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Who Am I?

 

People live their entire lives in the security of their identities with the body and minds, never ever questioning the reality of these identities. However, a complete loss of these identitifications at a very early age made me question the real nature of my existence "Who am I?"

It started when I was about 8 years old. I was trying to sleep one night and the mind was full of thoughts and activity. I wanted these thoughts to stop, so I could sleep, but the mind seemed unusually full. As I tried to consciously observe these thoughts in an attempt to make hem stop, there was suddenly a mysterious sense of release and a complete loss of identification followed.

There was a complete inability to identify with anything at all; neither the thoughts that were being observed nor the body that was observing these thoughts. With this inability to identify with anything at all, the sense of identity or individuality (ego) dissolved and a frightening sense of being "nobody" or "nothing at all" remained. There remained a frightening awareness of empty existence in a completely awake state since nobody seemed to be existing. In the absence of any identification, I had suddenly become "Nothing" and this state was terrifying and unacceptable.

This loss of complete and total identity created a tremendous sense of insecurity of "Who am I" and there was a desperate need to identify the I (Self) with something, someone. It was an experience beyond the territory of the mind; Since the mind itself remained unidentified with in this experience It defended and asserted that "I am the body, the ego, the entity", but the identity (I) could not be perceived in any form. The body seemed to be moving, seeing, doing in this state of empty existence and there was a sense of helplessness in the inability to find any "doer" of these actions and any "experiencer" of anything happening around.

In a sense there was a body-mind mechanism operating but it did not belong to any entity, any individual; yet there was mysterious awareness of this existence. This state lasted all night and in the morning hours the sleep somehow took over.

When the eyes opened the next morning the existence has regained its identification and the security of the identity had returned. However this security felt completely shaken and the fear of losing it again lingered some where behind. The mind started the process of rebuilding the confidence in the identity, the ego and days passed.

Then after 2-3 months it happened again in a similar manner whilst trying to sleep one night. There was a similar sense of release from all identification and the body and mind remained functional but unidentified. The sense of identity dissolved and existence remained in a nothing, empty state. This time this state lasted for 2-3 months. The nights of empty existence were full of horror, panic and shock and desperate hope in regaining identity in some minutest form. What was the purpose of this existence when there was no identity left at all? Why had awareness of this existence continued? These questions were occurring to "No one" and yet they were there.

There was sense of being just a silent witness to the mind body element that interacted with the world, having no identification or control over it... Seeing people around who seemed so secure in their identities with body and mind and never questioned its reality, created even more desperate need to have a "Self identity". But there was a deep sense of helplessness in just being a silent witnessing to the inner losing struggle to regain identity in some form or the other. Words cannot adequately explain the actual sufferings of this state and for people who are secure in their identities cannot even comprehend what it is to live beyond these identities.

After 1-3 months suddenly one morning some form of identity just returned and hence some sense security, to enable functioning. These incidents of complete loss of identity kept on reoccurring in intervals of 3-6 months to a year, for 13 long years of my life. Every time the identity returned it felt a lot less weaker than before and the fear and insecurity of losing it permanently kept on increasing. Also with every episode of loss of identity, the fear and sense of helplessness kept on increasing and there was a fear of losing the identity permanently. This was the fear of dying, since the permanent loss of identity could only bring death.

The fear kept on mounting to such an extent; that eventually the inevitable happened. When I was around 20, in the midst of one of one of the horror nights of desperately trying to regain some identity and fearing its permanent loss; something magical happened. The fear and sense of helplessness had increased to such an extent that the inner sense of struggle in regaining identity felt too weak to keep on fighting any longer and it just "gave up". Something inside, that feared death on the permanent loss of identity, suddenly did not seem to care even about death and surrendered to this state of existence without an identity.

With this instant surrender there was a magical sense of liberation, peace, joy and happiness. The identity died forever and so did the need for any identity. Existence and awareness still continued in a blissful state without the need felt for any identity; any longer. This was the same state of awareness of existence that had experienced loss all forms of identity 13 years ago, but the absence of identity instead of creating panic and fear now felt divine. The identification with Nothingness now seemed to be like an identification with the infinite, the Absolute, the divine., In the sudden wake of the reality that it the identity had no real existence at all, there was an inner sense of folly in trying to hold on to it for 13 long years

Today after 13 more years, existence still continues in the same state without any identifications. There is just a silent witnessing of the body-mind mechanism which functions in the daily world. People assume there is a real identity or individual they interact with, but in reality there is an understanding that there is no one controlling anything at all. There is however, a need to assume a false identity to deal with worldly pressures, but due the knowingness of its unreal nature it seems meaningless and this cannot be explained to anyone. The body mind mechanism experiences fears, emotions, ideas and there naturally occurs an illusionary identification with these things; since it is required to function in this world. The purpose of this existence is still unknown.

There has been a lot of talk about people wanting to gain self realization. However, in my experience self realization is not about gaining or adding anything to your current sense of self but actually about losing your current sense of self completely until only a sense of existence remains without any sense of any form of self or identity. That is the true nature of the self: to exist only as an awareness or consciousness of pure existence in the sense "I am"; wherein I has no form (either as body, mind, ego or anything else).

This happens only when this true nature of the self fully liberates itself from all illusion of the self that it had formed as an individual, a separate entity due to illusionary identifications with mind and body. The time it takes to liberate would depend on how strongly it has identified with these things.

Comments about this spiritual experience

The following comments are submitted by users of this site and are not official positions by spiritual-experiences.com. Please read our guidelines and the previous posts before posting. The author, Unknown, has the following expectation about your feedback: I will participate in the discussion and I need help with what I have experienced.

Zendancer (1 stories) (27 posts)
 
8 years ago (2010-01-04)
Unknown: What a wonderful story! Yes, everything you wrote is 100% correct. Your experience reminds me of Suzanne Segal's experiences. Her book, "Collision With the Infinite," is a fantastic spiritual autobiography. She was standing on a street corner in Paris, France waiting on a bus when the Infinite suddenly swept through and carried away her self-identity forever. Like you, she was initially filled with overwhelming fear at having lost all sense of having a personal self, and she spent more than ten years in therapy and psychological studies in an effort to get her old identity back. Eventually, like you, she realized that what she was trying to get back had never existed in the first place, and she relaxed into the emptiness of her True Self.

From reading your account, Segal's account, and several other similar accounts, it appears that extreme fear is often a common by-product of the sudden disappearance of selfhood. Those who, like Ramana Maharshi, fully accept the dissolution of selfhood, enter a state of bliss and enormous freedom. Eckhart Tolle experienced the same thing as a result of his big breakthrough experience, and spent two years sitting on park benches staring euphorically at the truth of "what is." It is fascinating how different people have such different experiences on the path to Truth! What a mysterious and wonderful world! And it is such a joy to encounter other people who have discovered who they are.

People who have discovered their Oneness react quite differently afterwards. Some people retreat from the ordinary world and prefer to be alone whereas other people fully embrace it. For me, the world is a kind of ultimate playground with an infinite variety of potentially fabulous experiences. I recently went to see the movie "Avatar." Afterwards, many people told me how amazed they were at the world of "Pandora" created by Cameron, the movie director. I thought, "If only they could see the real world, they would realize it is just as fantastic as Pandora." Even our interaction on this website is fantastic and mysterious, but I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. Thanks again for sharing your experiences, and pointing other folks to the ultimate truth of their being.

There is one thing people should keep in mind who are interested in finding the truth: the top three things that precede mystical experiences, in order of frequency, are (1) utter despair (2) meditation and (3) being alone in nature. Despair is not something that one can do much about, but meditation and being alone in nature are. Stilling the mind allows many people to get a glimpse of the truth, and, ultimately, stillness and silence reveals everything. As the third patriarch of Zen, Seng S'ten wrote so eloquently, "Stop thinking and there is nothing you will not be able to know." Cheers to YOU, and cheers to Martin for setting up this great website!
fillharper (guest)
 
8 years ago (2009-11-19)
At age 19, after an intense
Period of asking the question
"Who am I" my personal sense
Of self dissappeared. I'm
52 now and have not missed
It. As Zen Master Dzogchen
Said," 99 percent of our
Problems are caused by the
Self, and there isn't one".l
Enjoy the Vastness.
Joy (guest)
 
8 years ago (2009-05-28)
Wow, this is deep, and obviously you have given it a lot of thought during your years of struggling to be you. Maybe we as humans need this identity to exist as you stated. I believe that once we transition to the other side, we will become part of one spirit, which is our creator.

I do understand that this body is only flesh and not who we really are. We have a soul and a spirit which cannot be destroyed. We put emphasis on what we can see which will parish, but not on what is spirit which is the essence of who we are.

Sometimes we need to go to a quiet place and go inside ourselves and commune with our spirit--the essence of our true selves.
Martin (30 posts) mod
 
9 years ago (2009-02-26)
Thanks for that wonderful post Gra, and I invite you to submit your own experiences!
Gra (guest)
 
9 years ago (2009-02-25)
Unusual, If I'm reading this correctly and you are remembering correctly, you seem to have had breakthrough that differs from what others have experienced. I could hazzard a guess that it involves your brain (not mind) was still developing. Myself and Others who have experienced this deliberately, have done so by focusing on what we find behind this in the quiet of the mind. It is indescribable, but has been given many names like "The peace that passeth beyond understanding", Superconsiousness, The spark of God within. Trust me when I say its the total complete opposite of scary. Your story is interesting, as I think most people would slip back to normal consiousness from fear without this awareness, very quickly.
Completely in the "now" is another aspect of this state, you are totaly here, now. Preocupation with past and future becomes totaly irrelevant and doesn't enter your mind, though you can still plan and remember. I think Dan Millman is a popular Author who advocates this approach.
The process is Experiencial and involves letting go, though I am sorry I can't tell people how to have thier first experience after which it gets much easier, don't get envious of "naturals" hehe. Stilling the mind's chatter, being here and letting go is the simplest way to generalise it, badly.

You can function quite well in daily life though things are different, As a factory worker I used to find it "unbalancing" when people continualy engaged in attacking conversations and complaints about eachother, with no desire to engage in this, it was "discordant" when people talked to me like this. I think things like this are why many people slip back and a lot of the "Oldschool" seekers like caves!
Oh yeah, your sense of humor may refine too.:D

"Brahman" Consiousness, for simplicity, is UNITY consiousness (sorry for labeling). "Witness" consiousness is a first step, which leads me to some advice for people who experience witness consiousness in a stable manner.

The core, your "rock", is within all of us even if hidden by peoples' "stuff". Hold this awareness when you interact with people, animals and even plants/minerals! You will become aware of an interconectivety between all things and destinctions will start to blur. The simplest of things may become awe inspiring, PURE compassion adds to the inner peace/traquility and a knowing of serving others is serving self may develop, though it varies. You may find a tiny piece of the tiny place that says something is still missing (look). You may see this as growth or blooming of that inner core which may not seem so "inner" anymore.

We are starting to touch areas that can become very scary to people who haven't experienced this, fear of loss of self is a huge block, suffice to say, as you may have noticed, I want people who experience "witness" to know it is the START of a wonderfull journey.

Please, if you are seeking, I advise you to spend a while looking at the pitfalls, snags and blocks.
There is a similar state which is induced in people for the purpose of mind control (signs are fuzzy thinking and highly suggestable to others ideas), by often by dagerous cults and lots of other things that can get you stuck, we are talking about your consiousness here, its one of the most important things you will ever study. Seriously, do this research.

(wow, what a ramble!)
Awakened Erik (guest)
 
9 years ago (2009-01-02)
Hei,

I know exactly what you are saying. Brilliantly written. I have had a 2-3 month transition to the state of nothing, becoming the witness of ultimate reality, Brahman. It happened after a panic attack where I felt I stared death in the eye and in aftermath all fear has gone and do not feel it on my body any longer. The relief of fear I believe allows the true sensing of the world. I have been doing a lot of self inquiry which leads to the self knowledge. Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharashi is someone I came upon reading about and is all inline with what you are saying here as well as words said by Eckhart Tolle. All persons having in common that they having stared death in the eye and enabling to enter the right state of conscioussness to truly exist and sense your surroundings. Also daily experience energy into the body, through palms, lying in t position and truly amazing sensation. Have felt nature flowing in and total oneness feeling and several times sense time almost freezing. Sometimes hard to grasp that this has truly happened to me, although I have reckognized and accepted it finally. It just hits you with tremendous uplifting force and you know that it is real and the purest way of existence. It is what it is and can not be named. It is just there for you.
KevinGS (guest)
 
9 years ago (2008-12-08)
Hi, I recently have experienced an amazing spiritual experience and I still don't quite know how to process it... It actually started with me reading a line by Eckhart Tolle... It said "I am not myself". Myself is the muck ridden concsious of my societal existence... It sprang on me almost instantaneously and a wave of sheer joy hit me... It has abated a bit, but all of my fears have subsided... My brain is EXTREMELY quiet when I want it to be, but my focus and thought patterns have changed dramatically. I now am having an extremely difficult time functioning in society because I just don't give a damn about money, sports or anything that I used to find "important" Now all I want to do is learn and write...It's been amazing... Any suggestions how I go about a mundane existence in this society which I no longer understand or really want to be a part of? It's somewhat frightening, but at the same time I wouldn't trade it for the world...I'm not going back in that cage!
unknown (guest)
 
9 years ago (2008-12-04)
Hi martin, apologise to you as well... Yes, this unidentified consciousness does create a lot of fear and terror initially, since the annihilation of the Self is experienced. But with the final realization that this separate self is in fact an illusion, the fear disappears and bliss emerges. It is still very mysterious, since the purpose of this existence is not known. Also everything else around is seen as much as an illusion as the Self identity. Only empty awareness of presence in this moment is real...
Unknown (guest)
 
9 years ago (2008-12-04)
Hi...sorry for the late reply... Mr Srinivasan, I am glad to know that you had an insight into this reality, but just curious to know, did this state not create fear considering "you" were not involved. Initially this experience of no "experiencer" creates a lot of fear of annihilation of the Self... But with these insights happening repeatedly it is finally seen and accepted that whatever you thought the Self to be (a separate entity, individual that operates) is infact an illusion. With this realization the fear disappears and this knowingness brings bliss and that may be referred to as Enlightenment. I suggest you practise meditational techniques which focus on silencing the mind, because in a completely silent state all identifications disappear and the state of silent winessing is experienced.
N K Srinivasan (guest)
 
9 years ago (2008-11-29)
I very well appreciate the author's article "Who am I/"...I had a similar experience of being a witness to actions of the body and mind without 'I' involved... I do not know what happens after such experiences? Have we become 'enlightened" I do not know... That experience did not return to me. But the author had recurring experiences and must be reaping the benefit... Following devotional path, I would say that this is an act of GRACE by God or the Almighty.
Martin (30 posts) mod
 
9 years ago (2008-11-26)
"Who Am I?" was indeed the grand question Sri Ramana Maharshi gave his followers to focus on if they wanted to find enlightment. You being from India, maybe you've heard of him, he is considered one of its biggest spiritual figure.

I have to ask, however, how you go through the daily life and work with that kind of unidentified consciousness. It seems very mysterious, almost scary, not something very heart warming.

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