What Am I?
One question seems to arise in the thoughts of every human being on the planet at one time or another in their lives. That simple question is, “What Am I?” or “Why am I here?”
To most, we simply say we’re human beings, and leave it at that. It’s simple, classifiable, and safe for our egos. You know, we have evolved from single-celled organisms over thousands of years, and magically, we evolved to the point of wonderful beings who can play video games and tell the world what we had for dinner on Facebook and Twitter. Wow…deep stuff….
Simple Answers Don’t Suffice Anymore
The simple answer, as easy as it is, always leaves a nagging thought in the minds of many. The question of what happens when we die is lurking in the back of our minds every minute of every day that we are conscious. This will not go away, no matter how hard we try, and is the cause of most of our decisions in our lives. Survival and self-preservation is a powerful motivator, and manifests itself through everything we do.
When we go further, we sometimes arrive at a better question. We know that the body dies. Every organic thing that we’ve ever witnessed eventually dies. That’s a given on Earth. The better question that we often arrive at is that of consciousness itself. If our body dies, does our consciousness as well? Upon death, do we simply cease to be? All that we are, simply goes out of existence?
The Importance of Religion
The we can go even further, and focus on the concept of “all that we are”, with a hyper-focus on the word “are”, or in the singular, “am”. This question has given rise to entire religions, and as a result, entire cultures and civilizations. Religious leaders attempt to explain this in terms of whatever scriptures their respective religions are based on. This is fine for many, and serves to fill a void in their lives. This is the fundamental importance of religion.
The Mindfulness Path Less Taken
However, there are those who want to go even further and attempt to uncover the answer to “what am I?” through direct introspection and investigation. This is the path not taken by most on Earth at the current time. Yogis, monks, mystics, shamans, and other esoteric types have been the ones to forge this path over the course of written history. An interesting thing is happening though. We are starting to see more and more people willing to take the plunge and find the answers for themselves. To these people, the major organized religions just don’t offer the answers that they are looking for anymore.
We May Not Be What We Think We Are
If we are to discover what we are and answer that question “what am I?”, then we need to start at what we “think” we are. When we begin to question ourselves in this manner, we often first begin to define ourselves by what we do in life. “I’m John, and I’m an attorney” Wow…really? How interesting…
We go deeper, and soon realize that we are not simply our roles in society. We begin to branch off. “I’m John, an attorney, and a father and husband…”. This begins to really take off, and sooner or later, you see that no matter how many labels you give yourself, you are not any of them. All of those labels can be stripped from you, and what would you be left with? Take away the job, the family, the house, the car, the clothes, your beliefs, opinions, and preferences, and what are you left with? A body?
Take away the body. What now?
Sure, blackness (comforting thought, huh?. Yet, when you meditate deeply and still the mind, there is something that is aware of the blackness! What is that something that is aware of nothing? Ah, a paradox.
Answer that question and you unlock the first door to the rest of the universe and beyond.