This is the second of the four Mahavakyas or Great Sayings. In yoga, these four sayings represent the ultimate state of self-realisation. Here, Aham Brahmasmi literally translates to I am Brahman. I am God. My true nature is God. I am whole. I am a powerful creator in possession of infinite potential.
This mahāvākya can be found in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad of the Shukla Yajurveda.
What relevance does this have for us mere mortals?
Well, as in everything on the yogic path, all that we do is an attempt to transcend the ego or I-mind. The part of the mind that goes wiifm (what’s-in-it-for-me), that gets upset or annoyed because no one gave us the positive stroke we were looking for, the I that must come first before you. It’s the state we get to when our ego finally dies and is fully transcended because we see it for what it is. That the ego is nothing but a figment of our imagination. Yet, the ego can be extremely real to the majority of us.
Related reading: True goal of yoga is to transcend, transform and transmute.
So why do we need to transcend the ego when the ego can be a good thing
Sure, the ego is absolutely necessary for us to survive in this material world. It enables us to go after what we need to make life comfortable. It lets us strive and compete. Which means in reality a Catch-22 situation. Like here in Singapore, you will find it’s a pretty miserable place to be in if you are the sort who can’t stand seeing yet another shopping mall at every corner. But then that’s what a small country has to do to survive. All that consumerism just goes to create a situation where I need to have this or that in order to stay on top of things. It moves the money around. It creates jobs in manufacturing, import, export, the whole works. Unfortunately, it also creates the ripple effect of people adopting a competitive mindset. It comes out as how-come-I-am-not-as-good-or-I-don’t-have-the-same-opportunities-as-you.
What about the sannyasin who have left home and all belongings behind
Ah, me thinks this is a soul who has either gotten there or yet to get there so he relinquishes the last bits in order to reach the ultimate. Then there are those enlightened ones who remain in the world but not of the world, continuing their mundane routine but with eyes that really see and a heart that really knows. I remember Sadhguru sharing a story about how he was at a market and he stopped at a vegetable stall where the smallholder had this glorious golden aura, the sign of an enlightened being. Apparently, the sabzi wallah chose to remain where he was, selling his vegetables and sharing his good fortune by blessing people with a sickness! Say what? Yes, a sickness that will floor them but wake them up which was his own personal experience. That’s how he got enlightened. So the next time you stop at a sabzi stall…..