Who Are You?

“If we are honest with ourselves, the most fascinating problem in the world is…who am I? What do you mean…what do you feel when you say the word, I.”  ~ Alan Watts


burning-man-inner-child

I’m writing this article, not because I’ve attained the answer, but because I’d like to pass this information along, as I would have wanted to read something like this earlier.  If I had to choose only one thing to watch out for — to beware of in life — it is this:

You.  Yourself.  Ego.

The infamous ego.  From Freud’s Id, Ego, Superego, to “He’s gotta big ego,” we’ve all heard about it one way or another. Ego, in my opinion, is probably the biggest thing that gets into anyone’s way. All too often, we are the ones getting in our own ways.  We have the ability to deceive ourselves like no one else can.

Your worst enemy lives inside of you, and it’s called ego.

Eckhart Tolle often says, “I can’t live with myself. Well…who is ‘I’… and who is the ‘self’ that ‘I’ cannot live with?”

So what exactly is ego?  Well, I would describe it as everything you think you are, in a nutshell.  The feeling of “I,” or what we mean when we say “I,” as Sam Harris, Alan Watts, and many others put it. When you are talking to yourself, who are you talking to?  The feeling of being a self.  We tend to identify with our story, our thoughts, and our emotions. Ego is the reason we may feel the need to defend “ourselves.”  We are defending an idea of our self that we feel is threatened.  When we are not identifying with this, the need to defend ourselves also goes away.

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Why You Should Think About Your Death

“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you will ever have.” ~ Eckhart Tolle

Matterhorn-Switzerland

The inevitable death.  Your death.  The fact that all of “this” is not going to last forever. The thought of your own existence not continuing can be scary. Sound depressing? Well, contemplating your own death doesn’t necessarily have to be.  Lately, I’ve been thinking about death almost every day.  I find it interesting that the older people get, the more they seem to think about death.  On the other hand, thinking about death is almost non-existent with younger people.  I think it would greatly benefit younger generations to be more mindful of death.

Mortality salience, or realizing that your death is in fact inevitable, can give rise to a much more appreciative, fulfilling, and present life. This appreciation and fulfillment can be found with or without any consideration of religious beliefs.  In other words, your ability to appreciate life’s moments doesn’t depend on whether or not you’re religious. This is not to say that religion or a belief in the afterlife isn’t helpful, as religion is very helpful to me. There’s more to it than just religion in and of itself. A deep attention and presence is still necessary to fully appreciate the significance of what’s really going on from moment to moment.  Being mindful of death and our mortality is a catalyst for this.

Most of the time, it appears that we all casually gloss over some very significant and deeply profound moments in our lives.  Even the moments that can be categorized as mundane have just as much significance and profundity as any other moment. Sometimes, those moments don’t seem to register as important “in the moment.”  Later upon reflection, perhaps as memories, we may feel those moments were in fact significant, but we weren’t really “there” for them.  We find it hard to connect to the present moment when we are incessantly looking for happiness in the future, which never arrives. Read more