Some time ago when I was doing my Shamanic training under mentorship by a very wise and astute woman (a shaman of many years standing) I was asked ‘Who are you?’ Well I thought about this, and thought some more and finally came up with this answer…I am nobody but everybody. She smiled with wisdom but never said anything. Some time later during one of my therapy sessions I said the same thing because the question ‘Who am I?’ came up a lot for many of us. This time however I was misunderstood and rounded on. Now today, as I read Gina Lake’s very insightful book Embracing the Now, I come to exactly the same chapter – Being Nobody and Everybody. I’d like to share this short chapter with you all, my dear readers.
When we are identified with the ego, we feel like somebody. Somebody who likes this and doesn’t like that, who wants this and doesn’t want that, who looks this way and not that way, who has this history and not some other history, who has certain dreams and desires but not others. All these are woven into an idea and a story about who we are, which makes us feel like a certain somebody. We have an image, a history, goals, and an imagined future. All of this seems like who we are. But, as they say, things are not always as they seem.
Ideas about what we like, what we’ve done, what we want, what we look like, and many other ideas make up our self-image. But our self-image is still just an imagination, a picture, an idea of who we are. It isn’t who we really are. Everyone has a self-image but that doesn’t make self-images real. They are just ideas. We pretend we are our self-image and that others are theirs but no one is an image. Everyone is something other than an image because an image isn’t what is walking around and living life. We also aren’t the body we are walking around in. Who we really are is using the body but it isn’t the body.
The problem is that what we really are isn’t an image or even a thing. It isn’t something the mind can understand because it’s beyond the mind and can’t be expressed in language. Who we really are is not an image or a thing but more like an experience of no-thing-ness. The mind would rather not acknowledge no-thing-ness because it is uncomfortable with no-thing-ness, since it was designed to deal with things. Because who we really are can’t be experienced by the mind, the ego considers who we really are to be nothing, which it is, but not nothing of consequence, which is what the ego assumes.
When we drop out of our mind and into the moment and into our Heart, we experience who we really are but not as an image. When we are really in the Heart (Essence), images and ideas drop away and what is left is simply the experience of being, or of being nobody in particular; not male or female, not young or old, not attractive or unattractive, not smart or dumb, not anything we can name. The experience of our true nature is an experience of emptiness. Our true nature is empty of all definition, and yet, it is full and complete, lacking nothing. The experience of being nobody and nothing is equally an experience of being everybody and everything because this emptiness is without boundaries and therefore includes everything; nothing is left out. There’s no me and you but only spaciousness, beingness. That unending spaciousness is who we are.
It is possible to experience nobody-ness or everybody-ness in any moment because our true self is always here – it’s what is living life! The reason the empty spaciousness that we are isn’t experienced more often or for longer periods of time is that the ego isn’t comfortable with it. The ego runs from the experience of who we really are and draws us into its arena – thoughts – where we lose awareness of our true nature.
Whenever you experience who you really are, notice how the ego comes in with a thought to bring you back into its world of ideas about life and out of the experience of life. Who we are – nobody or everybody – is experiencing life, while the ego just thinks about life and makes up stories about it. What a different reality the ego’s reality is than real life! When we give our attention to thoughts, those ideas and beliefs become our reality; and when we give our attention to the experience of the present moment, our true nature becomes our reality.
The more we notice the effect that paying attention to our thoughts has on us – contraction, stress, tension, unhappiness and negative feelings – the more we will choose to turn our attention away from the world of thought and onto this simple moment. The Now is full and rich and has all the peace we have ever wanted. What the Now doesn’t have are the problems and drama created by the ego, which the ego wants because problems and drama keep us attached to our thoughts. Are you ready to exchange your problems and the drama of the ego for peace, contentment, and the experience of being nobody?
Extract from Embracing the Now by Gina Lake