A friend of mine and I were talking closely.
These are the kinds of conversations I love, and seem to have on a regular basis–not just with clients questioning thought, but with others journeying on the path of life as well.
“What if you got your arms and legs cut off, would you still be you?”
I’d be me, maybe a little traumatized, but I’d be “me”. I might be someone who had gone through a huge transformation, never to be the same again.
But still with all my memories, my childhood, my personality, the Enneagram 5 and INFP on the Myers Briggs personality test. I’d recall the times I could walk and hold a pencil and even what those felt like probably.
“So if you got your head cut off….how ’bout that? Would you still be you?”
Except, this is a fantastic question.
We usually believe that without our minds, we aren’t ourselves. If someone loses all their memories, or has brain damage, or is in a coma, they aren’t themselves anymore. Right?
But are we our minds? Our thoughts? Our memories?
This is related to the fascinating and contemplative fourth question in The Work of Byron Katie: Who would you be without your story? Who would you be without your stressful thought? Who, or what, would you BE without all that energy focusing on danger, worry, sadness, upset?
Who would you be now in this moment, if you couldn’t reference the past or the future, or make comparisons, or judge something as Good or Bad?
It’s almost like the mind itself, which is the one pondering that question apparently, says…..I don’t know.
What else could it say?
Who would I be without a head?
I don’t know.
Kind of hilarious, though, to consider.
I can imagine two ways I might contemplate this question. One is without life. As if my head has been cut off (original question). In that case, I certainly no longer exist as that individual life. There was a me, if anyone remembers it, but whatever “I” am is one big I-don’t-know. A mystery no one ever knows, until we die.
The other option is with life. That is, I am still functioning as a living entity, and human body that’s called “alive” but I have no believable mind. No thoughts, sight, hearing, smell or taste. Heart is still pumping. Life force or body intact. Just no “head” in the sense of the head being the center of thinking energy.
Without the head in full operation, or the brain doing what it seems to do, I notice what’s left is feeling. Touch. Sensation. Aliveness, all by itself.
An openness is left. I don’t believe it is a certain way, without question.
I notice things are OK in this moment, with this deepest sensation of feeling, sensing the pulse of life, not knowing for sure about what anything means.
Why is this so appealing?
You can only find out by trying it. Sitting still and feeling, and noticing what’s here if you didn’t have a busy, stressed-out, upset mind?
“This is true freedom: a mind that is no longer deceived by itself.” ~ Byron Katie
That one thing you’ve been so bothered by today? Take a moment to wonder who you’d be without your thoughts and beliefs about it.
Just a moment of deep breath. Being.