Consider this for a moment, are you really who you think you are and if that’s true, if all the items you listed were taken away from you, then, who would you be? When we base our identity on objects outside of our being they are subject to change but when we realize our existence is not dependent on anyone or anything then that insight can open the door to freedom for each of us.
Thoughts about who we think ourselves to be are just thoughts, they come and go and cannot come close to who we are in reality. We give so much power to our thoughts but they arise from our mind, which is actually incapable of knowing who we are. Ask your mind who were you before birth, before you were given a name and an identity? Ask it, who am I? It doesn’t know how to answer this question. Try giving your mind an assignment to only think certain thoughts, it doesn’t respond, it can’t, it just continues to produce random thoughts that we take as reality and we believe everything our mind tells us.
What if the list you created about who you think you are was eliminated, the job you do no longer exists, your life history no longer exists and the materials possession you own no longer exists. You now have a clean slate and no identity. Imagine this just for a moment, you have no past, no future, just this present moment of being and there is no suffering because you have no identification or attachments.
Do you notice how all the baggage we carry falls away when we drop our identification and attachments and simply be in the moment, without thoughts of who we are it really is that simple. There is no need to carry around thoughts of who we were in the past, these thoughts make up a story about our life and it’s only our identification with the story that keeps us trapped in the past, and for many, in a place of suffering.
Be aware when you are telling a story about who you are or what you lost or didn’t get or won’t have, be totally conscious and listen to the story you continue to repeat. Is there one particular story that continues to resurface that you tell yourself? When we take the time to do this self-inquiry it can reveal a deeper truth to us.
Self-enquiry is a practice spoken about by Sri Ramana Maharshi to rapidly bring about self-realization, Self-awareness, spiritual liberation or enlightenment. He said that self-realization could be discovered by giving up the idea that there is an individual self that functions through the body and the mind. Other spiritual teachers such as Gangaji, Eckhart Tolle and Adyashanti also recommend the practice of self-inquiry.
Many people have those ‘aha’ moments when they investigate the truth through self-inquiry, they begin to peel away the layers beyond the story and see that the story they’ve been telling for so long just doesn’t exist anymore and that it is really, nothing more than a story. When we are able to recognize the stories we tell ourselves and have the willingness to let go of the story it’s amazing to discover the freedom it can bring about by simply dropping the telling of the story.
Our mind can become very focused on certain aspects of our lives which of course is useful when we have deadlines or a need to complete a certain project, for the practical parts of our life, this type of focus can be very helpful, but when we allow our mind to consume us with thoughts of something that occurred in the past, or that we fear may or may not happen in the future, it’s the perfect time to simply stop following and identifying with the thought.
Choose to be present and notice where is your attention is focused, be aware of what thoughts are arising and what thoughts you identify with and simply make a conscious decision not to follow or identify with the thought. Just stop.
Meditation can also be a valuable practice in helping you to be present and mindful with a focus on the breath and not on the mind. It helps to let go of the identification with the body and other aspects of our life we believe to be a reality. Enjoy your life, let go of any identification or attachments you have, be very aware when you are telling a story and simply stop! Then wait and see what reveals itself.