In the eternal search for “self”, many of us find ourselves constantly looking outside of ourselves for the answers, that silver bullet, that golden thread that will just magically produce the AHA moment and everything will fall into place … yes ?

I was recently told this short story by John Grimes meeting an Indian Monk. I wonder whether it will have the same affect on you as it had on me ?

Once many years ago, I had a “chance” meeting with an Indian saint. He asked, in broken English, “Been India?” Since I had been in India for a number of years, the best, most easily demonstrable answer was to wobble my head in the characteristic side to side manner known to most Indians. The moment he saw that “wobble”, he got a big grin on his face, entered the room, and closed the door behind him. He asked me, “Who you?” Having lived in India and being used to this type of English and being young and polite I began to answer him, “I am John Grimes,” but just as I reached the G of Grimes, he said “Bas, family name, who you?” (Bas is Hindi for “stop, enough.”) Again, since I have lived in India and studied Indian thought, I very confidently and boldly began to reply, “I am the immortal Atman,” but just as I reached the A of Atman, again he stopped me with another “Bas, book name, who you?” With the first “stop”, he wiped out my physical body. With the second “stop”, he wiped out my entire mental universe. What was left? With two small words, he had succeded in conveying to me that I was neither my physical body nor my mental knowledge. How to answer him? So I said, “I do not know.” Quick as a wink, he responded, “Find out.” I replied, “How?” He responded, “Not how, find out.” Again I asked, “How?” He was holding a handkerchief in his hand and he opened his fingers and let the handkerchief drop to the ground and as it fell he said, “Let go.” Again I asked, “How [to let go]?” He responded, “Not how, let go.” And then he turned and left the room.

Almost twenty years passed before I learned that this monk supposedly did not speak English. How interesting! A person who did not speak English magnificently managed to teach the Vedantic truth that one is neither one’s body not one’s thoughts, all in two words, As if that was not enough, he proceeded to teach me how to “find out who I really am” with another two words (“let go”). We all know how to let go, we do it every night when we go to sleep. We never ask out mother, “Mom, how do I go to sleep?” We just “let go” and sleep came. However, we become confused, disturbed, when someone asks us to “let go” of out preconceived notions as to who we are. Like this, we look for a technique in order to meditate or to find an answer to the question, Who am I?