The Oracle at Delphi directs us inwards to 'Know thyself'. Wisdom teachings throughout the ages have posed the question 'Who am I?'. Asking this sincerely takes us beyond the habitual assumptions and certainties of our everyday self identity into an enquiry into the very nature of being.
Psychology and many paths of therapy handle this question as an archeological dig into our personal historical past. This yields meaning, insight and understanding, yet it is only part of the picture of self.
Spiritual paths take up this question as much more of an ontological dig, searching for the very nature of being itself. Who am I? What is this human beingness, an existence that can consciously turns towards itself and enquire into its own nature? How is this personal-nature related to the rest of nature at large, leaves, grasses, galaxies? The field is vast, even endless.
The enquiry that this question takes us upon is the original purpose of meditation. This may come as a surprise as the new age often limits meditation to its ability to settle and soothe a busy mind. Yet its deep purpose is to alter who we think we are, through direct personal experience. This is the transformation that brings us into a deeper alignment with existence. From this alignment, we can access more fully love, connectedness and the wisdom needed to handle our life's inevitable hardships. When we are soul-hungry and know inside ourselves that 'there must be more to life' it is this depth of contact with our own nature and the nature of Life that nourishes us.
Who am I?
Is where we can begin, yet the purpose of this enquiry is not to arrive at a fresh set of conclusions, definitions or concepts. The purpose is to experience and grow into new ways of participating in Life, fresh ways of being available, being receptive, being able to make new choices, being able to contribute, give, act, fresh ways of being creative, kind, loving. The question, "Who am I?" turns out to reveal a self that is ever emerging, not only being but constantly becoming.