17/06/2010

WHO ARE YOU?!

My Father was very fond of saying:
"there are two types of people in this world..."
Well, guess what?
There are two types of people in this world :)
People who think about the question "who am I?", and people who avoid that thought at all costs. It's the difference between thinking deeply, and trying not to. As Bertrand Russell said in one of my favorite quotes:
"Most people would sooner die than think. In fact, they do so!"
As I took my dog for his customary long walk over the hills and through the woods this morning, I came to the realization that I sometimes appear to be two different people:

  1. Ben A feels like an ordinary human being;
  2. Ben B feels like a superhero
What makes the difference between the two is very simple: if I get up in the morning and do what I call 'my practice' - which is meditation and yoga - , it's going to be a superhero kind of a day, guaranteed; if I don't, it's going to be... an ordinary kind of day.

Why do I need to practice to feel great. Why can't I maintain that level of energy, focus, and joy? I think the answer is this: we learn as children that we are SOMETHING. For example, I was told:

  • you are Ben
  • you are a boy
  • you are Jewish
  • you are English
  • you are clever and handsome (thanks Mum)
  • you are lazy (thanks Dad)
  • you are ... you are ... you are ...
Before we are taught all this stuff, we don't really have an IDEA of what we are. We just are, and we are happy just being. But then society does what society does - labeling everything - and we begin to accept our labels.
"Oh yes, I'm Ben, and I'm clever, but lazy." 

When I have a superhero day, I don't feel like I am anything. I just am. And that SIMPLE BEING is really and truly wonderful. It's also more real. Because I'm not imposing my ideas onto what I am. I just AM.

In the book "Holographic Universe" , Michael Talbot writes about Multiple Personality Disorder. It's a fascinating read - he describes how some people actually have many, many people inside them (not just two like me!). Apparently, people with MPD can have different physical symptoms to match their different personalies. One man was stung on the eye by a bee. On the way to the doctor his personality switched. By the time he got to the doctor there was no bee sting. But then when he left, his personality switched back again and the bee sting came back! There are also examples of people having cancer in one personality, and the cancer is not present in another of their personalities!

Could it be that there is something in us that anchors our identity - something that holds our beliefs, ideas, and associations in place? Could it be that people with MPD somehow lack that anchor; or rather, that they have several anchors, so they switch randomly between various sets of beliefs, ideas and associations.

Perhaps when I do my practice each day, I temporarily suspend the presence of the anchor.
Perhaps one day I will finally learn to suspend it permanently. 
Perhaps that is what enlightenment is...

What do you think? Who are you? Leave a comment, let me know!

2 comments:

Leanne Chesser said...

I just discovered your blog today, Ben, and I'm completely enjoying it. My short answer to the question, "Who are you?" is that I am.

Now for the longer answer :).

Your post reminds me of something I wrote as I was pondering a portion of "A New Earth" by Eckhart Tolle a while back. It stems from his ideas, so not totally mine, but it's my pondering. I hope you don't mind if I add it here:

We Call it Bird

We call it "bird."
But it's essence. It's life.
It's an expression or creation of Life.
It's life in a particular form.
We call that form "bird."

With "bird" we associate things like wings, flight, chirping, flying into windows, stupid, dirty, feathers, beaks, poop, worms, trees, nests.

This becomes its identity.

Yet, the beingness or essence that is the "bird" is rarely known. Our connection with that essence is rarely experienced. So we don't "see" it and love it and treasure it and be with it.

It's the same with our fellow human beings.

We call it "human."
But it's essence. It's life.
It's an expression or creation of Life.
It's life in a particular form.
We call that form "human."

More specifically, we may call that form "woman," "wife," "mother," "friend," "sister," "Julie." We may associate brown hair, pretty, calm, stubborn, the house down the street, Ukrainian, Canadian, Buddhist, cancer-survivor, teacher, narrow-minded, intelligent . . . or any other characteristic . . . with "Julie."

This becomes who "Julie" is.

Yet, the beingness or essence that truly is "Julie" is rarely known. Our connection with that essence is rarely experienced. So we don't "see" it or love it or treasure it or be with the "is-ness" that is "Julie."

We judge.
We like or dislike.
We associate or dismiss.
We mistreat.
We ignore.
We go about our own business, unaware of "Julie's" beingness . . . and unaware of our own.

We're:
• striving . . . to earn, to learn, to be right, to get through the day, to achieve, to be seen, to escape, to find "more"
• busy doing
• constantly accumulating

We're rarely just being. Rarely just being with God/Source/Spirit, creation, others, ourselves. Rarely just being who we really are . . .

. . . loving
. . . at peace
. . . in each moment

Written by Leanne Chesser

Ben Ralston said...

Hi Leanne,
do I mind you posting a beautiful, truthful, and poetic piece of writing on my blog? The only thing I mind is that more people don't do that too :)
Thank you!
With love, Ben

Post a Comment