Who am I
When we ask the question, Who Am I?—if we look directly rather than thinking about the question mentally and speculatively—what do we find?
People usually think we’re supposed to find SOMETHING, and they keep looking and looking for what it is they are supposed to see and wondering if they’ve got it yet.
But the question is designed to reveal that when we look back to see what is looking, we find nothing! Or, we could just as easily say, we find EVERYTHING! We find this presently appearing display of cats and dogs and chairs and tables and highways and farmlands. And we always find Here / Now. Wherever we look, wherever we go, whatever location shows up, whatever time of day it is, it is always Here / Now: this placeless place of presence, this timeless eternity that is the one and only present moment.
What we don’t find when we look directly to see what I am is “me” – that imaginary “somebody” who is supposedly encapsulated inside “my” body looking out. Instead, all we find are ever-changing thoughts, stories, mental images, and sensations that form a kind of mirage-like imaginary entity – the thinker of my thoughts, the doer of my deeds, the observer of my life. But as with any mirage, when we approach it, it vanishes.
When we look closely, we see that EVERYTHING is moving and changing. Even “the body” – when we investigate it, all we find experientially are ever-changing sensations and images, and scientifically, all we find are ever-changing processes (blood circulating, nerves firing, cells dividing, heart beating, lungs expanding and contracting) all in continuous exchange with the so-called (ever-changing) environment. And if we pay attention to actual experience rather than to our thoughts ABOUT our experience, we can see that nothing actually “comes in” from outside. Everything is simply right here, utterly immediate, inseparable from the awareness that is perceiving. We cannot find any actual place in direct experience where “inside of me” turns into “outside of me”. The apparent boundaries between self and not-self are like the lines on a map between one country and another.