Two spiritual teachers whose insights I have found to be valuable, Eckhart Tolle and Ihaleakala Hew Len, made the same observation, coming from different spiritual orientations: conscious living and ho’oponopono. The observation —
The most important question within the life experience is ‘Who am I?’
Who am I.
Why is this question so important? Because the answer fundamentally alters the life experience in one way, or another.
Most people answer the question of ‘Who am I?’ by listing roles —
Mother. Brother. Husband. Son. Wife. Sister. Black. Latina. Gay. Poor. Successful. Homeless. American. German.
Perhaps the most common role used to define self is something relating to employment —
Attorney. Electrician. Realtor. Plumber. Doctor. Entrepreneur. Unemployed.
Defining the self according to roles is very limiting. Why not define yourself as a breather? As an eater? As a waste producer? But you are more than that. Yes, you are! And you are more, too, than any thing that you may do.
Another issue with self definition through roles is that roles shift and terminate. It is an absolute certainty that any role you presently play will eventually end. You may be laid off from your job. Your physical body degenerates and you can longer carry out some task or another. Death may end one of your roles.
During significant economic downturns there are invariably reports of suicide. In this sort of scenario one or more roles has been stripped away — provider, employed, financially stable, independent — and the image of self collapses because roles that were its foundation are gone. There’s nothing left, and no reason to be.
If you are not one of the roles you play, then who are you? You are an extension of Divine Intelligence, sometimes referred to as Consciousness, sometimes referred to as God. Ultimately, however, attaching a label to this presence is impossibility: it is what cannot be described; only experienced.
This presence created you of itself, and gave to you itself. This means that as it is, so are you. And you would define yourself by some job you may do, or that you are someone’s spouse? How terribly inadequate.
In fact, you are all that can be.
Knowing this, the natural progression of the life experience goes from ‘How can I get more?’ to ‘How can I be what I am?’. The answer to this question is inner silence. When the frequencies of internal chatter, of thinking, of judging and condemning, of complaining and coping, of planning, of desiring, of living in the past or the future, are turned off then you experience authentic self.
Authentic self is always present. It is never not there. But we choose to listen to the noise of the out of control ego, and authentic self gets covered over by static.
It is the story of the man who’s begged for years whilst sitting on an old box, who finally looks inside the box at the behest of a passing stranger and finds that the box is filled with gold.
All people will eventually see the gold inside, but many, sadly, will not see until death pulls them from the unconscious sleep state and brings them back to their true reality. The purpose of life is to die before death, to wake from sleep and experience true reality — the gold inside — now.
Open your eyes by becoming internally quiet, as well as ending any resistance to life as it is, and finally come awake.