“Who Am I?” It’s probably the most important question you will ever ask yourself, but the one we tend to spend the least amount of time trying to find the answer to.
Well, perhaps that’s not entirely the case. I would suggest that behind everything we do we are trying to answer that question. Through our actions and the various choices we make we are attempting to define ourselves, to really get a handle on who we are. But we end up with a bunch of labels.
An Ancient Tale
There’s an old tale, which I will adapt here, which illustrates this beautifully;
A guy dies and goes to heaven, arrives at the Pearly Gates and meets an angel. The angel is delighted to see him and gives him a loving embrace. “Welcome, welcome, welcome,” says the angel, “Who are you?”
“I’m Michael Jones”, says the guy. “Oh, no,” says the angel, “I didn’t ask your name. I asked ‘who are you?’”
The guy looks a little confused, then smiles, “Oh, I get it, I’m the systems manager for the Acme Power Company.” The angel shakes his head a little and laughs, “No, I didn’t ask you for your job title, but ‘Who are you?’”
The guy seems perplexed, “Mmmm, oh, I see, I’m a Catholic,” Once again the angel has a little chuckle, “No, silly, I didn’t ask your religious belief, I asked ‘Who are you?’”
The guy is beginning to get a bit freaked out, and after some head scratching blurts out, “I am the father to Shaun and Tracy, and the husband to Michelle.” The angel looks at him full of love, sensing his confusion, “I didn’t ask who you were related to, I want to know ‘Who are you?’”
The guy stands in silence for what seems like hours and eventually looks at the angel directly in the eyes and says quietly, “I don’t know”.
So, witnessing all of this exchange, God in its infinite compassion sends the guy back to Earth for another chance to find out the answer to the question.
Finding Our Way From Ignorance to Bliss
Cool story, eh? So the question is “Who are you?” Really!
Because until we know the answer to this we will always be a bit lost in our lives. Until we know the answer to this our lives will be a see-saw between happiness and suffering. Until we know the answer to this we will be a prisoner to our mind and to the definitions of self it imposes upon us.
True freedom lies in the discovery of the answer to this question. In fact that is the true goal of yoga, to discover, and to experience, our True Nature.
The Answer Lies Within
Call it what you will, and different cultures describe it in different ways, but there is an experience lying waiting for each of us to discover it, and it is within us in every moment. Some descriptions of this experience are Silent, Limitless, Peaceful, Boundless, Powerful, Contented, Perfected, All Knowing.
We are great doers, changing this and changing that, but we won’t find the answer to the question through our external actions – they reflect what we have going on inside currently.
We answer the question and in the process change and improve our external life by going inside and becoming familiar with our True Nature, and that in turn rewrites our understanding and definition of who we are.
For thousands of years meditation has been the method of preference to achieve this. Bringing awareness to our actions and internal landscape helps us discover what is real and never changing within us. It helps us ultimately answer the question, “Who Am I?”
And once we know that answer to that life becomes a glorious, fun and fulfilling expression of ourselves. In short, we live the purpose of our life.