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To begin with, you must know who you really are. Are you the body? If you are the body then why do you say, "This is my body"? Since you call it, "my body", you must be something different from the body. When you say, "my heart", then that means that you are something different from your heart. Your heart is an object possessed by you, its owner. You declare, "This is my brother, this is my sister, this is my mind, my body, my intellect". The unchanging element in all of these declarations is my. There is a true I, which stands behind this little my and gives rise to it. It is really the deepest consciousness in everyone and in everything. It is the universal I, the divine consciousness. This divine consciousness is all-pervading. It is within you, around you, below you, above you, and beside you. Truly, it is you.
This divine consciousness can be found everywhere, in everything in the world. But to realize it, the mind must be turned inwards. You must become inner-directed and search out your own truth. You must realize that you are not this, you are not that... you are not the mind, you are not the body, you are not the intellect. Then who are you? The answer comes, "I am I". This is the right path to follow for self-realization. This can only develop when you follow the path of love, the path of devotion. To search for God there is no other way.
Everywhere you look, the formless has taken on forms. God is present everywhere. But in order that you may comprehend him, he has taken on a particular name and form. He is everywhere as the formless divinity, but before you can get that realization, you have to develop your love and devotion for the Lord with form. Therefore, in the beginning, you enter the devotional path at the lowest rung, and worship the Lord with a name and form. Then steadily, inch by inch, you rise to a higher state. You withdraw your mind from the external world and worship the formless, until finally you realize your own reality as the formless divine principle. That is self-realization.