02.17: Is that me?
In the Bhagavad-gita, when Arjuna asks Krishna about what his activity should be, Krishna’s sequence of answers indicates that the question of identity takes priority over the question of activity; only when we understand correctly who we are can we figure out properly what we should be doing.
The Gita helps us to understand that we are not we what we normally think we are: our material bodies. This Gita teaching can be experienced through a simple thought experiment: let’s focus our consciousness on our bodily parts: hands, legs, stomach and ask ourselves, “Is that me?” We would answer, “These are my hands, my legs, my stomach…my body, but I am not those parts; I am observing them.” The difference between us and our body and its parts is not just a matter of language, but also of experience: we feel ourselves as the perceiver and possessor of our body and its parts, thus leaving unanswered the root question: where is the “I” who is claiming owners’ rights over the body and its parts?
The Bhagavad-gita (2.17) provides the answer by pointing to the eternal soul as the “I”, the locus of the consciousness that is radiating throughout the body.
That which pervades the entire body you should know to be indestructible. No one is able to destroy that imperishable soul.