The real Self is our inmost being covered by multiple layers. It is our real ‘I’ hidden and camouflaged deep within. We see ourselves as the body. We love our body and use all our energies to make it stronger, more beautiful, agile and powerful.
However, this body is not me, it is just an outer layer, the gross physical body. Underneath the body, there are the other layers of subtle and causal body and finally the Self. Self is different from the ego. The ego says, ‘I am this, I did it, this is mine’. Self has nothing to say. Self is the witness of this life and of all the lives, we have lived so far. The false self that we consider as our ‘I’, is only a reflection of the real Self.
If you look in a mirror, you see a reflection of yourself, but this reflection is not you. Reflection of the sun in a river is not the sun. In the same way, what we think we are, is just a reflection of who we really are. This requires a patient exploration, since we are deeply identified with body and mind. The more you listen to this knowledge and reflect upon it, the more you will be able to experience it, and this will lead you to the point when you will realize who you are. This is the whole purpose of Vedanta and the Upanishads.
You are neither the body, nor the senses; neither the mind nor the intellect, nor the ego. We say, ‘I exist’, but this feeling which is common to all, is not what the real truth is. Everybody has the sense of ‘I am’. Even a dog has it! But this is not a true identification.
Then, who am I? What am I? Here, the journey begins. One needs to be in the presence of a master who has experientially realized this veritable truth. Not somebody who has learned it from books on an intellectual level. The information in books is useful no doubt. But just as reading about water will not quench your thirst; theoretical information will not give you a taste of the truth. It is indeed very beneficial to read the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads. However, in order to realize who, you are; you need to dive deep within. You need to contemplate and meditate on the subject, and remove all those layers which are not you. This is how you will come to know who you really are.