Chapter 1 Verse 3
Who Am I?
We are neither earth, nor water, nor fire, nor air or space. To liberate, know the witness of all these as conscious self (Consciousness) . ॥1.3॥
As we have seen in the last verse, to acquire liberation what we have to do is mainly non-attachment, which will give rise to liberation. But how to acquire non-attachment is also a question. So in short, in the last verse, we have seen that we have to practice karma without expectation. Or karma without doer. Then again the question arises how to practice karma without doer. For that we have to understand "who am I?" Or in actuality "who is doer?" Or there is doer or no doer at all? All these questions are answered in this verse.
To practice impersonality or non-doership we have to understand "who am I?" in actuality. If we understand "who we are?"we need not practice impersonality or non-doership, it will come automatically.
As per vedas this whole conceptual, perceivable, world is made up of five elements. Those are Fire, Earth, Air, Water and Space. The world which is conceptual, perceivable is the world which is diminishable. It has birth and death. For example a visual object comes into being on birth and goes out of being after death. A thought (concept) also arises (takes birth) and diminishes (undergoes death). We can't be body, as this body, right from our childhood keeps on changing and during our life time how many times each and every cell of this body would change. Therefore we can't be body. Can we be mind - or thought. Thought also has beginning and end. It keeps on changing and arising and diminishing. Therefore we can't be thought or mind. Then what is it which is constantly present and does not change. Right from the birth there is only one thing constant in us the consciousness - the act of being conscious of something. There is not a fraction of second this part leaves us. This consciousness is the only constant in us. Therefore we are not body or mind, which are made up from fire, earth, water, air and space. We can't be anything which is made up from fire, earth , water, air and space. Because everything made up from these elements is subject to change.
If we are not fire, water, air, earth and space then "what we are"? A thing which can see/witness change in the objects made from fire, water, air, earth and space, that is in body, mind and the world. That witness, that consciousness does not change irrespective of time, and irrespective of location. Therefore it satisfies the definition of Truth. Therefore we are Truth - the act of being conscious or the consciousness.
When we are fully convinced about our being consciousness, wherever we look, whatever we look, that attitude will be attitude of witnessing.
To know what is actually witness attitude, lets take an example. Suppose we are standing in a balcony looking at the kids playing downstairs in the play ground. While playing let's assume that out of them our own kid is hurt. Then how will be the emotional pain, suffering we will be experiencing, what will be its intensity?. Assume that, instead of our own kid, what will be the pain when our neighbours kid is hurt. How will be the pain when our friend's kid is hurt. And lastly how will be the pain when we see that the kid hurt is unknown to us. Even if the kid is unknown to us still some amount of pain out of humanity will be experienced by us. Each time while our own, our neighbours, our friends, or the unknown kid is hurt, the emotional pain experience by us will be with different, highest to lowest intensity. The last one when the unknown kid is hurt is the right amount of pain suffering experienced by us. That is witness attitude , when the emotions experience by us will be exact, balanced. Somebody may not agree with this example, the example may not be right one to explain the witnessing attitude. But witness attitude is the attitude when we express the right or balanced or appropriate amount of attachment/emotion. Please, understand, that here in anyway we are not suggesting to be an emotionless.