“Who am I?” The majority of us use the word “I” to indicate himself, adding an action, or a feeling to it: “I have been in such place,” or “I feel good,” or “I feel bad” “I have been cheated … loved … caressed.” We say “I” referring to ourselves, but we probably never identified what we exactly mean by that.
Am I perhaps the body, my emotions, my history?
Let’s say I’m the body. If I say “I’m hurt”, who was hurt? The body was hurt, I could feel the pain, then I am not the body, then who am I? What is the nature of this entity that perceives?
When we say “I was on vacation”, who has been there?
I am maybe the result of my personal history? It cannot be, because I was already there when my story began. And I was present during every different event, from birth, to the progression of growth, in all its phases. And if I think I’m my past history, it is very likely that I will draw a future similar to my past, with the same trends, because I think I’m such a person, with a particular character, with my weaknesses, strengths, qualities and defects. So I’ll behave coherently with my self image.
But can all these things really define who I am?
Can the water temperature define water? No, it defines a quality that could also be different from the temperature; it could be salty, sweet, dirty, clean, but these things don’t define the essence of water. Just as it cannot be defined based on the route that it follows or the shape that it takes: be it a river, a lake or the rain.
The same principle can be applied to human beings. Whether I’m joyful, depressed, Italian, tall, male, of good family, or an engineer; can all these characteristics define who I am? Evidently not. I must necessarily be something more intrinsic.
We live by giving to the word “I” a value that it really doesn’t have: the reason is we identify, that is, we think we are something external to us, like what happens or has happened to us, or we attach an identity to something we do. We derive a sense of identity from the events we have experienced, the kind of personal history we had; all that, seen in a sequence, gives us a sense of who we are.
While each of the events that make up our history are individual units, existentially disconnected from each other. We could change their course by simply residing at the origin, that is, with the one who perceives the events, the witness, and using our free will.
But when we remember our past, we recognize that things have happened as they did; we can complain with the benefit of hindsight, but as we know it is of no use.
We need to take into account that with another type of consciousness, of awareness of ourself, things would take an unpredictable course: we would participate in it, not simply be victims of circumstances.
We don’t want with this to criticize or judge the history of each, but to point out that we think we are something we are not.
To investigate the present
To participate in my life in a more creative way, I need to find out “Who I am” now, in the present, to break the continuity with the past that has characterized me until now. If I think of being my history, it will be unlikely that I will do something new, inconsistent with what I have done in the past, because I would not recognize the one I believe I am in it. I cannot even force myself to do something new by vibrating in the old mode, that is identifying with the ego and not being who I really am.
Knowing oneself is tantamount to know the source of our existence, the centre of our vital energy. It means to recognize and make contact with our deepest and most intimate individuality, so that it becomes possible to live life with a sense of direction, naturally moving toward what fits with us, that we didn’t know how to look for.
To enquire true nature means pointing the arrow of awareness towards yourself, allowing it to pass through the layers of personality deep to the centre, where you find out that who you really are is always original and fresh, it doesn’t need mind or memory to be contacted, because it is self evident and self supporting.
The personality or ego on the contrary is a defence structure, a process that requires your continuos participation to exist, therefore it needs a great amount of energy to be sustained, a condition of tension leading to a life lived at the periphery of the events, that cannot bring fulfilment.
Without the direct knowledge of the real Self, we are destined to repeat our past by projecting it into the future, including what we didn’t like. Often we cling to what once gave us pleasure, but without experiencing the same contentment again. It is no longer the original experience, but a bad copy, a formality that we can at best get along with, but without the satisfaction of living in real time what springs from our source of creation.
By contacting the real Self we can begin to learn from our mistakes, rather than judging ourselves for it, breaking the cycle of unconscious habits. The best way to learn is to make mistakes. Who does not, also lives not, does not try, does not get out there.
If we decide to not continue on a path already traced by others, just to be sure of walking on safe grounds, we are bound to make mistakes. But it is through them that we mark our way, that we create our own path in life, by following an unknown route. The education we receive and the society around us is structured so as to make us follow trends acknowledged by everyone: in this way we will be safe, but with no sense of adventure, no ecstasy. We’ll be dead before the death of our body.
Beyond mistakes, consciously
Once having known oneself, the individual ceases to be afraid of making mistakes or take unknown paths, because he realizes that what is defined as wrong brings something right. In fact, every mistake, if lived consciously, takes us closer to what we want. And we find out what we want when we get it.
Most of what we desire has already happened in our past: mind projects it modified into the future, but it is always the same desire.
In order for something new to happen, we must reside in our being, that space of presence where past and future have no influence, witnessing the birth of something new springing from its depths.
When we know who we are, we don’t get lost by identifying with something false, but we naturally vibrate so as to align with what can satisfy us. And above all, we are able to recognize it.
When our eyes are aimed elsewhere and not to the present, and this is the situation with many people, we don’t grasp what is our own because we don’t recognize it, we don’t give it the right value. We are rather directed by the fear of survival, by the desire to live a better life, at the same time holding on to an identity which is the cause of our unhappiness, of our exposure to what we don’t want, fed by the complaint about how harsh and unjust life is with us.
In fact, unless we know who we are, we fail to know exactly what we want. We only try to shore up our lives with a few possessions: a house, a car, a phone, a few gadgets; a bond which supports our fears, preventing us to come close to the potential of which we are endowed. The point is not in having what we need, the point is in not being possessed by it.
Only the person who has had the courage to ask himself the most significant existential question “Who am I?” and go through the necessary period of solitude waiting for the answer, becomes free to have without being dependent on what he has, on his self-image or on the status quo.
To individuate, contact and be ourself is the beginning of the exploration of our potential in the most real sense of the term. We can thus discover the talents of which we are endowed, put them into practice and expand them, a task which is impossible to actualize from the perspective of the personality. Even the most ordinary things of everyday life acquire meaning because in them we can see how our being interacts with life in real-time. Knowing ourself becomes then a continuous discovery, an infinite unfolding toward understanding the deeper layers of our existence.
By Asimo Caliò Roberto and Renata Rosa Ughini
Copyright 2014 – All rights reserved –
A RETREAT TO DISCOVER YOUR SELF
with Renata and Asimo
in the beautiful environment of the Baldo Mountain, near Verona, Italy
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“People are asking each other. Nobody knows how they are doing, they are looking into each other’s eyes, gathering information about themselves from others. That’s why the opinion of others has become so important. If somebody says you are a fool, you become angry. Why? Or you become sad. Why? You are shattered. You were thinking you are a wise man, because others had told you that you are wise. It was the opinion of others that you depended on. Now somebody else says you are a fool. He can easily shatter your wisdom, very easily. He has thrown a stone and you had made a palace with playing cards. Now all is shattered. That’s why one becomes so angry, so enraged, so violent, and one becomes so worried, anxious. You are continuously looking for what others are thinking, because you know only that which others think about you, you don’t know anything about yourself. Now what kind of situation is this? If I cannot know about myself, who else can know about me? From the outside nobody can watch me, I am not available that way. From the outside only my body can be watched. From the inside I can know my consciousness. Even when you stand before a mirror you see only your body, you cannot see your consciousness in the mirror. Even you cannot see it in the mirror – your own consciousness. You have to see it directly. It is never mirrored, it is never reflected in anything; it is invisible. You have to close your eyes and be it. And that is the only way of knowing it. But people live so unconsciously. They simply live by the opinion of others. What others say becomes their soul. Others can take it away any moment. People remain beggars. Have you known anything about yourself directly? Have you ever encountered yourself directly without bringing the opinion of others into it? If you have not done it, you have not yet lived. Life starts only by encountering oneself, by seeing oneself directly, immediately. Life exists only when you are capable of seeing yourself as you are, not as others think about you. What can they think about you? What can they say about you? They can watch your behaviour, they cannot watch you. If you want to watch yourself, only you can do that, nobody else. It cannot be done by servants. It cannot be delegated to somebody else. It cannot be done by the experts either. But we are so much interested in others’ opinions because we are absolutely absent – there is nobody awake inside. Deeply asleep, we are snoring inside.”
From “The Secret of Secrets” Vol. 1, Chapter 1.