Who Are You…Really?
Video by Kosi
Transcript by Gangaji
“Any thought that you have had about yourself, however deflated or inflated, is not who you are. It is simply a thought. The truth of who you are cannot be thought, because it is the source of all thoughts. The truth of who you are cannot be named or defined.
Words like soul, light, God, truth, self, consciousness, the universal intelligence, or divinity, while capable of evoking the bliss of the truth, are grossly inadequate as a description of the immensity of who you truly are.
However you identify yourself: as child, adolescent, a mother, a father, an older person, healthy person, sick person, a suffering person, or an enlightened person – always, behind all of that, is the truth of yourself. It is not foreign to you. It is so close that you cannot believe it is you.
The truth of who you are is untouched by any concept of who you are, whether ignorant or enlightened, worthless or grand. The truth of who you are is free of it all. You are already free and all that blocks your realization of that freedom is your own attachment to some thought of who you are. This thought doesn’t keep you from being the truth of who you are. You already are that. It separates you from the realization of who you are.
I invite you to let your attention dive into what has always been here, waiting openly for its own self-realization. Who are you, really?
Are you some image that appears in your mind? Are you some sensation that appears in your body? Are you some emotion that passes through your mind and body? Are you something that someone else has said you are, or are you the rebellion against something that someone else has said you are? These are some of the many avenues of misidentification. All of these definitions come and go, are born and then die.
The truth of who you are does not come and go. It is present before birth, throughout a lifetime, and after death. To discover the truth of who you are is not only possible it is your birthright.
Any thoughts that this discovery is not for you, now is not the time, you are not worthy, you are not ready, you already know who you are, are just tricks of the mind. It is time to investigate this “I” thought and see what validity it really has. In this examination, there is an opening for the conscious intelligence that you are to finally recognize itself.
The most important question you can ever ask yourself is: “Who am I?” In a certain way, this has been an implicit question asked throughout every stage of your life. Every activity, whether individual or collective, is motivated at its root by a search for self-definition. Typically, you search for a positive answer to this question and run away from a negative answer. Once this question becomes explicit, the momentum and the power of the question direct the search for the true answer, which is open-ended, alive, and filled with ever deepening insight.
You have experienced both success and failure. After a certain stage, early or late, you realize that, who you are, however that is defined, is not satisfying. Unless this question has been truly answered, not just conventionally answered, you will still be hungry to know. Because, no matter how you have been defined by others, well-meaning or not, and no matter how you have defined yourself, no definition can bring lasting certitude.
The moment of recognizing that no answer has ever satisfied this question is crucial. It is often referred to as the moment of spiritual ripeness, the moment of spiritual maturity. At this point, you can consciously investigate who you really are.
In its power and simplicity, the question “Who am I?” throws the mind back to the root of personal identification, the basic assumption: I am somebody. Rather than automatically taking that assumption as the truth, you can investigate deeper. It is not difficult to see that this initial thought, “I am somebody”, leads to all kinds of strategies: to be a better somebody, a more protected somebody, a somebody with more pleasure, more comfort, more attainment. But when this very basic thought is questioned, the mind encounters the I that is assumed to be separate from what it has been seeking. This is called self-inquiry.
This most basic question “Who am I?” is the one that is the most overlooked. We spend most of our days telling ourselves or others we are someone important, someone unimportant, someone big, someone little, someone young, someone old, never truly questioning this most basic assumption: Who are you, really? How do you know: that is who you are? Is that true? Really?
When you turn your attention toward the question “Who am I?” perhaps you will see an entity that has your face and your body. But who is aware of that entity? Are you the object, or, are you the awareness of the object? The object comes and goes. The parent, the child, the lover, the abandoned one, the enlightened one, the victorious one, the defeated one. These identifications all come and go. The awareness of these identifications is always present.
The misidentification of yourself as some object in awareness leads to extreme pleasure or extreme pain and endless cycles of suffering. When you are willing to stop the misidentification and discover directly and completely that you are the awareness itself and not these impermanent definitions, the search for yourself in thought ends.
When the question “Who?” is followed innocently, purely, all the way back to its source, there is a huge, astounding realization: There is no entity there at all! There is only the indefinable, boundless recognition of yourself as inseparable from anything else. You are free. You are whole. You are endless. There is no bottom to you, no boundary to you. Any idea about yourself appears in you and will disappear back into you.
You are awareness, and awareness is consciousness.
Let all self-definitions die in this moment. Let them go, and see what remains. See what is never born and what does not die. Feel the relief of laying down the burden of defining yourself. Experience the actual non-reality of the burden. Experience the joy that is here. Rest in the endless peace of your true nature before any thought of I arises.”