The Intellect is Not You
In Atma Bodha, a wisp of knowing who I am keeps showing up verse after verse. However, before knowing who I am, it is important to know who all and what all I am not. So the brilliant author Sri Adi Sankaracharya keeps negating everything that is not one’s true self.In the earlier verse, the conditioning of the mind was explained and the Acharya logically deduced it to prove how the mind is not me, with the help of a simile of the reflection of the moon in a placid lake, moved by gentle winds. Even if the wind was not blowing, we see the reflection and say it is the moon.
We can even see the dark spots of the moon and say, “Look, here’s the moon and can you see the dark spots on it?” Actually we are only looking at the reflection of the moon, and not the moon. We are only seeing the picture of a tiger, but when we look at it on a magazine, we say, “Tiger!”
Just like the spots being seen in the reflection of the moon in the water, our likes and dislikes, joys and sorrows and numerous other emotions show up in our intellect where we feel the emotions. The intellect itself is only a reflection of the consciousness in our feeling centre—the heart space.
It is not some particular open space within the heart. It is the same space where we point to when we say: “I, me and mine, for me, my name is, give it to me, I am saying this (stressing on the I).” It is not in any particular organ that these thoughts come. It is a general region in the vicinity of the heart in the chest.
These thoughts appear so real in the intellect.
However, when we go into deep sleep, we do not experience our desires and cravings, our joys and sorrows, our fears and anxieties. It is the mind or the principle of knowing that is constantly active in us that shows up these thoughts. In deep sleep, this faculty of knowing called the mind and the faculty of deciding called the intellect temporarily are in a deep state of rest. When the mind is resting, all the thought waves in the mind are also not experienced.
Therefore, says the Acharya, the intellect or the centre in us—which makes discriminations between who is me and who is not me, what is mine and what is not mine, and decides to choose which side it
wants to take—is not the ‘Atma’ or in other words the self or simply ‘I’.