Quote: “What I am is in a constant state of creation.”
At the core of our human experience is the attempt to understand who or what we are. However, there’s a twist that not everyone figures out. This search for identity is both a source of suffering and, for some, it leads toward a profound revelation.
WHO AM I? The Search
What’s the age-old question? “Who Am I?” Furthermore, it is, “Who am I in this world that I appear to be living in, in relationship to everyone else?” I take issue with this base question about ‘who,’ because the ‘who’ is tricky. I can easily say, “I’m Tiger.” Yet, “Tiger,” doesn’t really say anything about the reality of what I am. The name or label is an identifier that helps me communicate with other human beings. In the same way, I can identify a tree as a “pine tree,” but again, the name only helps differentiate it from other trees and still falls massively short in helping me connect with the reality of a tree.
The issue here, in this search, is that I’m looking for the mind to tell me something true when the mind only gives me names, labels, and stories that are more like pointers than factual representations of reality. I find this quite fascinating that the mind doesn’t tell me what’s real and true; it only creates images that point in a particular direction. If I say, “moon 🌙,” it invites you to look up and connect with the reality of something we know as the moon, but the word itself is like gibberish. The word is a pointer toward something beyond the word.
Yet, from what I see, humans are looking for the truth of who they are, their identity, in this instrument of the mind, hoping to find something real. We ask, “Who am I, really?” And then we look in the mind to tell us something real. The disaster here is that sometimes we think we have figured it out, and it doesn’t take long before that new label, name, or narrative shows itself as fleeting, stale, or ungraspable. Then, we find ourselves back where we started, “I don’t know who I am anymore.”
Here is where we start to feel utterly lost, looking and looking in the mind with nothing real to grab hold of. The natural assumption is, “Because I can’t find it, it must mean I’m… unworthy of it, or the opposite of what I hope to find.”
For the sake of exploration, let’s disregard the “who” that looks for a name, label, or narrative and, instead, ask “What am I?”
What I am is so much different than “Who am I.” The question of “What am I?” invites me to connect with the reality of my humanness. In the same way, if I ask, “What is this tree?” It invites me into a deep presence with the tree, and maybe I see that anything I say about the tree, it’s not really that. This invites me to get out of the mind and use a different internal resource for understanding.
Sure, I could still get lost in the mind and answer the question of “what” with labels; “I’m a human being.” But my encouragement here is to see the failure in that label. All you’ve done is differentiate yourself from a tree while still looking for an answer in the mind’s imagination.
The Spiritual Invitation
Spirituality, in its most authentic form, has been an invitation for human beings to step out of the mind and connect with something more real; most notably, more real about what they are as human beings before the narratives and comparisons we get lost in. Spirituality invites a connection with what is real, a realness the mind simply cannot touch.
What do we find as we come home to such a realness? Well, most notably, you find that you are not the stories you tell about yourself. You discover that anything the mind says, you’re not really that; even though the mind says you are. The discernment here helps you to release your attachment to what the mind is saying and drop into the present-moment reality of what you are.
Another way of seeing this clearly is in the search for “meaning.” Often, and I do mean often, the human being is searching for a meaning that exists outside themselves. “What does this mean?!” Yet, the only meaning you find is the meaning you put there. “Meaning” is a product of thinking and storytelling, and it’s beautiful. However, equally so, it can be disastrous when confused. There are infinite answers to the question of “What does this mean?!” and all the answers could be relevant in some way, but none of them get to the core of what’s actually true. All the meaning we come up with simply shows us the meaning we are creating.
Just as with meaning, there is no meaning outside my creation of meaning. Also, there is no personal identity outside my creation of personal identity. This is the TWIST.
I’m not here to find meaning, as if it’s somewhere out there and separate from myself. I’m not here to find myself, as if it’s somewhere out there, disconnected from myself here and now. I am here to create meaning, and I am here to create an identity.
Again, the TWIST… whatever meaning or identity I create, it doesn’t make it true. Rather, it’s simply an expression of my potential to create.
More accurately, at least for me, it points to a deeper truth about “what I am.” I am… that which creates.
When I become still, and I see beyond the mind’s noise, what I recognize is a vast emptiness, a stillness, a blank canvas. Simply, there is nothing. Yet, the mind, from within awareness, is creating 10,000 things that are not really things; they are just thoughts, images, and narratives; none of which exist outside my imagination of them.
What I am is in a constant state of creation. The only challenge/struggle in this I find is my belief in these creations and the subsequent clinging to them or fearful pushing away. Yet, when I see their imaginary nature, I neither need to cling nor push away. What I recognize is that all of these thoughts are more like playful expressions of creation.
This revelation completely changed my relationship with Life and Being Human. I transition from being afraid of not “finding myself” to a position of embracing the playful opportunity of creating myself.
I’d only be afraid of not finding myself if I think the self is somewhere out there, outside my creation of it. The self isn’t out there to “find.” The self we experience is a self to be created, and created for the sake of play, in the same way you create a painting. You’re presented with a blank canvas, and your opportunity is to paint whatever resonates most deeply. Naturally, starting out, you might not be good at painting. The good news is nobody is 😂. We must learn, grow, and discover, then naturally become better at it.
The key here is to paint something you’re actually interested in painting. This is also to create a self/identity that aligns with what feels important to you on this human journey. Along your path of learning to paint and create, you will undoubtedly scrap your current draft and start over. This, of course, is part of the process. The prize is in the development of your ability to paint and create, and encountering your current limitations (failure) is required for growth.