#who are you #atoms and protons #Robert Assagioli # psychosynthesis #why are you here.
“Who are you?”
This is the kind of question I sometimes like to ask at my dinner parties. No guest of mine get to talk about trivia for long. Not for them idle banter about not very much. No, I like my guest to work for their supper. I like to pose tough questions like ‘what’s the meaning of life?’ or ‘who are you?’. I don’t ask these questions to make them squirm you understand …but it is fun to watch. It usually goes something like this…
“Who are you?”
“I am David”
“OK so if you had another name…would you not be you?”.
David tries again…
“I am me…”
If I were to cut you open I would see your liver…kidneys… guts, but where is your ‘me’ located.
David gives up.
When I asked the big question at my dinner parties. The discussion always starts off very animated. People think they know who they are. They don’t. They even think they know themselves. They don’t . There’s always lots of talking over each other…lots of wine and no real listening. After a while the conversation peters out into the realisation that we have no clue who we really are. Try as we may to define ourselves with our job, roles, responsibilities, gender, culture, status and possessions it all seems inadequate and not very satisfying.
Just between the 2nd course and desert… I drop more questions…
“So if you do not know who you are… then who is it that wakes you up at 4 am in the morning to tell you that you forgot to put the cat out… if you do not know who you are…then who is it inside your head that is making the decisions that direct your life… if you do not know who you are…why do you get so affected and offended by what other people do.
If you do not know who you are how do you know whether you even like the people in your life.
How do you answer the big questions? We don’t know how we got here, we don’t know why we are here and many of us don’t know what to do with ourselves now that we are here. There are many theories out there but none of them tick all the boxes all the time. If we don’t know who we are and what we are about what is the point of us? Are we just amusing ourselves vaguely, pretending to be busy, dying to get noticed until death arrives and puts us out of our misery?
When you look in the mirror what do you see? Eyes, hair, teeth. And underneath that? Bones, blood, muscle. If we break it down we’re walking bones, rotting flesh and a portable sewage system. What separates us from animals…well not very much . Most of the time we sleep, eat, have sex, shit and hang out just like animals do. The only difference is that animals know exactly who they are. You never will see a confused crocodile.
Animals are comfortable in their own skins. It seems that we are not. We make stuff so darn complicated because we are convinced that we are special and there must be some divine reason why we are here. Our egos are out of control to the point where we think that we are more special than any other creature trying get along on the planet. Our egos will not allow us to believe that we are not that great.
The theory of everything is that everything is made up of atoms. The way we tend to do things is by reductionism. In other words we like to break things down. Scientists took the atoms broke them to pieces and found that atoms are made up of electrons and protons and neutrons. They kept going and when they smashed up the electrons, protons a neutrons they found quarks. The last time I looked they are still going. The idea behind reductionism is that that if we know the smallest bits that make up the universe then we can reconstruct everything and finally control everything. Reductionism is babushka by another name.
When I ask my dinner guests “who are you?” I am using reductionism to tell them that they are not who they think they are. Reductionism can only take us so far. It can only tell us what we are not and not who we are. It’s very frustrating!
The thing is that when you look at a particle no matter how small. It cannot be defined in itself it can only be explained by its function…how it reacts to certain environments…and in different conditions.
So maybe the clues are there. We cannot define ourselves. It depends on who’s asking and it depends on your point of view. If we look at ourselves as a mixed bag of atoms there is not a lot to see. When we approach the big questions in the reductionist way…it will always leave us wanting and we miss the point. The question should be “given that the atom exists and we know it exist because we are atoms and we are here. The question becomes what is the atom potential and what elements enable the atom to realise it’s potential”. The question becomes “what is your potential?” Since you here anyway it would be rude not to find out.
You do not need to know why you are here…you just are. Nothing and everything. So now that you are here what are you going to do with yourself? You do not need to know who you are. Because you not a ‘who’ or a ‘what’. You are ‘that’…and ’that’ can not be described. Infinite. Unfathomable. There are no words to describe the phenomena that is you!
The last words go to Roberto Assagioli the founder of psychosynthesis an offshoot of psychoanalysis. He said…
“The normal mistake we all make is to identify ourselves with the contents of consciousness rather than consciousness itself. Some people get their identity from their feelings, others from their thoughts, others from their social roles. But this identification with part of the personality destroys the freedom which comes from the experience of the pure “I””
So the next time someone ask “who are you?”
“I am pure consciousness”
That should shut them up!