Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Tat Tvam Asi (That Thou Art)

From chapter "Who am I?" (page 139) from the Ganapati by Prof. Grimes:

Once many years ago, I had a "chance" meeting with an Indian saint. He asked, in broken English, "Been India?" Since I had been in India for a number of years, the best, most easily demonstrable answer was to wobble my head in the characteristic side to side manner known to most Indians. The moment he saw that "wobble", he got a big grin on his face, entered the room, and closed the door behind him. He asked me, "Who you?" Having lived in India and being used to this type of English and being young and polite I began to answer him, "I am John Grimes," but just as I reached the G of Grimes, he said "Bas, family name, who you?" (Bas is Hindi for "stop, enough.") Again, since I have lived in India and studied Indian thought, I very confidently and boldly began to reply, "I am the immortal Atman," but just as I reached the A of Atman, again he stopped me with another "Bas, book name, who you?" With the first "stop", he wiped out my physical body. With the second "stop", he wiped out my entire mental universe. What was left? With two small words, he had succeded in conveying to me that I was neither my physical body nor my mental knowledge. How to answer him? So I said, "I donot know." Quick as a wink, he responded, "Find out." I replied, "How?" He responded, "Not how, find out." Again I asked, "How?" He was holding a handkerchief in his hand and he opened his fingers and let the handkerchief drop to the ground and as it fell he said, "Let go." Again I asked, "How [to let go]?" He responded, "Not how, let go." And then he turned and left the room.

Almost twenty years passed before I learned that this monk supposedly did not speak English. How interesting! A person who did not speak English magnificiently managed to teach the Vedantic truth that one is neither one's body not one's thoughts, all in two words, As if that was not enough, he proceeded to teach me how to "find out who I really am" with another two words ("let go"). We all know how to let go, we do it every night when we go to sleep. We never ask out mother, "Mom, how do I go to sleep?" We just "let go" and sleep came. However, we become confused, disturbed, when someone asks us to "let go" of out preconceived notions as to who we are. Like this, we look for a technique in order to meditate or to find an answer to the question, Who am I?


Sharan Sharma said...

Hi Amar,
This is a great blog! Glad you came over to leave a comment on my blog so i now know about this.

On this post: really, sometimes i feel it's best to just stop doing all reading and just BE.

Will keep visiting.

ramakrishna u said...

Dear Sharan,

Thanks for the comments. They remind me of the saying: "Don't just do something, Sit there"!


Rajya said...

A great post!

Thanks a lot!

Unknown said...

came up on (actually, chanced up on, is more appropriate) this "just be" philisophy quite by accident as I was walking with my wife and tussling with how does one gets to "feel" "real" bhakthi and then as is usual, this mind jumps to so many thoughts - wanting to be this and then wanting to be that (example - wanting to be the best financial analyst / best tax expert / best creative mind and so on and so forth......man I tell you the way the mind moves and especially the speed with which it moves - jumping from India to the USA to Thiruvannamalai and then Macchu Pichhu all in a flash - makes sped of light seem like a fox trot!!!!!!) when it happened - the solution / strategy is NOT "wanting" to be this and that but just"being" - hence this philosophy of "just be"...........

Devan said...

I am happy to come across this blog.
I would like to receive short quotes from you on a daily basis.So that i can try to put them in practice the suggestions

koundinya said...


Happy to find this Blog on the Net.and i wanted to share something About Adi-Shankara and Conversation which he had with Chandala ( Parameshwara)

Janmana Jaayathe Soodraha Karmana Jaayathe Dwijaha
Veda Paarayano Vipraha Brahma Gyanena Brahmanaha.

Project EarthStarLight said...

2011, to g'search "tat tvam asi" and come across your words on Prof Grimes who taught me a long time ago is as miraculous as life. Amar, i hope you're in touch with Prof Grimes, even more so, that you are in touch with you.. :)

vmanyan said...

what a story, what a saint and what a narrator!If only we let go....!

Anonymous said...

hi Amar ( i think this is your name - noticed it in othercomments.) Nice blog. I would like to receive inspirational mail from you every day. from Bhagavad gita and prasnottara maalika too , if possible. Thanks. sujata
mail i.d-

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