A step toward Awakening
“ What are you” or “Who are you” is a classic Koan that every Zen student has to answer properly.
If the answer is related to the “I, me, myself & mine” the student fails and must work on the Koan again and again. So....How to define yourself w/o talking about yourself?
This is a typical counter-intuitive and contradictory statement common in Zen teaching.
We are trying to identify ourselves all the time even if we are not fully aware of the process.
On going self-identification is part of our ego’s job.
If we are asked the question:” Who are you “? the answers are always the same and can be divided into 2:
1) Direct relationship to you such as gender, age, race, religion, traits, thinking, feeling, belief, tastes, etc...
2) But, in fact, most of the answer’s components have nothing to do with you directly because you will define yourself in relation with your surrounding world such as family / social/ professional status.
Example: “ I am a woman/man, 56 yo, spouse of X, have 2 kids, 3 grand-kids, work for Bell Canada, play hockey and I am a non-believer” .I am born in Canada, my father was from England...my mother came from Spain,......blah blah blah.
In this typical answer that people will give all the time, none of the characteristics are specific nor genuine to you except of course your 23,000 DNA-based human genes.
Our DNA is unique to each living being not from its chemical composition but only from the sequences of its 3 billion base pairs.
We do need a social ID, This is law and there is no point to avoid it.
But why are we trying to identify ourselves thru others, thru our work or thru this or that.
“How are you?”......” I am busy”. This is another classical answer of self-identification in which the ego cannot conceive being inactive. We are using role-playing for self identification.
Where is Zen in all this stuff?
The single most vital step toward Awakening is to “di-identify “yourself not only from your material self, your thoughts and feelings but also from your possessions, interactions and role playing with the external world including people.
Using biological, mental profile, interaction with the world, possessions and achievement, etc., cannot define your True entity because they are just proxy and reflection of it.
A mirror cannot be described by what it is reflecting.
Learning to di-identify ourselves from our biological, mental, and social persona is a mandatory step towards awakening that is to discover our genuine self or immaterial. Our true entity is totally hidden behind our ego-made “personal self”.
True self cannot be described. It can only be experienced. For example: despite thousand words to describe the taste of an orange, only from experience -that is by eating the fruit - that we discover its taste.
How to get there?
Start by just considering the fact that, maybe what you are defining as “I, me, mine and myself” is not your real entity but just the transient , tiny biological, mental and social reflections of it.
Just sit, tame your mind, walk the journey and discover of your Real self always present.
Does experiencing True self has any day-to day application? You will be surprised.
Thank you arnaud