Who has time to consider such lofty questions, even though the answer to this question is the answer to all of your stress. Yet we refuse to look at what we are. We think that continuing to do what we are doing will somehow magically relieve our stress someday. How is that working?

The question is not ‘Who’ are you, but ‘What’ are you? Who you are simply reveals your habit patterns. Maybe you are friendly, Catholic, nice, compassionate, good looking, intelligent, successful. Or maybe you are the opposite of all these qualities. It doesn‘t matter; life is short.

The compassionate will age and die no different from the cruel and hateful. The friendly will eventually lose all their friends if they live long enough and the compassionate will eventually surrender to the vicissitudes and unfairness of old age and disease. So who we are is simply a snapshot in time that must change. The young and good looking become old and wrinkled. The intelligent become forgetful. The strong become weak.

So what are we beyond the changes and flux that is a fundamental truth within this vast universe of ours, an undeniable fact that affects all matter. What is there? What is the basic principle? Or, as Heidegger prophetically once said, “Why all this? Why not just nothing?” Why go to all this trouble?

The nihilists will say that we are nothing, only a speck of temporary matter rising from causes and effects and then disappearing into oblivion, never to live again in the same compounded form.

The eternalists will say that we have an essence called a soul that will live eternally, kind of a wispy “us,” and that a creator God is looking after our souls.

But who really knows? All beliefs can only be speculation. After all, what are beliefs except unproven theories? Which leaves us in a conundrum.

Okay, so let’s not worry about such things. Lets just enjoy life and have a good time. But does that work - long term? Does our good times eventually change, as all other things change? Does our health eventually fail, our wealth, our bodies, our friends and relatives eventually get used up. Our plans joyously completed, only to somehow die on the vine of familiarity?

When blindly we go from pleasure to pleasure seeking comfort and security in people and objects that offer no security in this universe of flux, we are admitting that we haven’t figured life out. Because this is the basis of our stress.

Everything changes, we can’t hold on to anything. This fact of life is a big psychological, subliminal stress factor breeding underlying fear.

There is no little man or woman behind out thoughts and mind, no entity behind the obvious. This universal truth is what we run from as well, inventing all kinds of religions, imaginations and philosophies negating this unambiguous fact, creating an eternal self. We not only are what we eat, we are what we think! There is only the thought.

Trying to hold everything together, facing new challenges that blindside us every day, constantly trying to shore up the little man and woman behind out thoughts, filling our ego balloon with air even though it has a big hole in it and we must work harder and harder at creating this wonderful image of ourselves . . . this is stress.

So what are we? This is for you to discover - and it is possible to make that discovery. It is called enlightenment.

Enlightenment is the mother of all stress busters. This is freedom. Freedom from what? Freedom from the constant flux of the universe, freedom from the self, never having to blow up that imaginary ego balloon again, and freedom from all delusion, becoming totally awake and living each moment.

The question: ‘What are you?’ is now answered. There are no further questions. Mind has transcended material existence. Whether mind is eternal or not is no longer relevant. There is only this moment, and in each moment of an enlightened mind there dwells an eternity.

This is freedom from the known, freedom from knowledge, freedom from being and becoming. Freedom from yourself. It’s real, and it’s possible.

Do you really want to know what you are? You will only find out with a mind free of thought, free of perceptions, free of feelings and consciousness. A mind such as this transcends everything.

Meditation, which is beyond thought, can take you there.

Author's Bio: 

E. Raymond Rock (anagarika addie) is a meditation teacher at:

http://www.dhammarocksprings.org/ and author of “A Year to Enlightenment:


His 30 years of meditation experience has taken him across four continents including two stopovers in Thailand where he practiced in the remote northeast forests as an ordained Theravada Buddhist monk.

He lived at Wat Pah Nanachat under Ajahn Chah, at Wat Pah Baan Taad under Ajahn Maha Boowa, and at Wat Pah Daan Wi Weg under Ajahn Tui. He had been a postulant at Shasta Abbey, a Zen Buddhist monastery in northern California under Roshi Kennett; and a Theravada Buddhist anagarika at both Amaravati Monastery in the UK and Bodhinyanarama Monastery in New Zealand, both under Ajahn Sumedho. The author has meditated with the Korean Master Sueng Sahn Sunim; with Bhante Gunaratana at the Bhavana Society in West Virginia; and with the Tibetan Master Trungpa Rinpoche in Boulder, Colorado. He has also practiced at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, and the Zen Center in San Francisco.