Also see: Quietening the Inner Chatter

Taken from a great blog

Who Am I?
Ten years ago, almost exactly to this date,  I was meditating about 4 hours a day, 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the evening.  I was at the height of my Buddhist meditation practice and I felt like I was really getting somewhere.  Then on the 1st Sept 2000 while doing my morning meditation my mind blew open like a bolt of lightening and suddenly there was no me, no mind, and just the sound of a bird calling to the morning sun.  It was a profound experience that changed my life.  It was like waking up from a dream and seeing life through new eyes and realising everything you'd ever known before and the way you'd be experiencing life was incorrect.

Over the years, as I meditated, I started to notice how the mind itself displays very similar characteristics to aspects of nature.  And over time I started to use metaphors to describe aspects of the mind to people to make it easy to understand.  For example, the mind itself displays very similar characteristics to the sky.  It is vast and expansive and no matter how far you go you never actually perceive any boundaries.  If you throw a ball through the sky it passes through unattached.  Clouds arise out of nowhere and disappear again as if they never existed - effortlessly, silently, and without resistance - much like the nature of thoughts in the mind.  The mind also reacts to the environment and displays symptoms of cause and effect - when we perceive something, thoughts or emotion arise with them in a dance of interaction. Ideas are born into the mind out of nowhere much like a new seedling is born and later it will die away like a fading flower.  This ability for the mind to display characteristics of nature always fascinated me.

While meditating yesterday a deep insight came over me ... the mind doesn't display these characteristics because it is similar to nature, the mind displays these characteristics because it is nature, it is all these things, it is everything. It was so simple. The mind is not made from some "other" component, it is not made from something that you can strive to understand or experience separate from everything else, the mind quite literally is This, is everything that you are experiencing now.  It behaves in the same way as the sky, as clouds, as the wind because it is bound by the same laws that bind everything else and it is made from the same stuff that everything else is made from.  There is no difference.

How to Apply This

Now those sound like really wise words and if you pick up any spiritual book you'll read lots of stuff like that.  But this doesn't really help you at all and me saying it doesn't really help you understand or make your life better. You can read a tonne of spiritual books that talk about this concept and you'll feel good reading it and it will inspire you to want to know more but its kind of useless if you doesn't lead you to experience this for yourself.

So what is "mind", what is this "stuff" that is everything?  Who are you?  Or maybe you should ask "What are you?"  There are many names for this and people call it many things - nature, spirit, God, Buddha, life, the universe.  What is difficult is most people talk endlessly about it but this doesn't help, in fact in makes things worse for most people because then they get caught on the concept of what you've talked about as if its another thing to gain or get or understand.

Yet all these words in bibles and books are all talking about one thing, and one thing only - the direct experiencing of awareness, of life.  There is nothing to understand in it, there is nothing to get - you just have to be aware consciously of experiencing life in this very moment. Now you can't describe what that experiencing is like but if you directly experience it then you understand fully in that moment what makes up everything, you understand what the mind is. I'll say it again, it is the direct experiencing of life in this moment.  That is all.  Now don't think about that, take a second, look around the room or space where you are now and experience everything going on right now.  That is what I mean by the direct experiencing of life.  There is nothing complex about it.  All meditation and spiritual books are attempting to do is to get you to directly experience this for yourself.  Right now. Again, so look around the room.  Feel yourself breathing, see what is being seen, hear what you are hearing now.  This is all that it is about.  This direct experiencing of life.  So simple!

Its like talking all day about an apple.  A thousand words won't allow you to get how an apple tastes.  You don't fully understand "apple" until you put it in your mouth and take a bite, until you directly experience it.  Life is the same.  Meditation is about taking a bite from life, "crunch" and then you taste "Ah, this is life".  So look around again now, be aware, be conscious, feel yourself breathing, hear the sounds, seen what is being seen ... "Ah this is life".

So "who am I?"  This question is really asking you to dive head first into the moment and just experience life fully as it is.  In that direct experiencing of the senses, the mind, the environment, what is being heard, the sensations in your body ask yourself "who am I"?  You must keep returning over and over again to the present moment with your direct experience right now.  That is all, over and over.  "Who am I?"  Stop again for a second, feel yourself breathing, look around, feel, hear.  Ah yes, this is me.  As you do this you begin to see bit by bit the nature of who you are, of what mind is, of what everything is.

In many traditions you'll see this idea being expressed.  In Buddhism they ask "What is your true nature?" or "What is your true name?".  You don't have to think about it.  Just stop again for a second, feel yourself breathing, look around, notice the sensations in your body.  Yes, this is your true nature.  Christ said "I am the way, the truth, and the life".  This is the same point.  Breath again for a second, relax and be aware ... this is truth ... seeing, hearing right now ... this is the life ... breathing, feeling, practising being mindful ... this is the way.  This direct experiencing in this moment is the way.  Who is God?  Return to the direct experiencing of life again, be aware, feel your breath ... This is God.  This is death.  This is the Tao.  This is eternity.  This is life. This is enlightenment.

So Buddhist meditation helps you understand this.  No correction, Buddhist meditation helps you experience this!  In the early stages of meditation you begin to understand in a traditional sense who you are, who you are as a person, what you like and don't like and you become happier and you function better in life.  This is about understanding your ego.  As you keep returning to the mindful moment eventually this sense of "I" starts to feel empty, as if its not real.  It becomes almost meaningless and things don't matter as much to you. While this is a challenging stage it is important because you start to see through the illusion that "we" are something tangible something real and more importantly you stop being pulled around by emotions, thoughts and the challenges of life.  You start to really feel free and unbound.  Then as you continue to be mindful there is deeper insight into this intangibility and the direct experiencing of emptiness, and with this the direct experiencing of the emptiness in all things.  There is a saying "See the emptiness of one thing deeply, and you'll see the emptiness of all things".  The boundary between all things is suddenly gone and all things are experienced as if they are one.  Therefore, there are no more things, no more separation, just One, just This.  And what is this One?  It is just the direct experiencing of life!  Pure consciousness, pure awareness.  Who, or more importantly, what is the "I" in the moment of experiencing?  Again, stop now, look around, be aware, breath, see, hear and take a quiet moment.  This is your answer!  Its so simple.

At times over the last 10 or so years I've had periods where I haven't been as regular with my meditation practice as I'd like to be and I've wondered why.  While I knew deep down during those lapses that I should, and deep down I knew all the reasons why I should, and deep down I wanted to, something resisted.  I just couldn't put my finger on why there was this mild resistance to dive fully into regular practice like I had at other times.  In the last week I've been waking in earnest at 5am every morning to meditate for 45 minutes before work.  I've been contemplating this issue and its cause and what I've realised surprised me for the simplicity of it and because I'd failed to acknowledge the far-reaching enormity of the truth I'd seen through my meditations.  That is, I do not exist!  There is no "I" separate to the very moment being experienced now.  In this moment right now "Who am I?"  While the insight was clear and life changing, I'd been struggling to understand the place of "me" in relation to the truth and wisdom revealed through it and this new life view.  I was struggling to understand "Who am I?" and how did "I" fit into this picture.  And in a lot of ways "I" wanted to still do what I wanted to do and to be honest I still wanted to "be".  While the experience clearly showed there was no me, I'd persisted with the idea that "there was a me" that existed still separate from this insight.  The insight was clear but the wisdom had taken time to come full circle.  That is, that "I" is a false notion. There is no "me" to understand in relation to this insight because the insight has long gone.  In this moment, seeing hearing and typing right now, where am I?  Its like a cloud trying to understand and grasp the difference between the air and the sky.  While you call them different names there is no difference and you cannot separate them, in fact they are the same thing.  The cloud is air and sky and it doesn't attempt to call itself these things.  This week as I returned to meditation practice I've been returning to this moment, to this direct experiencing of life.  While the insight from 10 years ago is just a distant thought now, as I sit here and type and be aware in this moment there is no "I".  So, who am I?

Looking around, breathing, experiencing, being aware ... ah yes, this is Me!

But this is not the "me" I use to know, this is not the "me" we colloquially or conceptually know, this is not the small "me".  This is the "no me", the big Me that is everything.  The "I" as I knew it before is just a drop in an ocean, why call itself any different?  With this view a profound peace pervades Me, why struggle or resist the meditation practice?  How can I deny it at all?  This is like denying truth, this is like denying the way It is.  I must meditated because this is the way it is, this is truth, this is also is what I am, what I am made of, what My nature is.  This is Me!
2 Responses
  1. Unknown Says:

    So, why did you experience that mild resistance?

  2. Soh Says:

    Hi tcv, it's best you ask the author of the article at