Who am I?
Who is the “me”, “the I”; this awareness I feel of being this person.
And how does it feel for someone else to be them? Do they feel the same things as I feel being me?
“Woah!” Your friends say…
…”That's some deep thinking, man. What have you been smoking?”
But don't let unconscious minds switch off your curious conscious exploration.
It's common to begin thinking like this when you practice meditation, or embark upon cultivating a more mindful existence through philosophical study.
And the reason these questions arise is simple: You are experiencing spiritual awareness; analysing your inner self rather than living solely through external projections of the mind. You are becoming aware of your interdependent, interconnectedness with every other sentient being.
And it's a beautiful thing.
The late Alan Watts explained the “Who am I/me/you” experience wonderfully in his “Still the Mind” audio seminar. Here's an extract that always makes me smile:
“What's going to happen to you when you're dead?
What do you mean “you?”
If you are basically the universe that question is irrelevant. You never were born and you never will die, because what there is is you.
And that should be absolutely obvious, but it isn't obvious at all. That should be the simplest thing in the world, that “you” the “I” is what has always been going on and will go on forever and ever.
But we have been bamboozled by religions, by politicians by fathers and mothers telling us we are not it…and we believed it.”
And it really is that simple…
Essentially what Alan was saying is that if we see ourselves in the correct way, we will see that we are all as much an extraordinary phenomenon of nature as the trees, the flowers, the patterns in running water, the shape of fire, the arrangement of the stars, the formation of the galaxy – you get the picture.
We are no different to any of these things. We make up an intrinsic, ongoing part of the process of existence.
There is no real, separate “I”; that's just an illusion of the ego. The sense of “self” we feel is something everybody feels, and is as important in everybody else as it is in you.
The important thing is to not perceive this as a negative thing because it's absolutely liberating. When you realise you're part of the bigger picture, it becomes easier to accept your place in the world and interact with other people, animals and nature in a more compassionate way.
When you see other human beings as a reflection of yourself; when you see that animals have an equally important place on earth as us humans, you begin to feel more comfortable with your place and purpose in the world and subsequently feel wholly more contented with the ride.
You become liberated from the delusion of material gain and the struggle for appreciation and status. Your mind is gradually unchained as you fall awake into the world and harmonise with one universal consciousness.
So, in essence, we are all “you”, and you are all of “us”. But, what then, is the point of life?