At any time, there are always two things going on.
One is what we need to do. For example, going to the office, cooking our lunch, picking up the kids, brushing our teeth, reading a book, going to a yoga class, getting married or getting divorced, watching a movie, etc.
Together with this, happening at exactly the same time, there is something else going on; I call it ‘our life’, our true life, what we truly are.
This ‘life that we are’ is connected to what we do, but it is different from it.
Because what we do comes and goes. For example you are reading this note right now. You don’t read this note all the time, but you exist all the time, you ARE all the time.
From this point of view we could say that reading this note is like a shirt we have on. The shirt is not me; I can put it on, but I can also take it off, and when I do that, I remain. Nothing of what I am disappears when I take the shirt off.
The shirt is not me, and the act of reading this note, or whatever it is I am doing, is also not me.
And so, what am I?
We think/believe/feel that our life equals what we do, that we are what we do. You think you are a lawyer or a doctor or a housewife or a yoga teacher or whatever.
But for example, in my case, I am not always a yoga teacher. Yoga teacher is like a shirt I put on when I do my classes. When I am with my son, I am a father, definitely not a yoga teacher (he could not care less for me being a yoga teacher). When I am with my wife, I am neither a father nor a yoga teacher, but a husband. And when I go to the store, I am neither of them, but I am a customer.
In each of these cases, what I appear to be comes and goes, but I remain.
What is this that remains? It is I, of course.
But what is this I?
Some people will say: well, it is you, Carlos, the body and the mind.
But my body and mind have changed so much over the years!
I was a baby with baby thoughts. I was a kid with thoughts and desires that only kids have. I was a teenager with all my insecurities and hopes and expectations. I was a young man traveling the world. I was a middle aged man…
All these stages were so different, like shirts I put on and off. They came and they went, but I remained.
What is it that remained? It is I, of course.
But what is this I?
I am seated in Icoanei Park right now writing this note.
A large group of children is passing by me singing a song I don’t understand, but it brings me so many beautiful memories. It is a very sweet song I heard my son singing when he was out in the park in his kindergarten times.
That person that was there many years ago is now gone, but I remained.
What is it that remains?
It is I, of course, but what is this I?
What we do comes and goes; our bodies and minds change continuously; time passes; but we remain.
We can learn to notice that ’our life’, our existence, ‘I’ is here all the time!
I always remain, I always exist, I am, always.
This I AM is what I AM.
Just for a moment, after you finish reading this paragraph, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and notice this I am, this naked sense of being, separate from all thoughts, ideas and feelings about what I think/believe/feel to be or not to be. Just I am, just I exist, just this silent-aware-presence right here and now, always.
Close your eyes, take a breath, and sense…I am.
We can learn to notice this I-am-ness, this existence, this presence, existing all the time; before, during and after whatever it is that comes and goes. The situation, the person, the event, the thought, the emotion, the problem, the joy will come and will go, but I remain.
What comes and goes – we can call it ‘the shirts of our lives’ –, as important and necessary and life transforming as they can be, are not fundamental, and not essential to what we really are.
Exactly because they come and go, like a shirt.
Yes, it is true that many people identify with the clothes they use; they see their clothes as part of their personality, and they see their personality as an aspect of what they are. But do you know where the word „personality” comes from? It comes from the Greek word prósōpon, persona, which was the mask through which the actors in old Greek theatre spoke their words.
Personality is like a mask, and when we identify with our personality, we put our identity where it does not belong.
We need to learn to separate the personality from the being, the silent-presence that we truly are.
Being is what is always here. Personality is what changes, what comes and goes, like the clothes we wear.
We need to go deeper into our existence and re-discover this being, this sense of I am, this presence that I am. This discovery is so beautiful, so profound, so intimate; it is like after spending several days under very dense and dark clouds suddenly we feel the rays of the sun in our face.
Of course, at the superficial level of our everyday life, it is ok, and necessary, to be a lawyer, a doctor, a father, a yoga teacher or whatever is the ‘shirt’ we need to put on at that particular moment of our lives.
But if we confuse ourselves with what comes and goes, with the ‘clothes of our life’, we miss ‘our true life’, we miss the essence of our existence, we miss what we truly are.
And it is only in what we really are where we find true rest, fulfillment and satisfaction.
Everything else comes and goes, but what we are, what we truly are, does not change, it is always here and it is always now.
It is easy to miss, but it is amazing (to say the least) to recognize it, to realize it, to re-discover it.
Really, what can be more fundamental than the discovery of what we really are?