One practice I’ve given people over the years is to ask themselves the question, “Who am I?” To be willing to sit with and in this inquiry can be both terrifying and liberating. On first blush the question can seem silly or even stupid because the answer appears so obvious. “Who am I?” Well, obviously, I’m Jim Dethmer.
But am I? This is not to say that I am actually Bill Smith, rather it is to ask, “Am I my name?” Isn’t it more accurate to say, “I am called Jim Dethmer?” And with only a little bit of honest examination we can see that what something is called is a long way from what something is.
As one sits in this question a bit longer one usually answers the question with roles one is playing in life. I am a...
Or beliefs one holds. I am a …..
In my experience, most people know at a much deeper level that they are not their name, their roles or their beliefs. They know they are something more or, at least, something other.
Now the question could be raised at this point, “Why is this even important?” To me, it’s important because being uncertain or confused about who we are leads to all kinds of pain and suffering. Our biggest vision at CLG is to help reduce suffering on the planet. One of the key sources of suffering is not knowing the truth of who we are.
People sometimes ask me what my purpose is. One answer I give is that my purpose is to experience the truth of who I am in every now-moment. To this end, like many of you, I have spent much of my later adult life wanting to know who I really am. Like most people, I spent the first half of my life accumulating a set of names, roles, beliefs and identities that I used to define who I was and to differentiate me from others.. I think that for most of us this is our job for the first era of our lives. And for many, the next era of life is seeing through the illusion of these identities and finding the truth of who we really are.
It was in support of this inquiry that I became devoted to practices like The Work by Byron Katie, the Sedona Method by Hale Dwoskin, Waking Up by Sam Harris and Shift Into Freedom by Loch Kelly. All of these, and many others, are practices designed to point us to the truth of who we are and to the liberation, that comes when we see who we really are.
Will you join me in this great inquiry? “If I am not that, then who (or what) am I?”