I used to think that death was the greatest mystery of our existence. But I have learned that death can be explained easier than life. Death is mostly understood by the fact that it is the experience of transferring to another state of existence . Although what happens to our consciousness after death remains a huge mystery , the experience of death itself is as far as we can possibly go in our empirical and tangible world. We can all understand that death is the end of our current existence as we know it. Our bodies decompose and our minds , if they actually exist, enter the unknown. We cannot begin to understand the unknown.
But what remains a huge mystery to me is not the end of existence , but existence itself. The mere state of being aware. And not only aware, but aware of ourselves. Aware of the “I.” The “self.” How can we know what or who we really are? How can each of us differentiate from other “I’s” or “selves.”? How can we even use the phrase “I am?”
Religious scholars and teachers interpret the bible’s use of the phrase “I am” by referring it to God, or higher power. It is used mostly to describe the eternal and “present” God. It was written in the book of Exodus that when Moses asked God whom should he say sent him to liberate the Israelites from Egypt, God told him to tell Pharaoh that “I am” sent him (Exodus 3). In the Gospel of John , Jesus also referred to himself as the “I am”. Because of these references , scholars decided to associate the “I am” with the divine being or God . It is also agreed by most religions that God is omnipresent. He is everywhere. He is the eternal present.
In Buddhism , being in the present moment, or mindfulness, is one of its teachings to help avoid suffering. To be aware of the present moment. The here and now. Is experiencing the here and now the same as experiencing God? The “I am.” ?
Was God trying to teach Moses that He is the Eternal Present (“I am that I am”)? Was Jesus teaching us that the resurrection (a new life) is in the eternal present, as opposed to in the future (“‘I am’ the resurrection”)?
But what exactly is the “I” or the “self.” Could it simply mean the “eternal presence” that we all ignore by focusing on the past and the future?
The present moment, or the here and now, is all we really have. Everything else is a fabrication of our minds. We fool ourselves with the notion of reliving the past (remembering stories of past heroes and events) and anticipating the future ( maintaining hope and having goals ). These mind created phenomena is what keeps us living an illusion, which then can turn into depression, anxiety, regrets, and fear. We create our own heaven and hell in our own personal minds. All of this while missing the here and now.
Is the “I” , the self, an illusion? Are we truly individual beings? Or are we connected as one big entity, while believing that we are separate beings? And what about the phrase “I am?” .
When I use the phrase “I am”, what can I use after it to accurately describe the self? I am human? I am a person? I am a body? What is being human, person, or body? I am a parent. I am a patriot. I am a writer. Which one of these are true?
None of the above. Since they are all fabrications of the mind. They are all identities that I use to attempt to create the nature of the self. And while I write this post in this blog, I still keep using the word “I” as if it means something. Or someone. What is it?
Furthermore, saying ” We are ” or “They are ” can be questionable. Not everybody will agree with whatever characteristic you give to a group of individuals. But when it comes to identifying with the “I”, how can you question your individual present?
In its purest form , I am is simply I am . Nothing else… No other addition can make it more true . It is simply identifying myself with the present moment. With the eternal present.
I am is the ultimate mystery.
The ultimate experience .