If you ask most people “Who are you?”, they will say things like “I’m Jack, I’m Joan, I’m a painter, a singer, a lawyer, a hippy, a husband, a mother, male or female”, and so on. They will identify with their name, job (title), where they live, their gender, nationality, status, and some will even identify with their possessions, but those are all just ideas, thoughts or concepts.
These are all roles you play in society, but they aren’t the essence of who you really are. What you really are isn’t that always present and never changing?
If you would change your mind, your thoughts, your opinion, your point of view, your behavior, your personality, your job, would you constantly be a different you? Of course not, all these things are just concepts and not the essence of who you really are. The real you is not fleeting, switching and isn’t bound to doing, having, location, space or time. So who are you then?
Are you your thoughts?
All the roles you play in your life are changing all the time. If you take a look at your opinions, your point of view and who you think you are from an early age until now, we can surely say they have changed overtime.
How you thought about things as a young kid, a teenager, a young adult until now are quite different, aren’t they? So your opinions and beliefs are not who you really are, because they change dramatically. Sometimes they even change from one day or one moment to the next.
They are no more than imaginary ideas, thoughts or mental constructs, so you can safely say a thought is not something you are. A thought is an abstract object, usually short-lived and can be observed.
Are you your body?
So if you are not your thoughts, what are you then, your body?
We can say there is a body, but are you your body? Does your body (your arms, legs, belly, flesh and bones) have an opinion? Does it have a point of view? Surely not, so you can’t say you are your body.
For one moment let’s assume your flesh, vessels, and bones do have an opinion, which is of course ridiculous. Now what if your body suddenly stops working due to an accident and you cannot move anymore, what if body parts got removed, but you still live, are you now not you anymore? Are you gone now? No of course not, there is still parts of the body that are intact, but where are you then?
While you often refer to your body as who you are, you now realize your body can never be you.
Are you your feelings?
What about your feelings? Are you your feelings?
Well, If you are feeling sad, are you always sad? if you are feeling tired, are you always tired 24 hours a day? When you’re experiencing a feeling happiness, are you always happy? If it is YOU that is happy, you would always be happy. I still have to meet the first person in the world who is always happy, so you couldn’t say you are your feelings, because they are always changing constantly.
So if you are not your thoughts, your body or your feelings, then what are you?
Is there a You or I?
If we think of “I” we now know the “I” is made up of a bunch of mental concepts (name, job, hobbies, nationality) that we created ourselves. There is really no “I”, there is only that what is observing the so-called “I”.
So what is there really?
So what is observing the “I”?
That what is observing the “I” is always present and never changing. It’s there when you were a baby, when you were a kid, an adult and it will be there when you become old and mentally ill. It’s that which is aware of thoughts, feelings, sensations and environments.
If you would have to name who or what is present at all times, you could say it’s consciousness, it’s the ability to experience this life and the awareness of the experience (your thoughts, feelings and life itself).
There are sages and philosophers who argue consciousness is not only awareness, it’s the universal field of all existence, it’s all pervasive, omnipresent, or even omniscient. They call it consciousness, while others refer to it as Tao, God or Brahman.
Neuroscientist Sam Harris doesn’t believe there is a consciousness or experiencer inside the body. He says “The sense that we all have of riding around inside our heads as a kind of a passenger in the vehicle of the body…. Now that sense of being a subject, a locus of consciousness inside the head is an illusion. It makes no neuro-anatomical sense“.
It’s a topic we will probably never entirely unravel, it’s outside our comprehension. Consciousness is not a visible entity and cannot be grasped with the mind.
We can however analyze and realize who you are not, you are not your thoughts, your feelings, nor your body, how strongly it looks that way. It is there, but it’s not your true essence.
Feel free to leave a comment. I read and reply to all of them. I’d love to hear your thoughts. 💚🌿