Who Am I?
Chris Bourne examines one of the most commonly asked questions - who am I?
The question "Who am I?" frequently arises... To me, the question is actually more WHAT am I rather than who am I?...
There is just one life in the universe. This becomes abundantly clear to anyone who strips away their limited, egoic view of their reality. If we contemplate deeply what it would be like at the 'beginning' (I use the term loosely) before any experience arose, then eventually a realisation may come that we are everything and nothing simultaneously.
Why is this so? We may realise that to be literally everything, we have to be 'all that is' before any experience. In other words infinite potential. This is because experience arises from relativity - the interplay between 'this' and 'that'. However if there is 'this' and 'that', there must also be 'something else' and if there is 'something else', there must be 'something after that' and so on ad infinitum.
So imagine for example I am holding a book in my hand and in your mind's eye you are looking at it. How do you know it's a book? Besides other things you know it by the space around it - so now you've just created 'space around book'. The point is once we create something and acknowledge that, we are also creating something relative to it. So to really be everything, we can ONLY be nothing - i.e. that which comes before anything.
So we are the absolute from which all experience arises. We are beyond definition and this can be experienced by each and everyone of us. You may then ask, 'but how can there be the absolute now that experience is happening'? This took me a while to figure out. If you imagine we are all waves on an ocean, then for each wave, there is another somewhere else that matches it exactly except it is the 'polar opposite'.
Another way of saying this is that for every peak, there must be a corresponding trough of equal magnitude. For example for there to be 40 degrees centigrade, there has to be minus 40 degrees centigrade. So every wave (every experience) is being cancelled out by another wave. This leads to the zero sum total of all things - the absolute - which pervades all things. It also means that 'I' can be the absolute even though thoughts and feelings are arising.
So what is this experience of absolute like and why is it so hard to be aware of it? The point is, it is the total lack of experience to be realised from letting go of all internal identification and efforting. We all experience this from time to time but as soon as it arises there frequently comes a fear of it. It 'feels' like jumping into a black hole - the abyss. It signals the 'death' of our identification with the ego which feels like the death of the ego itself (although it is not). When we loose the fear of this death, what replaces it (at least in my experience) is crystal clear clarity which remains constantly in the background.
I noticed in the beginning that as this state arose, an inner witnesser kept arising asking the question what is going on? who am I? etc etc (just as you point out). Over time, the inner need to answer these questions dissolves. For me after that there was one question remaining: in this state, how is it decided what action to take next? This took quite a while for me to answer and I had a great deal of help from spirit. I was shown that there is a natural energetic flow of the universe and 'I' have a unique path within that flow. Another way of putting it is that the universe flows uniquely through the space that I am.
In order to be in this space of crystal clear clarity (nirvana, enlightenment) all the time, requires complete absence of doubt that 'right action' will happen perfectly when 'I' have let go of all need to shape events and when 'I' have even let go of the 'I' itself. Once 'I' discovered this, 'I' was able to let go of the 'reins' so to speak.
Then there is a response to events based on an authentic choice. So who is now making the choice? The way it is perceived internally, is that actually 'I' have an absence of choice. When there is no need to choose, the right choice becomes clear:
"Do you have the patience
to wait until the mud settles
and the water is clear?
Can you remain unmoving
until the right action arises
-- Lao Tzu
Copyright © 2006 Chris Bourne. www.openhandweb.org