Who am I?
I was close to three decades old on planet Earth when I first asked the question, “Who am I?” I gave myself different kinds of answers at different times of my life that were ultimately unsatisfactory because they were not true. But I felt I should know who I am. So I identified with my own answer. I thought I knew who I am then. As time went on it became increasingly clear to me, “I do not know who I am.”
If your answer to “Who I am?” is “I am Chukwuma,” or “I am Bukola,” then you have identified with your name. Are you really your name? I am a mother, a wife, a doctor, a patient. You are a mother because you have a child. You are a wife because you have a husband. You are a doctor because you have gone through medical school, a patient because you are being treated in a hospital. Everything you have identified with and believe yourself to be depends on something else. Is who you are a doctor?
You do not know the answer to the question, “Who am I?” because you do not know who you are, hence, you have created various identities for yourself. These identities you created for yourself did not bring you closer to yourself but took you farther away from yourself. You are not what you think. If you think who you are is your profession, what happens when you no longer practise your profession? You lose your identity. Then the sense of not knowing who you are begins to dawn on you. When you drop who you think you are, what is left? Who you are. So, when you do not know who you are, you are closer to who you are.
Your mind created your ego, that which you think you are. Your ego has identified with little things – property, profession, money, and so on. They are little things because ultimately, they are impermanent. Through loss or suffering, your ego tends to be diminished and so you have the opportunity to come to the realization that you are not your ego. Before that realization, you become aware of the ego, who you are not. By being aware of who you are not, the impediment to knowing you are is removed. To come to the realization of who you are, do not look for yourself externally. Do not go outside, go within.
Without speaking out, say “I am.” Say it within you. Don’t just continue reading, say, “I am,” within you. You heard the words right? You did not move your lips yet you heard the words, “I am.” Who said that? You did. How could you have spoken without using your mouth? Because you are not your body although your body “houses” you. So let us go within this body.