Who are you?
Who am I? What am I? Where have I come from? Where am I going? According to Osho, in his book “Silence* the message of your being” and my own experience, “There are no answers to these four basic questions – but we take it for granted that we know ourselves.
Alberto Villoldo says the words “I am” are the most powerful in the English Language.
Of course we can claim many “I am(s)_____________” like the following:
I am a son or daughter
I am a mother or father
I am a five year old (if linear time is not taken into consideration)
I am a baby (if linear time is not taken into consideration)
I am __________ (present age)
I am an elementary student
I am a middle school student
I am a high school student
I am ____________ (healthy or unhealthy)
I am human
I am a human being
I am _________ (adjective, e.g. spontaneous, careful, happy, intelligent, etc)
I am a best friend of ________
I am a/an ___________ (country)
I am a/an ___________ (religious affiliation)
I am a grandson or granddaughter
I am an uncle or aunt
I am a/an _________ (political party affiliation)
We can also answer the question of “What am I” by saying I’m a human with male or female body parts. We can answer “Where have I come from?” with “I was born to __________ parents, with the _______ family name, in _________ hospital, in ___________ city. We can answer “Where am I going?” with “I’m going to study ________, get a job in ___________ or open a business in _______, get married to _______, and get a house in _______? But if you go deeper, beyond these simple answers, you will find there are no answers to these four simple questions.
Osho has great quotes regarding silence and they mystery of life. In his preface he writes:
“The silence that one comes to know through meditation, through agnosia, is a living silence. It is full of song, full of music, full of melody, full of joy, full of love – empty of all thoughts. Even the thought of love, the thought of joy, the thought of silence is absent. But joy is present. Love is present….
One’s real silence is not empty, it is not a kind of absence of everything. On the contrary, it is full – too full, abundantly full, overflowing – not with thoughts but real experiences. And this is the revelation of the secret.”
In chapter 1, “The Real Pilgrimage Happens Inside You” he writes:
“…nothing can be achieved just by hearing. To begin with, a seeker must understand this point: he has to do something. He has to be something. He has to transform his way of living; he has to change his lifestyle. If he brings about a revolution in his being, something can happen. Otherwise nothing can happen. There is no value in just being a listener.”
“…experiment with what I’m saying….since what I am saying can become clear to you only through experimentation.”
“A day will come when you will be able to sit with someone the way you sit with the sea. When you are capable of sitting with someone like that, you will be able to see something that you cannot see in a bird, you cannot see in the sea. You will be able to see the greatest mystery, the mystery of life in that person.”
In his chapter 2, “Knowledge is an illusion” he says the following:
“With our knowledge, with the understanding we have gained, we have come to the conclusion that we know everything more or less, and whatever we do not know can also be known. There is nothing unknowable in life. Everything can be known. This is totally contradictory to reality. Everything in life is unknowable. What we think of as knowledge in not really knowledge. In life, nothing can be known. Every phenomenon that we observe, starting with a small leaf, remains utterly unknown, utterly unknowable, utterly inconceivable, utterly mysterious. This mystery can never be revealed. What little we know is not knowledge but just acquaintance. We make the mistake of thinking that acquaintance is knowledge.”
“Acquaintance creates the illusion of knowledge. Man is becoming more and more acquainted with this world and he calls that “knowledge.” This illusion of knowledge, this attitude about knowledge kills all wonder in life. A seeker has to destroy this illusion of knowledge and develop a spirit of wonder.”
“You can ask anybody “Is there a God?” He will say, “Yes, there is a God” or “There is no God.” And in both cases he will state that he “knows” it. Very rarely, perhaps, can you come across a person who will be silent for a while and say, “I don’t know.” I hope you will have the courage to be the person who says, ‘I don’t know.’ Ask yourself whether you know anything. Please ask yourself this question in depth.”
“Some time ago a sannyasin came to see me. I asked him, ‘What type of meditation do you do?’ He started to tell me, ‘I sit alone and start thinking that I am sat-chit-anand – truth, consciousness, bliss; that for me there is no death, that I am not the body, I am not the mind, I am the soul. This is the way I meditate.’
I asked him, ‘You say you are truth, consciousness, and bliss. Do you know this? Is it your understanding: is it your experience, your own experience? Or are those words that you have heard, are they word that you have learned?’ I asked him further, ‘If you really know that your are truth, consciousness, and bliss, why do you need to repeat those words day in and day out?’
We never repeat what is already known. We go on repeating what is not known, and out of that we create the illusion that we know. If we really know, “I am God, I am the ultimate reality,” why do we need to repeat it day in, day out? We do not repeat what we already know. We go on repeating what we do not know. By repeating again and again, we start to create the illusion that we have a deep relationship with these words…”
“Repetition cannot take us anywhere except toward illusion.”
“Adolf Hitler has written in his autobiography that there is not untruth that cannot be converted into truth by sheer repetition.”
“If we know the nature of our ignorance clearly, only then is the pilgrimage possible. This ignorance is the reality; our ‘not-knowing’ is a fact.
“….For thousands of years, man has been taught to repeat certain things: ‘I am God, I am the Almighty, I am the soul, I am this, I am that.’ If you keep on repeating for lifetimes, you start to imagine; ‘This is what I am.” But something that was a lie at the first step cannot become the truth at the last one.”
“What have religions all over the world been fighting over, all these years? There is only one battle: every religion claims that only it knows. And the moment somebody says, ‘You do not know,’ or ‘Your knowledge is wrong,” swords are pulled and the battle starts, as if killing is a logical type of argument, as if the burning of temples or mosques is the proof. Human ignorance is very deep rooted, it is fundamental and all so-called knowledge is built on it….”
“Only someone who has no illusion about his knowledge can be beyond argument. As soon as the illusion of ‘I know’ drops away, a certain humility starts to grow. You are acquainted with that extraordinary humility. He becomes just like a child. What is the difference between a child and an old person? There is only one difference; the child does not know and the old person knows. But the old person’s knowledge is false and the child’s not-knowing is genuine.”
From Chapter 3, “Life is an Infinite Mystery”
“….This is the characteristic of the religious mind – to accept the infinite mystery of life. The person who accepts the mystery of life will not assume that he possesses knowledge – because these two things are contradictory. Whenever somebody claims that he knows, he is saying, ‘Now there is no mystery of life. Since I know everything, there is no mystery in life as far as I am concerned.’ The person who says, ‘I do not know’ is actually saying that life is a mystery, life is an infinite mystery.”
“Why do I insist so much on the innocence of the individual? It is so that you continue to remember the mysteriousness of life.”
End of Osho Quotes. Osho’s silence book is available at: https://www.oshoviha.org/p-1750-silence-the-message-of-your-being
Many spiritual teachers are beginning to say that we are “multi-dimensional” beings. What does this mean? Instead of saying, “I don’t know who I am,” one will know say with a surety, “I am a multi-dimensional being.” Perhaps this kind of statement is fine because it encapsulates the acquainted and the unknown. We are well acquainted with our identities of son, daughter, mother, father, student, employee, business owner, guitarist, painter, religious title and nationality, but what about the unknown, the mysterious part of our identity like our consciousness, energy, life, soul, chakras, and light energy body?
Once we say we don’t know and accept the fact that life is a mystery and turn our focus in the infinite wonder of life, then what? What kind of story do we want to create? What kind of planet do we want to live on? What will we teach our children?
Have you ever been asked the question, “How are you?” What is your response? Which ‘You’ is the question referring to? Each aspect of your identity that you are acquainted with has a story. What emotion could you associate with each story of your life?