Who am I? by Eckhart Tolle


When you look at a tree, you are aware of the tree. When you have a thought or feeling, you are aware of that thought or feeling. When you have a pleasurable or painful experience, you are aware of that experience. These seem to be true and obvious statements.

Yet if you look at them very closely, you will find that in a subtle way their very structure contains a fundamental illusion, an illusion which is unavoidable when you use language. Thought and language create an apparent duality and a separate person where there is none.

The truth is you are not somebody who is aware of the tree, the thought, feeling or experience. You are the awareness or consciousness in and by which those things appear. As you go about your life, can you be aware of yourself as the awareness in which the entire content of your life unfolds?

You say, “I want to know myself.” You are the I. You are the knowing. You are the consciousness through which everything is known and that cannot know itself. It is itself. There is nothing to know beyond that. And yet all knowing arises out of it. The “I” cannot make itself into an object of knowledge, of consciousness.

So you cannot become an object to yourself. That is the very reason the illusion of egoic identity arose because mentally you made yourself into an object. “That’s me,” you say, and then you begin to have a relationship with yourself and tell others and yourself your story.

By knowing yourself as the awareness in which phenomenal existence happens, you become free of dependency on phenomena and free of self-seeking in situations, places, and conditions. In other words, what happens or doesn’t happen is not that important anymore. Things lose their heaviness, their seriousness. A playfulness comes into your life. You recognize this world as a cosmic dance, the dance of form. No more and no less.

When you know who you truly are, there is an abiding alive sense of peace. You could call it joy because that’s what joy is, vibrantly alive peace. It is the joy of knowing yourself as the very life essence before life takes on a form. That is the joy of being, of being who you truly are.

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