Raptorsin7

What Is The Purpose Of "Who Am I"

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When spiritual teachers talk about self inquiry and asking questions like "Who Am I", what is the purpose of the these inquiries?

Are you looking for a shift in perception? Are you just trying to recognize the presence that is prior to thoughts?

Do we have different views on the goal of these practices?

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As I see it, "Who am I?" has the ultimate goal of pointing individuals to the realisation that "they" have as much personal agency as any other imagined atom in the imagined universe.


 

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To realize what you truly are, it's in the question ?


God is love

Whoever lives in love lives in God

And God in them

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They are trying to get people to realize either Self (Universal Self)/God or No Self. Both can be helpful for liberation. 


I’ve had ~500 transformative spiritual experiences in the past 10 months. Here’s where I’m at now.
https://youtu.be/Xr2chjakYMU

“Bring your Authentic Light into the world so that others may feel confident enough to do the same.” -Māhā Ānanda aka Brandon Rohe

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@Raptorsin7  
for how i see, that questiostion is used as a trick to get you in touch with the present moment and, paradoxically, let go of identity concepts,
because the more you look for "who" you are the more you find your self grasping nothing, and this make you abide in that infinitly present "space" that gives rise and is the substance of your very enquiry.

In a sense we can say that simple practices such as Self-enquiry or breath awereness are different methods but have the same goal.

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57 minutes ago, _Archangel_ said:

@Raptorsin7  
for how i see, that questiostion is used as a trick to get you in touch with the present moment and, paradoxically, let go of identity concepts,
because the more you look for "who" you are the more you find your self grasping nothing, and this make you abide in that infinitly present "space" that gives rise and is the substance of your very enquiry.

In a sense we can say that simple practices such as Self-enquiry or breath awereness are different methods but have the same goal.

I like your description. 

When you say Who Am I, you immediately sink into feelings/presence. I've heard people say that the purpose of the question is to silence the mind, because you can never find a satisfying answer to the question in thought

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For me, asking the question verbally 'who am I' is the opening chapter to this technique, then later the words fall away and I'm left with a simple observation. Which starts of as a paradox of the looker looking for itself, until relaxation deepens, the separate observer takes a rest and the deeper unified field of awareness is revealed. 

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"Who am I?" is sort of a funny contemplation. It's akin to telling somebody that if they dig a thousand holes in a field, they'll find the secret to existence. At some point, the questioner will realize that there is no good answer to "Who am I?" They'll see that their entire mental construct of who they are is a conditioned, selfless process with no beginning or end, and that the very idea of being "Jim Smith, age 35, etc" is a complete fabrication that happened to collect along the way like a snowball rolling down a hill. 

So, in that sense, "Who am I?" is almost like a koan. It's a completely ridiculous question that holds a mirror up to the mind and makes it realize that the answer is a non-answer. Mu. 

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There are several methods of inquiry that use "Who Am I," but I will share what I have been taught and my understanding of those teachings.

"Who" is a funny word which only applies to sentient beings.  For inanimate objects we use the word "which."  If someone knocks on my door, I might shout, "Who is it?"  They may reply, "Howard!"  I can then further inquire by asking, "Howard who?"  There could be many Howards, but I want to know "which" one it is.  That is why I ask, "Howard who?"  

When we use "Who am I," it is a question of identity.  Every individual has multiple identities, but we are trying to discovery which one is the absolute truth of ourselves.  Am I a Dad, a son, a husband, an Administrator, or a body and mind?  Which one of these identities (or many others) is really true?  So the process is to examine each one and discard the ones that are not inherently true.  I was not always a dad, so that cannot be who I truly am.  Same for my job title, personal interests, bodily characteristics, relations to other, etc.  The more superficial identities can be worked through rather quickly.  The real work usually begins with the body and then the mind.  Am I the body?  If so, what happens if I lose a hand in an accident?  Will I be less of myself than I was before?  You can even use thought experiments by imagining that your mind is uploaded into a supercomputer and no biological body remains.  Are you still you?  What about the mind?  Are you your thoughts?  If so, then what happens during deep sleep in the absence of thoughts?  This continues, not until you reach a logical conclusion, but until your concepts are exhausted, which opens up the possibility for a direct realization of "Who" you actually are.

Once you directly know "Who" you are, it's like we are back at our imaginary door.  "Who is it?  Howard!  Howard who?  Howard the Duck!"  Okay; now we know, out of all the possible Howards in existence, which Howard is actually there.  The next question is to ask, "What is a duck?"  The "what" questions takes us to the ontological understanding of the thing.  What is it's true nature?  This is a more profound discovery.

Now, when doing self inquiry, you may be working with the "who" question, but upon realization, you directly experience the truth of both "who" and "what" simultaneously.  You may even discover much more, such as what is the nature of reality or God, or you may have to work on these questions independently.  Either way, all of these questions are possibilities for exploration and further inquiry.

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3 minutes ago, Shambhu said:

Once you directly know "Who" you are, it's like we are back at our imaginary door.  "Who is it?  Howard!  Howard who?  Howard the Duck!"  Okay; now we know, out of all the possible Howards in existence, which Howard is actually there.  The next question is to ask, "What is a duck?"  The "what" questions takes us to the ontological understanding of the thing.  What is it's true nature?  This is a more profound discovery.

Now, when doing self inquiry, you may be working with the "who" question, but upon realization, you directly experience the truth of both "who" and "what" simultaneously.  You may even discover much more, such as what is the nature of reality or God, or you may have to work on these questions independently.  Either way, all of these questions are possibilities for exploration and further inquiry.

This is great.

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I prefer the question “What am I?” Ive exhausted the who question. Im more interested in the ontological investigation “What am I?” Which I suspect most people are actually after when using the “Who am I?” question, both are useful for this purpose though, ultimately. 

To address the thread’s title - what is the purpose? To know what our existential nature is. 

When we keep asking who/what we are, we may begin to notice many things about experience. For one, no matter what we experience, there is always the experiencing of it, so naturally, experience cannot be who/what we are. ‘What’ is experiencing experience?

Secondly, as we question, we may begin to notice that experience is never static. All feelings, emotions, self referential though, sensations, perceptions, etc. are in a constant state of expansion and contraction, or arising and passing. There is nothing static, or formed about experience at all. If we’re truly perceiving reality as it is, we would experientially recognize that the moment we’ve placed attention onto an object of form, that form has already contracted and given rise to a new, completely fresh and totally unique new form, yet upon recognition even that is now gone. We can see through a deep paying attention there is literally nothing in existence. Everything is utterly new moment by moment, so it is quite literally impossible for what we are to be anything at all because quite literally, ‘things’ do not exist. 

Eventually the question takes us to the context out of which experiences arise and pass, expand and contract, the context where the primordially feeling of “I am” resides. That context becomes more palpable than the field of dancing, impermanent form and yet is seen to be inextricable with form. This context is pure, liberated, potentiality - the space wherein all comes and goes, moment by moment. 

Buuuut that’s about as far as Ive gotten… ha. Still going. 

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You are just consciousness. There is really no point of asking "Who am I?". It is a valid exercise for beginners to find out they are all about consciousness. Nothing more. The much more important question than that is "Who I wanna be?". You are whoever you wanna be. It is your consciousness that determines what you'll transform into. The reason most people can't change is because they don't believe they can't change so self-fulfilling prophecy :)

Edited by HypnoticMagician

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@Raptorsin7

Self inquiry. It involves the rather difficult endeavor of ignoring and turning away from every object, by looking for its knower, then when you catch the knower, it’s now an object, and so you turn away from it by looking for its knower. If this is done on and on, for quite a while, with decent meditation skill already developed, it can then result in a rather exhilaratingly high state that many have called Witnessing. Rob Burbea called it the Vastness of Awareness. It’s like experience flips inside out and you’re God looking in at pure subjectivity rather than looking out at objects, and yet paradoxically everything appears the same, but without the context or meaning, and no effect on “you” at all whatsoever. Everything kind of arises out of nothing and fades away simultaneously, but there is still a source separate from what appears — but it can go beyond that to a state where there’s seemingly no source or separation at all, a “nondual state,” which is almost like “detachment via engagement,” or “personal enlightenment.”

The person is still present in that, but yeah in the story it can be quite worthwhile to explore it.

Witnessing (or probably more likely nirodha —highest possible personal state) is very likely what those monks used when they burned alive in protest and didn’t move a muscle. Witnessing is an extremely detached but still quite functional state, unlike nirodha which is practically anesthesia.


But really there is only wholeness.

The seeker thinks it’s looking for something, when really it’s looking for everything; all there is already.

There’s no way or how to enlightenment.

‘How’ implies something personal or intentional to the already empty appearance, confirming that someone can be aware of and in control of what’s happening... Keeping the dream running, but only appearing that way.

Seeking = freedom telling freedom it isn’t free.

This and that are never connected, as they aren’t separate. Awareness is the apparent connection between this and that. Self inquiry is an awareness technique — nothing wrong or right with it.

 

I don’t know anything though. This/that is just what appears to be.

Edited by The0Self

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1 hour ago, Shambhu said:

When we use "Who am I," it is a question of identity. 

That's a great way of doing the inquiry mentioned by Shambhu.

Question who am I can be used to scan and find the psychic image or identity that you're holding in your head.  As you're becoming more and more aware of the subtle layers of your identity, naturally an increasing distance arises between you and your person, you and your ego. This gives you freedom and fills you with intense love. 

I did this method for a long time and still do. It's my #1 practice. It's also called "I watching" sometimes. Or "establish your identity" is what Mooji would say.

Classic example,

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=EBzdyuv7LvM

Love,

Edited by Salvijus

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14 minutes ago, Salvijus said:

Question who am I can be used to scan and find the psychic image or identity that you're holding in your head.  As you're becoming more and more aware of the subtle layers of your identity, naturally an increasing distance arises between you and your person, you and your ego. This gives you freedom and fills you with intense love. 

I did this method for a long time and still do. It's my #1 practice.

Yeah that’s a nice technique.

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Never found this useful whatsoever. There are a few practical things I have enjoyed doing.

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