The Thinker

(Photo Credit: Delos Johnson)

“Who Am I?” – The image in the mirror is my own.

The New Voice squeezes in: Who is asking?

The face in the mirror frowns for a moment. “Who is asking? What kind of question is that? Look, logic stipulates that…”

Pardon…’your’ logic stipulates.

“…yes, MY logic (who else’s?) stipulates the following: There seem to be two dimensions of existence as far as I can tell.

One is the physical realm of existence which is experienced by the senses and interpreted through the filters of the conditioned mind (what I know about the world), and the other is the mystery of existence itself – (“From where do we come? To where do we go? Why?” ) – what do I know about that?

The physical dimension seems like a sequence of events which I perceive as “My Life passing over time.” In this realm of “one damn thing after another” (Attributed to Winston Churchill’s definition of “history”), my life in space and time is composed of, and consists of, ‘things’ – My body, my mind, my family, my possessions, my job, my set of external circumstances and so on. These are the things that I know. These things make me who I am.”

And yet someone is standing before a mirror asking “Who am I?”.

(Who is this character? Does she actually believe that she can be more reasonable than me? Hahaha!)

(Photo Credit: Winnifredxoxo)

(Photo Credit: Winnifredxoxo – Flickr)

The New Voice isn’t prepared to leave the Intellect alone: “What about thoughts?”

“Well what about thoughts?!” the Intellect blurts out with irritation.

Nothing much, except that you said, “These are the things that I know.” Can you know them without thinking? Are thoughts part of the ‘things’ that make you who you are?

Here I am and there they are – “my thoughts.” One after another they seem to permeate every possible space in my mind materializing like ghosts (does anyone ever notice?)

These subtle thoughts march into the mind like a finely tuned brigade of robots forming a sturdy chain of cause and effect. (Let me tell you that the order in which they appear is no accident! One thought leads to another, it some kind of law of association. I believe some call it Karma.)

I’m glad to see them coming when I see them coming. When I don’t see my thoughts then I’m lost in their march of madness. Sometimes I can be lost in thought for 30 minutes straight and don’t realize it until I *SNAP* out of it!, and then I can’t even remember what I was thinking about!

“Hmmm…I never truly considered thoughts as ‘things’, but I can’t disagree. After all, I’m definitely who I think I am.”

“Who do you think you are?”

“Obviously (and as I previously stated) I am my history. I’m a woman with a back story and when someone asks about ME I tell them MY story. The devil is in the details isn’t that what they say? But don’t think me foolish, I realize of course that many of my thoughts are conditioned, you know, based on my environment and/or my genetic predisposition.”

Story Time - Catnipstudios

(Photo Credit: Catnipstudio)

The New Voice smiles: So you figured it out then – I mean, the answer to your question “Who am I?” You seem to be on a definite path (complex though it seems).

Of course, I’m the story of me; what or who else can I be?! I’ll give you an example:

I like what I think I like. My children tell me in no uncertain terms, “I like chocolate but not vanilla, oranges but not apples. He’s the one who hopes to become a ‘Daddy’ and she’s the one who hopes to become an animal rescuer. He wants to win every competition, she just wants to have fun. So, I’m the one who likes this but not that, who believes that and not this and so on…that’s who I am – versus the other.”

The other? Speaking of “other”, if the other were to have your memory and you were to have his, would you be yourself or the other?

(I feel a little disturbed by the cool manner in which this Voice keeps chiming in. I give a perfectly reasonable answer and to every answer she poses another question):

So we are each a unique individual because of our particular list of things “I am” and “am not”, “I like” and “like not”, I “believe” and “believe not?

Suddenly I find the same question hovering above my head: “Who Am I?” 

It’s true that my memories are really the only things which define ME (Oh yes! “Things! Ha! Thoughts are “Things!”). So what would happen if I no longer remembered my back story? Would I still be ME? Can who I am really be confined to my identification with ‘one damn thing after another’?

In this magnificent mystery of existence, of universes infinitely big and infinitely small, is who I am confined to the dream of what I want and don’t want; what I  like and don’t like; what I believe and don’t believe?

Milky Way Galaxy - Dave Young

(Photo Credit: Dave Young)

I ‘m asking because I’ve recently recalled that the only thing I actually know for a FACT (other than the fact that I exist) is that existence occurs in only one moment – ever – and that moment is NOW. Actually, this is something I’ve always known, I mean, how can there be any moment other than now? When it was yesterday it was now, and when tomorrow comes it will once again be now. Wherever I was, am, or will be is always Now. Apart from myself, Now is the only other constant in my life (I believe I heard someone say something to this effect before and it stuck to me as undeniable FACT).

I have to inquire: How can history, which is a sequence of things happening in time, exist NOW? Since NOW is free of time (as it must be), how can I be a story which is no longer here, or my future which hasn’t yet arrived? There seems to be a fracture somewhere, a kind of dual existence – the realm of time and the realm of no-time – Am I divided between the two? (But how can one moment be divided in two? Logically absurd! Maybe it’s not the moment which is divided, but me!)

The Hall of Mirrors - Kaushik Patel

(Photo Credit: Kaushik Patel)

Okay friends, this is purely an intellectual exercise, but I can’t ignore the validity of the arguments. Am I now or am I then? Am I here or am I there? Think, think, think…you can figure this out!

(Strange…who is this telling me to ‘think think think’? Is this yet another voice?)

You have to ACT. You have to undo ‘then’ (time) to find the NOW.

But what is time when there is only Now? Besides, isn’t perception happening Now? Aren’t I already here? How can I be anywhere else other than here and now? Just think about it!

The Voice (unflinching): “Your body is here. Where is your mind?”