The Big Question—Who am I?
by Michael Ketterhagen
As I reflect on my life and my experiences here on earth, I keep getting confronted with the perennial question: Who am I?
Yoga gives a nice neat answer, saying that we are “atman,” pure individual consciousness, one with the Universal Consciousness. I like to popularize that by saying that I am a DIP, a Divine, Infinite and Perfect being. Judaism, Christianity and Islam also say that we are made in the “image and likeness of God.”
If that’s true, then why do I feel so offended when I am confronted with my imperfections. Why don’t I just shrug them off, realizing that that flaw, or personality trait, is really not me? It’s just a flaw or a past learning about myself as a child or even as a member of a society that is flawed.
I have begun to realize that I really don’t know (although part of me knows) that I am made in the image and likeness of God. Therefore, part of me know that I am truly a DIP of a being. But another part of me has identified myself with many aspects that are not divine, infinite and perfect, that are not truly “God-consciousness.”
This learning hit me recently when Mary, my beloved, pointed out how I have a double standard in reference to money matters. This helped me realize my fears regarding financial stability. Am I my fear? If I am a loving, being of light and joy, why do I identify with my worries?
Yoga says that it Is my samskaras (patterns of the mind that I learned throughout my life) with which I am identifying. According to yoga, I have not learned to deal with the five kleshas (ignorance, my false sense of self, my attractions, my aversions, and my fear of death). It seems as though I am grappling with all of these afflictions. I periodically am ignorant of my true identity and begin to identify with my false self (my physical and emotional aches and pains, my jealousies, my worries, my desire for wealth and fame and control, my aversion to aging or unpleasant situations, and obviously my fear of death).
Even in my writing this blog, I am calling all those afflictions “my afflictions.” I am identifying with falsehood. Oh, it’s not that I don’t have all those afflictions, My problem, it seems, is my identification with them and saying to myself deep inside that they are me.
In one sense, they are me because I am identifying with one part of me, my human consciousness. I have mentally decided that this aspect of human consciousness is truly me.
The only time I do not identify with that part of me is when I am meditating on the presence of the life force (God, the Divine Mother, the source of my life) within and around me.
I thank this loving, joyful, peaceful Higher Reality for giving me those moments of true identity, those moments of truly knowing Truth, those moments with the attractions and aversions no longer bombarding my desires, those moments when I no longer fear dying, but enjoy the Truth of Now, the Truth that I am one with the Divine, Infinite and Perfect Me!