Who am I?
The only question worth asking yourself
Existence is given: I exist. It’s a fact.
The human being is the only creature that has the potential to become self-aware: and until he implements this potential, he continues to seek. It’s not enough for him to know who he is through others. Hence the urge, the desire to search, to know.
There are two kinds of knowledge: that of the world as an object and that of the Self, as the subject.
Every journey of knowledge that doesn’t include the subject cannot lead to yourself. To discover the secrets of science, to apply the wonders of technology or to acquire an encyclopedic thesaurus, can never satisfy you, until you go on your own to conquer the most fascinating and mysterious bastion: your Self.
Just saying “I exist” won’t be enough. It will be followed by the question “Who is this I? “” Who am I? “.
And you will realize that it is the only question worth asking yourself.
Many questions, one question “Who am I?”
As humans became aware of being here, they have been, consciously or unconsciously, wandering about their provenance and nature, raising existential questions, i.e. inquiring about existence itself.
The thirst to search for the real Self, the Truth and the Divine, is inherent to man.
Since always, humans have been searching for something bigger and deeper than mind and survival dimension.
The sense for the divine was already alive among our forefathers that first inhabited this earth, which believed that supernatural powers were behind climatic events or any unexplained natural phenomenon. They sensed that something bigger and mysterious animated those events, therefore it painted not only their material life, but also their spiritual beliefs.
The path of phylosophy
Men of all ages and cultures have asked themselves the same questions.
- -Is there God?
- -Who created the world?
- -Which is our origin?
- -Why are we here?
They sought for answers in various directions, depending on cultural environment and on the available informations. All these questions, and many similar others, have some common traits:
- -they concern all human beings, not one in particular
- -they trigger mental answers to which there are no evidences nor outright disprovals
- -these answers depend on belief systems of the one who processes them
- -so they don’t lead to factual certainties, but rather to doubts, or at the most to false certainties
- -therefore generating more questions and confusion
Philosophy (= love of knowledge) has tried to satisfy this growing longing to know. But the experiential facts show that man’s thirst for real knowledge has not been met by this approach, leaving human problems unsolved and that thirst unquenched.
Socrates understood this deeply. He realized that no one can say anything about the outside world, the mysteries of life, the universe and man, as long as the knowing subject remains unknown. He thus placed the subject at the center of the inquiry. His admonition to “Know Thyself” pushes us in this direction.
The way of psychology
More recently, psychology has taken up that invitation, trying to address what is inside of man; the psychic components are the objects of its analysis and study: mind and emotions, conscious and unconscious. The questions to which psychology has tried to answer can be thus summarized:
- -Why have I particular thoughts?
- -Why do I feel emotional impulses?
- -Why do I go through discomforts?
- -Why do I relate to others following particular patterns?
- -What do I want?
- -How can I improve myself?
The enquiry undertaken by psychology, although centred on the individual, does take into account the phenomena that happen inside, but does not consider the one WHO lives them. The subject still remains unknown.
Psychological investigation has the potential of making us more aware, by discriminating the issues of the inner landscape; it tries to help by processing them through a dialogue, in order to familiarize with what happens inside. So it has its usefulness but in the long run it does not satisfy our thirst to know ourselves directly, ontologically. Why? Because the more we go through the analysis of our psychic phenomena, the more we realize that something more fundamental is missed.
Who am I? Beyond psychological analysis
What is missed, or better, Who is missed? We have been missed. Because we are not the phenomena, thoughts, emotions, our moods and problems. Or better, we are not only those elements. Knowing them gives a partial, superficial knowledge of who we are, but it does not and cannot lead to the essential core. Delving into them with analytical tools, can be a phase of self-exploration, certainly useful to our personal development and understanding of our traits, but not to reveal WHO we are.
Without the direct knowledge of who we are, we go round and round, like a cat chasing its tail. What we analyse will be never resolved and integrated, but it continues to perpetuate itself, unless the space free from issues that’s our being, is found. It is from this perspective that psychological issues cease to be generated. Otherwise, it is not explained why years of analysis do not bring resolutions in people’s lives, but adaptations and adjustments of the same psychological structure. The individual rearranges the mental scenery and it feels right for a while, but his inner agony is not resolved. The agony is due to the lack of knowledge and contact with the real Self, therefore the discomfort resurfaces with apparently different issues. Their leitmotiv is: “My life doesn’t satisfy me”.
- In fact, how can I know what I want, if I don’t know who I am?
- How will I make sure that my relationship with people can work, if I am a stranger to myself?
- How can I get a satisfactory answer about the nature of my impulses, if I do not know my true nature?
- What is the origin of what I feel, of what I live?
- How can I solve my problems if I don’t know the one who created them?
If I linger in analysing my issues without moving beyond them, in the long run I will establish a pathological relationship with myself, which isn’t an authentic connection, but a trap, because based on problems. This will constantly keep me on the outskirts of my beingness.
When we refer to ourselves, we speak in the first person, using the terms ME and MY without a real connection to the meaning of these words. The most common acceptation indicates belonging, ownership. Not being. What a shame. Therefore the pain.
A certain degree of intelligence is required to get tired and ask oneself: “But who is this I I’m referring to? Who am I?” This question is likely to open a gap, a suspension, an interval. If in this case fear prevails, one will recede from giving oneself the time to find out. But that “thing”, that void, sooner or later will recur, reminding, underlying every aspect of our lives, attracting us to it. Every effort not to hear that call desensitizes us, because it comes from within, it is the deepest and most real part of us: by not listening to it, we cut ourselves off from the source of our lives.
Maybe we feel like kids in contact with something unknown, a place with no landmarks. Then we pull back. We can do it a lot of times, not daring to stay there, unless our longing and curiosity to know gets more intense that fear, then … ..we give ourselves the chance. And it happens!
Individuating oneself: containing the infinite
If I analyse my psyche, watching what happens to it, I will always have to deal with the same range of causes and effects. By careful observation, the deeper we dig into analysis, the more we realize that every human being behaves by repeating some recurring recognizable trends.
Psychology is rich in typologic systems: it reviews and groups most kind of recurring personality types. Each of us fall into one or more characters, depending on the personal history that one has had. Knowing oneself from this perspective is useful to develop a basic form of physical, mental and emotional awareness, detailed enough according to the reconstruction of our past and to the cognitive and behavioural trends.
But then the question arises: “Is there something that goes beyond all this? Is this what Self knowledge is all about? Is there something about me that goes beyond a more or less precise membership to a recognized psychological portrait? Which, of course, serves to characterize many individuals. So, what is ONLY and exclusively me?”
The same thing happens with many other attempts of self-definition: deviated ways of indicating oneself through socially recognized models, whether “I’m my husband’s wife ….” or “I’m working by ….” or “I’m the son of”… I note that none of these definitions actually addresses me.
None of them hits exactly ONE individual among many. It’s quite common to live, walk, make choices, experiences, driven by the desire to find out and achieve what is right for us. We go to work, get married, start a family, travel, study, thinking we are the ones choosing what we do, not noticing that we are instead walking on a path that others decided for us. This causes disappointment and discontent, because you weren’t the partaker of what you experienced, since your individuation of your Self is still embryonic.
It happens to many to ask themselves “Who am I?” when going through a crisis. Those are the times we have a good chance to open up to know ourselves beyond what we believed and perceived about us up to that moment. Crisis means a breaking through, and what comes to crash is the self-image, which supports our identity. So we feel displaced and we suffer.
It’s a good opportunity to take up the challenge and ask oneself “Who am I?”: the vanishing before our very eyes of a part we believed to be us, will facilitate the emergence of a new understanding. We’re moving beyond what has limited our perception, which we believed to be our identity. It’s a passage to what is called the path to individuation.
We all aspire, consciously or unconsciously, to “be somebody.” We admire those who stand above mediocrity, who have the courage to carry out their ideas, who distinguish themselves for some reason, expressing their creative genius, going upstream. We would like it for ourselves too, but what price are we willing to pay? What are we willing to face, not so much in the outside world, but within ourselves?
Those who reach something significant in life, who realize themselves, who make a difference in the world, had surely witnessed something original within themselves, which manifests as a new invention, a work of art or an accomplishment for the common good. Original is something that has to do with our source: the preciousness of all great contributors, both those who become famous as those who remain anonymous, is the direct connection with their source: the individual who has created them. They convey something divine, priceless, unique. As unique and divine is the creator, their essential identity.
We’d all like to be original creators, to be in contact with the genius within us and reveal it. But we are generally so busy trying to be “normal”, that most of our energies are wasted in this effort; we don’t dare even a small step out of the shared trends.
It is easier to complain that our life is flat and boring, not knowing what to do with ourselves. No wonder, since we don’t venture out of the herd, even when apparently we boast of being nonconformists! We like to define ourselves in form, not in substance. How are we thus going to individuate who we are?
The price to pay to be someone, is to accept yourself all the way, with all that entails. In order to be yourself, you have to know yourself. And you cannot know yourself in depth unless you know who you are.
“Who am I?”: by asking yourself this existential question and waiting inside to the answer to arise, it is the beginning of the liberation of the real Self.
The price to pay for being someone, it is to be emotionally alone. Which is not suffering loneliness, but the beginning of true love.
It’s letting go of those emotions that bind us to the false identity, the false image of ourselves that keeps us in a comfortable zone. Both negative and positive emotions, which we mistakenly take to be ourselves, aren’t WHO we are. The energy wasted with those emotions, that we normally exchange for affection and recognition, can flow into your creative project, in your self-realization. This energy is needed to discover yourself. You need to die to the world of conformist relationships that satisfies only the ego, that keeps you trapped in the patterns of projection, constantly driven by acting your personality.
Who am I? Once you know who you are, there is self recognition. This is true individuation: you acknowledge your true nature, respect it, go with it. You no longer need approval from others, nor search for what you miss outside of yourself.
Although”Who am I?” is the only question worth asking oneself, with all our strength and dedication, it is not easy to do the work on one’s own, mainly because the traps of the ego are many and very smart; they can cause a great wastage of time, confusion, leading to partial or misleading results.
The enlightenment intensive is a spiritual and experiential retreat that supports and guides you into discovering your true Self, providing all the tools needed for you to successfully inquiry who you are. Many people around the world, in search of a deeper dimension of self, have greatly benefitted from meeting the enlightenment intensive retreat.
In it you can discover your own essential identity thanks to some facilitating tools:
- -you’re supported by people who have extensive experience of the process, who participated in many retreats before you, and most important, found who they are.
- -you’re supported by the presence of a group of people with your same motivation and longing, who are there for themselves.
- -you’re supported by meditation techniques that facilitate your finding your way to get to yourself.
Self individuation is the discovery of your Being, it is getting within yourself so deeply where you and only you can enter. The encounter with your Self takes place in a unique way, beyond any possible definition, beyond all that you have ever known about yourself. Self individuation means to recognize yourself just as you are. It is not the result of an analytical process, but a direct contact.
From there begins an endless process of self-knowledge, now facilitated by having touched your own center. Individuation opens up to a self confidence previously unthinkable. You realize that knowing who you are is the true knowledge, the source of all other knowledge. Your looking at the world will have a totally different flavor, because you’ll learn to relate things to you and not vice-versa.
The price to pay to be someone, it’s discovering to be no one.
You get rid of the tendency to want to be someone, and you soar into the infinity of your Being.
by Renata Rosa Ughini and Asimo Caliò Roberto
Copyright 2013 – All rights reserved –
ENLIGHTENMENT INTENSIVE RETREAT
with Renata and Asimo
A RETREAT TO FIND YOUR SELF
surrounded by the beautiful Nature of the Baldo Mountain in Italy
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I used to ask myself, ”Who am I?” It is impossible to count how many days and nights I passed in this query. The intellect gave answers heard from others, or born of conditioning. All of them were borrowed, lifeless. They brought no contentment. They resonated a little at the surface, and then disappeared. The inner being was not touched by them. No echo of them was heard in the depths. There were many answers to the question, but none was correct. And I was untouched by them. They could not rise to the level of the question. Then I saw that the question came from the center but the replies touched only the periphery. The question was mine, but the answers came from outside; the question arose from my innermost being, the replies were imposed from outside. This insight became a revolution. A new dimension was revealed. The responses of the intellect were meaningless. They had no relevance to the problem. An illusion had shattered. And what a relief it was! It seemed as if a closed door had been flung open, filling the darkness with light. The intellect had been providing the answers – that was the mistake. Because of these false answers, the real answer could not arise. Some truth was struggling to surface. In the depths of consciousness some seed was seeking the way to break open the ground in order to reach the light. Intellect was the obstruction. When this was made plain, the answers began to subside. Knowledge acquired from outside began to evaporate. The question went ever deeper. I did not do anything, only kept on watching. Something novel was happening. I was speechless. What was there to do? I was, at the most, simply a witness. The reactions of the periphery were fading, perishing, becoming nonexistent. The center now began to resonate more fully. ”Who am I?” My entire being was throbbing with this thirst. What a violent storm it was! Every breath quaked and trembled in it. ”Who am I?” – like an arrow, the question pierced through everything and moved within. I remember – what an acute thirst it was! My very life had turned into thirst. Everything was burning. And like a flame of fire the question stood forth, ”Who am I?” The surprise was that the intellect was completely silent. The incessant flow of thoughts had stopped. What had happened? The periphery was absolutely still. There were no thoughts, no conditionings of the past. Only I was there – and there was the question too. No, no – I myself was the question. And then the explosion. In a moment, everything was transformed. The question had dropped. The answer had come from some unknown dimension. Truth is attained through a sudden explosion, not gradually. It cannot be compelled to appear. It comes. Emptiness is the solution, not words. Becoming answerless is the answer. Someone asked yesterday – and someone or the other asks every day – ”What is the answer?” I say, ”If I mention it, it is meaningless. Its meaning lies in realizing it oneself.”
From “Seeds of Wisdom”, Chapter 1.