What Am I?

We struggle to know who we are, to define and be defined. To be valued, to be of value. To know and be known. To understand and be understood. In this tradition, humans are regarded as intrinsically empty of independent existence. Yes, we know and experience ourselves as individual and separate, functioning in the world along side other ‘separate’ beings. However, the sense of being a separated self, separate from other ‘selves’, fades. If given half a chance!

I am what I do?
No
I am what I think?
No
I am how I appear?
No
I am what I feel?
No
I am what I understand?
No

Doing, thinking, appearing, feeling and understanding are known as the five Skandhas or five aggregates or ‘heaps’ which are: form (or material image, impression) (rupa), sensations (or feelings, received from form) (vedana), perceptions (samjna), mental activity or formations (sankhara), and consciousness (vijnana).
Wikipedia for starters:

This post is for those suffering from long term degenerative conditions, and those who partner them. Over time and increasingly: no longer able to ‘do’ as they once did, not able to ‘appear’ thus ‘invisible in the world’, feelings are extreme/diffuse/confusing (you name it) thoughts are muddled and understanding dimming. This too is Buddha, we take care of Buddha. Note to self: ‘Aging’ is not a long term degenerative disease, however it surely does feel that way! sometimes.

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5 thoughts on “What Am I?”

  1. I’ve reread your post a couple of times now and it got me thinking that there are times when I know and experience non-separation and the quiet inner joy that goes with it and then the experience of duality is just there, again. The benefit, I suppose, of experiencing that dropping off of separateness, at least some of the time, is that when you suddenly find yourself irked or lonely or fed up or their opposites of self-satisfaction and pride etc. you are able to identify and label these things and maybe look at your own thought processes and the road that led you there. I like the expression that I have heard Rev. Master Daishin use, ‘the changing scenery of mediation’. I find that phrase really helpful because it reminds me that things are ever-changing and that what is experienced through the Five Skandhas is always moving. That includes what I might judge as ‘the good stuff’, too.

  2. This has been a good reminder for me as I struggle with working relationships with elderly people with whom I often feel frustrated and impatient. many thanks.

  3. Thank you Reverend Mugo. As I experience the ageing process and the many changes that I can no longer avoid or pretend are not happening, it makes me look at how I have defined and seen myself for most of my (healthier) life. I don’t think I have yet come to any deep insights but perhaps there is a tiny glimpse of something beyond my old self image.

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