Your strong conviction that you are one same "I"

erez's picture

Average: 4.7 (11 votes)

One of the most strong taken-for-granted illusionary convictions one carries consistently is that he is a one single unified entity, one monolithic "I", one solid personality, one same-in-all-times John, one atomic Barbara.

The reasons the mind has developed and maintained this conviction are obvious - in this way the subject can relate to himself/herself as an object and moreover in this way an ego can develop, a sense of individual being, otherwise there can not be any individual entity to fit into that being.

The mechanism that enables the maintenance of this illusion of oneness is the free access to a common memory storage granted to all the personalities.

The truth is that such a monolithic "I" does not exist. A "person" is actually a huge collection of different inconsistent "I"s which in turn each of these "I"s is a huge collection of "mental particles" - thoughts, feelings, impressions, sensations - bundled together under a set of conditionings unique for each "I" which governs the transitions between the many mental particles in the conscious and unconscious levels (e.g. which thought will be invoked as a result of a previous emotion, which sensations will trigger a certain kind of anger etc.). You may say that each "I" is equivalent to a different set of conditionings and more accurately you may say that there are no "I"s at all, just a huge set of mental particles and conditionings with typical subsets that we tend to refer to them as "I"s. These different conditionings determine which of the "I"s is the one to take charge of consciousness at each time.

This is not a dogma or a theory, it can be easily noticed in direct personal experience. You can observe your many "I"s. You do it subconsciously all the time and there are techniques, such as Self Enquiry, that enable you to do it consciously.

You probably experienced zillion times a situation in which you went to sleep at night as one "I" and waked up in the morning as a completely different "I", inconsistent with the "I" that went to sleep, an "I" with a totally different agenda, many times quite angry at the previous-night "I". Moreover, if you sensed closely, you would have noticed that the two "I"s had different energies.

During the practice of Ramana Maharshi's Self Enquiry, when one observes the "I-feeling", one easily notices that actually there is no one consistent "I" but many different "I"s. Each with different presence, different flavor, different aura, like the difference you instinctively sense when you observe two different persons in daily life

Are we merely sets of automatic robots equipped with ridiculous sense of importance wondering around until our batteries run out? Or even worse, is the "I" actually not even that, is it possible that it doesn't exist at all?

The answer to these two questions is Yes. Yet there is a consolation: we haven't talked yet about the ultimate subject that evidently observes all this, including these "I"s. Well, there is no much talking possible about this ultimate subject except that you may call it "God" and that "you" are that.

(Note: the above description is yet another futile trial to use words to describe things which are beyond words. It should be regarded therefore only as an approximation to the experiential essence intended to be conveyed. Also note that the text may be prone to different semantic and connotative interpretations of words made by different readers.)

divine intervention's picture

Our many "I"s

Thank you so much for this coherent and clear explenation.

Isn't there more than just a common memory that causes us to feel we are the same entity? After all, this feeling of us is so out of porpotion in view of the truth experienced when we observe the I-thought.

divine intervention | Wed, 09/03/2008 - 11:40
erez's picture

It's not just the common memory

It is also the one common body and the fact that others regard us as one consistent person. But these are supportive aspects, the main enabler for this false belief of us is the common memory shared by all the "I"s.

erez | Wed, 09/03/2008 - 13:14
not_me's picture

fractions that look whole

There are but it is mainly the repository of memories common to all the many "I" fractions. Other factors that contribute are the others who regard you as such and the sight you are provided by the senses and mind when you look at the mirror - reflection of something that looks like one integrated image that you mistakenly perceive as your body and thereafter "you". .

My motto in life: try everything as long as it is not physically addictive.

not_me | Fri, 01/09/2009 - 11:46
krista96's picture

seems like too a lot of

seems like too a lot of thinking going on here. The truth is simply beyond any intellectual analysis. . . . just like any dream is really. The silent'witness' of the dream is real, as is the witness of the morning mood state. Thoughts ARE fascinating and addictive and this builds our ego/maya mind.
Real piece and consistent sublime rest can only ever be found beyond our ego and for this we have to be prepared to sacrifice our seemingly precious personalities. Once we achieve this state we come to know how very small the ego mind really is and know then that to lose it is nought + a blessed relief.

krista96 | Mon, 01/04/2010 - 10:52
krista96's picture

also, as the Bard said; the

as the Bard said;
the choice is clearly between BEING and NOT BEING ("To be or not to be"etc) We only "suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" when in the state off non-being or subject to illusion/Maya . . . . if we wake up we then come to know that nothing really matters and that is RELAXING.

krista96 | Mon, 01/04/2010 - 11:01
mika's picture

Introspection is not intellectual analysis

I don't see any intellectual analysis in the above - it is mere facts that you can experience. I suspect that the issue is more a laziness to understand :-)

Too much intellect and too few intellect yield the same. The important issue is to make sure any conclusion is based on solid foundations like experience and not a complete theory or wishful thinking.

mika | Mon, 01/04/2010 - 16:06
mariposa's picture

Gurdjieff, Sri Aurobindo and Kabir

Gurdjieff saw this as a cetral problem that until resolves a person could not have a willpower, a landlord.

Sri Aurobindo discusses this in his book "Our Many Selves".

And Kabir, the enlightened poet, speaks about this and its effect on our happiness in a beautiful verse:

mariposa | Tue, 01/05/2010 - 05:34