Who am I? Part 1

who(This is the first in a series of pages, taken from a longer article written by Noel several years ago.  

To be in integrity with ourselves requires that we develop some sense of who we are in all the expressions of our being.) 

Human condition

The following does not relate to me nor to any individual personally.

It relates to the generic human being, to the human condition, to humanity in general.

 

 

 

 

Body

I Am 2Am I my physical body?  Parts of my physical body can be removed.  Limbs can be amputated.  Organs can be removed.  My heart can be transplanted.  Even parts of my brain can be removed. 

This certainly changes my experience of life. 

But it does not change my identity, who I am. 

My identity is not fragmented nor partitioned when parts of my body are removed or swapped out.  Parts of my identity do not transfer with removed members of my body. 

My body is part of what I am.  But it is not who I am.  Then who am I?

 

 

 

 

Emotions

I AM 1Am I my emotions or feelings? 

I alternately wear the clothes of joy, happiness, indifference, anger, sadness, fear. 

But what is it that wears such apparel?  I can feel my emotions but I can also detach from them. 

I can be apart from my emotions.  I can choose to feel them, to express them, to control them, to a greater or lesser extent. 

I can experience or express different emotions or even no emotion without changing my identity. 

There can be times when the seas of my emotion are quite calm and still.

I can look out on the world through a transparent veil of feeling.

Yet my identity is not diminished thereby.  Rather am I more aligned with and resident in my identity. 

My feelings, emotions and conditioning are part of what I am, but again are not who I am.

 

 

 

Thoughts

Hamlet

Hamlet

Am I my thoughts, my cogitation?  My thoughts change continually yet my sense of identity remains intact. 

I can direct my thinking to a certain extent.  There is a part of me that can detach from my cogitation and supervise it to a degree. 

I can considerably expand my mental environment, my thinking framework, by study, reading, attending lectures, courses. 

I can grow from the limited mental space of a child to the considerably larger space of an adult. 

Yet my identity remains substantially the same.  I am still me.

I can cease thinking in meditation or during transcendent experiences yet my identity is not in any way extinguished. 

If not my thoughts then who am I?

 

 

 

Core Identity

As my body develops and ages through the stages of childhood, maturity and seniority does my core self similarly age?  My interaction with the world certainly changes with this aging process.

But part of me, my core identity, is largely unaffected by my changing bodily condition.  It does not feel changed by every birthday that passes.  It observes the phases of physical growth like the passing of the seasons. 

Similarly when my physical body and mental processes are impaired e.g. by excessive alcohol in drunkenness, I can still maintain a certain detached awareness and even inner lucidity.

 

 

Perceptions and awareness

Seagull upfrontAm I my perception, my cognition, my experience, my awareness?  These are all functions that I perform.  But who is it that perceives, experiences or observes? 

Behind the mechanics of my awareness who is it that ultimately senses and lives my reality? 

Does it really matter who I am?  I have a functional sense of identity that suffices for my interactions with the world.

I am that which represents my presence and through which I function in the world.

In physical terms this is my body.  In mental terms it is my corpus of thought.  I tend to define myself in relation to my roles and functions in society – what I do more than who I am. 

I am what flows through me rather than what remains or resides in my core or essential being. 

I am in practical terms the outer boundary or the front line of my projection into the world.  I am also all that lies behind this boundary.  But these deeper levels are mostly of interest only to myself and then only when I am not absorbed in nor consumed by the outer world. 

In a purely functional sense I don’t need to know who I really am.  I have an adequate up front definition provided I don’t think too much about it.  But the more I examine this the more it falls apart in my hands.

 

 

 

Integration

In terms of integrating myself it matters greatly who I am.  This is my great mystery and voyage of discovery. 

I search for myself like the Egyptian goddess Isis searching for the fragmented and scattered body of Osiris.  I seek to find myself both in an outward and an inward direction. 

I am constantly seeking to integrate myself around my true or core identity.

A lot of what drives my engagement with life is the need to discover, to know and become or be myself. 

I seek to express my essential self apart from that which limits it. 

 

 

Real self

Core self

Sometimes I am running away from myself.

Burying myself in activity or distraction to avoid meeting my real self. 

But we can only delay, never completely avoid, our moments of truth.

Where we come to reconcile what we might like to think we are with what we truly are. 

All our exploration is ultimately an exploration of self.