Mindfuck #3: I Am
“No matter what ya calls me, I am what I am an’ tha’s all I yam.” ~ Popeye
Very little thought is given to the way in which we use words, especially in reference to ourselves. Often times, we place a great deal of our identity into things that are not us. We equate who we really are with an object or concept that is not who we are, but rather something that we have.
For instance, people often say things like, “I am black” or “I am Christian” or “I am a redhead.” Oh really? That’s what you are? Are you sure you don’t simply “have black skin” and “have Christian beliefs” and “have red hair”?
Such behavior is not inherited; it is learned. We aren’t born identifying with things around us. That line of thinking is socially conditioned into us.
Would you say that you are your car? No, that’s ridiculous. You’re very clearly not your car. You have a car, but you are not your car. A car is simply a vessel that you move around in. You just attach yourself to the vehicle temporarily for the purposes of travel, carrying heavy loads, and doing other such tasks that you wouldn’t be able to do without it.
How about when you play a video game? We often refer to the character as ourselves. We say “I did this,” “I moved that,” “I shot the enemy,” and so forth. But we are not the character. The character is simply an avatar – a vessel – that we attach ourselves to by way of the controller in order to move about the digital world and do things like fly, shoot lasers, etc. If you’ve ever been on a forum, you know that the little icon to the left of your post is also called your avatar. It’s not you, either. It’s merely a temporary representation of you that may not have anything to do with who you really are.
So what about your body? Do you identify with that? Your body is just a collection of cells that grouped together to form a collective unit. It has more in common with a pixelated video game character than anything else, and your mind would then be the controller. If you lose a few cells, do you necessarily stop being you? If you lose an arm, a leg, or a kidney, do you stop being you? No. At least, you don’t have to stop being you. It’s your choice whether or not you let such physical changes affect who you are. Ultimately, all that really changes is what you can do with your body, but that doesn’t change who you are. Even if you die, who you are will continue to live on in some form (even if it’s just a memory).
You are no more your body than you are your car or a character in a video game. Who you are is the person in the driver’s seat, pushing the controls that make the body run, and your mind is the steering console.
“I think, therefore I am.” ~ René Descartes
During the early 17th century, a French philosopher by the name of René Descartes speculated on the basic principles of existence. He wanted to know what was actually real, or at least what could be proven to be real.
There are two basic ways in which something can be known: empirically or logically. Empiricism has to do with observation through the senses, while logic has to do with mental reasoning. Descartes began with the simple observation that there are times when the senses appear to fail to accurately depict the world around us. For instance, you see something out of the corner of your eye, but it isn’t actually there when you go to check on it with your full vision. It is a mistake in observation.
Descartes reasoned that, due to the inaccuracies of the senses, it is suspect as to whether or not they can be trusted at all, so he rejects them entirely.
This establishes the notion that any and all physical things observed are potentially nothing more than mere illusions, fabrications of the mind. It also leaves Descartes with nothing but logical reasoning, and all of that is just a fiction in the mind. There are no perfectly straight lines in nature, no perfectly three-sided objects, no perfectly round objects; such things are mental short-hands of our own invention. They do not actually exist. They are illusions as well.
So then what does that leave? Nothing, really. Or does it?
If everything is merely an illusion, then there must be something that is being disillusioned. There must be some observer of the trick. Descartes himself referred to these illusions as the act of some demon. But if there was a demon, the demon must have a victim to play his tricks on, even if that victim is simply himself.
Descartes’ method does not really give us much detail as to the qualities of the observer, just that there is one and that we can be 100% certain of this. For all anyone knows, the world could be completely accurate as we observe it, or we could be a free-floating consciousness in a void without a body; but it can never be proven one way or the other what the actual nature of reality is. So everything besides “I am” or “I exist” must be taken on faith.
This tends to piss off a lot of empiricists and scientists that rely heavily or even exclusively on their empirical observations. Such a conclusion would pull the carpet out from under their feet by establishing the fickle nature of even their most basic assumptions.
“And God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’ And he said, ‘Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you’ … This is my name forever, and this is my memorial to all generations. ” ~ Exodus 3:14-15
Scientists aren’t the only ones pissed off by this conclusion.
Among those that believe in Judaism, Christianity, or Islam, there is much time spent worrying and debating over pedantic little details like “Is God’s name YHWH or YHVH? Jehovah or Allah?” “Is Jesus, Yeshu, or Yeshua the correct name of Christ?” “What color was Jesus’ skin?” “Is it sinful for me to take only the bread and not the wine during communion?” “If I eat meat on a Friday, am I going to hell for it?” “If I forgot to say PBUH after Mohammad’s name, will God hate me?” “Do I need to wash my hands before prayer?” “If I have a cheeseburger, is God going to punish me for not staying Kosher?”
If your focus is on minor details like that, then I’m sorry to say that you have missed the forest for the trees. Without seeing the bigger picture, these little things are rather irrelevant. If your car doesn’t even have wheels, what does it matter if the dashboard lights aren’t working? Even if the engine worked perfectly, you’re not really getting anywhere, now are you?
All three faiths respect and defer to Exodus and to Moses. So if you claim to be a believer of Christianity, Judaism, or Islam, there’s really no excuse for not knowing and understanding this particular passage. God spells out rather clearly here as to who and what he is.
God is. It’s as simple as that. Most everything else is just minor details.
You are. I am. That’s as much as anyone can ever truly know for sure. If it turns out that there is no God and we’re just a consciousness in a void; then by definition, you are God because you are the creator of the whole universe, since you are the one creating the illusion. You call the shots, so why would you cast yourself, or anyone else, into eternal torment? Why would you make yourself perform rituals and subjugating acts of worship? You are the God of your own universe.