Who Are You?
—And What Are You?
The problem with identity is most of us don’t know who we are. We listen to others and rely on others to tell us who we really are. Have you ever sat down and got to know yourself? There is a philosophical exercise that was first published in Ancient Greece. The thought experiment goes something like this:
There is a ship going from point A to point B. Along the way the ship starts falling apart. Old pieces of wood are replaced with new pieces of wood. By the time the ship arrives at point B only one original piece of wood remains. So, is it the same ship? What if there were two pieces left?
You are not a ship, but the same metaphor can apply to you. I believe that if we are honest with ourselves—that the most fascinating problem in the world, is who am I?
The Cause of All Suffering
It is a bold statement, but one that I stand behind. The cause of all suffering is not knowing who we are. Or even what we are. We create a world based on false identities that when challenged, create a war with others and ourselves.
We’ve started wars over ideologies based on belief systems of many different kinds of religions. Claiming that OUR way is the right way. We’ve killed people for having a different color of skin pigmentation, different genitals, and different political perceptions. When we don’t have a sense of who or what we are, we are open to the suggestibility of others telling us who and what we are.
Whatever you are doing stop and allow yourself to begin entertaining why you believe what you believe. Was it from a book? From family? Friends? Society? Don’t know? Curiosity is the beginning of all great adventures. Both inner and outer.
Why do you believe you are better/worse than another because of the color of your skin? Or what’s between our legs. Follow the thread.
When you go deep enough you will reach a point where you realize you are not your beliefs.
You use them as filters to experience reality. The same way our eyes filter light to experience reality. We cannot perceive all the light from the entire light spectrum. Just a small sliver. So in the same way our beliefs only give us a tiny fraction to experience reality.
The problem comes when we are so attached that we think what we believe and hold onto as our identity is the entire spectrum of existence.
Who and What You Are
The problem with writing about identity is it becomes just another belief. Another mask to add to the collection that one can wear. Nobody can tell you who you are, it must be discovered for yourself.
No churches, books, political leaders, families, friends, teachers, or anyone else in the world. These can all help point the way, but we must all still be willing to use discernment and discover the world alone. They can help show us who we are not.
Take my words with a small pinch of truth. Not something to hold on to. I share with you only my personal experience of exploring my own existence and my relation to reality.
What I have come to understand is I am the awareness of the present moment. My name and all the stories associated with it are a product of the mind. Creating countless experiences and relationships. Past and future. My age is a product of social agreements that we collectively share to have a point of reference while we go through life in a seemingly linear fashion.
My gender and physical body provide specific experiences that have shaped my life and growth. Experiencing the heartache of being turned down by my romantic partners because a 5'4" man is not the socially accepted form of beauty for men. While also experiencing a deep form of self-love and acceptance for an aspect of life that I have no control over.
Every aspect of existence provides lessons for the growth of consciousness. Of awareness in the present moment. I am the awareness of what is happening in the body and mind, IN THIS MOMENT. For it is truly all that exists.
We Are All That
The more heretical and paradoxical statement I will make is that we are all in the present moment. At the very base of existence that is what you/I are.
I am you in a different body. Providing a different experience for consciousness to experience itself. There is no right or wrong in this level of perception. You are having an experience as Mary-Jane and everything that she comes with. I am having an experience as Cory and everything that it comes with. The ancestral stories lie in the depths of our subconscious. Our likes and dislikes, passions and desires, joys and sorrows.
I truly believe that the end of all our suffering in the world is not seeing ourselves as separate. You are me, and I am you. Only we are having a different point of awareness that filters our “individual reality.”
If all of existence is a loaf of bread, then each point of awareness acts like a crumb. We appear to be separate, but only from one point of view. From another, we are all one.
We could solve our relationship to the planet if we saw it as a literal extension of ourselves, and not just something we live on. We could solve war, poverty, and all the other humanitarian and social injustices if we only knew the truth of who and what we really are beyond the illusions of what we’ve been told we are.
We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.
— Albus Dumbldore