Who are you?

Thinking about identity, how we get wrapped up in our ideas about who we are, so much that we don’t always actually see who we really are. As a Zen Buddhist, the concept of self is always very interesting to me. We study the Buddha way to study the self. In studying the self, we will come to forget the self. When we forget the self, we become intimate with all things. We see our oneness with all things, and I really mean all things.

I’m not a Zen teacher, so anything I say really is based on my own limited understanding of what I have read in texts, learned from my own teacher, and learned from my own meditation practice. I’m a student. It seems a little odd, especially when I really try to practice humility, to think about the self. But we need to understand who we are and why we think the way we do and why we feel the way we do. We need to really GET the reasons we tick. What gets us moving? What limits us? What can we do to realize all the delusions that we’ve drawn over our gaze? So many stories we’ve told ourselves in our lives, about ourselves, that we’ve wrapped around ourselves almost like armor. And how much of that is really true?

In studying this, all this and more, perhaps we’ll really know who we are. Once we really do, we’ll also understand that we’re just part of the whole. We will “forget” ourselves in this way, seeing instead the greater self that is a part of the whole, like the cell of a body is part of the body (but it’s also the body!).

Then, perhaps, in this forgetting, we will really feel that interconnectedness with everything else that exists. The universe cannot be separate from you. You breathe in, the universe breathes with you, because it stretches one way or another. You breathe out, it’s there with you. You occupy a space that cannot possibly be separate from the universe. There is no separate you from the universe.

And who are you? Can you be okay with that? Are you seeing yourself clearly? The answers aren’t out there, they’re within us, within our reach. We know they’re there. We don’t always feel it. Sometimes our feeling doesn’t line up with our thoughts.

And that’s okay.

Just sit. Breathe and be.

By J. Parrish Lewis

J. Parrish Lewis was born and raised in Maryland. In his youth there, he and his brother had many adventures in the dogwood forests near his home. His nostalgia for these adventures has strongly influenced his characters, their relationships, and their perspective on the world they inhabit. He moved to California’s coast to earn his degree in communications and now lives with his family in the San Joaquin Valley. Lewis is profoundly deaf and uses American Sign Language to communicate. He enjoys hazelnut coffee, captioned movies, and walking his dog.

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