The Upanisads state that anything that I hold dear is clear to me because the self is dear to me. Whatever is important to me in this life is so because the self is important. The Brhadaranyaka Upanisad simply says everything is dear to me for my own sake. Another treatise, the Pancadaéi, also raises the question of this ’me.’ It is explained that the ’me’ can have three meanings: it Could be primary, it could be secondary or it could be false.
We may be so attached to our child that we are prepared to do anything for the sake of that child, even to the extent of giving up our lives. Similarly, there are people who love their country so much that they are willing to give up their lives for their country. In these cases, there is a strong identification with something other than the self. Therefore, even in the awareness that the child or the country is not the ‘I’, the identification with it is so complete that the child or the country becomes the very ‘I’ to which one is strongly attached. This is the secondary Self. Often, the ‘me’ is the body or the personality, the upadhi – उपाधि -, which is not the real ‘me.’ Out of ignorance, however, one identifies completely with it and considers it to be oneself. This is mithya मिथ्या; or false identification.
In truth, the ’me’ is one’s self. The self is that which is separate from the three bodies: the gross, the subtle, and the causal; it transcends the five kosasl – कोष – or notions and is witness to the three states of awareness: the waking, dream, and deep sleep states. The nature of the self is satchitananda सत्चितानन्द. Thus, the true ’me’ or ’I’ is satchitananda सत्चितानन्द or brahman ब्रह्मन्.
The meaning of ’me’ keeps changing in different situations. One thing, however, is certain: whatever we look upon or identify with as being ’me’ or the essential ‘I’ in a given situation is our primary equation and dearest to us in that situation. Every other object or association becomes secondary in that situation.