What do you think the word ‘Self’ really means?
Does it refer to my personality? My body? my name? or something else?
Let’s analyze this a bit…

When I say, “This is my watch”, I am a separate entity and the watch is a separate entity, isn’t it? Similarly, “this is my body” implies I am separate and the body is separate, right? Whatever I calI as ‘my’, i.e. my personality, my body, my name, etc. – all of these belong to me, but they are not me, they are something that ‘I’ possess.

It means ‘I’ is the Self.
The question then arises, who am I? What is the true identity of mine? Let’s explore a little further.
I say “I am John”, so is
‘John’ the real identity? Is that what I really am?
No. ‘John’ is just a name to identify myself amongst other people. The name can never be the identity, it is only one of the means to identify. If I were to change my name to Peter, I will say “I am Peter”. Does that mean my identity changed from John to Peter? No. I am what I am, irrespective of what people name me. So who am I?

“I am the father of my son, I am the husband of my wife, I am an engineer, I am rich, I am an angry person, I am a passenger in this train, I am a heart patient.. Should these be a correct definition of Self?” Let’s see…
I am a father but in relation to my son. Similarly, I am a husband in relation to my wife, I am an engineer with respect to my degree, I am a passenger as long as I am travelling…

All of these identities are ‘in relation to’ i.e. dependent on someone or something around me. So maybe I can call this the ‘relative Self’, but that cannot be the true identity, isn’t it? Because…

1.Real Self is something that should be permanent, that never changes nor dies nor finishes.
2.It cannot be dependent on something outside me (that I do not have control over) to establish itself as the Self; it should be completely independent, standing on its own.
3.Real Self should be something that is constant; one that increases or decreases depending on circumstances cannot be the true identity.
4.If it is real Self, it should maintain its inherent nature in any given situation; its qualities should always remain intact. It never transforms, nor gets diluted, nor becomes extinct.

All along we thought the relative Self to be our own Self. But we now realize that it does not pass the basic test of the core qualities that the real Self should have. I now understand that really, I am something different from what I perceive the own Self to be. But who am I? how do I realize that?

Param Pujya Dadashri says, “If one realizes own Self, then he himself is an Absolute Supreme Soul.”
Oh! It means the Self is the Absolute Supreme Soul.
So what is Soul? How do I know it, how do I recognize it?
Amidst many things which may appear like gold, if we want to know which one is really gold, I must first know the qualities of gold, only then can I recognize it, isn’t it?

So, here are the qualities of the Soul:
1.The Soul is permanent. It never dies nor is it ever born. It was, it is and shall always remain.
2.The Soul is the living force. As long as it is present in a body, the body is said to be alive and as soon as it departs from the body, the person dies, the body becomes a dead body.
3.The Soul is most subtle. It can pass through mountains without any hindrance, it can sail through water without getting wet, and it can travel through fire without getting burnt. Nothing in this world can impact the Soul, the real Self.
4.Because the Soul is light – the light of knowledge. Infinite Vision and Infinite Knowledge are the basic qualities of the Soul. It is through these properties that we can perceive and know anything and everything in this world. And whatever we fail to see or know in this world today, is because infinite types of karmic atoms have deluded the Soul. These atoms cannot be seen directly through our physical eyes. Through our good or bad intent, our good or bad deeds, we instantly attract few atoms from outside which come and sit over the Soul and thus obstruct the Vision and Knowledge of the Soul to that extent. When the atoms in a specific area are washed off, the Vision and Knowledge of that area open up.
5.One more inherent property of the Soul is Infinite Bliss. Whatever pain, suffering or unhappiness we experience, happen to the relative Self and that is experienced owing to the deluding atoms that we have attracted in the past. These atoms obstruct the Soul’s inherent property of infinite bliss as well and hence the agony. However, the Real Self is, was and always remains in eternal bliss!! This bliss cannot be comprehended by our 5 senses, or by our brain power. It’s something which cannot be described in words by anyone whosoever.
6.The Soul is absolutely free. It never gets attached to anything, not even the deluding atoms that have obstructed its Infinite Vision, its Infinite Knowledge, and its Infinite Bliss. And therefore it never suffers one bit. No one can ever overpower it; such is its Infinite Strength. The relative Self suffers, but everything in the relative realm is temporary, ultimately Infinite Bliss of the Soul is bound to prevail.
7.Irrespective of the circumstances it is subject to, the Soul has always retained its original intrinsic properties at the elemental level.
8.The Soul is always pure, totally pure. Soul is the real Self of everyone. Whether it be a baby or an adult or a Senior Citizen, whether it be an animal or a tree or a human being, the real Self of everyone is the same. Always! These outer projections are all temporary, and are mere transitory phases. But the Soul residing within each exterior is of a uniform quality. None of its qualities ever increase or decrease.

We come to the main question now. How do we experience this Soul, which is the real Self?
When you take a gold ornament with the best of the design to the goldsmith, what does he see? No design enchants him, he is only concerned with the pure gold present in the ornament. He is competent to separate the pure gold from the other metals in the alloy. This is mainly possible because of the gold’s inherent quality to retain its original intrinsic properties as it is, even when in the alloy form.

Similarly, Gnani Purush, the Enlightened One, values only the Soul within us, he is never concerned with our physical appearance nor relative self’s qualities, for he knows by nature these are temporary and transitory. Gnani knows that the Soul has never got tainted or impure, it is always free even when the relative Self is in bondage. And he has the spiritual power to separate the Pure Soul from the non-Self matter of any person, within just 2 hours. This is called Self-Realization!!

Once we attain Self-realization with the grace of Gnani, we realize that “I am not this body or this name, I am Pure Soul.” Thereafter, the deluding atoms start withering off and we slowly begin to experience the Soul with its qualities. This experience enhances with each passing day and becomes complete when all the obscuring atoms sitting over the Soul are completely discharged. That is when we experience total Bliss, the Infinite Bliss of the Pure Soul!!

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Author's Bio: 

Ambalal M. Patel was a civil contractor by profession. In June 1958, spontaneous Self-Realization occurred within Ambalal M. Patel. From this point on, Ambalal became a Gnani Purush, and the Lord that manifest within him became known as Dada Bhagwan. A Gnani Purush is One who has realized the Self and is able help others do the same. Param Pujya Dada Bhagwan used to go from town to town and country-to-country to give satsang (spiritual discourse) and impart the knowledge of the Self, as well as knowledge of harmonious worldly interactions to everyone who came to meet him. This spiritual science, known as Akram Vignan, is the step-less path to Self-realization