Forget your name for a while. Let’s say that “Who am I?” is a real question now. Escaping name and form means finding out who you really are. Most of the time we experience ourselves through limitation. Playing a role is a limitation, yet every person slips in and out of roles all the time.
It is difficult for most children to accept the fact that mothers live lives that are not centered entirely around motherhood–such is the natural self-centeredness of all small children. But over time we learn to slip into our own roles by following the examples of our parents.
Taking on more roles seems like a way of expanding our experience. A woman who was only a mother would find her life suffocating. Being “complete” in our society means wearing as many hats as possible. But being complete really means being free from all roles. I am a free spirit reduced to the appearance of this little body.
Stepping out of the role playing is a tricky business, yet you cannot define yourself through the roles you play. So what is the experience of being entirely free from roles? It is actually quite simple. When you wake up in the morning, there is an instant before you start thinking about your day, a moment of just feeling awake without any particular thoughts on your mind. You are just yourself, in a simple state of awareness.
This experience of simplicity repeats itself off and on during the day, but few people notice it, because our habit is to identify with the thinking process. It too goes on throughout the day. In reality, however, you are not what you are thinking.
Roles come to an end, and one day each of us is faced with the riddle “Who am I?” which never got answered, no matter how well we played our roles.
Adapted from The Way of the Wizard: Twenty Spiritual Lessons for Creating the Life You Want, by Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, 1995).