Who Am I?

Amid busyness, you can find a moment of stillness. The ideal moment for prayer, meditation, and contemplation should be in the morning when your mind and soul are fresh.

Even in the afternoon, you can find a moment to be alone in any cafeteria, bookshop, library, museum, or park nearby, enjoying silence despite hearing people’s chats behind.

Or at night, finding a calm moment should be valuable to keep all your inner voices away from your mind and soul, cleansing toxins during sleep.

We need these moments to focus on something fundamental and essential. Without them, all our concerns are in the shallowness of worldly affairs. And, we suffer a lot from them. In Buddhism, they use the term Dukkha in Pali, roughly translated as suffering. As long as our concerns are with these worldly affairs, we can never be free from these sufferings categorized into eight types:

  1. Living
  2. Aging
  3. Illness
  4. Death
  5. Loving
  6. Hating
  7. Craving
  8. Uncontrollable

Life means for us, by default, living in this world on earth. And the more we focus on this aspect, the more we tend to agree that life is suffering. While experiencing a moment of happiness, our lives consist of a series of struggles. That is why at the end of our worldly living, we use phrases like eternal rest and peace as if we can finally rest and be free from all the burdens.

And yet ambivalently, we tend to believe our lives are part of the precious possession. Aging, therefore, means a merciless countdown of our remaining lifespan. While we were children, we didn’t care about our lifespans as if everything we experienced were supposed to be timeless, if not eternal. But there is the moment we suddenly realize that life is finite.

Life is not only finite but looks unfair; its longevity is up to the condition of our bodies. We suffer from various illnesses. A baby dies without expecting many days in this world because of illness. Young persons suddenly end their life because of uncurable diseases. One’s entire life is nothing more than struggling with ill health. A recent pandemic killed millions of people. Even subtle symptoms disturb us a lot in everyday life, as if sick leave is one of the conditions we always have.

And one day, we will have to leave this world on earth. Living won’t bother us anymore; the aging countdown won’t annoys us anymore. We will have no more illnesses because we won’t be physical at all. That is death! We are supposed to rest peacefully without any suffering, and yet.

We are afraid of death. Why? Because death ends everything. We can’t see ourselves anymore. That’s eternal. Is there any chance we can see ourselves in consciousness again? We never know. God knows. That’s why we are scared and fearful.

Losing life means all its attributes vanish, like aging and illness. But likewise, we lose ourselves. It is not that we lose what we have called life but everything, including ourselves. Is it the end of the world? It isn’t. After your death, my death, or our death, the world would exist as if nothing happened.

It is painful to realize we can’t meet the people we love anymore. We all have experienced this type of death. My father passed away years ago. That means I can never meet him in this world. I can never talk with him and hear his voice anymore. That is the truth I must accept. Is it devastating? How much more has a mother experienced the death of her beloved child? We greet each other, saying, “See you again!” When it comes to this type of separation, we can never say “again.”

Can we say, “See you again in heaven”?

I use this phrase for condolences. The implication is tremendous. That could be the key to our question of “Who am I?”

Likewise, meeting those whom we hate is another aspect of suffering. While you miss your best partners, you must meet others who are obnoxious and annoying in everyday life. This way, we feel life is unfair. There could be various reasons for this situation. It’s merely because of each other’s chemistry. Or either of them is selfish in the helpless or unfortunate miscommunication. There have been a variety of biases, prejudices, superstitions, and discriminations.

Throughout human history, from tribs to ethnic groups to nation-states, we have been killing among ourselves because of our inherent hatred. We suffer a lot because we hate one another.

Why is that so? Because we are selfish and greedy, seeking anything for our possessions, from tools to persons to territories to properties, and anything more. Wealth in this world has been unfairly disproportionate. We have never experienced any civilizations without extreme wealth. From King Solomon to Big Techs, we never tire of pursuing prosperity. Without knowing that is the cause of all our pains above-mentioned.

Lastly, the eighth Dukkha is that everything is uncontrollable. The irony is that experiencing all the pains from the first to the seventh; our final realization is that nothing is controllable and permanent. That is the ultimate Buddhist worldview. The world is illusory. So is the universe. So are we.

Like King Solomon, after experiencing all types of pleasures, which means all kinds of pains as these are both sides of a coin, we indulge ourselves with the following phrases:

Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?

Ecclesiastes 1:2-3

Is life such miserable and hopeless? Should we suffer from all these pains throughout our illusory and illusive life experiences and expectations?

The answer is straightforward. Amid busyness, we can find a moment of stillness in the morning when your mind and soul are fresh. In the afternoon, we can be alone in any cafeteria, bookshop, library, museum, or park nearby, enjoying silence despite hearing people’s chats behind. At night, finding a calm moment should be valuable to keep all your inner voices away from your mind and soul, cleansing toxins during sleep. That’s why we have to pray, meditate, and contemplate.

Let us mindfully ask ourselves:

Who am I?

You would provide a long list of worldly identifications attributed to various pains and pleasures in your life. Kindly observe them and gently put them aside. Keep doing this until you run out of them.

You would realize that you are nobody. You are nobody gracefully. And you would realize that the world is illusory divinely. The universe is elusive as God sees Himself alone without us.

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

Psalm 46:10

Image by Christel 

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