THE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION you can ever ask yourself is, Who am I? Unless this question has been truly answered - not just conventionally answered - you will still be hungry to know. No matter how you have been defined by others, well meaning or not, and no matter how you have defined yourself, no definition can bring lasting certitude.
It is not difficult to see that this initial thought, "I am somebody," leads to all kinds of strategies: to be a better somebody, a more protected somebody, a somebody with more pleasure, more comfort, and more attainment. But when this very basic thought isquestioned, the mind encounters the I that is assumed to be separate from what it has been seeking. This is called self-inquiry.
This most basic question, Who am I? is the one that is most overlooked. We spend our days telling ourselves or others that we are someone important, someone unimportant, someone big, someone little, someone young, or someone old, never truly questioning this most basic assumption. Whether you say you are good or bad, ignorant or enlightened, these are all justconcepts in the mind.
When the question, Who? is followed innocently, purely, all the way back to its source, there is a huge, astounding realization: there is no entity there at all! There is only the indefinable, boundless recognition of yourself as inseparable from anything else.
You are free. You are whole. You are endless. There is no bottom to you, no boundary to you. Any idea about yourself appears in you and will disappear back into you. You are awareness, and awareness is consciousness.
Drop your consciousness back into the space where there is no story, where there is no thought. If a thought arises, see that it is just passing through. It is neither wrong nor right. It is just a thought, having nothing to do with the essential truth of who you are.
The world is not as you think it is. You are not who you think you are. I am not who you think me to be. Your thoughts about the world, yourself, or me are based on perceptions. Whether they are inner or outer perceptions, they are limited. Recognize that, and you hear the invitation into the truth of yourself, which cannot be perceived or imagined, and yet permeates everything.
When all mental activity around who you think you are is stopped, there is a crack in the authority of perception, in the structure of the mind. I invite you to enter through that crack. Come in through that opening. When you do, the mind is no longer filled with its latest self-definition. In that moment, there is only silence. And in that silence, it is possible to recognize absolute fulfillment: the truth of who you are.
The truth of who you are cannot be thought, because it is the source of all thoughts. The truth of who you are cannot be named or defined. Words like soul, light, God, truth, self, consciousness, universal intelligence, or divinity, while capable of evoking the bliss of the truth, are grossly inadequate as a description of the immensity of who you truly are.
The truth of yourself is not foreign to you. It is actually so close that you cannot believe it is you. Instead, you have taken on the conditioning of parents, cultures, and religions as the reality of yourself rather than what has always been with you - closer than your heartbeat, closer than any thought, closer than any experience.
The truth of who you are is untouched by any concept of who you are, whether ignorant or enlightened, worthless or grand. The truth of who you are is free of it all. You are already free, and all that blocks your realization of that freedom is your attachment to some thought of who you are. This thought doesn't keep you from being the truth of who you are. You already are that. It separates you from the realization of who you are. I invite you to let your attention dive into what has always been here, waiting openly for its own self-realization.
Who are you, really? Are you some image that appears in your mind? Are you some sensation that appears in your body? Are you some emotion that passes through your mind and body? Are you something that someone else has said you are, or are you the rebellion against something that someone else has said you are? These are some of the many avenues of misidentification.
Our strongest misidentification, perhaps even more than the identification with the body, is the identification with thought. We have been taught to believe "I think, therefore I am," rather than the truth, which is, "I am, therefore I think." We give thought the authority to define who we are. If I think you are separate from me, based on physical sensations or perceptions, that thought has authority as arbiter of reality.
In our minds, thoughts take the place of God, and they also take the place of the devil. A war is fought between the good thoughts and the bad thoughts. A desire arises to accumulate more good thoughts so that they can defeat the bad thoughts, so the forces of light can defeat the forces of darkness. You are conditioned to believe that if the good thoughts win, your higher self wins, and you will be at peace.
It is certainly true that the experience of life is enhanced when your mind stream has an abundance of good thoughts. It is equally true that pollution of your mind by negative or bad thoughts results in a poisoned mind and body. Yet what is overlooked is that, at the core, there is always peaceful, unmoving awareness. What you overlook is that who you truly are is already at peace. Winning and losing have nothing to do with the truth of who you are.
The balancing and re-balancing and re-forming and re-inventing of what you call "me" is only a thought, with another thought processed on top of that, and then another thought. The thoughts of who you are come from two powers of mind: the power of remembering the past and the power of projecting into the future. Thoughts of past and future create the present thought of who you are.
As thoughts arise, you have a choice. Your mind can either follow the thoughts or be still, letting them arise without touching them. My invitation is to stop: to not build thought upon thought, to not fantasize or replay old events. The choice is for the mind to be still, and in that choice is the possibility of recognizing what is always still, whether there are thoughts or no thoughts.
The moment of recognizing what cannot be thought is the moment of recognizing who you are. It is a moment of the mind's surrender to silence. The only obstacle to realizing the truth of who you are is thinking who you are. It is really that simple.
The huge suffering of personal identification is centered around what does not even exist. The story of who you are does not actually exist. Personal identification begins with a thought, a thought that gathers power because it is bowed to and practiced daily. Then other thoughts are collected to support it, to augment it, and to attempt to perfect it.
Who you are thought to be is imagined, fabricated from a string of thoughts, a mind-generated character. When who you are thought to be is examined fully, it is discovered to be nothing.
Personal identification has to do with a "me" - a body, an ego getting what it wants. Maybe the body wants more food, more shelter, or more clothing. Maybe the ego wants more power, more status, more recognition, more enlightenment. Anyone can look in their life and see how this drive for more, if it is out of balance, can keep them from recognizing the perfect joy and fulfillment of simply existing. Even without ever having more of anything, if this moment is fully met, in this moment there is more than enough of the bliss of being. But as long as there is an attachment to the story of an individual who needs to get more and keep more, the absolute fulfillment that is always present as the truth of our being will be overlooked.
In the past, it was a great rarity when someone stepped forth to speak of what is eternal, of what cannot be lost, of what is already the truth of who we are. And in general, those who have spoken of this have been misunderstood. The way that most people heard them was based on the hope: "If I get what this great being is saying, then I will have what this great being has, and it can never be taken away from me." Then all energy was directed toward trying to get something or figure something out. I invite you to do neither. I invite you to simply investigate directly within yourself to see what is already immortal, already presently here, already the truth of who you are.
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