What Are You; A Body, A Mind or An Unknown?

A common self inquiry technique is to contemplate the question, who am I? Ideally we should ask, is there an I since the mind gets a biased view if you ask who am I. It implies there must be an I if I am searching for one. But before we go there, you must cross the biggest hurdle of all and that is upto now, you have a strong belief that you are the body. You feed it, groom it, use it to own stuff you call yours and love it as the dearest object in the universe. Very hard to let go of this notion.

Here is a thought experiment that helped me. Imagine a macabre situation where you are in a serious accident and the doctor has to amputate nearly all your limbs and you become blind as well. You wake up and have no idea of what happened. Your brain still functions and as far as you know all your limbs are intact albeit as ghost limbs. Your doctor gives you the bad news that you no longer have a body. You feel totally you in your mind but have no body. The entire concept of you as a body turns out to be a fantasy. You know there is a you but no body.

So you end up settling for you as the mind, a very incorrect, delusional entity which still thinks you are a body or have a body. Mind,  a shifting changing idea that disappears when you sleep.

The only way to settle that you are not a mind either is if you could report on this upon your death. Of course that is an oxymoron. You could rely on many reports from people who have had near death experiences who can see a body dead on the floor or you could simply say I don't know.

That's why it is a koan.


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