Saturday, August 05, 2006

Saturday, August 5: Who Am I? and other good/useful questions

This is a question various teachers and inquirers like to ask, and just because it can be asked doesn’t mean it’s a good question. Then again, it might be a very good question. And, just making sure we have options, seen in some ways it might be a good question and in other just one more way of torturing yourself, or trying to fit in with the pack.

Now, the pack of people who ask, “Who am I?,” at least those over thirty, are pretty rare, though this sort of existential curiosity/angst can easily strike anyone whose rut/robot has been seriously disturbed: the recently widowed, or divorced, or losing of a partner, or parent or job.

Loss, loss, loss.

The Sufis say: you are what you can take off a shipwreck. Which isn’t much.
The Who Am I? askers often follow it back further: I’m not my name, not my job, not my status, not my habits, not my thinking, not my feelings, not the skills and intellect and health or non health and curiosity I take off a shipwreck, no, I’m not any or that and so on until some vague answer appears like: energy.

Energy is what? The ability to do work, I think, in physics, which the we are all energy folks love to pretend they are drawing from. Physics is dropping pebbles from a cliff and they fall faster and faster. It’s also subatomic stuff where observers and relativity and all that jazz comes in handy. But if you hold your shoe up in front of your face and let go, chances are old fashioned physics will drop it to the ground.

Here’s were old fashioned Feldenkrais comes in handy. As long as we are in this body, and want to get in and out of chairs and can enjoy walking and dancing and love making, why not be able to do these things in a wakeful and pleasant manner?

Wakeful. What is that about? An awareness of our dancing as we dance, so we sense the location of our feet and arms and even the feet and arms of our partner. We hear the music and know we are hearing the music. Life is around us and we are in life and we know that.

Is that energy, is that nothingness, is that Who We Really Are? Is awareness energy? Maybe. Maybe not. But I can know if I’m aware, or if I’ve forgot my awareness. I can know if I’m full of thoughts or just enjoying my breathing. I can know if I’m angry or amused or both. I can notice how amazing it is to be both.

So awareness is a deep and amazing toy, or aspect, or tool, or reality, or more honestly, an amazing possibility.

Is it Who We Are? Maybe we are who we identify with in any given instant. I am now, the Writer trying to make sense, or the Writer exploring. If I follow my breathing and sense myself as I write, I am awareness. If I get lost in chatter of “Am I making any sense? Will people like this?” I have become what we usually are: a frightened robot looking for outside validation.

We can be free. We can be slaves. We can notice this. We can fail to notice this.

Thus begins an exploration, of Who Are We, hopefully in an open and happy and not too deadly serious manner. (This is one reason “enlightenment”= a red herring. The “enlightenment” purveyors are always trying to get you to try a little harder for that cheese at the end of the maze, i.e. they are pretending to offer freedom and are really just offering more slavery to the Big Cheese Chase.)


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