Recently I went mattress shopping. If ever there were a place where we fixate on the finite, especially the body, it’s here. “I used to be 6 feet,” the middle-aged salesmen told me. He added, “You don’t want to know how many inches I’ve lost.” I replied, “When I was younger, I could sleep on anything!” It’s true that your body ages, but your essence of Beingness is changeless.
You have no beginning and no end. Your essence is what yoga calls the Changeless Self, the source of the universe and that which pervades it and beyond. The Self underlies your ordinary sense of self, so you rarely perceive it. No matter what is going on in your life, your ups and downs, there’s more to you than you can ever imagine. The ancient yogic sage, Shankaracharya describes your deeper dimension:
“Aatmaan is birthless and deathless. It neither grows nor decays. It is unchangeable, eternal. It does not dissolve when your body dissolves. Aatmaan is that which has become the universe and exists beyond the universe. The nature of Aatmaan is pure consciousness.” — Vivekachudamani
Aatmaan is a Sanskrit name for your Divine Self. The one Supreme Reality, when experienced on the outside, is usually called God, in Sanskrit — Brahman. Shen you look within, to your interior Realty, that same Supreme Reality is named “Aatmaan,” Self. They are the One Reality, the same even in their different locations.
Your body and mind are limited, but the formlessness of your Inner Essence, Aatmaan, is eternal and never decays. Your Self sustains you, bringing your mind and senses into existence: making your eyes able to see, your ears hear, your tongue taste and your mind think. Aatmaan is being you and everyone and everything that exists, the One Self seeing through all eyes. It’s time to think of yourself as an infinite being, as Teilhard de Chardin said, having a human experience.
Your energetic template solidified into a mind and body in order for you to be born. Just as ice is the solid form of water, yet is still water, you are still the Consciousness from which you came, yet in a denser form. While Aatmaan is your own Self, Aatmaan was not born when you were born. Aatmaan is being all that exists in form and beyond form, while being you. It’s a lot to take in, because your mind is an instrument of limitation. Swami Nirmalananda explains:
It is Aatmann that reveals Aatmaan within you. Mind cannot see Aatmaan, anymore than an ant can see the rising sun. Any idea your mind has of it — Aatmaan is greater. Much greater.
My mind says, “Now, wait a minute. I was born to my parents in a certain place and at a certain time, and I am going to die at a time and place someday!” Yes, absolutely true. And still, you have always been more than your physical birth. There is more to you than your mind.
Somewhere deep inside, you already know your own Aatmaan. Intellectual understanding, as great as it is, can only take you so far. To experience your inherent Greatness, you can turn to one who lives in this inner knowing of Aatmaan all the time. Who can better help you get there than someone who lives there?
The Guru of my yoga lineage, Swami Nirmalananda, gives me the direct experience of my infinite Self, over and over again. She taught me how to meditate, and even how to stick with it, which opens up everything for me: my body, mind and more. What you are seeking is already inside you. If you meditate every day you will discover the Inner Reality you have always been, Aatmaan, the infinity of your own Divinity.
Om Svaroopa Svasvabhavah Namo Namah.
To your inherent divinity, again and again, I bow.