Where does “you” start and where does “you” stop. This is a question of where the border is drawn between self and other. Before we think this question through together, I would like you to ask that question yourself, what do you consider yourself?
Drawing the line
There are generally 2 widely spread theories.
- 1. I am me. I am everything that happens on the inside of the skin. I can control my arm, therefore I am my arm. [Draws the line at the skin]
- 2. I am parts of what happens inside of me, I am the positive attributes of myself. When I am drinking, I am not myself. When I get mad, I am not myself. [Draws the line inside the mind]
Let’s analyze these theories.
Let’s play a little question-answer game with a person who holds the theory No. 1.
- Q: Why do you believe you are your body?
- A: I am my body because I can control it!
- Q: Do you control the growth of your hair? The beating of your heart?
- A: No.
- Q: What happens if I remove a part of your body? Let’s say I remove some hair, or maybe even a finger, or an arm. Are you less you?
- A: No, I’m still me, but if you’d remove my brain I’d stop to exist. Because I would die. Maybe theory 2. was right after all.
- Q: Aha very clever. So you think you are your brain because without it you couldn’t exit. What about air, food or water? Is that you?
- A: What? No, of course not.
- Q: Well without it, you couldn’t exist. in fact, you couldn’t exist without the sun. Are you also the sun?
I think at this point it should be clear that explaining why the 2. theory is faulty is unnecessary.
So where do I draw the line?
Well, the truth is.. there are no lines in reality. Reality doesn’t come in lines, all lines are made up by us. To understand ourselves we always need to have the other. But now that we realize that there is no line between self and other, we do have to realize that self and other become one. Now becoming the Self with a capital “S”. But why aren’t we quite aware of that? We might understand on an intellectual level that there are no borders in reality and that we made them all up. But why does it still feel like I am only “me”?
To realize that the self as we believed it to be doesn’t exist means to kill it. To merge with “the All” means that the small self has to die. And of course, there is a lot of resistance to dying. For most people, it takes many years of practice to truly see through the illusion and realize who you really are. But everyone who has broken through the illusion says it’s worth it. So I sincerely encourage you. Question your beliefs. Question who you think you are. Ask your self whether you really want to believe an illusion for the rest of your life.