mettā letter 6
Friday, January 26, 2018
Dear fellow soul,
When was the last time you asked yourself, “Who am I?” Have you ever asked yourself this question?
No doubt throughout the stages of your life you have been asked by another person “Who are you?” Such a direct question can be negatively perceived by the ego, so perhaps it was in the form of another question or two, such as “What is your name?” and “What do you do?”
When asked this question “Who are you?”, how do you answer?
There are many conventional ways to answer.
“My name is Mitchell Roth.” This is the name I identify with, or a label I identify with.
“I am from North Dakota.” This is where on this earth I have spent most my life — a geographical location.
“I was born in Williston.” This is the place I entered this world.
“I work with children with special needs.” This is the work I have done to earn a living.
“I enjoy reading and writing. I don’t enjoy playing bingo.” These are my preferred and non-preferred activities.
“I love chocolate. I don’t like very spicy food.” These are my food preferences.
“I like to be relaxed. I don’t enjoy being stressed.” These are my preferred and non-preferred states of being.
I could go on. And these are perfectly conventional ways to describe who I am. But do you see a pattern in these answers? In every answer I am relating “who I am” to something else to explain “who I am.” Why in all these instances am I relating “who I am” to something else?
Am I a label? Is where I have spent most my life who I am? Is the place I entered this world who I am? Is the work I do who I am? Are the activities I prefer to do who I am? Is the food I prefer to eat who I am? Are my preferences who I am?
Is it absolutely necessary to refer to something else to know who I am? Is that required?
Do I exist independent of a relationship with something else — be it a label, a preference, or a location?
The answer to the last question is “yes.”
Who am I, independent of everything else?
The answer is “I am.”
Who are you?
You are. Full stop.
If you can conceptualize this in a thought — I am — that thought is closer to who you really are. You are not the thought, but you are getting closer.
If you can feel this in a feeling — I am — that feeling is closer to who you really are. You are not that feeling, but you are closer.
You may find this information a little disorienting. That is okay.
You may find this a little infuriating. (Why am I wasting my time reading this guy’s words?) That is okay too.
But in all honesty, isn’t it refreshing to learn more about who you really are? No one ever talks to you about this.
If you wish, let’s go a little deeper, because you are neither your thoughts nor your feelings.
Descartes wrote, ”I think, therefore I am.” In other words, “I think, therefore I exist.” In this idea, there is a mental action — thinking — and that supposedly proves my existence, the “therefore I am” part. But the explanation has it backwards. How is that?
There are two parts to the idea. Beyond the thinking action, the “I think” part, there is something that exists — the “I am” part. The “I am” part is aware of the thoughts, or the “I think” part. So which comes first, the thinking part, or the existing part?
Can you think without existing? I doubt it.
Can you exist without thinking? I would say so. If you have ever fallen asleep, that was a period of time you existed without thinking.
So the existing part is not dependent on the thinking part. Therefore one might say “I am, and I think (sometimes).”
The “and I think (sometimes)” part is extraneous. The “you” that exists is not dependent on your thoughts. You are the part that is aware of the thoughts. You are the “I am” part.
You are, period.
Saying anything more beyond that is defining you by the relationship to whatever is beyond that.
Who are you?
Who am I?
I will tell you some more about the “I am.”
“I am” exists, and “I am” is the observer. You are the observer. You are the observer of the sensations that pass through your sense organs. You are the observer of your words and you are the observer of your physical actions. You are the observer of your thoughts and beliefs. You are the observer of your feelings and emotions. You are the observer who entered this world in a particular location. You are the observer of the preferences you have discovered and accumulated and remembered.
You are the observer. “I am” is the observer.
Just like you can move your awareness from your sensations of touch, taste, smell, hear, and sight, to your thoughts, to the voice in your head, to your emotions — you can move your awareness to the observer of the sensations of touch, taste, smell, hearing, and sight. To the observer of the thoughts, the voice, and the emotions.
When your awareness is on the observer of your being, you are sitting in the ‘seat of the soul.’ This is where “you” really exist, when you learn to move your awareness to the observer.
You are the observer. You are the soul. You are.
Dharamkot, Himachal Pradesh, India
PS It’s been a while since I last wrote. I have recently clarified the purpose of writing here on the about page. In short, this writing is an attempt to awaken consciousness.
PPS Thank you for visiting. Your attention is a gift to me. My writing is a gift to you. I invite you to share this gift with another.