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Who Am I… And Does It Matter?

May 15, 2021

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Contemplating our identity is not an uncommon thing. We wonder, who are we really beyond our body, our thoughts, our emotions and beyond our ascribed roles in life?  We wonder, is there something more, something more profound within us that can explain us to us?

So we search deeply for a sense of self that is constant, stable and unalterable. We believe that, if we just knew who we were really, our way forward might be clearer, our struggle might be less and our contentment might be greater.

Perhaps like you, I’ve searched, struggled, fallen into confusion and generally given up trying to understand anything about who I am really. So, far be it for me to present a theory that explains what spiritual masters, intellectuals and philosophers have grappled with since forever.

I can only talk about the conclusion I’ve come to through my own experience and it is this: that a constant and stable sense of identity, of who I am, is, for all intents and purposes, non-existent.  And I’ve concluded that the more I’ve wondered about it and searched for it, the more elusive it has become. My experience also tells me that the wondering and searching were of and in themselves confusing and painful.

So it occurs to me that the only constant in respect to my identity is that it constantly shifts and changes. And it occurs that that is the nature of identity. It is an ever moving feast. So nowadays, when I notice my mind going into that ‘who am I’ wondering mode, I say to myself, “There it is again. How interesting. How quaint.” Smiling, I then direct my attention elsewhere.

Then there is this insight: who or what I am isn’t any of my business anyway, meaning that I really no longer believe that that is the most important piece of business for me to focus on.

Debasish Mridha pretty well sums it up for me: “I am not me. I am not my body. I am my love, my kindness, and my service.” 

Now, if I can attend to those deeper values and make sure that my actions are in alignment with them, then my identity as such really just sorts itself out. That’s my business and it is enough for me.

Tanmaya Guru said, “Who am I? I have not found the answer yet.”

And I say, I don’t think it matters.