घटकुड्यादिकं सर्वं मृत्तिकामात्रमेव च
तद्वद् ब्रह्म जगत् सर्वं इति वेदान्त डिण्डिमः
ghaTakuDyAdikaM sarvaM mRRittikAmAtrameva cha
tadvad brahma jagat sarvaM iti vedAnta DiNDimaH
– the pot, wall, etc., are all nothing but clay. In the same way, the entire universe is nothing but Brahman – thus vedAnta loudly asserts!
Hello, who are you?
Hello there. I am Shiva.
That’s your name. Who are you?
I just told you. I am Shiva.
I heard you. You told me your name. But who are you?
That’s what people call me…I am Shiva, son of...
Now you are telling me about your parents! You still haven’t told me who you are!
I am a student.
I did not ask you what you do…you told me your name, then about your parents and now your work. You still have not said who you are.
How else will I describe who I am? Aren’t these the normal ways of introduction?
Try something else…
Well, I am lost. How about my physical features? I am about 5’10” and about 75kg…
That’s your height and weight! You are describing yourself all right! But who you are still remains a mystery! Why don’t you add your place of birth, place of stay etc for good measure?
I was going to say that next! Who else am I? This is how people introduce themselves. I am so-and-so, son of so-and-so, living here, doing that etc. What am I beyond all this?
Exactly! What are you beyond all these? The question is, what are you intrinsically? There is a village called Mashiko in Japan. It is very famous for a particular style of pottery. Imagine this if you will. A nice beautiful pot from Mashiko happens to meet you on the way and you ask it, ‘Who are you?’ The pot replies ‘I am a pot from Mashiko, made by Miyagi San. I can be kept in your showcase or used to store about a liter of water in your kitchen. I am indigo blue in color and…’ I am sure you get the drift.
Clay? The answer is clay!
Right. And why is that?
That’s what the pot is intrinsically made of…
I have a name. The pot from Mashiko is called…well, a pot! I am 5’10” and the pot is…about a feet tall. I weigh 75 kg and the pot 5kg. My parents are so-and-so, the pot was made by Miyagi San. I am from Madurai and the pot is from Mashiko. I am a student and the pot is…well, a container! And the pot is actually clay and I am….?
The clay-ness of the pot remains always in the pot. It was clay before it was shaped into a nice pot. It was clay before it got the name ‘pot’ and it remains clay even while being called a pot. And when it breaks and gets condemned…it still remains as clay. What is that one thing about you that always remains?
I don't know...
Look at all your earlier answers. You said you are 'Shiva.' Does that name define you completely? Will you exist bereft of that name?
Yes, of course. I will continue to exist happily...bereft of names or even if I am called by other names.
What about your height, weight etc? They are all attributes of your body. Do you carry this body in your dream and deep sleep. Do you identify this body as 'I' in those states?
No, I don't.
Then, just like the clay assumed a name 'pot' and had a particular round form with a certain type of texture and weight, 'you' have a name 'Shiva' and are about 5'10” and 75 kg. The question is who is that 'you'?
Do you have any experience without Awareness? Without Consciousness?
How can I? I am always aware...
In the waking state?
In the dream?
In deep sleep?
How? Deep sleep is mere blankness and if you claim that you are in deep sleep, well...you aren't!
...because, on waking up, I recall that I had a blissful sleep. Recollection sans experience is impossible and if experience occurred then Awareness must have been there. Its just that I did not have any faculty to express it at that time probably...
Correct. So in the waking, there is awareness with names & forms. In the dream, there is awareness with dream names & dream forms. In the deep sleep, there is awareness with blankness. The names and forms, including the blankness, come and go. What persists unbroken is Awareness. Then what is your intrinsic nature?