What is Self-Realization?
We have all heard about self-realization. We have read spiritual quotes related to it, listened to discourses by spiritual teachers or heard of such spiritual experiences. Some of us may be intimidated by the term or overwhelmed by spiritual leaders who have attained it. But what is self-realization? Does it place one in a different realm of existence? What is the need for self-realization? Why must it be the goal of humanity?
Self-realization is the truth of who we are, what we are — the realization that we are not the physical body, the physical form that we believe ourselves to be, but the energy within that physical form that gives us life. Most of us are unable to realize this because of the illusionary world we live in, because of our mind which makes us believe that we are the ego, and because of the senses that make us crave for sensual pleasures. Our mind limits us. It restricts our spiritual awareness. It is unable to focus and contemplate on the energy that lies beyond this physical form. For reasons unknown to us, we are ignorant of the truth. For instance, when we look at jewels in a jewelry shop, we see rings, bangles, chains, and we admire the jewelry. They seem to be rings, chains or bracelets but in reality, they are not, they are just gold. Gold appears as the ring, as the bangle and as the chain. But if you remove the gold, there is no jewelry. Realization that it is gold brings us to the truth that the jewelry is only an effect of the cause ‘gold’.
What is that we realize?
The moment we are able to see this energy, which is beyond this physical form, we are realized. So, what is it that we realize? We realize that we are not the body, we are not the mind but we are indeed the life energy. The life energy is immortal, it never dies. The body dies and disintegrates, but the life energy, the Atman, the Chi, the Prana, Soul or the Spirit can merge with the Universal soul, the paramatman on self-realization. Self-realization further leads to God-realization. God-realization is a journey of realizing the truth about God and thus, knowing God — the relationship between God and man. This spiritual awaking is the path to eternal happiness, peace and bliss, leading us to our ultimate destination — Moksh, Liberation, Nirvana or Enlightenment.
We are not human beings having a spiritual experience nor are we spirits having a human experience. We are embodied Souls imprisoned by the ego, mind, and body.