WHO AM I? – KO’HAM
The Mantra: Ko’ham
Before the Great Awakening,
there is only ONE aim which is truly meaningful:
to find out who we are.
Consciously or unconsciously you also are seeking yourself, the bliss, peace, love and wonder of your Source,
but will never find it in your personality and apparent self-image
for they are not who you really are
the adventure of consciousness and joy.
a) The issue is introduced by this warning:
at the level of the human mind.
but of which use can this be to us until
we have experienced it?
It can even be counterproductive,
because once we think that we have understood
the incentive to seek decreases.
As Wu Hsin said,
What one really is,
is what one is in the
absence of the whothat one thinks one is.
Ramana Maharshi agrees:
The question “Who am I?” is not really meant to get an answer,
the question “Who am I?” is meant
to dissolve the questioner.
Dissolve the enquirer AS the questioner, that is.
Are you ready to be dissolved as the questioner?
If yes, to which extent?
Indeed no matter how sincerely we believe something,
until we have really EXPERIENCED it , felt it with our whole being
it remains just empty words, a mere abstract
concept in our mind.
As Victor Hugo said,
What a gloomy thing, not to know
the address of one’s soul.
The question “Who am I?” can be like a mantra to go beyond the mind and through the Veil to the Divine,
to pass through the unknown, through what
Krishnamurti called “the Pathless Land”
How does this make you feel?
Exploring it is most interesting.
If this me is not I, then who am I?
If I am not the one who speaks, then who does?
if this me is only a robe then who is the one
I am covering?
How do I know who I am or where I am? How could a single wave
locate itself in an ocean?
Who is the one you are covering?
How do you know who you are?
Fernando Passoa asked:
My God, my God, who am I attending to? How many am I?
Who is me? What is this interval
between me and me?
What is this interval between you and you?
Why is it there?
Madeline C. Franklin asked:
How shall I ever learn who I am when there is so much of me
that belongs to someone else?
How much of you belongs to someone else?
How did this come to pass?
What will you DO about it, if anything?
Lewis Carroll asked:
Who in the world am I? Ah,
that’s the great puzzle.
How will you solve this puzzle?
b)The Buddha’s answer to all the above questions is that
at the level of the Manifestation,
All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind
is everything. What we think we become.
What do you usually think?
What will it make you become?
How do you feel about it?
The Buddha meant that
this is all we are on the surface of our being, but our inner being
is infinitely more than that.
The Viveka-Chudamani answer to the Question “Who am I”? is that:
The awareness that knows everything whether waking, dreaming
or in deep sleep, and whether or not there is movement
in the mind, that is the “I”.
When Mère was asked: “Who am I?” Her answer was:
The Divine under many disguises.
When someone asks you who you are, what do you answer?
Mention your name and profession?
Ha ha ha ha!
To someone else asking the same question She said that:
you are a child who is unconscious
trying to become conscious.
you are an eternal soul trying
to manifest in a body.
As body, mind, or soul, you are a dream;
you really are Being, Consciousness, Bliss (Satchitananda).
You are the God of this universe.
Nisargadatta Maharaj makes a very important point:
Do understand that you cannot ask a valid question about yourself,
you do not know whom you are asking about.
In the question ‘Who am I?’ the ‘I’ is not known and the question can be worded as: “I do not know what I mean by I”
What you are, you must find out. I can only tell you
what you are not. You are not of the world;
you are not even in the world.
But then how come that we seem very much to be?
Maya is no joke.
c) According to Buddhism our being consists of the following Skandhas:
– A body,
– emotions and feelings,
– perceptions, mental formations,
– consciousness and awareness.
On the surface of our being we seem to consist of:
– A physical body
which should only be like a horse or car to move around, but most have identified yourselves with it to the point that now it is our body which moves them around instead, and they automatically follow it;
– A subtle or etheric body.
– An intermingled emotional and mental body
created by a complex of influences and conditionings from our childhood, our whole culture and everyone we ever met;
– A dominant personality which is like a mask
hiding the essence of our being;
– Besides the dominant personality we have several others
that at times emerge, often through a resonance with certain people, places of situations.
– a beginning of individuality still in the process of being formed.
Which of them is more predominant in you?
The problem is that the amalgam of all these parts makes so that
we do not have just one “I” but several, and each has its own
blind will and specific direction, desires and fears.
This is what complicates everything, to say the least.
Much deeper that all this abides our psychic being,
and through it the Divine in us.
The Christ adds that:
When you know yourselves, you will be known, and you will realise that you are the children of the Living One.
But if you fail to know yourselves, then you are
impoverished, and you are poverty itself.
Rumi offers a very intense image of it:
We are like beautiful satin
used to patch burlap.
But once in a glimpse I saw
that we are His shadow
and our shadow is the world.
d) Thomas Merton asked a very basic question:
What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross
the abyss that separates us from ourselves?
This is the most important of all voyages of discovery and without it almost everything else is not only useless but ultimately harmful.
What can you gain by whatever you do if you cannot cross the abyss separating your surface being from the real one?
Which other journey can be more important than the one of self-discovery?
The one to the Divine, of course.
But until we have found who is there in us how can we
enter such immense Journey?
while switching from one of our many “I” to the next usually we aren’t even aware of the transition because
as we identify ourselves with one of them we automatically
ignore the previous one.
Did you ever notice that?
Who are all you other “I”?
Once having realized, not just mentally understood, that you do not have just one “I” but a whole crowd of them,
a most intense need should arise to become free
of them all and be yourself at last.
When someone asked Sri Aurobindo why we are made of so many parts He replied that
it takes many different ingredients
to make a good pudding.
He emphasized the only good aspect of it.
Were you the same as now, say, ten years ago?
Ten years from now, do you expect to be the same as now?
Of course not.
But if you are no longer who you were before, and in some time again
won’t be the same, what makes you think that
that you are real now?
Ha ha ha ha!
Wu Hsin has the right attitude:
Who is Wu Hsin?
I am that which remains when
all of what was claimed as mine is removed.
What will remain in you when all that you claimed as yours is removed?
Will you experience it as a sense of becoming lighter and freer?
Or with regrets and a sense of loss?
Don’t be deceived.
e) The Book of Privy Counseling has a very dim view
of those who don’t know who they are:
I consider him hopelessly stupid and dull who cannot think and feel that He is;
not how or what he is, but that he is.
Such elemental self-awareness is obviously proper to the dumbest cow
or most unreasonable beast.
Do you perchance think this an exaggeration?
Most people do not know who they really are, ignore their real inclinations and potentialities, the nature of their weaknesses, cravings and psychological conditionings; therefore
they pass their whole lives in an inner slumber
as strangers to themselves.
Until we have not yet made a certain amount of work on ourselves the condition of our surface being – not of our deeper reality –is a confused, contradictory amalgam of desires and fears, strivings and hesitations, memories and regrets, etc,
a confused morass of deeply rooted cultural and personal conditionings,
the programs that others and our whole culture have installed
in the computer of our brain.
Ouspensky adds that:
When a man begins to know himself a little he will see in himself many things
that are bound to horrify him.
So long as a man is not horrified at himself
he knows nothing about himself.
However, although a measure of shock is inevitable for all, being “horrified” is the wrong attitude:
changing it is the work that we came here to do
each his own way.
How will you change it?
According to Rumi
You are the Soul and the medicine
for what wounds the Soul.
Carl Sagan adds that:
The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon on our apple pies were made in the interior of collapsing stars.
We are made of star stuff.
We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.
It is recorded that when the Kabuli visited some Sufi centers where He was not known and asked who He was often never answered
but only laughed.
What does this tell you?
The Veil consist in the fact that when we ask this eternal question, who am I,
our mind presents to us a phantom, a ghost from our past,
the total sum of every bypath we ever took,
the corpse of our desire.
The “corpse of our desire” is not just a poetical image but a REALITY.
How does this make you feel?
It should NOT make you feel bad.
It should make you feel determined to go beyond the Veil.
Or if you are at that level
do your best to free everyone around you from the Veil.
In the Dreamgame,
At the beginning of the Path, realizing that we don’t know who we are is a great ASSET, and those who think that they know it are lost in illusion
the eternal question “Who Am I”
is our lifeline,
because examining our true nature will begin to dissolve our false self-image, our ego, personality, and then our essential Self is revealed as being always one with the Divine.
To know who you really are concentrate only on the Divine:
what you have been so far and to some extent are still is but a very small,
distorted reflection of your reality.
Don’t bother to ask your old “I” who you are because
it is the only thing in the universe
that doesn’t know itself.
Fakhruddin Iraqi said:
Know thyself: a cloud drifting
before your sun.
Do you see yourself more as the drifting cloud or as the sun?
Please don’t just say “a bit of both”, avoiding the issue.
Rumisaid more or less the same thing;
You are as you are, an indescribable
message on the air.
The Devil’s Advocate:
As Camus said, “Man is the only creature that refuses to be what he is.”
How can humans live while not even knowing who they really are?
My client and I may be evil, but at least know that we are, and proud of it!
We completely accept who we are.
Humans tend to ignore which selfish beasts they are under all their manifold disguises, which after all is the smartest thing they could do, for thus they spare themselves a lot of unnecessary sense of shame and guilt.
Of course this makes much easier from my client to keep them in their state of ignorance and deep slumber, but when they realize it to some extent they usually complain about our opponent, not about us!
What a joke!!
The I is like an eye which sees everything
You cannot transcend what you do not know:
to transform yourself you must first examine very well
all the various parts of your being.
Words of Power:
Without knowing who we are and why are we here
life seems to have no meaning at all.
“You must discover your identity;
then only can you have peace.”
The Atharva Veda
“Whoever knows himself knows God.”
The prophet Muhammad
“The outward man is the swinging door;
the inner man is the still hinge.”
How does it make you feel to be the swinging door?
To which extent are you the still hinge?
“You are not what you are; you are darkness looking
for light within.” Dejan Stojanovic
“Who am I? Just my name; the rest is Him.”
For many years Vijay kept asking himself this question, “Who am I?” so intensely that it almost drove him mad,
but found no real answers until he learned how to silence his mind
and only then began to understand.
Then he told himself:
In the Buddhist metaphor that there is no room but only the objects in it which now and then are changed, I am the space in the room.
In a certain sense, at times I am also the objects in it, but they are so tiny and seem irrelevant in this infinite Space that I am.
From Vijay’s old journals: 1961, place not recorded:
All I appear to be is a turmoil of countless memories, desires, dreams, strivings, incoherent and fragmented, contradictory directions endowed with an implacable intent stubbornly, blindly going their own way although not knowing where, ignoring why…utterly lost in such a crowd of gestures and events all vain each apparent choice inevitable appeared to me, of any real alternative devoid, and their conflicting directions tore me apart, a civil war raging within me.
Some turning points grow now sharply into focus and stand out like primal monoliths, nexuses of a labyrinth as if tailor made just for me, indications perhaps of what I really am – if only I could figure them out!
Subliminally I feel so many influences, powers and intimations of whom I am not even mentally conscious of, or perhaps never dared recognize, but perhaps it will be through them that I will finally comprehend each wrong step I ever took – and there have been so many –
make some sense of all the chaos,
vanity and madness of my life,
exorcise it all and then…
be myself at last.
From Vijay’s old journals: 2005 – Auroville, India
I have been deeply touched by this passage of Abd El-Kader and it keeps coming to my mind: when he was asked by Allah who he was he replied that he was two according to their rapport:
“In rapport to YouI am the Eternal,
forever and ever…
inrapport to myself I am pure non-being who never breathed existence’s perfume, and only has beingness in the measure in which I experience Your Presence with You and for You:
left to myself, away from You
I am not really there.”
Which is exactly how I feel.
Question/Ko’han 1 and 2:
Whatever you may think,
you do not really know yet
who you really are.
To which extent are you ready to look deeper?
If not enough, why not?
Question/Ko’han 3 and 4:
Only one ko’han really matters:
To which extent have you begun to solve it so far?
How will you solve it?
Hint: please consider the possibility that you may have already begun to solve it on other levels than the mind.
Emerson said that
the great majority of men are
bundles of beginnings.
Beginnings of what?
Question/Ko’han 6 and 7:
Machado said that
What the poet is searching is not the fundamental I
but the deep you.
Which is the difference between the fundamental I and the deep you?
How will you find your deep you?
Nisargadatta Maharaj has the last word:
The question ‘Who am I?’ has no answer.
No experience can answer it as the Self is beyond experience,
there it helps going beyond experience.
He meant that
it has no answer made of words or of “experiences”
as our mind conceives of them.
How will you go beyond experience?
1) Consider these words from the Quest:
The inner work to discover who we really are, however difficult it may be, should never be seen as a hard chore
but as an extraordinary, most wonderful adventure,
the “adventure of Consciousness and Joy”.
This is truly the ultimate Journey of our soul back home to our Native Land,
Shamballah, Kadar, Ultima Tule, which the Buddhists call the Pure Land.
After we have overcome the fears, hesitations and misgivings of our ego, it will become
a most exciting, interesting but above all joyous Journey that we will never
want to abandon until we have reached our final destination,
the Divine in us.
2) Meditate on these words of Paul Twitchell:
Man is a god clothed in rags,
he is a master of the universe going about begging a crust of bread.
He is a king prostrated before his own servants, a prisoner walled in by his own ignorance.
He could be free. He has only to walk out of his self-constructed
prison, for none holds him there but himself.
3) Meditate also on these words of Al-Ghazzali:
There is nothing closer to you
If you don’t know your self, how will you know others? You might say,
“I know myself,” but you are mistaken…. The only thing you know about your self is your physical appearance.
What are you?
Where have you come from and where are you going?
What is your role in the world?
Why have you been created?
Where does your happiness lie?
If you would like to know yourself, you should know that you are created by two things: one is your body and your outer appearance (zaheer) which you can see with your eyes, and the other your inner forces (batin).
This is the part you cannot see,
but you can know with your insight.
The reality of your existence is in your inwardness
Everything is a servant of your inward heart.
1) This passage from the Anathma Prakaranam which keeps asking:
What does matter if:
– If an education has he honored by kings, great status and wealth
or woman with delightful form he enjoys – if of his own Self isn’t aware?
What does matter if:
– If golden bangles he wears and in silken cloths is dressed, or
by a great feast satisfied is he –
if of his own Self isn’t aware?
What does matter if:
– If several nice countries he visited and many well fed relatives has he,
or of poverty the sorrow left him – if of his own Self’s isn’t aware?
If in sacred waters like Ganges bathed and many gifts has he given, sacred
texts billions of times chanted – if of his own Self’s isn’t aware?
What does matter if:
If by foot the ocean he crossed and to retain his breath
was he able, or Mount Meru in his hand can hold –
if of his own Self’s he isn’t aware?
2) These verses of Wu Hsin:
Under a rock,
there is always darkness
regardless of how bright the sun.
to see matters right is only
to emerge from under the rock of
identification with the personal.
One is closer to the truth
when one sees himself
as a process rather than as
an entity and that
the sum of all processes is
Once there is surrender
to never finding out
who one is,
who one is becomes obvious.
3) These verses from Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri
Himself he knew and why his soul had gone
Into earth’s passionate obscurity
To share the labour of an errant Power
Which by division hopes to ﬁnd the One.
Two beings he was, one wide and free above,
One struggling, bound, intense, its portion here.
A tie between them still could bridge two worlds;
There was a dim response, a distant breath;
All had not ceased in the unbounded hush.
His heart lay somewhere conscious and alone
Far down below him like a lamp in night…
Who am I, that’s the hardest question of all
for WHO is asking it in us we know not;
but ultimately such question itself am I,
and the answer from deep within as well.