Who are “you”?
In many religious and spiritual practices, answering this question fully, and completely, is the crowning achievement. When one is self-realized, what they have accomplished is something that is infinitely profound, and yet incredibly simple; they have realized what their “self” is.
Here, when referring to the “self”, I am referring to the possessive property of being. The feeling “I am”, which every being experiences, is at the root of this. From what place does this feeling arise? Who is the one who feels this?
The “I” at the core of your being is what feels this.
If I were to ask you who you are, the first response that would most likely come to mind would be your name. This is the identification of your physical body given to you by your parents at birth. For the most part, in present-day society, this is the correct answer to the question, but it is untrue. You are not your name.
After you realize this, you might respond by telling me that you are a musician, a father, an activist, or any other position you hold in this material existence. To this I would respond by showing you that although those are things that you do, they are not what you are.
Next you might get more specific by telling me what you stand for. You might say that you are a pacifist, someone who stands up for what is right and true, someone who seeks spiritual truths, and studies paths of wisdom. Again, this is not who you are.
You are not your body, your mind, or your personality either. I can prove this to you very simply; It is “your” body, mind, and personality, so you cannot be these things; you are the one who possesses them.
The term “Spiritual-enlightenment” is very simply understood as well; it is full enlightenment (or knowledgeable understanding), with regards to the truth of your spiritual nature. This spiritual truth is transcendent of your illusive ego self, which is the very thing that most people believe themselves to be.
Your five senses are what you use to perceive this world. They take place physically through the body, and are experienced by electrical impulses in the brain, but “you” are the spiritual perceiver of these senses.
Your body is just a manifestation of your spirit-soul, used for experiencing the material world.
Have you ever wondered why we look the way we do?
We have eyes for seeing, a nose for smelling, ears for hearing, a mouth for eating/tasting, a brain for thinking, legs for moving around, and many other things, all for the purpose of interacting with and experiencing the physical world. You are none of these things, but instead are the one operating and perceiving all of them.
As you shed the layers of ego, and approach your true self, all things become more and more clear until omnipotence is achieved. Omnipotence and omnipresence are experienced once full ego-death is realized. Some say you can only asymptotically approach the state of full ego death, but if you could theoretically reach it, you would become one with god.
The Hindu religion teaches that “Atman = Brahman”. This simply means that the True Self and God are one and the same. This is why “self-realization” and “God-Realization” are synonymous.
God is the infinite source, which assumes a finite state as man. Your ego does not think, act, or do… It is all God.
God is the non-existent, un-manifest, nothing-ness ; as well as the summation of the entire existent, manifest, everything.
So to sum it all up….
You are the transcendent self, the super-soul, the all, and yet you have forgotten this. You have taken yourself to be your illusionary ego, and now must find your way back to the truth, through various experiences and life lessons, which all take place in Maya (The cosmic illusion).
Self realization is the realization of your true self, which is what actually runs the show, not your ego. Your true self, at its highest potential, is god. By experiencing “ego death”, you can remove your ego from the equation, and become spiritually enlightened, thus realizing your full potential and true existent state as the god-self.
That is who you are.
Self-Realization = Spiritual Enlightenment = God-Realization = Ego Death.