Insight 4 - Plateau #1:
Who Am I?
If you've arrived here, I'm assuming that you're open to exploring an alternative explanation of the age-old question Who am I?
To be clear, the common-sense answer runs something like this:
I am a being who resides in a body, the body of an animal. And like all animals, I was born and I will die. While I'm alive, I am separate from everything I encounter around me. Many of the things that I encounter are indifferent to my existence, and some are actively competitive with or even hostile to it. In other cases, I need things or other people in order to continue to live and reproduce contentedly. But because I can't control a lot of what I encounter outside myself, I am destined to suffer when my life is threatened or whenever I don't get what I need or want.
This sure seems true.
And yet, at the same time, those of you who have felt or intuited the fundamental power of love may have already begun to question it.
From the perspective of love, you can perhaps see that you are, in some sense, ultimately loved, whole, safe, and eternal. When this realization touches your life, you feel a deep sense of peace that radiates out, enveloping the people and things in your life.
For as long as it lasts.
You're not quite sure how or why it happens, but you keep finding yourself once again, as Adam and Eve were, "banished from the Garden." Maybe, you think, you screwed up in some way that got you banished for some reason you can't name. Or maybe, moving in and out of the Garden is just a natural human process that needs to happen to maintain the balance of the universe.
Or maybe – and you don't want to believe this, but at times you are forced to – the Garden is just an illusion.
A lovely illusion, but an illusion nonetheless.
And maybe love is, in fact, not an essential force in the universe, but simply one of many human experiences that come and go. When it comes, you feel good; when it goes, you feel bad.
And if that’s the case, you continue in this line of thinking, then perhaps a wise person shouldn't mistake these experiences for anything more than what they are: good feelings that are easily explained inside of an entirely common-sense, materialistic, and science-based explanation of reality.
Looking at the problem of these two perspectives is where we started this exploration: Recall the two phone messages that I received from my mother, each of which encapsulates one of these perspectives.
But at this point in our exploration, we've moved the ball down the field just a bit toward our goal.
So far, you've hopefully signed off on a few relatively simple ways of thinking that you've agreed to entertain:
· You acknowledge that you exist.
· You're willing to consider that better understanding who you are might be useful.
· You're open – at least provisionally – to looking at yourself from a non-common-sense, non-materialist perspective.
Again, you don't have to entertain these ideas. But I believe they're useful ways to think if you want to suffer less and feel more peace.
So, with all that groundwork laid, we're ready to address the question Who am I? in a new context:
If that's not me (the common-sense view of who I am), then who am I?
Ready to begin?