Who Are You - Really?
Within each of us is a remembering of our true nature, our essence, resounding echoes of love, peace, generosity, happiness, virtue, innocence, joy, clarity, and wisdom. Although we know, or have known, these qualities, the inherited instincts of our human form required that we respond to environmental circumstances in such a way as to assure our bodily survival. Thus, our sense of self became predominantly based upon our connection with our body. But, what if there’s more to be discovered? What if we can reconnect with these essential qualities and live accordingly?
Throughout recorded human history, and across cultures and civilizations, great spiritual teachers, philosophers, religions, wisdom schools, and mystics have invited us to probe deeper into the nature of self, into the very core of our being. This inquiry is often called a spiritual journey intended to transcend the familiar sense of personal identity to reveal our true essence.
The questions ‘Who am I?’ or ‘What am I? represent an invitation to see beyond the masks we wear, the personas we adopted, and the narratives we've constructed about ourselves. It's an exploration into the realm beyond the ego. The ego, or personality, like a theatrical mask can obscure the truth of who we are, trapping us in a web of illusions and separations.
‘Who am I?’ is a question that leads to discovery, or self-remembering. It requires persistence, patience, curiosity, and a willingness to embrace the mystery of the self.
Whoever knows everything but himself, lacks everything.
~ Jesus (from the Gospel of Thomas)
The Buddha observed and studied his own mind, and developed methods of meditation that enabled others to do the same. Almost all of Indian philosophy and spirituality begins, and ends, with the study of the self, the atman. The Delphic injunction, “Know thyself,” became through Socrates and Plato the primary foundational principle of the Western wisdom tradition, which in turn became central for Neoplatonism: “To find ourselves is to know our source.” (Plotinus, Enneads, p. 544.) Christian spirituality, as seen through the teachings of the desert fathers, begins with the knowing of the soul and the purification of the soul that is needed for it to mirror or be receptive to divine inspiration. The cornerstone of Islamic spirituality and philosophy is the saying attributed to God: “Whoso knoweth himself knoweth his lord.”
~ A.H. Almaas from The Inner Journey Home
. . . happiness alone is the cause for love, in order to gain that happiness which is one’s nature and which is experienced in the state of deep sleep where there is no mind, one should know one’s self. For that, the path of knowledge, the inquiry of the form “Who am I?”, is the principal means.
~ Ramana Maharshi
Without a past, who are you?
~ Byron Katie
Who are you really? I have no idea? If you have an idea of who you are you've got a problem. For you're not that at all. Again we go back to the beginning when I opened up this sentence. Who thinks they're something. You can never be anything. The 'you' that you think you are can never be a thing. Always remember this. The 'you' can never become anything. The only freedom you really have is to be still and quiet and that is the only freedom you've got - to be totally quiet. Everything else is an hallucination, a lie. So most of you want me to sit here and tell you lies. Stop worrying. Stop fretting. Stop believing something can happen to you, to hurt you. What you are was never born. It knows nothing of birth. The one that knows about birth and death doesn't exist.
~ Robert Adams
One has to understand that the search for reality, or God, or Guru and the search for the self are the same; when one is found, all are found. When `I am’ and `God is’ become in your mind indistinguishable, then something will happen and you will know without a trace of doubt that God is because you are, you are because God is. The two are one.
~ Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
Truth is silence. Reality is quietness. Peace and love are stillness. Be still and know that I am God.
~ Robert Adams
Every time you say to yourself, "Who am I?" You are moving a step ahead on the spiritual path. That is all you have to do. "Who am I?" And you will soon discover that the 'I' is not you. The 'I' that you are referring to is not you, it's not anything. It is merely a thought. It has absolutely nothing to do with you. When you think to yourself, "Who am I?" You keep saying I-I to yourself and the 'I' begins to separate from your body. The 'I' begins to become a different type of entity whatsoever, the 'I' begins to disappear. And you keep thinking about the 'I', following the 'I'. You follow the 'I' to the heart. Once the 'I' disappears you are totally free and liberated.
~ Robert Adams
If we talk of knowing the Self, there must be two Selves, one a knowing Self, another the Self which is known, and the process of knowing. The state we call realization is simply being oneself, not knowing anything or becoming anything. If one is realized, he is that which alone is and which alone has always been.
~ Ramana Maharshi
You know you exist. This is so natural not even your parents had to teach you that. You instinctively know you are alive and that you are perceiving somehow. Not even deliberately, it is just happening. It is an effortless functioning. And there is Awareness of that functioningWhat more can you say? The rest is entirely made up.
To know yourself as the Being underneath the thinker, the stillness underneath the mental noise, the love and joy underneath the pain, is freedom, salvation, enlightenment.
~ Eckhart Tolle
We are searching to know the One who experiences all experiences. Our search is for the Witness. Who is this Observer? Who is this Consciousness? Who is this Watcher of all these games? Who is this Watcher? To know this Watcher is to know God. And you are already It ..... just a little awakening is needed... no search but only AWAKENING.
The resolution of the separateness has to do with going from ego to non-ego, from individual to cosmic, from human to divine. We realize that our deeper nature is God itself. Realizing divine nature means not being an individual; it means being totality, universality, infinity. Nothing is excluded from your sense of self. You realize then that whenever you talk to someone, you are talking to yourself. True love, true compassion, and true generosity arise now because there is no separation between you and the other. You could still feel yourself as an individual who sees how you are unique, but you know too that you are fundamentally connected. At a more intrinsic level, that separateness is not there.
~ A.H. Almaas
You are neither earth, water, fire, air or even ether. For liberation know yourself as consisting of consciousness, the witness of these five. If only you will remain resting in consciousness, seeing yourself as distinct from the body, then even now you will become happy, peaceful and free from bonds.
~ Ashtavakra Gita
Know then that the body is merely a garment. Go seek the wearer, not the cloak.
When you recognize that there is a voice in your head that pretends to be you and never stops speaking, you are awakening out of your unconscious identification with the stream of thinking. When you notice that voice, you realize that who you are is not the voice - the thinker - but the one who is aware of it. Knowing yourself as the awareness behind the voice is freedom.
~ Eckhart Tolle
Without self knowledge, without understanding the working and functions of his machine, man cannot be free, he cannot govern himself and he will always remain a slave.
~ G. I. Gurdjieff
Self-enquiry brings on the death of the personal “I.” In asking “Who am I?” there is silence with no answer. To arrive at an answer denotes mental exercise. With no mind, there is no doubt; there is profound silence.
~ Jac O'Keeffe
This question “Who am I” is not really an experiment or a mere question of curiosity. This is something that tears you. Till it tears you apart, you will not know what is inside it.
When you inquire "Who am I?" if you are honest, you'll notice that it takes you right back to silence instantly. The brain doesn't have an answer, so all of a sudden there is silence.
Thou art a mortal being, and thou art the Eternal One; Know thyself, through light of wisdom. Except Thee, there exists none.
~ Hazrat Inayat Khan
This body is not me. I am not limited by this body. I am life without boundaries. I have never been born, and I have never died. Look at the ocean and the sky filled with stars, manifestations from my wondrous true mind. Since before time, I have been free. Birth and death are only doors through which we pass, sacred thresholds on our journey. Birth and death are a game of hide and seek. So laugh with me, hold my hand, let us say good-bye, say good-bye, to meet again soon. We meet today. We will meet again tomorrow. We will meet at the source every moment. We meet each other in all forms of life.
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Liberation is not a problem of evolution, for no evolution can lead to liberation, which is the result of discernment only…. We are not concerned with evolving, but we should endlessly put the question ‘who am I?’ to ourselves.”
~ Jean Klein
What a liberation to realize that the voice in my head is not who I am. Who am I then? The one who sees that.
~ Eckhart Tolle
Who am I?
The teachings of Ramana Maharshi, one of the greatest sages of this century, is the teaching of self-inquiry through the question, “Who am I? Many of us think we need to find the answer to that question, but the answer to “Who am I?” is irrelevant. What’s relevant is the looking. His teaching is simply to look at ourselves, to look at the sense of “me.” Whatever your sense of me is right now, just look, listen, and feel that. You are here. Look at that sense of “am-ness,” the sense of existing here, now.
~ Enza Vita
The whole secret is to know who you are and you are the immortal Self. You were never born, you can never die. You have always existed. You are sat-chit-ananda. (being-consciousness-bliss) That's who you really are just the way you are right now. Just the way you are. No changes have to be made. Just the way you are right now. You are God. You are consciousness.
~ Robert Adams
You are your own teacher. Looking for teachers can’t solve your own doubts. Investigate yourself to find the truth - inside, not outside. Knowing yourself is most important. The heart is the only book worth reading.
~ Ajahn Chah
The ego naturally fears the inevitability of death because it means its own destruction. Yet deep down, man always knows with intuitive conviction that he is really immortal, and it is for this reason that he is always seeking, consciously or unconsciously, his true nature.
~ Rasmesh Balsekar
Before I am born, before I am 5 years old, 49 years old, 84 years old, before I die
Before I am a student, before I am a teacher, before I am an artist, a shopkeeper, a doctor, a monk, a priest, a farmer, a scientist, a spiritual seeker
Before I am a Christian or a Buddhist
Before I am good or bad, right or wrong
Before I am a success or a failure
Before I am enlightened or unenlightened
Before I am a man or a woman
Before I am this body or that body
Before I am anybody
Before I am "the one who knows"
Before I am “the one who doesn’t know”
Before I am this or that
Before I am something
Before I am anything
This no-thing that allows every-thing
This wide open space,
In which every thought, sensation, feeling, arises and subsides,
Like waves in the ocean,
Like a cloudburst in the vastness...
I am born. Absolute is relative. Time. Space. Expansion. Contraction. I breathe in and out. I suckle my mother's breast. I am 5 years old, 49 years old, 84 years old. I grow and learn. I am a student, teacher, artist, dancer, shopkeeper, doctor, mystic, monk, priest, farmer, scientist, adventurer, murderer, thief. I am a man. I am a woman. I am gay, straight, black, white, rich and poor, loved and unloved.
I am every mother, every father, every son, every daughter. I am every slave in ancient Rome. I am every child on the streets of Calcutta. I am every dying sun. The birth of every star.
I cannot ever be something without being nothing at all.
I cannot be nothing without being all there is.
This is crucifixion and resurrection.
This is love beyond understanding.
This is the heartbeat of the cosmos.
I am That.
~ Jeff Foster