Here we go out onto the skinny branches.
A simple question with a complex answer.
Who am I? What answer comes up when you try to answer that question?
Is it your name? Does your name sum up who you are?
Is it your job? Were you always that same job?
Maybe you start coming up with the story of your past? Does the past define who you are in this moment, locking you into a static person?
Maybe you go back to Descartes and the old ‘I think therefore I am.’ When you think though, who is inside noticing the thoughts?
Are you place you find yourself in now? Are you the person you remember being in the past? Are you the person you hope to become tomorrow?
Who is answering the question?
For just a moment take a step back, instead of trying to answer who you are, try to identify who is answering the question. Who is it that looks out of your eyes? Who is it that feels the anger and love and joy in your life? When you think of your answer to who am I, does the answer encompass the being that is reading and thinking about this right now?
Are all of those answers labels that you use so that you don’t have to think about this? Is there a voice in your head like mine? If you stop and listen to that voice – is it you? How can it be if you can listen to it? Who then is doing the listening?
Okay, I’m lost. I don’t know who I am.
These answers don’t have easy questions. And if you are anything like me, they only bring up more questions. If I’m not my name, and I’m not the voice in my head, then maybe there are other pieces of me that I have mistakenly believed are me. Like my limitations – am I really an introvert who doesn’t like social situations? Is that who I am? The answer is a pretty clear no. Am I simply the husband of an amazing teacher? How could I be if I still exist when my wife is not around?
The point here is that we can choose to recognize that we are not who we’ve always thought of ourselves as. We are not bounded by the labels and descriptions that we have put in our resumes and facebook profiles.
I am big.
If you were boundless, what would you choose to be? How much capacity would you choose to have? If you are big – what can you do?
You are – that much is clear. Whoever it is that is reading this blog post and asking these questions exists, but we don’t have a good way to describe who they are. The nearest word we have is consciousness. I am consciousness.
So, if you assume that you do exist and you recognize that you are not the labels that you have put on yourself where does that leave you?
It puts you in a place of choice. You can choose the actions that most closely reflect that consciousness. Is it a loving and open consciousness? Does it possess inherent beauty? Is it ‘worth existing’? How does that change what you do right now? How do you want to define your existence from here on out?
Why this is on my mind:
I recently started reading The Untethered Soul at the recommendation of a friend. It has hit a very soft spot in me as I read