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Thread: Who am I?

  1. #1

    Who am I?

    I've always had the question of 'who am I?', or 'What is it that makes me, me?'

    Its not an eternal, unchanging self... So maybe its some sort of flowing 'spirit', but that brings me back to the Anatta Sutra, and theres nothing I can point to and say, thats my 'essance'.

    Correct me if im wrong, but when a person wanted to study under Bodhidharma, he told him to go away and practice and practice.
    When the student returned and told the master he hadn't stopped practicing, Bodhidharma asked him, 'Then who are you?' to which the student replied 'because I know myself very well, its difficult to say who I am', Bodhidharma then accepted him as a student.

    I think when we sit in zazen, we express our true nature.
    Our true nature being like the sky, its easy to point to the clouds and say 'thats my self', but when the clouds drift on, the sky reveals itself, then we come to realise the sky was always there. It never disappeared, and it doesn't suddenly appear or come into existence. It just sort of is.

    Any thoughts?

    Namaste

  2. #2

    Re: Who am I?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chogetsu
    I've always had the question of 'who am I?', or 'What is it that makes me, me?'
    Hi Chogetsu,

    Welcome again.

    Ah, you have asked THE question right on your first posting. You have come to the right place. But that is a little like walking through the door of a fruit shop and asking "Where's the fruit?".

    We are always talking "fruit" in this place and, more vital than just talking "fruit" ... is tasting the fruit (ya really can't know its sweet and sour just by reading and chatting about peaches).

    So, here, have a banana!

    he told him to go away and practice and practice.
    Still a good instruction, even now.

    Any thoughts?
    Well, it's those thoughts that are part of the problem to your seeing the fruit for yourself. Have a tangerine!

    Gassho, Jundo

  3. #3

    Re: Who am I?

    Q: What am I?

    A: There is nothing in the entire universe that is not you.

  4. #4

    Re: Who am I?

    who am I?
    Don't know.

    Gassho

  5. #5
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: Who am I?

    In years now long passed I was often called "fruity"...now I have an appreciation for that and can say, "Why yes I am."

  6. #6

    Re: Who am I?

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffLegg
    Q: What am I?

    A: There is nothing in the entire universe that is not you.
    im not so sure youre right

  7. #7
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Who am I?

    The only question that matters. It might be better to ask 'What am I?'.

    I just posted a blog about this - I looked for a self and only found footnotes that refered me to other footnotes that refered me to stories and further references to a self....just a progression of thoughts ABOUT a self, but nothing that could itself be called the self. It blew my mind back then, but now I see that it's just the way things are and what is mindblowing is that we can manage to not notice for so long.

    Chet.

  8. #8

    Re: Who am I?

    Hi and welcome

    "Who am I" - you are star stuff.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iE9dEAx5Sgw[/video]]

    Kind regards

    Jools

  9. #9

    Re: Who am I?

    to the question of who i am i can only answer one thing.

    i dont know, just me, doest it really matter?

  10. #10

    Re: Who am I?

    Hi.

    After you wake up you probably open the curtains and look outside. You may even like to open the window and feel the cool morning air with the dew still on the grass. But is what you see really "outside"? In fact, it is your own mind. As the sun sends its rays through the window, you are not just yourself. You are also the beautiful view from your window. You are the Dharmakaya.

    Dharmakaya literally means the "body" (kaya) of the Buddha's teachings (Dharma), the way of understanding and love. Before passing away, the Buddha told his disciples, "Only my physical body will pass away. My Dharma body will remain with you forever." In Mahayana Buddhism, the word has come to mean "the essence of all that exists." All phenomena--the song of a bird, the warm rays of the sun, a cup of hot tea--are manifestations of the Dharmakaya. We, too, are of the same nature as these wonders of the universe.
    -Thich Nhat Hanh, Present Moment, Wonderful Moment
    From Everyday Mind http://www.amazon.com/Everyday-Mind-Tri ... 976&sr=8-4

  11. #11

    Re: Who am I?

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    The only question that matters. It might be better to ask 'What am I?'.

    I just posted a blog about this - I looked for a self and only found footnotes that refered me to other footnotes that refered me to stories and further references to a self....just a progression of thoughts ABOUT a self, but nothing that could itself be called the self. It blew my mind back then, but now I see that it's just the way things are and what is mindblowing is that we can manage to not notice for so long.

    Chet.
    Best analogy I've seen in a while! Every time I read it it punches me in the nose...

    Gassho,
    Tobiah

  12. #12

    Re: Who am I?

    Quote Originally Posted by emptyzen
    Incidently, I wrote a blog post on the very subject.
    Thanks, I enjoyed that. I very much share your sentiments on this great matter, which to me is, THE great matter. It doesn't move everyone though, and that is fine too.

    Must read Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj!

    Gassho,
    David

  13. #13
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: Who am I?

    Of course, I have really nothing to say.

    Taigu

  14. #14

    Re: Who am I?

    Hi,

    I would just offer this caution ...

    What is it that thinks? What am I? Not conceptually speaking, but existentially, what AM I!?!

    This is the most important question, because without knowing what you are, how can you know if your thoughts have any truth?
    While you are pursuing your question to find out who you truly are, do not miss the fact that Chogetsu (the fellow who started this thread) is just Chogetsu, Emptyzen (what is your name, as you do not sign your postings?) is just Emptyzen (and each thought of Emptyzen's head just Emptyzen too), and David is 100% precisely David ... without one hair to add or take away from David's head to make him more David.

    In a vital way, a search like this is much like an onion's searching for its own "essence" (its "True Onion"!! :lol: ) by pealing away layer upon layer*, only to find as the last leaves are pulled away ... emptyness. In doing so, it may miss its own pungent beauty (I guess that in this fruit stand, we sell vegetables too)

    David (like the others) truly wishes to find the True David ... and he may find many faces of David in doing so. He may find that the farthest stars and each single blade of grass is also just David's face, he may find that Chogetsu and Emptyzen and Jundo are just David's face, he may find the empty core of the onion is just David's face ... he may even find that God is David's face ...

    ... but he had best never forget that David is just David's face.

    Is my meaning pretty clear?

    Gassho, Jundo

    * Chet, thank you for a lovely way of looking at this.

  15. #15

    Re: Who am I?

    Thank you Jundo - that does help.

    This debate reminds me of this chaps work - perhaps you have heard of him?

    http://www.headless.org/english-welcome.htm

    Kind regards

    Jools

  16. #16

    Re: Who am I?

    Jundo, i have long ago stopped looking at the words or what is between the words. and all i see or hear is the meaning and point of what you say.

    i totally agree with you, although for the life of my i cant explain or say exactly what it is.

    Gassho, Daniel.

    p.s.

    Emptzen i dont know if it matters or not but its something i was searching for, for many years and never found it. and as soon as i stopped looking for it and realized it doesnt matter that i am just me and its ok if i dont know who this ME is... i didnt need it anymore and found the whole notion pointless.
    why spend time and energy trying to understand what doesnt not need to be understood... i can better spend my time and energy living as me instead of looking for me...

  17. #17

    Re: Who am I?

    Hi, ...

    If some one asking me the question "Who am I?"

    My Answer is....
    I don't know.....

    Gassho, Mujo

  18. #18

    Re: Who am I?

    Who am I?

    This.

    Gassho

  19. #19
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Who am I?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Hi,

    I would just offer this caution ...

    What is it that thinks? What am I? Not conceptually speaking, but existentially, what AM I!?!

    This is the most important question, because without knowing what you are, how can you know if your thoughts have any truth?
    While you are pursuing your question to find out who you truly are, do not miss the fact that Chogetsu (the fellow who started this thread) is just Chogetsu, Emptyzen (what is your name, as you do not sign your postings?) is just Emptyzen (and each thought of Emptyzen's head just Emptyzen too), and David is 100% precisely David ... without one hair to add or take away from David's head to make him more David.

    In a vital way, a search like this is much like an onion's searching for its own "essence" (its "True Onion"!! :lol: ) by pealing away layer upon layer*, only to find as the last leaves are pulled away ... emptyness. In doing so, it may miss its own pungent beauty (I guess that in this fruit stand, we sell vegetables too)

    David (like the others) truly wishes to find the True David ... and he may find many faces of David in doing so. He may find that the farthest stars and each single blade of grass is also just David's face, he may find that Chogetsu and Emptyzen and Jundo are just David's face, he may find the empty core of the onion is just David's face ... he may even find that God is David's face ...

    ... but he had best never forget that David is just David's face.

    Is my meaning pretty clear?

    Gassho, Jundo

    * Chet, thank you for a lovely way of looking at this.
    Yes, this onion is the 'true onion'. Worse than assuming there's a 'me' when there isn't one is looking for a 'true me' beyond what is right in front of you. IMHO.

    Remember, it ain't called the 'backward step' for nothin'.

    I used to tell people that talking about reality is like painting pictures of fruit. It's all well and good, but if you're hungry, pictures won't do you a bit of good. Each moment is real fruit, can you taste it?

    Chet

  20. #20
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: Who am I?

    Thank you Chet. Please, next time you visit my place, do help yourself to the wonderully tasty painted cakes. My place is yours, as you jolly well know it.

    Taigu

  21. #21
    disastermouse
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    Re: Who am I?

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    Thank you Chet. Please, next time you visit my place, do help yourself to the wonderully tasty painted cakes. My place is yours, as you jolly well know it.

    Taigu
    If I come to your place, I will be a good guest and bring cakes for you!

    Chet

  22. #22
    Senior Member Martin's Avatar
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    Re: Who am I?

    A wonderful thread. I found Chet's "footnotes" analogy and Jundo's "onion" particularly powerful, thank you. What am I? Like most, I don't know. Perhaps I am "don't know".

    Gassho

    Martin

  23. #23
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: Who am I?

    Thank you, Chet.

    gassho


    Taigu

  24. #24

    Re: Who am I?

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    The only question that matters. It might be better to ask 'What am I?'.

    but now I see that it's just the way things are and what is mindblowing is that we can manage to not notice for so long.

    Chet.
    Hi Mouse!

    I have thought of you often in the past months and wondered where you were. I am so happy you are back at Treeleaf (who am I to talk, I have been away for over a month, but I moved, had the audit at work, was working every week servicing donated sewing machines, helping a bookseller at a science fiction convention, anyway.....

    Thank you for your "....manage not to notice for so long....." It reminds me of my situation of so often not noticing the obvious ! And I think I am in sympathy with the question being more "what" than "who". This seems more basic or something.

    thank you for your time,
    gassho,
    rowan

  25. #25

    Re: Who am I?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chogetsu
    I've always had the question of 'who am I?', or 'What is it that makes me, me?'

    Any thoughts?

    Namaste
    Greetings!

    I am thinking that perhaps, it might be useful to examine one's (psychological?) motivation/drive to have an answer to this question. This not a zen thing, mere one's personal psycholology/insight. But the need for "self" is very strong. Most of my life I have felt like a voice floating around in the air, an animate doll. Suddenly reading this I have this emotion of attachment to having a "sense of self". I am used to having lots of emotions so it is not a problem for me.

    Taigu, can I have some painted cakes too????!!!!! (where is that "hopeful" smilie when you need it!)

    gassho,
    rowan

  26. #26
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: Who am I?

    Rowan and all,

    If you wish to taste my-your painted cakes, study Gabyo of Dogen, a chapter of Shobogenzo, then forget gabyo and study-learn the self, and forget it and...
    That simple, really.
    Not a baking lesson.

    Deep bows


    Smiling-tired Taigu

  27. #27

    Re: Who am I?

    You are whatever you say you are...and if you say nothing? There is no you.

  28. #28
    disastermouse
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    Re: Who am I?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mushin
    You are whatever you say you are...and if you say nothing? There is no you.
    I think you missed the point. You exactly aren't anything you say your are.

  29. #29

    Re: Who am I?

    well in the eyes of sociology it goes this way.

    you are not who you think you are
    nor who others think you are.
    but who you think, others think you are.


    sounds complicated but it has some sense in it...


    Gassho, Daniel (who is not thinking who he is)

  30. #30
    disastermouse
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    Re: Who am I?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dojin
    well in the eyes of sociology it goes this way.

    you are not who you think you are
    nor who others think you are.
    but who you think, others think you are.


    sounds complicated but it has some sense in it...


    Gassho, Daniel (who is not thinking who he is)
    And you're not any of that either.

    Really take a look at who 'you' are and see if you find ANYTHING other than footnotes, references, and stories. This is a humble invitation, and I make it because it will erase any confusion we make when we believe these references and stories point to anything at all.

    And I don't say this in any way to diminish what you say - as it IS true as far as it goes. I only say, it doesn't really go to the heart of the matter and I suspect the OP was asking in that light.

    IMHO, IANAT.

    Chet

  31. #31

    Re: Who am I?

    How about the question "Who is sitting here now typing this?"

    Is this the same as "Who am I?"

    Too late, he's gone now.

    Cheers,

    Paul

  32. #32
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Who am I?

    I find that the thought of who I am gets in the way of me being whatever I am.

  33. #33
    disastermouse
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    Re: Who am I?

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa
    I find that the thought of who I am gets in the way of me being whatever I am.
    How can you get in your own way?

    More confusion.

  34. #34
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: Who am I?

    Much of my life has been about getting in my own way. I suppose you can say your actions are conditioned by others or past responses, but ultimately the only one keeping you where you are is yourself.

    In a manner of speaking.

  35. #35

    Re: Who am I?

    At many of the potential turning points of my life, I stood in front of myself. I am a bit too tall to see past. I only found out what happened later by watching those fuzzy black and white security tapes.

    I'm still not sure exactly what I missed.

    :|

  36. #36
    disastermouse
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    Re: Who am I?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dosho
    Much of my life has been about getting in my own way. I suppose you can say your actions are conditioned by others or past responses, but ultimately the only one keeping you where you are is yourself.

    In a manner of speaking.
    What's wrong with where you are?

    Chet

  37. #37

    Re: Who am I?

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Quote Originally Posted by Dosho
    Much of my life has been about getting in my own way. I suppose you can say your actions are conditioned by others or past responses, but ultimately the only one keeping you where you are is yourself.

    In a manner of speaking.
    What's wrong with where you are?

    Chet
    We are always just where we are, and always at home, always perfectly a jewel of who we are right now. Nothing to add or take away.

    Thus, do not be complacent and self-satisfied, never give up trying to be a better person, or to make this world better. Stillness does not depend on moving or sitting still, so in life we have to live and move for we are not stones.

    Sometimes the way to get somewhere is to work very hard, sometimes the way to get somewhere is to stop whatever you were doing in the past to prevent that. Don't forget that either. Some may think the way to answer the question "who am I" is to search very hard, but perhaps the way to answer is to stop asking ... and just BE "who you are".

    Gassho, Jundo

    PS- (And, as we discovered earlier in this thread, still another way to answer the question "who am I" is to drop the idea that there is even an "I" to be (or, if you get right down to it, that there is even a "be" to "be or not to be".)

    "Who am I" is kind of an "All of The Above" multiple choice question. It can be approached in each of those ways, and does lend itself to but a single perspective.

  38. #38
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Who am I?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Quote Originally Posted by Dosho
    Much of my life has been about getting in my own way. I suppose you can say your actions are conditioned by others or past responses, but ultimately the only one keeping you where you are is yourself.

    In a manner of speaking.
    What's wrong with where you are?

    Chet
    We are always just where we are, and always at home, always perfectly a jewel of who we are right now. Nothing to add or take away.

    Thus, do not be complacent and self-satisfied, never give up trying to be a better person, or to make this world better. Stillness does not depend on moving or sitting still, so in life we have to live and move for we are not stones.
    Honestly Jundo, most of my misery has come from 'trying to be a better person'. I've learned I'm a pretty good person as it is. Most of my ethical lapses have been the result of trying to get something or be somewhere else.

    Sometimes the way to get somewhere is to work very hard, sometimes the way to get somewhere is to stop whatever you were doing in the past to prevent that. Don't forget that either. Some may think the way to answer the question "who am I" is to search very hard, but perhaps the way to answer is to stop asking ... and just BE "who you are".

    Gassho, Jundo
    Still, where are we going?

  39. #39
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Who am I?

    Chet said
    How can you get in your own way?
    By thinking instead of being, which I think you might agree with because you write about it quite eloquently.

  40. #40
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: Who am I?

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Quote Originally Posted by Dosho
    Much of my life has been about getting in my own way. I suppose you can say your actions are conditioned by others or past responses, but ultimately the only one keeping you where you are is yourself.

    In a manner of speaking.
    What's wrong with where you are?

    Chet

    Nothing at all.

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