John Levy here attempts to answer the question which has always puzzled mankind: ‘What am I?’
To achieve his aim the author enlists the aid of Hindu philosophy, specifically the essential Hindu doctrine of Vedanta, ‘the end of knowledge,’ and its highest aspect of Advaita, or Non-Duality. Vedanta maintains a perfect balance of theory and practice and is therefore capable of immediate application.
Our essential being is something other than the mind and the body we claim to possess. The author demonstrates that in fact we cannot identify with either. It is the body that is hungry, feels cold. It is the mind that thinks, remembers and desires. A case of simple possession is mistaken for identity with the thing possessed.
‘When I say I own a house I don’t imply that I am a house. On the contrary, I cannot possibly be one. The sense of possessing a house is in no way different from the sense of possessing a mind or a body. A body, like a house, is an object, and so is a mind. But I am the possessor of the object and therefore not the object itself, in this case the body or the mind. In other words, if I possess a body and a mind, I am clearly other than the body or the mind.’
If man is not the body and mind he believes himself to be, what is he? John Levy answers that in his real nature man is being, consciousness, and bliss. He must become centred in his true self and this is accomplished by his separating himself from the body idea. In the words of the ‘Ashtavakra Samhita’, quoted by the author, ‘If you separate yourself from the body and rest in consciousness, you will at once be happy, peaceful and free from bondage.’