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383I am a tomato

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  • Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati
    Sep 3, 2005
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      Excerpted from the 16-page discussion on
      Yoga Sutras 2.1-2.9
      Minimizing gross colorings that veil the Self;
      Describing Avidya, or spiritual ignorance

      I AM A TOMATO: Imagine that I said to you, "I am a tomato." What
      would you think? At first, you might smile and wait for the punch
      line of the joke. What if I said it again and again, "I am a tomato."
      What if you came to discover that I really believed that I am a
      tomato? You would probably think I was crazy and want to have me
      locked up. Yet, this is exactly what we do with many aspects of life
      and relationship to the objects of the world. We identify with them
      and mistakenly think that, "This is 'who' I am." This is avidya, the
      veiling or ignorance that prevents us from seeing clearly. We come
      from a country and think we "are" that country. We say, "I am
      American," or "I am Indian," etc. We follow a certain path or teacher
      and say, "I am Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jew, or Muslim." We
      say, "I am a daughter, son, father, mother, sister or brother; I am
      the doer of this or that action; I am good or bad, I am happy or
      sad." Actually, none of these are ultimately "who" I am. One who
      begins to intuit that "who I am" is beyond all of these has begun the
      journey of seeing beyond the ignorance called avidya, and is on the
      journey to realization of the True Self, by whatever name you call
      that, whether Purusha, Atman, Self, Soul or something else. It is a
      journey of yoga meditation and contemplation, leading one from the
      ignorance or avidya of the not-self to knowing that, which we truly