Knowing who you are and who you are not

Identity, how you define who you are, has become an important way people see themselves and how they relate to others. For the self-aware awakened person, spiritually speaking, this poses a dilemma. Am I part of a greater Whole or am I different from others who don’t think like that? Knowing who you are is important, but also who you are not as the limited ego self.

It might be great being blissed out on the mountain top chanting “Om”, but I’ve also got to live in the so-called “real world” with all that stuff going on.

One might have an awakening experience, as one might see it, and that might last a while, maybe a long time. However, for many, this can tail off and we can find ourselves back dealing with the vicissitudes of daily life and other people.

One might even start to doubt what happened. Very often our ego kicks back in and we have to reckon with its various ways. So who are we really?


A key aspect of ego is separation. Rather than the sense of being At One, we might feel separate from and different to others. In today’s terms of identity, that might include who we identify with and who we don’t, like our education, ethnicity, religion, class, sexual orientation, gender, age, disability, or nationality, for example. Quite a few take this sort of thing into culture wars.

Just reading that list can stir up feelings. There’s a lot of anger and even violence in it, directed at others who are perceived as different and even a threat. There’s a lot of division linked with it, reflected in our politics. A lot of others might want to switch off from it and dissociate themselves.

In the world of the ego, we are dealing with duality, them and us, me and you, light and dark, right and wrong, superior and inferior, win and lose, love and hate. The ego is about survival, and defending our identity can be part of that. A lot of people are feeling on the defensive, such as what they have is threatened. In the ego state we will likely resist a perspective where the people we hate may also be a part of us.

It can take a huge leap of imagination to think that those we don’t like or relate to and are afraid of are a part of us. Most will find that too much of an ask.

Thus, we can get caught up in ego, the limited sense of “I”, ahamkara.

Being the Witness

This is when the Witness is important.

We may be caught up in ego stuff, and feel all sorts of negativities towards others, and ourselves too, and then we can step back from it, let go and hold our awareness as the Witness.

Perhaps just try and imagine yourself watching what’s going on in the world right now from a detached position, like you are just watching it, non-judgementally, and not caught up in it all.

You may well need to let go of some pretty negative feelings.

This is where ownership is important, taking responsibility, owning that this is perhaps your stuff as well as that of others. That might be a massive challenge if you are heavily invested in being right about all this. Giving up on the need to judge and be right is often part of the journey.

So, one breathes deeply, and lets it all go. It can take a lot of practice, especially those bits that creep back in.

Then you step aside from ego and imagine yourself as the watcher.

Maybe in your imagination take yourself up to some vantage point where you can see all this going on.

We might then wonder why the heck all this is happening when we really have so much in common.
It might be a struggle. The ego might want to pull us back down and re-join the righteous fight. Seriously, there’s a lot at stake.

Being the Witness is a powerful tool of liberation.

Meditate on being the Witness

You can meditate on being the Witness. You can take yourself to a safe, comfortable place, breathe, go within and allow the breath to, say, take you to your heart centre, and rest there a while.

There you can contemplate being in a centred state, not engaged in separation and division but whole and at one with yourself.

Repeated practice can help anchor the state of inner peace and calm and one that is not engaged in these ego behaviours. Knowing your inner state of oneness can in time and with practice be your support when dealing with the world.

The world of the ego is not who we are. We are so much more than the sweaty little ego.

There is a meditation in this site where you can use the mantra Hamsa, meaning I am That.

It is a very useful way of being at One, at peace.