If a light bulb could speak, it would say, “I am a light bulb. My body is made of sealed glass with a filament inside it. I produce light.”
Is it not the electricity that uses the light bulb to produce light? Is not the light bulb simply a tool for the electricity to manifest as light?
The above metaphor may give us some clue about our own reality. The default condition of the human brain is to think that an individual is a physical body with consciousness in it. The truth is that an individual is actually consciousness that has a physical body. A person living in a house is not the house but possesses the house. The house is separate from the person. In the same way, we have the physical body but are not the physical body. We are separate from it. We are Consciousness that uses a human body to manifest itself as the mind inside the body. The mind explores the physical world, which is itself the external manifestation of the same Consciousness. Since the mind arises from Consciousness, it is sometimes called the light of Consciousness.
Consciousness is universal. It is not produced by the human brain. There is no scientific evidence to suggest that Consciousness is produced by the brain, which is made of unconscious matter. The human brain that is operated by the Consciousness (which is external to the brain) is like a cellphone operated by the electricity which is external to the cellphone. The cellphone neither creates the electricity nor does it create the phone call. It receives the phone call from outside and renders it audible for the human ear. Likewise, the human brain is operated by Consciousness, receives input from self-cognition and perception of the world through sense organs, and converts them into thoughts and feelings, which are known by the mind.
What is mind? Mind is a stream of thoughts and feelings that are strung around the core thought of “I am” that arises when we wake up from deep sleep. The “I am” thought is like a thread on which other thoughts are strung like beads making a garland of beads. In this metaphor ‘I am” is the thread, thoughts are the beads, and the mind is the garland of beads.
The source of “I am” is Consciousness. The thoughts are like waves that arise on the surface of the otherwise calm ocean. The waves are made of the same water as the ocean, but have their own shape and form and last for a limited time. Likewise, the thoughts arise in the ocean of Consciousness, are made of the same material (Consciousness) and last for a limited time. They come and go. Only one thought appears at a time, lasts for a little while and is replaced by another thought. The mind borrows its awareness (the quality of knowing) from Consciousness, just as the moon borrows its light from the sun.
What we truly are cannot be understood by our mind. Why not? What we truly are is Consciousness which is not an object. It has no objective qualities. The mind can only acquire knowledge of the objects in the subject-object relationship. It certainly helps to have some basic idea of what we are, but don’t rely on your mind to know what you really are. It is only through meditation where the mind eventually collapses (thought-free state) and you experience your own true Self.
OK, I now understand somewhat intellectually that I am not the body and the mind. I am separate from my body and mind. I was never born and I will never die. In reality I am supreme consciousness (Paramashiva). So what? How does it affect my present life?
The very process of realizing this basic truth through meditation brings significant outcomes. To be centered in our Self makes us naturally calm, provide us an everlasting peace and gives us a never ending bliss. Moreover there comes a dramatic change in the way we perceive this world. A positive change in our perspective, a feeling of blissful calm and a unique joy comes through it. These positive outcomes do not depend upon any external circumstances, since the bliss of the Self does not depend on any external factor. It is completely independent and arises, unconditionally, from within.
If you observe carefully you will notice that pain, suffering and boredom are the default condition of our worldly existence. This is why we are constantly looking for happiness as an escape from our present painful condition. We find brief moments of pleasure at parties, celebrations, concerts, sporting events, substances and relationships etc. However, these moments of pleasure last only for a brief time and we revert back to the default state of boredom and unhappiness. When we realize what we really are, happiness becomes the default condition of our lives. Pain and suffering come to us only for a brief time due to our destiny and they depart on their own. When one’s destiny is exhausted, one becomes eternally free from physical limitations (moksha).