The belief in the indestructible and eternal nature of the Self is a most vital point in spiritual life and practice. Empirical sciences, busy with the material aspects of things, are not sufficient to explain life as such. The living body is, no doubt, a combination of cells as biology tells us ; but the principle of life that animates it is something different from the dead matter through which it manifests itself.
As Sir Oliver Lodge has expressed very clearly, "The behavior of a ship firing shot and shell is explicable in terms of energy ; but the discrimination which it exercises between friend and foe is not so explicable. The vagaries of a fire or a cyclone could be predicted by Laplace's calculator, given the initial positions, velocities and the law of acceleration of the molecules, but no mathematician could calculate the orbit of a common house-fly.
Life introduces something incalculable and purposeful amid the laws of physics ; thus it distinctly supplements those laws, though it leaves them otherwise precisely as they were and obeys them all."
There are biologists who go so far as to declare that the brain secretes thought just as the liver secretes bile. Thus, according to them, mind is a product of matter. But it should not be forgotten that the conception of matter is undergoing a revolutionary change in the thoughts of some of the first class men of science today. As the distinguished physicist and astronomer, Sir James Jeans, clearly acknowledges, "The universe begins to look more like a great thought than a great machine. . . . Mind no longer appears as an accidental intruder in the realm of matter. We are beginning to suspect that we ought rather to hail it as the creator and governor of the realm of matter. Not, of course, our individual minds, but the Mind in which the atoms, out of which our individual minds have grown, exist as thoughts.'
To the materially-minded, the body and the world of matter are realities of the first order. And whatever is taken to be real for the time being, draws out the whole soul of man his thoughts, his feelings as well as his will. But when the new factor of spiritual consciousness begins to exert its influence upon the seeker after Truth, he comes to doubt the ultimate reality of his body and the world of matter and mind, nay, he instinctively comes to regard his Self and the Divine to be more real the former. Consequently he begins to react in altogether a new way, and his entire life and thought undergo a transformation.
This is pointed out in the Bhagavad Gita : " The Self is never born, nor does It die. It is not that not having been, It comes into being. It is unborn, eternal, changeless, ever Itself. It is not killed when the body is killed" (II, 20).
So the man of Self-realization gets rid of the fear of death ; for having attained to the knowledge of the true Self, he has become immortal.
Even the sincere believer in the eternal nature of the Self should be free from fear. So the Bhagavad Gita says again : " This, the Indweller in the bodies of all, is ever indestructible. Therefore thou oughtest not to mourn for any creature " (II, 30).
The same book further says that the aspirant who is steady in the ideal and in the path leading to its realization should perform his duty, giving up attachment and remaining indifferent to success or failure. Taking refuge in the Lord who dwells in his heart, he should follow the divine path and approach the ideal more and more.
What is the Self? What again is God?
To the theist, God is the indwelling Spirit, the Self of his self. To the monist, God is his true Self itself, as distinct from the false self which he takes to be real before the dawn of the highest spiritual knowledge. In trying to realize his real nature, he finds that what he has been calling his own self is only a shadow of Reality, that his so-called personality is but a reflection of the eternal Principle. He gains perfection in his ideal when he becomes one with It.
Speaking on this point, Sri Ramakrishna observes : " Know yourself and you shall then know God."
What is my ego ?
Is it my hand or foot or flesh or blood or any other part of my body ? Reflect well, and you will know that there is no such thing as 'I '.
The more you peel an onion, the more you find it to be all skin ; you cannot get any kernel at all. So when you analyse the ego, it vanishes into nothingness. What is ultimately left behind is the Atman (Self) the pure Chit (absolute Consciousness). God appears when the ego dies".