By Nayaswami Narayan Romano
June 19, 2018
My mother used to tell me, “the dumbest question is the one not asked.” I’m finally starting to take her advice! So I have some questions: Who am I? What is my life’s purpose? What is it all for? Have you ever asked yourself these kind of questions?
At Ananda during our “Festival of Light” we say:
From the depths of unknowing, Lord, we cry out to Thee:
Is there no lasting purpose to our lives?
Behold, all that we thought was light was but darkness!
Who are we, in reality?
For what end were we made?
Thank you, Swami Kriyananda, for writing the “Festival of Light” because it expresses the wordless anguish of my heart. Of course, we want the answers to those questions! The Festival continues:
Ever and again through Your awakened sons the answer comes:
The forming of stars and moons and planets…
Had but this for its design: The birth of life,
And, with life’s birth, the dawn of self-awareness:
Passage through dim corridors of waking consciousness
To emerge at last into infinite light-
Into perfect joy!
But I have another question which I think would be stupid to go unasked. How do we realize the truth of our soul’s infinite nature of perfect love, light and joy? There is a story Swami Kriyananda tells in the Essence of the Bhagavad Gita in response to this question.
A young man named Naresh met a saint. The saint asked him who he was, and the youth answered, “I am Naresh.”
“Who are you?” asked the saint again.
Naresh, thinking perhaps the saint hadn’t heard him, said, “My name is Naresh.”
“Yes, but who are you?”
Naresh, puzzled, replied, “My father’s name is Ram Dutta. I live in Delhi. I’m an accountant.”
“Yes, but who are you?” persisted the saint.
The young man puzzled over this question. Was the saint hard of hearing? Or was he, perhaps, growing old and a bit senile?
“Well, if you don’t know,” said the saint with a smile, “maybe it’s good you came to me.”
By now the young man was thoroughly bewildered! Still, he felt a certain peace in the saint’s presence, and returned to him many times—he didn’t really know why. Gradually, however, he came to think, “Can I really define myself in such a limited way as to say that I’m an accountant?” He began to think, “I’m not what I do. I’m a young man with many interests, including that of visiting this saint—though I do so for reasons I don’t fully understand.”
“Who are you?” the saint asked him again one day. By now the older man seemed to the younger not only perfectly normal, but even wise.
“I don’t know who I really am,” said Naresh.
“That’s better!” exclaimed the saint. “Now then, think about it again. Who are you?”
Well, thought the young man. I have a name, a family, a domicile. But am I really any of those things? Suddenly it dawned on him: “I’m a soul in search of itself!” His body was still young, but he knew it would age in time. Even now he was the same person inside that he’d been as a little child. The body had changed, but he had not. Therefore, he realized, he was not the body.
He introspected further. His understanding had changed since he’d met the saint, but he was still the same person, inside. His personality had changed, but something in his consciousness had remained the same. Slowly he came to realize that he, himself, was a point of inner perception from which he merely observed these changes, but didn’t define himself in terms of any of them.
That which changes, he realized, cannot be what I am. I am that something within that remains unchanged—that simply observes change. Thus, he came to identify himself more and more with his soul.
One day he said to the guru, “I know who I am, but there are no words with which to speak of it.” The saint, hearing those words, only smiled. Later on, the saint said, “Now that words fail you, there is much that we can communicate!”
Through meditation as a form of spiritual inquiry and introspection, attunement with the Guru, and selfless service all our questions are answered forever. We will enter into God’s true Spirit–what Yogananda called the “questionless realm of inner joy.” There we will have much to communicate with God and the Masters!