Who Am I?
By Swami Dr Snehananda Jyoti on 18-03-2010
are we? How free are we? Do we experience the freedom that God and nature
intended us to have? These questions haunted me for a long time. These
questions haunt me still after living and working in the world’s two greatest
democracies: India and the USA. Who am I?
relates to my identity. How free am
I?relates to my freedom – the most distinctive characteristic of a human
being. They are essentially and inseparably inter-connected. From my experience
and clinical practice I have come to the conclusion that we are heavily
programmed and conditioned from birth by our parents, relatives, teachers,
religious leaders, politicians, society and culture, and advertisements and
commercials. The more programmed we are the less free we are. While the
formation of a conscience based on universal moral and ethical principles is
essential, we rarely pause to look at those pervasive and pernicious forces
that diminish, eat into like termites, and even destroy our freedom. In a way
we are all like the elephant in a circus that is trained to perform by a
trainer and his/her whip. Does the elephant know that it can toss the trainer
with the whip and create havoc? Of course we do not need to create havoc, but
we may need to throw out many of our trainers/leaders.
am reminded of a story. A farmer living at the edge of a forest went for a walk
one day and found a lion cub. He brought it home and started raising it with
his sheep. After a year or so the cub became a full-grown lion, but ate,
bleated, and behaved in every respect like a sheep. One day a lion showed up,
and all the sheep including the lion-sheep ran for life. The lion caught up
with the lion-sheep that asked for mercy. The lion tried to convince the
lion-sheep about its true identity. But the lion-sheep would not go for it.
Finally the lion took the lion-sheep to the edge of a pond, and asked it to
look into the water when the lion-sheep gave out a big roar. At that moment the
lion-sheep became aware of its true identity. Most of us are not aware of our
true identity. If we were we would not be behaving the way do. We would be
letting go of many fetters and baggages that immobilize us.
Any person desiring to live a full
life fulfilling the destiny that God has placed in that person needs to look at
anything and everything that is thought, spoken, or done. This means we are
required to live a conscious and conscientious life free of fear and guilt.
Socrates, a great seer, said that an unexamined life is not worth living.
Mahatma Gandhi was censored and ostracized by his community for crossing the
ocean and going abroad. Many customs and
practices of the recent past, for example, on the basis of race, caste, creed,
and sex were utterly immoral, evil, and inhuman. Yet they were sanctioned or
condoned by most of the so-called religious and spiritual leaders of the time.
Would someone, for instance, who is going to betray Jesus Christ be given Holy
Communion in a church today? Certainly not. But Jesus Christ not only gave
communion to Judas, one of his 12 chosen disciples but also told him to go and
do what he had planned. God permits human beings even to reject God. Why do we
humans who are called to be God-like take away from other humans the very
freedom that God has given? Each one of us is unique, and each one of us has a
unique role to play in this world. Nobody is big or nobody is small as a human
being. We are all one in the One. The greatest thing that a human being can do
is to live a life of true identity, freedom, and awareness wherein none is
abused or diminished, and everyone is respected, enhanced, loved, and cared
About The Author
Dr. John K Thekkedam (Swami Snehananda Jyoti) spent most of his life as a clinical psychologist in USA. He began his public life as a Jesuit priest. Quite attracted in distinct philosophies, he left the society and founded 'East West Awakening'.