Although we are all brought up differently, whether we are in the same family or as different nationalities anywhere in the world, there is one undeniable commonality that marks our lives: We are all introduced to ideas before we can figure out who we are, and these ideas, first coming from our parents and family members, inform us, though incorrectly, of who we are. Thus, we believe we are something that we are not. So what are we if not what we have been told?
Richard Lang, who carries on the work of his mentor Douglas Harding, founder of “The Headless Way” teachings, beautifully explains that “growing up is learning to see yourself as others see you, as a person, not as ‘the one’…growing up is learning who you are in the world and identifying as that.” This learning is from a skewed perspective that does not recognize this mystery of what we are, and because we all grow up with this perspective as taught by significant others, we all are mistaken that we are definable beings who are limited to a body and an image. For some there is at least an inkling that there is more to us than meets the senses and that we have been taught.
The funny thing about coming to the end of the search for what I am is that I had to conclude that I do not know. All that time, introspection, inquiry, and experience — over more than 60 years — and all I can come up with is that I am a mystery. In the end, the seeker is that which he has sought, and thus ends the duality of the seeker and the sought, the seer and the seen, the egoic self that has separated itself from the capacity that is all.
In trying to describe what we are in a spiritual sense we have all sorts of words we use, such as silence, consciousness, totality, God, and so forth, but these are only words, and words are limited. It seems, however, that none of us are actually limited or definable — once we get past the idea of being an individual person with a body, brain, and senses.
When I bring the attention away from all things ‘out there’ in what we call the world, and I place the attention here where the source of all senses and perspective emanates from, then I find something I have no words for.
When I am awake and not in a deep sleep, all that I perceive is out of some mysterious capacity that makes up the source of all perceiving. And if I try to find the beginning or end of this source I cannot. It has no edges, limitations, boundaries, or qualities at all. It is simply the source without a a traceable source, a center without a center.
To anyone who looks at me, I am a person with certain features, characteristics, nuances, proclivities, moods, emotions, quirks, and behaviors. This is what I am to others, but right here at the point of perspective, I am emptiness, a bottomless capacity. When people speak to me they see me and they also have an image of themselves. But when I speak to them, I see a person but the person is inside this capacity that has no locus. From my point of view, such a person is speaking to no one but a void that holds everything that exists.
I am aware that you are in me as the totality of capacity, but you perceive me as outside of you, somehow separate and “other.” I am certain of this, especially because this used to be my perspective as well.
I have heard so many people say that we are all one, but I am not so sure they truly grasp what they are saying from an experiential point of view. It is easy to repeat ideas, but another thing to have a certain reality. Are we all one? You need to find out for yourself if you so desire.
I am something that is aware, but the word “something” is quite inadequate, because I am not a thing in the material sense. Maybe it’s better to say I am a perspective that is aware, and this perspective never changes, grows, shrinks, lives, dies, evolves, or becomes involved with ideas or thoughts. There is nothing else like it, and the perspective is not contained in, or attached to, anything.
I am not special, just mysterious. If I am that which I tried to describe, then you must be as well. If there is a oneness then there can be only oneness and therefore this is what we all must be beyond the images of bodies, personalities, and expressions. When the senses see, hear, taste, touch, and smell so sharply, it is difficult to put them aside in favor of what exists behind them, fundamentally. And this fundamental layer is what we are. It is a mystery because we have no words for it and nothing to which it can be compared.