We are not our body, mind, or emotions because these factors are in constant change and are not the permanent you. Which makes me ask “who am I?”
When meditating we are taught to be a “witness” or an “observer.” We are the consciousness that can witness our own bodies, minds, and emotions in action. This is the true self. Thus connecting with the true self provides us better control over the mind, body and emotions.
Here is an interesting quote that touches on this point,
“The man who follows this quest is like the ray which is returning to its source. When he follows the ‘I AM’ in him to its hidden root, when the intellectual process of his enquiry gradually develops into a subtler inner movement, he will sooner or later enter – intermittently at first – a condition of impersonal freedom and utter peace……….When the mind’s depth is plumbed he will arrive at a point where both the thinking intellect and personal self seem almost to become re-absorbed by the hidden element which created them. That element is none other than the Absolute Being, the One Overself, the Supreme Reality and Underlying Spirit which subsists eternally amid the births and deaths of mortal men and material worlds. This august revelation awaits him even at the beginning of his first fumbling steps on the quest.” (Dr Paul Brunton: ‘Quest of the Overself’, p. 215)
So I must ask… what do you think?
I’ve come to this conclusion but not through meditation. I’ve become an accidental Buddhist through my personal inquiry into my own suffering, emotions, body and experience.
Several months ago I was on a crusade of sorts in activism. I realized in the midst of it that nothing I did really mattered after all. No one needed *me* to learn or grow. They just needed themselves and I was at best a mirror.
I was trying to build a career on changing culture and ‘helping others’ and I realized none of it mattered. The futility of life hit me hard and consumed me.
On the other side of my identity as crusader/helper/champion crumbling to the ground… and through it my whole sense of who I was and self, I asked “well then what am I?”
Just seems like the only thing constant is this inner movement of energy. My inner curiosity and awareness. That’s the ‘truth’…
And oh fuck, now I guess I’m Buddhist. Imagine that
this comment really fascinates me, julia. i’ve often dealt with this same quandary — wondering whether ‘helping others’ by creating things or trying to spread insights or educational messages is ultimately a meaningless, futile task.
what makes you think that it is?
even if you only act as a mirror, can’t a mirror be extremely valuable? even if people must be ready to change or grow in order to make any progress, don’t they still need signposts showing them how and in what direction to grow once they feel ready?
ironic that you bring up Buddhism. the Buddha’s teachings seem to have helped countless people, even though you view ‘helping others’ as impossible or meaningless.
i’m not at all trying to dismiss your position, as i’ve often felt similarly and am very curious to hear more about why you think this way. sometimes i think it would potentially be very liberating if i could realize once and for all that it doesn’t really matter how i spend my life.
at this point, though, i do think it matters, if only from a human-centric or sentient being-centric point of view. i think, for one, that being a compassionate, respectful, understanding person is very powerful and that the effects of being such ripple outward. i also think that creating things can help others in profound ways. i feel this way because of all of the writers, philosophers, musicians, and artists who have helped me come to terms with my existence and to feel much less alone in the midst of it all.
would love to hear any and all further thoughts on what you wrote initially or what i just wrote now. thanks for the interesting comment. <3