Monday 25 July 2011

Who am I ?

A few days ago, A friend asked me, "How would you best describe yourself?" 
I laughed when he asked such a philosophical question, especially as he asked this of me after a couple of glasses of wine.
“Who am I?” is actually a very profound question.  A question which if felt deep within one-self can actually lead to Self-knowing or ATMAGYAN. At least this is what I have read in theory.
Raman Maharshi made this question the basis of his meditation technique.  He made it a meditation to ask, to inquire, ‘Who am I?’
He suggested that one should sit in meditation and continuously ask of one-self the question, “Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I?”
He suggested that one should not believe any of the answers that the mind supplies.  The mind will come up with all sorts of nonsense answers..I am this, I am that, I am a man, I am a woman, I am rich, I am poor, I am educated, I am uneducated, I am an Indian, I am a Hindu..But he suggested that if you continue with the question and let this arrow of ‘Who am I?’ penetrate deeper and deeper into yourself, a moment will come when no answer will come and the question itself will drop.  This is the right moment.  When no answer comes, you are near the answer because the mind is becoming silent or - you have gone far away from the mind.
The ‘Who’ drops, then the ‘I’ drops and then, when the asking becomes absurd...the question evaporates. That is the moment which is called self-knowing — ATMAGYAN. That is the moment when, without receiving any answer, you simply know, you feel, who you are.

I am now 45 years old and all my answers to this question are based on my biological, sociological and perhaps a few theological concepts. 
As a kid, I described myself as my father’s son.
Later, on completing my education, I started describing myself as an engineer, a business major and a law graduate. 
A few years later I started introducing myself as a businessman.   
After marriage most people started recognizing me as Neepa's husband while I started describing myself as the proud father of two lovely kids.
But I realize that all the questions were of the mind and were answered by the mind. 

And I start to think that all these definitions don't really go to explain that which is my ‘Being’. 
Who is the real me? Who is the real you?

The was once a Zoo in a small town which was so badly hit by a bad economy that the zoo director no longer had the funds to replace the animals that died.
When the zoo mascot, King Louie the orangutan dies, the zoo director gets desperate and hits upon an idea.
He puts a sign outside his office which reads, "strong man wanted, apply inside."
Arnold sees the sign and goes inside.  The director tells him, “Our star attraction, King Louie the Orangutan, has died, and I want you to replace him.  All you have to do is put on the Orangutan suit, go out there and thump your chest and eat peanuts.”
Arnold starts working right away.  Every day he thrills the crowd by jumping and thumping.  But the climax of his act is when he climbs up a tree in his pen and throws peanuts at the Tiger, Sher Khan, next door, who gets really mad, tries to climb the fence and eat Arnold. 
This daily show starts attracting lots of tourists and brings prosperity back to the Zoo. 
Unfortunately, one afternoon, Arnold is up the tree when the branch breaks and he falls into the Tigers den.  Arnold starts screaming and shouting for help, until Sher Khan the tiger runs towards him so as to attack him, growling and snarling, and then says out of the corner of his mouth, “Shut up, Arnold, or we will all lose our jobs!”
I think we are all hiding behind a coat, somebody behind an orangutans, somebody behind Sher Khans and some like me...behind that of a mouse...(henpecked of course).
I meditate on my friend’s question? Who am I?
And I move beyond all the obvious answers defined by sociology and theology. 
And although I am no closer to Atmagyan or self-knowledge, for my mind still has a stranglehold on me, I think I have come to define myself in terms which are symbolic of Me as opposed to my relationships.
Who am I outside of my relationships and my work ? I sit quietly and meditate...Who am I?
I have a smile on my face when the answer appears...I am a Runner.


  1. Love it! Just what was going on in my mind when i was reading the initial paragraphs of ur post and i smiled at the end on reading your answer :-) " I am a runner "and that is me and so many of us...Happy Feet and thanks for reinforcing this Amit.

  2. i am a runner as well ......

  3. Dear Amit, the most logical answer which I have heard about Who am I ? is provided by Socrates on his death bed to his pupils when after having hemloc he logically deduces that the lower extremities of his body are no more his and yet he is fine n slowly he moves upwards and at one stage he starts laughing and infers that soon the whole body would not remain his and yet he will be fine, that is when he realizes that although they have tried to kill him he cannot be destroyed .... something like the morning prayer I always chant ... ' Mano Budha Ahankara Chitta me naham na cha srotra jivhey na cha dhyana netra ... Chidananda roopa Shivoham Shivoham cha prana..'with lol deepak