Jnana Yoga

The Sal that you see, hear or read about is just one insignificant physical, mental and emotional ephemeral expression among the innumerable other ephemeral expressions that constantly emanate from God. Sal’s True Self, on the other hand, is none other than HIM, the One Without a Second, the Almighty, creator of all possible existing things. When God says “I AM,” it is the Atman/Ankh who says I AM. When Sal’s Ankh says “I AM,” Sal says “I AM THAT I AM.” This is the only absolute truth. Nothing else matters, only this. Everything else is relative and ephemeral.

The following paragraphs tell the story of how I came into the knowledge of my Real Self.

The Background

Since I have memory of anything, I have memory of myself looking around like a stranger looks at the unknown environment that surrounds him. The feeling that I do not belong has always followed me wherever I go in this world. I grew accustomed to having this sense of alienation since I was a child. Mine is not like any of the typical childhood stories you might have read about in the past. Most childhood stories are usually about dreamlike worlds of fantasy and love or about traumatizing experiences that later make adults do terrible things. Not mine. I did not experience anything worth telling, good or bad, until I was already in my late teens, or thereabouts. My childhood was quite uneventful, yet that uneventfulness would turn out to be quite meaningful as far as my real purpose in life is concerned.

First of all, I do not recall ever getting much attention from my parents or brothers, although I was always aware of the way they got attention from each other. I do recall some instances in which I was the object of reprimands from the part of my parents or the object of contempt or outright aggression from the part of my sister or brothers. Whether the latter was something called-for or not, I do not remember; but for the purpose of my Realization, their past behavior is now totally irrelevant. The bottom line is that I never really got a sense of having any characteristics that could identify me among them, which is probably the reason that later in life I occasionally did some crazy things that would surely make them notice me. Still, regardless of whatever I might have thought I was at any particular moment during my childhood, some ensuing circumstances always made sure I would develop doubts about it. Consequently, I never really developed a sense of who I was and what I was doing in the midst of those people who called themselves my family. I never really thought I belonged with them.

As a result, because of that early sense of alienation, I never developed a full ego in the sense of the ego being that cluster of physical, emotional and intellectual characteristics that we all attribute to ourselves and that constitute the “I am” that we use when, for example, we introduce ourselves to others. I did develop a sense of being a separate entity from the rest of the world, but that strong sense of “I am” that pushes some people to prove themselves in sports, the sciences, the arts or any other field of human endeavor has always been very weak in me. I have never really felt the need to prove myself because I never had a very strong sense of who I was. How can you try to prove the value or the existence of something when you are not even sure of what that something really is?

I always marveled at some people and the way they so proudly assert themselves, so sure about their physical traits, their ancestry, their intellectual or physical or artistic abilities, or anything else that might prompt them to say “I am this” or “I am that.” I always wondered: ”How do they manage to do that?” Conversely, I was hardly ever able to accept any of the characteristics or abilities I might have as a defining trait of my identity, and whenever I have managed to claim any of those characteristics as my identity, something always comes around to make sure it does not stick for too long. Can anyone stick anything on something that does not really exist?

But I am not writing this to impress on anyone the idea of Sal as an egoless individual. I DO have an ego, everybody does. Someone devoid of an ego is someone who would not even move. Even the primitive hunter gatherers who inhabited the world thousands of years ago must have had an ego. They surely had a sense of individuality, of being separate from each other and from the rest of the world. Even the feeling of being hungry is a manifestation of the human ego, as each of us feels hungry by ourselves, thereby experiencing a sense of being a separate entity from the rest.

I do have an ego and one probably much bigger and developed than the one the hunter gatherers probably had. But, by the ongoing standards, I still think my ego is a small and very basic one. This does not mean that I am totally selfless or that I do not have a sense of privacy or that anyone can come around and take any of my few belongings away from me and I will just sit there and watch them do it. No. What this means is that when I think of myself as Sal I do not see much there by way of identity. There is not much there within Sal for me to hold on to and say “I am this” or “I am that.”

Sal may have abilities as a guitarist, language teacher, computer programmer, songwriter, singer, and other similar things, but Sal hardly ever goes around parading any of that for all the world to see, except perhaps when he needs to get a job in any of those fields or when he decides to put together a personal website. And although any abilities and shortcomings that Sal may have do form a part of his identity, this is so only in a superficial manner. None of those qualities and defects has ever been internalized to the point of making Sal think of himself as this or that quality or defect.

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