Who Am I?

Aug 13, 2020

Quite often our learners are my teachers. They ask me questions in the webinars and I answer them in a way that seems to satisfy them. Some questions, however, linger long after. As I ponder over the questions, multiple dimensions open up. I am dedicating this blog to our learners.

In a recent interaction, a learner who is not an Indian asked me, “I understand that Buddha said that there is no such thing as the self, is that correct?”

I knew that Buddha denied, very rightly so, the concept of god. To him, after this life what came was the void, Sunya, unknowable, formless, infinite, and eternal. There is no difference between the Sunya of Buddha, the Purna of Shankara, and the Isa of the Upanishads. They all represent the unknowable brahman, the Truth.

I tried to explain that the self, that Buddha talked about and denied could have been the ego state of the self – impermanent and illusionary. That’s when the pondering started for me. I am not sure if that is over. Here’s what came up.

David Bohm in his conversation with J. Krishnamurthy says, “I often feel I am both the particle and the wave. Can it be?”. The dialogue that follows is fascinating. It is one where Quantum Science meets Vedic Spirituality.

I am a particle most often, localised in the mind-body matter. It is with difficulty, I practice what I preach and teach about moving out to the collective. I cannot reach the collective in my matter state. I can only do it in my energy state. The moment I shift into my energy state I become a wave, expanding as energy outside of the mind-body matter.

From being the sensory mindful being, I become a mind-body less energy being. This is a systemic shift. As matter, as a particle, I am localized, focused only on myself. I may look about occasionally, mostly for my survival, but that is not my normal state. As energy, like the wave, I float, I fly and I reach out in unconditional positive regard, compassion, empathy, and love to all, now as well as past and future, known and unknown, near and far. The shift happens internally.

Ramana Maharshi said, “Keep asking yourself who is having this thought?” A learner asked him about when he could not become thoughtless. He imagined an enlightened being would be thoughtless.

This process of self-inquiry (atma vichara), is the process of peeling an onion, till nothing remains but emptiness. This is the sunya of Buddha. It is also the purna and the atman and the brahman.

The particle, till it realizes it is also a wave, is in the mindful ego state of ‘self’. Once it realizes its dual nature and the core nature of the energy wave, the ‘self’ transforms to ‘self’ the atman. The atman (self), is the holographic byte of the holographic whole of ‘self’ the brahman.

The way David Bohm through his implicit quantum theory connected the microcosm with the macrocosm, we can connect the atman with the brahman, the individual consciousness with the cosmic collective consciousness.

The concept is simple, yet, the experiential realization is a bit more difficult.
The particulate matter, when it realizes it’s a wave localised as a particle, becomes potential energy. When it assumes the waveform it becomes kinetic energy. This is in Sankhya philosophy is the concert of Purusha and Prakriti, and in Tantra Shiva and Shakti, the masculine and feminine principles of the Source.

The androgynous representation of particle-wave synchronicity is the concept of ardhanriswara, integrated Shiva-Shakti as a man-woman. The silence of Shiva-Shakti is nondual. There is no separation of the wave and particle. However, the masculine particle does not create. It needs the feminine wave to create and nurture. That role is Shakti, which is dual as the two parts of the creation and the created, living as energy in both. This duality is what Vedanta calls Maya, the illusion, when the created particle does not remember its Source as the wave, or when it does occasionally find it difficult to understand how it can be both matter and energy, particle and wave.

This is the dilemma of mankind. We forget our source, which is divine, and energy. We create our gods as matter, informs that come up from our limited boundaries of mind and body. We descend from the transformational collective consciousness energy state into the transactional self-centered mindful ego state of localized individual consciousness.

The self-inquiry of “Who am I?” leads to this realization that we are both human and divine, matter and energy, particle and wave. Once we realize this we can be comfortable in our skin, within the mind-body framework, fully conscious of the energy we are. This is the opposite of the schizophrenic state that almost all of us live in, conflicted between collective values we aspire to and the selfish beliefs we are enslaved to.

Unite mind, body, and energy, you have nothing to lose but your delusion

Karl Marx (paraphrased)

In the energy state, you are a true coach.

Ram Ramanathan, MCC
Ram Ramanathan, MCC


Ram is the Founder and a Principal at Coacharya. As the resident Master and mentor coach, Ram oversees and conducts all aspects of coaching and training services offered under the Coacharya banner.

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