an individual.

The Vedic horoscope reveals these samskaras, which are so strongly entrenched within us that as a result certain perceptions, desires, motivations, actions, feelings, personalities, life patterns and events become fated to occur. The resulting action of the samskaras is called Karma.

While, all the planets in the horoscope are showing our samskaras, the nodes ( Rahu and ketu) and the first and the twelfth house and their lords are especially influential on our pre-determined behavior. As a result, the Vedic astrologer can decipher and predict the quality and nature of our samskaras and the resulting personality and life events. For thousands of years Yogis of India have considered this the single most valuable tool for gaining self- knowledge and self-awareness to transform their Samskaras.

Samskara’s are often confused with memory or thoughts patterns that we can influence in ourselves and others through re-enforcement and re-patterning. While, this is true to some extent, we will never truly be free from our unwanted predispositions until we understand that most Samskaras go much deeper than that – they are not just our thoughts, but rather they are the thinker itself. In the thinker, they are the one who thinks. In other words, the grooves carved by samskaras in our mind run so deep that they are the very spirit and essence of what we consider to be “me.”

Recognizing our samskaras is the biggest step – beyond that altering our samskaras requires deep and authentic spiritual practice and a vigilant contemplation on “who am I”,  “why do I respond in this way?”. By directly observing the samskaras as they arise a Yogi looks at his thoughts, feelings and emotions with a sort of wonder and slowly begins to realize that they are not the true self.