NA’HAM – I AM NOT THAT – SRI AUROBINDO
Mind and body are not our real self; they are mutable formations or images
which we go on constructing in the drive of Time as a result
of the mass of our past energies.
For although those energies seem to us to lie dead in the past because their history is behind us, yet are they still existent in their mass and always active in the present and the future. Neither is the ego-function our real self.
Ego is only a faculty put forward by the discriminative mind to centralise round itself the experiences of the sense-mind and to serve as a sort of lynch- pin
in the wheel which keeps together the movement.
It is no more than an instrument, although it is true that so long as we are limited by our normal mentality, we are compelled by the nature of that mentality and the purpose of the instrument to mistake our ego-function for our very self.
Neither is it the memory that constitutes our real self. Memory is another instrument, a selective instrument for the practical management of our conscious activities.
The ego-function uses it as a rest and support so as to preserve the sense
of continuity without which our mental and vital activities
could not be organised
for a spacious enjoyment by the individual. But even our mental self comprises and is influenced in its being by a host of things which are not present to our memory, are subconscious and hardly grasped at all by our surface existence.
Memory is essential to the continuity of the ego-sense, but it is not the constituent of the ego-sense, still less of the being.
Neither is moral personality our real self. It is only a changing formation, a pliable mould framed and used by our subjective life in order to give some
appearance of ﬁxity to the constantly mutable becoming
which our mental limitations successfully tempt us to call ourselves. Neither is the totality of that mutable conscious becoming, although enriched by all that subconsciously underlies it, our real self.
What we become is a ﬂuent mass of life, a stream of experience
pouring through time, a ﬂux of Nature upon the crest
of which our mentality rides.
What we are is the eternal essence of that life, the immutable consciousness that bears the experience, the immortal substance of Nature and mentality. For behind all and dominating all that we become and experience, there is something that originates, uses, determines, enjoys, yet is not changed by its origination, not affected by its instruments, not determined by its determinations, not worked upon by its enjoyings.
What that is, we cannot know unless we go behind the veil of our mental being which knows only what is affected, what is determined,
what is worked upon, what is changed.
The mind can only be aware of that as something which we indefinably are, not as something which it deﬁnably knows.
For the moment our mentality tries to ﬁx this something, it loses itself in the ﬂux and the movement, grasps at parts, functions, ﬁctions, appearances which it uses as planks of safety in the welter or tries to cut out a form from the inﬁnite and say “This is I.”
In the words of the Veda, “when the mind approaches That and studies it, That vanishes.”
But behind the Mind is this other or Brahman-conscious- ness, Mind of our mind, Sense of our senses, Speech of our speech, Life of our life.
Arriving at that, we arrive at Self; we can draw back from mind
the image into Brahman the Reality.