Who am I? Not sure. 🙂
What is becoming obvious, though, are all the things I am not. How delightful. 🙂 What a relief. 🙂 This inquiry will go a while… I’m not sure it ends. No rush.
Most times, I feel full. I don’t want anything else. If I do desire something, I ask:
“Who wants this, and what do they expect from it?”
If I wait patiently, a tiny creature pulls back a curtain, and confesses:
“I am a belief that promises enduring satisfaction.”
The creature then has this unforgettable expression… as if it wants me to ask more, to indulge. It seems the creature has been preparing for a long journey with me, and cannot resist showing hints of discomfort and surprise that I’m standing there, in disinterested silence. The creature is obviously adept at persuasion and will unquestionably enchant me, if only I engage. I’m outclassed and I know it.
Ahh… I see. Indulgence is what this creature needs to breathe.
Another moment of silence passes.
Finally, I smile… It’s the only response that makes sense.
As with Neo comprehending his context with Agent Smith, the inbound bullets of enchantment freeze – fully exposing them to curiosity. They fall to the floor.
The creature smiles back. In this moment I can appreciate it for what it is… a suggestion from my own mind that is not good, not bad, not true, not false. Simply a suggestion, appearing from some place that is built to offer suggestions. The question reverberates: Who am I?
Poof… the creature is gone.
Why Write This?
Writing is merely another desire. Here too – I must ask – who wants to write this, and what do they expect from it? 🙂 How fantastic! A piece of writing that assaults itself. Ahh… but here I persist. This is not motivated by a fallacy of enduring satisfaction. This is an insight, clear as day, which I am writing to stick a massive flag in my own psychological turf, and sharing to jolt anyone else toward considering their own condition. If I am ever lost, may I remember this flag.
This is one of the wildest lessons I’ve discovered, and applies all day, every day, in a fraction of a fraction of a second. By writing this, time slows way down… and I can fully comprehend the energy exchange between awareness, impulse, and finally, indulgence or nonindulgence. I can become completely fascinated with it. Further, I can consider the entire context in which all of this is occurring. Where am I within this space? What am I?
Observing impulse in this way will strip me down to the core of my essence, which is all I hope to be. It’s what we are our whole lives, after all, as hard as it might be to notice. I am very much intrigued by where this leads, and sincerely delighted to have rediscovered mystery in life. At the same time, there is background music playing that assures me: everything is fucking OK, now 🙂
Resting As ‘This’
Hearing the following conversation shook me up. What Gangaji describes here, I had tasted myself. And it hit me, there is something going on here. Here, she shares her life changing epiphany, brought about by her teacher, Papaji. (This story is featured in Waking-Up app, by Sam Harris).
Papaji: “What do you want?”
Papaji: “Good, you’re in the right place”
Gangaji: “Just tell me what to do”
Papaji: “Just be still.”
So having been a failed but still intent meditator, I assumed that meant, just meditate. So I sat there, in as good a meditation posture as I could muster. And he said
Papaji: “No no no… stop that too. Just be still.”
As that started to penetrate my consciousness I felt a huge fear arise. If I stop that, won’t I regress to this miserable creature?
Papaji: “Stop your practice, whatever practice you have…”
And I finally let that penetrate. So simple, so profound. And then I was still. It was a pretty profound meditation. And then he said:
Papaji: “Good. Now. What do you want?”
And I had to sort of come out of that trance, and say…
Gangaji: “I don’t want anything in this moment.”
And he said
Papaji: “That’s it. Stay there.”
And that was the teaching. Any time I found myself hoping or searching… just to come back. To lose everything. To be still… so radical. My mind was blown.
The Paradox of Stripping Down
How can this insight possibly be helpful? Total retreat from impulse sounds like a curse. Where does it end? Food? Water? It’s pretty obvious where that leads. How is abstinence from impulse virtuous? Further, how is loss of identity possibly a good thing?
This quote nails it, for me:
“When you fully realize that what you’re seeking doesn’t exist in manifestation and can’t be found “out there” in experiences or states of any kind, there’s a relaxation of being and a cessation of seeking. This is true renunciation, not as asceticism or denial, but because you see that complete fulfillment is only available in the Now. Once this is finally acknowledged by the mind, there is a giving up, and attention naturally turns back on itself in a kind of spontaneous self-inquiry.”
– Stephan Bodian
Unreal. One more…
“Those who embody the peace and joy of the awakened heart may just as readily be ordinary folks you meet on the street—the garbage collector, the housecleaner, the bank teller, the healer. My Advaita teacher, Jean Klein, was a cultured European gentleman who wore silk shirts and cravats and enjoyed good food, great art, and classical music. His public dialogues were generally punctuated by long silences between the words, and his teachings, delivered in a soft but deeply resonant voice, were articulate, powerful, and to the point. By contrast, my friend and teacher Adyashanti is a California native who used to race bicycles and climb rocks and now enjoys a good poker game and motorcycle rides in the country. His satsangs have a more casual, contemporary feel and are punctuated as often by laughter as by silence.”
– Stephan Bodian
Two important points here.
First, this is not total retreat from impulse. This is recognizing the power to flow with impulses that are worthwhile, and let go of ones that are not.
Second, this is not total loss of identity. Instead, this is loosening grip on who you understand yourself to be, and becoming curious about your deepest nature.
Returning to the question we started with: who am I? Well, I am an older brother, an avid runner, an early retiree, a nutrition and fitness nut, a happy traveler, a lover of people and their stories, an insatiable reader, a writer, an explorer of ideas. But in the deepest sense of the question, I am an essence that is none of those things. An essence that is mysterious and loving and lives inside every person reading this. Would it not be wonderful for more people to discover this jewel?
Accept life as it comes each day. Make subtle adjustments that embody what I feel is true. Stick to my values. That is really it.
Considering where I was at nearly two years ago, I could not possibly be more content with the place I’m at “now”. Well, perhaps more contentedness is always possible, but if so, that is of no concern 🙂 Finally, I am gently curious about what may unfold next. Though, may this curiosity always be just that, and no more – gentle.
A Nondual Parting Thought
What is consciousness? Consciousness is not Neo, consciousness is not Agent Smith. Consciousness is the entire Matrix 🙂 We are consciousness.
“We may call it different names—peace, or awakening, or enlightenment, even love—but what most of us are looking for is happiness: deep, abiding fulfillment and completion. The problem is that we’re looking for it in the wrong place. We’re looking in the places where society or our conditioning tells us to look—in the fulfillment of our desires. But that is not where true happiness is found.”
– Joseph Goldstein
“The root of all desires is the one desire: to come home, to be at peace. There may be a moment in life when our compensatory activities, the accumulation of money, learning and objects, leaves us feeling deeply apathetic. This can motivate us towards the search for our real nature beyond appearances. We may find ourselves asking, ‘Why am I here? What is life? Who am I?’ Sooner or later any intelligent person asks these questions.”
– Jean Klein