You are asking about life: “What am I? who am I? what is the goal of my life?” You are more than the birds and the animals. You are alive, you are consciousness – and consciousness is the ability to contemplate, the power of reflection. You have turned in upon yourself to ask, “Who am I?”
This is an important question, but don’t ask me. Make this question your meditation. Every day, close your eyes in solitude and let the question, “Who am I?” resound within you. And remember, don’t let answers interfere with your asking. Borrowed answers will interfere, stale answers will get in the way, the answers you have heard from others will block you. Don’t let them. Such answers come from your mind, they are not you; they are knowledge, not realization. If you already knew the answer, would you have asked the question?
So, it is clear that you don’t know. Take your knowledge and put it to one side. It is only worth two cents; it has no value, it doesn’t create knowing. You have read the Upanishads, the Gita, the Koran, the Bible, and that didn’t solve anything – otherwise you would have already found the answer. You must ask “Who am I?” not using the answers that other people have provided – whether they are from Krishna, Mohammed, or Mahavira – or the answers I have given you…. Get rid of them, get rid of them all. Hold on to your question. Refine it. Put your whole life-energy to the question “Who am I?”
No answer will come. Complete silence will reign. The deeper you go with your question, the more profound the silence will be. You will begin to be concerned that perhaps there is no answer, because you will be in a hurry to get an answer. The answer does not come so quickly. Using the sword of your question, you will first have to behead all borrowed answers.
Zen monks say that if you meet the Buddha on the path of meditation, cut him into two pieces with your sword. They worship Buddha every day, but they still tell every disciple that if he meets the Buddha on the path of meditation, he should not feel shy or diffident, but immediately pick up his sword and cut Buddha into two pieces.
It is necessary to be free of others on the path of meditation. Only when you are free of the other can you see yourself, otherwise your eyes are always caught up with the other. It makes no difference who this other is – your brother, your sister, your wife, your husband, Buddha, Mahavira, Krishna. The other is always the other.
There will come a time in this inquiry when only the question, “Who am I?” remains, and then stillness will reign. In your bones, in your flesh and marrow, only one question will resound: “Who am I?” Only one arrow will pierce your being…and it will go deeper and deeper: “Who am I?” Your anxiety will increase, your restlessness will grow, because you will not be able to see an answer anywhere; the ocean will be all around you and the shore will be nowhere to be seen. This is the moment when all your courage will be required. If you can pass through this moment, you will arrive at the answer.