What IS Me?
For years, I’ve figured that if I thought about who “I” was, it would look something like this:
Food in, everything else out. Input, Output, all pretty straight forward.
Thing is, there are some obvious flaws in this.
I can observe my thoughts happening, so obviously, I am not my thoughts.
Nothing new or startling to that particularly revelation.
Also though, I can see my emotions happening. Often times, as a direct result of the food I eat for example. The key question is – “how often do I choose which emotions to express, and how often is it more like they’re just happening to me?”
So maybe I’m not my emotions either.
Now sure, I can definitely change both my moods & my thoughts by altering my environment – the people I surround myself with, the food I eat, and so on. I can also alter both consciously, but there’s a huge difference between ‘automatic’ or background thoughts & using my mind as a Rational tool. There’s also a difference between the vast majority of emotions I have (since I can’t speak for anyone else here), which more or less wash over me on a daily basis, and if I very deliberately “choose to be happy now”.
Most emotions & thoughts are things that are happening to me, not things I’m necessarily consciously choosing. So maybe ‘Me’ looks more like this:
Of course, as Tolle points out, any use of the words ‘I’, ‘me’, ‘myself’ etc are generally just our ego trying to assert control. There is, however, an important question here:
Who am I?
A while back, I stumbled across some Yogic talk like this.
Which really got me thinking about what that core, that real essence of ‘me’ness actually is.
It’s pretty obvious this isn’t a novel idea – Hinduism (which has been around for ohhh, 5-8000 years or so) has this concept of Advaita Vedanta – that your atman is part of Brahman. Very roughly, this translates to our soul is part of God/The Universe/whatever. From a quantum physics perspective, us as individuals being part of a universal whole is (more or less) predicted by Bell’s Theorem (more readable explanation here – under ‘The Physics of Interconnectedness’). For the moment let’s ignore the intentionality or not of a universal whole (ie “Is the metaphysical ‘God’ the same as the quantum physical ‘Universe’, or even ‘All possible universes'”), since it’s largely irrelevant to this discussion. Having spent wayyy too long in the Catholic church, I’m also hesitant to use Christian terminology in a discussion like this, since it brings an enormous amount of baggage with it too, but we’ll let that slide for the moment too.
All this talk of souls & God, atman & Brahman was merely a catalyst. It got me thinking.
I can change my speech, my actions, what food I eat, my thoughts & emotions. This is more or less what I’ve been doing extensively for the last few years now. While this has caused me to change enough that it’s pulled me away from certain ex-friends and ex-girlfriends, my primary fear was that I would lose myself altogether.
Oddly, almost the complete opposite has happened.
If anything I’ve become more ‘me’, but the best of me. Many of the emotions, thoughts & behaviours that I had thought were ‘me’, simply weren’t. I’m just the ‘me’ that’s been there at the core of my life – now more consistently, and with less baggage stacked around the outside. Fortunately, I guess, it seems that the actual ‘me’ is less of an asshole than I’d always figured I was. Changing the inputs on the above diagram has really helped with that (gigantic-hint-to-19-year-old-Si: minimise caffeine & booze. OMG yes!)
So maybe there’s something to this “We’re spiritual beings have a physical experience” thing. Maybe we really are just here as ‘spirits’, ‘energy beings’, ‘souls’ (whatever-the-hell terminology works for you), hanging around here on earth in meat-sacks, our bodies, doing what we do. Hanging out, having a beer (or a green juice), getting to know one another & generally palling around.
All the things I thought were me aren’t, and the more I clear away, the more truly I seem to find who I really am. And the really good news? All of the negative crap? That was never me. The miserable emotions, thoughts, eating habits, speech & behaviours. All those I can (& mostly have) let go of, and I’m still ‘me’ without them.
No, it really does seem – from watching myself change – and from seeing those who are further down the path than I, that the more you change, the more you remain the same – except now it’s just the best of you.
There really is nothing to fear, & it feels just like coming home.