Beyond The Mind
Who I’m I?
There is a big life question that most of us struggle with: “What will I have for lunch today?” Well, no. But close. We are always in a state of hunger; often not for food. “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Not that one either. The question I am referring to is: “Who I’m I?”
When you look in the mirror, are you the reflection that stares back at you? If that’s so, then you would do everything in your power to make sure you are presentable. God forbid, somebody stepped on your shoes—then your whole day or even your entire life might be ruined because, after all, you are what you see and right at this moment, you are muddied.
You might say—quite annoyed, in fact, that you are more than the reflection in the mirror. More than the clothes on your back. You might even shed them off to reveal your nakedness. So what. Are you your legs, your private parts, your chest, your hands? If you lost a limb, for example, would you stop being you?
Let’s say like most people you decide there is more depth to you than physical appearance; you are not your clothes, ornaments, or body. You are your mind. The philosopher Descartes did tell us after all, ‘I think therefore I am.’ That would mean that you live in your head, carrying your good and bad thoughts with you everywhere you go and letting them shape who you are.
Knowing the mind, it’s built to make sure you survive, so it always gives the bad thoughts priority. So, more than peace, love, and joy, you walk around with your prejudices, self-limiting beliefs, and fear. And as a consequence, you are always in a constant state of suffering. You might ask, “Could there be more to me than my mind?”
The Power Of Now
I recently bumped into Eckhart Tolle’s book, The Power of Now, and he really challenged me. He says, and I agree with him, that we should not confuse our minds with who we are. Our minds are tools to solve problems, not something we should identify ourselves with.
Growing up, being told how clever you are, and seeing the smart people doing the things that society celebrates, it’s very easy to identify with your mind to the point where it uses you, instead of you using it.
The mind has all the information it needs to build you or destroy you, and most times when left unchecked, it goes back in time and retrieves memories and creates stories and drama that suppress you, in the guise of self-preservation. Being in the present moment is one of the surest ways to get out of your own head and free yourself from the incessant suffering.
So, who are you? Eckhart claims that to know who you are, you have to go beyond the mind and access your own deepest self. To a point where you can observe your mind and see its strengths and flaws. To the point where you can be fully absorbed in the now (which is all there is) without your thoughts getting in the way.
Without the burden of your prejudices, fears, and self-limiting beliefs, you find that you are always at peace. Approaching the world with renewed senses of curiosity and wonder.
I am still reflecting on the book and learning to disidentify with my mind. And I sometimes find myself catching my thoughts and smiling after realizing how unnecessary most of them are. This is a book that I will certainly keep around. I have a feeling it will be among the defining books of the year. Now, if you will excuse me, I need to decide what I will have for lunch. Wait, is that my mind talking or my deepest self?
That’s all for today, folk. I am eager to know the books you have read that have challenged your way of thinking.
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Interesting read, looking forward to more of your writing this year.