You've probably heard people say things like the following statements, and maybe you've said them or thought them in your mind, also:
"I don't know who I am anymore."
"I need to get a life."
"I don't have a life."
"My life is awful."
"I LOVE my job, therefore, I love my life!"
"I am just me, a person, no one special."
These statements, when you think about it, don't make any sense. You can't have a life or get a life when you are Life itself. Also, how can an I be me?
We like to argue and say, "I can tell you who I am. I am a woman (or man) who is ____ years old. I have a job and I do _______ ." Or, "I have a degree and my profession is____." Someone else may say, "I am a nobody. I have no job. I'm poor and no one cares about me." Others like to say, "I'm a good person. After all. I tithe, do volunteer work, love my family, and am compassionate towards others." Many people need to build up their sense of self, or diminish it in order to feel and believe they are a separate self.
Thoughts first form in the mind and are translated as being true and real. Soon a story is created by the mind and an identity is born. You tell yourself this is who you are. Young children, even babies, are taught to learn their names, their age, their sex, the color of their eyes, hair, etc. The baby or young child had once just enjoyed being a part of Oneness. Then the external world began telling him he must believe in what his five senses are experiencing. His parents, teachers, older siblings want him to "see" the world as they believe they see it. The pressure is on for the child to see himself as separate....separate from everything. The message from the world tells him that in order to survive and fit in, he has to believe this illusion is real (although most humans don't realize it's an illusion).
The egoic self can build itself up to become a huge, puffed up ego, or the ego can go to the other extreme, believing the self is unimportant, or mistreated by society. This is just another clever way the ego makes an identity for itself, a "less than" identity. This becomes his victim role that his mind believes is who he really is, and he must continue playing it. As strange as it sounds, a person who has made this thought into his reality will usually not let anyone talk him out of his victim role. He clings to it because he senses his ficticuous self will die.........and then where would he be without it? Or rather, who would he be? Nothing? Such a terrifying thought!
We've all done this----created an idea of who we think we really are in our minds. Surely, it's real, we think. But,these thoughts change constantly, just like the world you believe you see around you, including the body form you're in. Animals and humans are born, grow old, then die. Trees, plants, clouds in the sky, mountains, oceans.........everything we perceive as real, even mind thoughts, come and go, constantly changing. How can we ever know who we really are, the actual core reality, when even our thoughts change so frequently? How can we ever stop the insanity of chasing after our own selves?
Try this: Watch your mind for a moment. Be still, take a breath, relax, and now focus on your mind. Do you know what your next thought will be? Do you have any control of what the next thought will be? Eckhart Tolle, the spiritual teacher and author of many books, suggests to try pretending you are a cat, silently gazing upon a mouse hole, waiting for a mouse (a thought) to appear. This is an excellent way to calm the mind and just be the awareness of any thoughts.
By doing this little practice, you've just experienced the Now, or the Consciousness, where there is deep stillness. You will soon come to know that the thoughts swirling like a whirlpool in your mind are not who you really are. You are so very much more than that.
There has always been one thing that is ultimately real, one thing that always is, always has been. The present moment. Even though it is perceived to be a moment in time, as if this moment will be followed by many more moments, the now, or the present is all there is.
When you begin to understand this by experiencing the now for yourself, there is an even deeper knowing of who you are in this moment of Now, all that there is. Observe that you are the awareness of awareness. That is you experiencing, or knowing, the Now. Awareness is also called Consciousness, or the Now, or the Divine within. Another way of putting it is awareness is the space where the witnessing occurs. Awareness witnesses the objects and forms that move and change in the moment of now. Even mind movements are simply foms,coming and going, not who you are.
Why wouldn't everyone want this peace, this joy that is found in the now? Many egos say they want peace, but they can't tolerate it for very long. Remember the ego wants to stay alive at any price, any cost. It will create conflict, sometimes physical, or emotional conflict in order to survive. When thoughts (or simply call it brain chatter, or obsessive thinking) keep replaying the awful past or imagining a fearful, anxiety ridden future, we miss the peaceful beauty of the Now. Yet, when we are aligned with Oneness, we can experience the peace and beauty of being one with all that is. When you understand and can say, "I Am That", you are awakened.