Am I I am, or am I am I?

If I am in an egg, I would not even know that I am in the egg. There is no possibility for me to know that there is a shell covering me from reaching out. I will live a mediocre life that is just like what I am now – ignorant to the fact that there is something beyond where I am. The question of what is beyond life never strikes me and thus I live as if this life is simply a brief passing moment. Who on earth would have thought that there is such a thing as “beyond me“? I know there is death – because I see this happening to others. And I never question that I may escape death. To me, death is the end of me and that will happen in the future. Since I can’t determine the future, I just keep living each day, without questioning why the need to live. Probably I am not even living, but surviving – trying to make ends meet. That too I don’t questioned – for I thought that is the norm of life.

I see life in linear, having to keep trodding, arriving at the end, but not knowing when. It never came to mind that there is something beyond me – not after death – but beyond who I am at this moment. I am who I am – that is what I think I am. I am stuck in my own thinking, taking for granted that it is me that is doing the thinking. It is like the story of a king who wish to know what views the citizens are having about him – the only way to find out himself is to go out to the street, in disguise as a beggar. Just when he steps into the street, he was mugged and severely beaten to the extend that he lost his memory. From then onwards, he thought he is a beggar. One day a minister recognize him and brought him back to the palace. But he quickly insist he is a beggar, not the king. No one knows what to do until a wise man came along.

“Who are you?”, asked the wise man. “I am a beggar” the king answered. “No, you are not a beggar. Neither are you a king. You are you.” That statement woke the king up from his thought – thinking himself is a beggar. That awareness propels him out from the dream.

I have role plays in this life – a husband, a teacher, a writer, a designer, a photographer, a tenant – but they are simply role play. It is interesting to note the “play” comes after the word “role”. I am not that but simply playing the game of a role. If I am totally engrossed in the role I may forget who I truly am – just like the king. I will live a life according to the role, suffocated by the rules and regulation of that role. Each role has its own conditioning and I have to adhere to it, according to how society wants.

What if the “I am” is also a role play on earth here? I am playing the role of a human game – and that too has its own rules – to be in the dream. Is there a possibility that I have forgotten who I am and instead took on the role play of “I am” in this life? Am I in a deep dream, dreaming myself in this life? Or am I in this life, dreaming about who I am?

Once upon a time, I, Chuang Chou, dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was Chou. Soon I awaked, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man.

– Zhuangzi

2 Replies to “Am I I am, or am I am I?”

  1. hi… i was having almost the similar thoughts playing in my head today… after i read this ” You learn to define your own worth so that you are not needy and dependent on others doing it for you”. i read that sentence quite a number of time before.Somehow today it gave me a different meaning, i used to read on the surface. I suddenly thought that i was dependent on others defining who am I. It was like the King who became the beggar… I felt happier when i suddenly see ‘It’. E.g. I used to think that I am someone’s other half… and if that half does something wrong, it makes me feel bad… but now i suddenly felt that it was all right for whatever he does, even he is my another half… it will not affect me if i am aware in reality… even if he cheats… i realised i am trying to ‘own’ the status of the other half…

  2. That is wisdom at work. Just with a new information, the way you look at the world changes. It is not entirely true that the new information brings you the wisdom but rather the new information brings about inquiry that leads to wisdom, hence the importance of self-inquiry or inner inquiry. It may be an inquiry to what you have read before or to an experience in life. The sentence “You learn to define your own worth” is to mean inquiring within and come to an understanding.

    You may see by now how important wisdom is. One participant who attended our workshop suddenly came to his realization that wisdom is the key to undoing all his old behavioral pattern – not trying to fix it, which he has been doing all his years but without much result.

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