Sometimes I wonder what is the most essential ingredient that makes me, me. Over the years I had many ideas of who I was, but it turned out that I was none of those things. And then I was absolutely sure I was other things, more internal things, but I was not those either, and the question remained unanswered.

In university, I thought I was my grades. If I got good grades, I was told, I would get a high-paying job and eventually be happy. If my grades were higher than my peers, I felt smarter than them, and if my grades were lower, I felt dumber. In the end, when my schooling was completed and I began to live a standard secular life, I discovered that I was not my grades.

As an adult, away from my parent’s nest, I thought I was my income, my car, my possessions. I thought what I owned would define me and differentiate me. If my income was higher than others, I was more successful than them, a better person, and if it was lower, I was inferior. My stuff had to be better than other people’s stuff, but in the end, I discovered that I was not the items I own or what is in my bank account.

Then I fell for the idea that I was my experiences, particularly my travel experiences and relations with women. The countries I visited would define me; the women I fell with would make up my identity. I was a traveler, a “player.” If I had traveled to more countries or slept with more women than you, I thought I was superior to you, but in the end, I discovered I was nothing external to me, nothing that could be grasped in this material world.

When someone is empty of Christ then a thousand and one other things come to fill his soul: jealousies, hatreds, boredom, melancholy, negativity, a worldly frame of mind and worldly pleasures. Try to fill your soul with Christ so as not to have it empty. Your soul is like a cistern full of water. If you channel the water to the flowers, that is, to the virtues, you will experience true joy and all the thorns of evil will wither away. But if you channel the water to the weeds, these will grow and choke you and all the flowers will wither. —Saint Porphyrios in Wounded By Love

So I must be my personality. I am my sense of humor, my quirks, my demeanor, my attitude. I am all the things that cannot be precisely duplicated in anyone else. If I made more people laugh than you, I had a better personality. If more people wanted to hear what I had to say, I was more interesting. I cannot so easily say that my personality is not me, because if it is not me then what is me? But then I asked, where exactly does my humor come from? Does it really come from inside me or was it influenced over the years by factors outside of me and by the milieu I live in? Does not my quirks, demeanor, and attitude, come mostly from my parents and upbringing? Doesn’t the way I act come mostly from wanting to become some kind of ideal of a man as defined by the culture? In the end, I had to conclude that I was not exactly my personality, which to my surprise has changed in major ways over the past few years through God’s grace.

I got it: I must be my thoughts. Many people have told me that I’m “sharp” and “intelligent,” and this must be because of the way my brain works on a functional, biological level. It is unique and solely mine, irreplaceable and unchangeable. My thoughts are definitely me… until they come from the demons in the form of judgments, temptations, and vulgarities. Or until they come from God or His angels in the inspiration to do a good deed. How can my thoughts be “me” if they can derive from beings external to me, if I can serve as a vessel for unseen spiritual forces? In fact, I cannot even prove to you that the words written here are definitively from me and me alone. In the end, I concluded that my thoughts are not solely me, and neither is anything else that allows me to compare myself with others in any way.

There is not much else I can declare as being me. It can’t be my body, which is constantly changing and will soon not be mine when I die. It can’t be my relationships with other people, which are also changing by the day. It’s not the foods I eat, the way I pray, or even my favorite books. No, those are all external; they aren’t me. So who am I? There is something in me that is “me” but I can’t grasp it with my hands or my mind.

One evening, in a state of contemplation, I looked up at one of my icons of Lord Jesus Christ. I asked Him, “Lord, who am I?” I stared at the icon for some time and then I felt a warmth in my heart, and the thought that came to me was, “You are a creature of God who can perceive God and give glory to Him, and behold His beauty with indescribable joy for all eternity.” And that thought seemed correct to me, that the “I” in I is a soul, a spiritual vessel, to recognize the God of all creation, the only faculty which makes me me, which will stay with me forever, and that I can only be defined according to my relationship with my Creator, and all that is separate or apart from my relationship with God is not me, and will soon pass away, and how eagerly do I await the day that I can commune in divine fullness, clarity, and love with the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit, unto the ages of ages.

Read Next: I Lived Most Of My Life Under Demonic Influence

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I have felt for a long time that my only true identity was being orthodox. Everything else other people did better than me. Prettier women exist, more talented artists, people with more money or more intelligence. What was the point? We are so replaceable when you think about it, that it's truly sad. Human life has so little value without God.

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My identity from late teens through late 20s was tied up in my running. I was good. I knew it. I was very proud of it. I didn't run, I raced. There was a huge difference in my mind. Having to step away from that and focus on my family and then take on homeschooling, it really aided me in my spiritual life. I haven't been able to run in years now. I do miss it but pray that when I can come back to it one day, I won't allow it to consume me again.

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Nice article. I have often pondered what I am. It is difficult to separate oneself from the Ego that is being experienced by... what?

Well, it may be that my true self is "The Silent Observer", "The Vantage Point",
i.e.
I am the thing that is experiencing my brain's thoughts, experiencing sensation, the thing that experiences experience without experiencing "itself", for it is the silent observer.

Is that the soul itself or just the soul's interface by which experiences can be experienced?

I don't know and cannot know for "knowing" is just an... experience being experienced.

Edit:
Interestingly, this "experiencer" of consciousness that experiences "me", does seem ageless though, unlike the experiences it experiences.

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Many hints of stoicism. Epictetus writes:

These reasonings have no logical connection: “I am richer than you, therefore I am your superior.” “I am more eloquent than you, therefore I am your superior.” The true logical connection is rather this: “I am richer than you, therefore my possessions must exceed yours.” “I am more eloquent than you, therefore my style must surpass yours.” But you, after all, consist neither in property nor in style.

And this,

We must make the best use that we can of the things which are in our power, and use the rest according to their nature. What is their nature then? As God may please.

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I just saw this on Tumblr and it made me think of your column. "

“to go into yourself and see how deep the place is from which your life flows”

— Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet (Published May 8th 2002 by Dover Publications, first published 1929)

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A yearning to search beyond the physical and gain a perception that will truly understand the meaning of our existence. What "is" the
"is" that defines human beings, isness? What is the ontological definition of our ultimate reality? Having not only the self-awareness of our existence but the certainty of our existence. If I am, then something has the power of being.

"I think therefore I am.." Descartes
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Recently someone asked me this question and I answered along this fashion.

I can not be separated. I don't exist in a vacuum. I am changing. I is like quicksand the more you try to grasp it, the harder it is to be understood.

It's like ambition, who am I to decide, what do I know what is good for me?

In the end it's one of the mysteries, that I will never be able to answer and it's fine that way, a mystery what I am and where I'll go.

I think the question might lead to disaster and to abuse.

For example I have people seen pained a lot by the question what do I really want? But who am I really? Really?
When I look in my heart, what do I really want?

I think it's a jewish false belief. As if we can solve god's mystery with coach, a self help book, a few personality tests, an IQ test, a CV, a psychoanalyst. It's a deceptive road. And then putting our desires central in life, like you say i recognize that, candy as a kid, high grades, appreciation, sex, money, dominance, my house, being the best. And getting so insecure, if it isn't sex, then what is it? Because I tried it all.

I feel now, the whole question was wrong. The frame was false, the frame that's so prevalent in society.

Now I feel I am nothing, and I am at the same time all there is.

And for ambition I want to live in truth. I am so done with being deceived and deceiving others with my manipulations. Please god let me do your will, not mine.

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That art thou. God resides within us. No matter how abominable we are, there is always something of God's Spirit within us. He gave us odem, the breath of life. All externals, material and spiritual, are not us. They are only means to bring us to union with God or bring us away from God. Detach from all. The Kingdom of Heaven is within us and our bodies are holy temples for the Most High. I am that I am. Before Abraham was, I am. Who can name God when He always was? And who are we but children of God?

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I have felt for a long time that my only true identity was being orthodox........ Human life has so little value without God.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Eph 1:3).

One evening, in a state of contemplation, I looked up at one of my icons of Lord Jesus Christ. I asked Him, “Lord, who am I?” I stared at the icon for some time and then I felt a warmth in my heart, and the thought that came to me was, “You are a creature of God who can perceive God and give glory to Him, and behold His beauty with indescribable joy for all eternity.”

Our devotion to Jesus Christ is who we are in this world. He is our Shepherd, and those whose eyes are opened are of His sheep.
Let us pray for those with hardened hearts and blind eyes for their lack of devotion allows for the sedition of the serpent, and will of Satan (Prayer II Saint Antiochus).

John 10 with Orthodox Commentary

"But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand." John 10: 26-28

"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep...." John 10: 11-15

Orthodoxy commentary on John 10: 11-15
Christ reveals Himself as the good shepherd:

(1) He enters by the door*​
(2) He knows and is known by the Father.​
(3) He knows His people personally, and therefore is known by them; and​
(4) He gives His life for the sake of His people, which is a direct prophecy of His coming Passion.​

* Saint John Chrysostom states the Word of God is the door (Jesus Christ and Scriptures).
Jesus Christ is The Word of God incarnated (John 1:14); Jesus Christ fulfils the Scripture concerning Himself.

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This was Ramana Maharshis core teaching-to ask yourself the question Who Am I. Not to follow any rituals or yogas or anything else, but to simply do self enquiry.

The right answer cannot be intellectualism. It can only be experienced and that answer is everything you can perceive is false, and nothing is real. God is everything and only God exists. It must be felt.

Ramana pointed to the Bible teaching as the best answer to Who Am I. "I am that I am".

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This question has been bothering me lately too. I find that a lot of Roosh' articles find me at times I seem to need them. What I concluded is that the idea of personality is a scam in itself. It's meant to make you focus on yourself, not God, and defining yourself by the sub group you belong to, the clothes you wear, whether you're introvert/extravert etc. It's all nonsense. Let's say you find yourself an extravert, do you think you'd be an extravert if you grew up with Shaolin monks? It's all environment. The idea of personality is to keep you distracted in the idea that you are unique and special, while eventually we're mere ants in the ant farm, glorifying the ant queen, or in our case, God the creator. We're not more special than these worker ants in the ant farm. Imagine the absurdity of some of these ants starting to clothe themselves differently and behave differently as they are ''unique''. The cult of individualism is a very smart trick by Satan that will keep many chasing the hamster wheel of ''self development'' for years, or sometimes their entire lives.

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The truth is nothing material or form-based will satisfy; only the Holy Spirit can. You are real and eternal to the extent that you abide in that Godhood that is your true nature and home; you are false and illusory to the extent that you pursue the fleeting things of this world. Cling to God and you have infinite peace; search the entire world for that peace and it will be nowhere to be found. God has no name and no attributes but is the only reality, whether you call that supreme being Christ, Brahman, Yahweh, Tao, or some other name.

The only way to see God is to become infinitely small; to shed all traces of a false ego and separate identity.

Amen brothers.

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Good article and thoughtful discussion.
We live in such Godless times, and it's simply astounding that you can go throughout life hearing that you should make more money, should buy a newer car, should wear fancy clothes, should go out more to trendy restaurants, should date women and be seen around town, should travel the world, should have hobbies to keep you buy, should spend money ostentaciously, should watch the latest degenerate film or tv series. All of these things are sold as "improving your life" somehow but never once do you hear that you need God.

I always thought the founders of the US were smart to separate church and state, but really, what they did was create a society, which unlike the European monarchies, had no focus on God, and instead focused on the self.

Which reminds me, I need to re-watch Century Of The Self.

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I'm a bit of a weirdo. Stoicism meets Christianity values framework meets "the middle way".

The "use it or lose it" structure of existence taught me "I am what I do" very early in life. Not the actions or skills associated with it, but the values/virtues/vices my actions embody. Amusingly this ends up at the same conclusion but different words.

Just sharing a slightly different but functionally identical view.

What is divine? The perfect pattern of what is good. What are you? A vessel patterns can inhabit (ideas have you, not the other way around--elsewise we'd have absolute discipline). Who are you? Well, you get to decide by what you are an avatar of. Put more western, you are the patterns you sacrifice to manifest into being.

The patterns are eternal. Existence is not. The patterns let us touch divinity (love, meaning, purpose, etc). Our physiological sense of meaning makes it optimal to manifest the divine patterns (there is a whole "feelings aim us and transition us from DNN to TPN that engaged the incentive reward system and track meaning" neurology rant here we're skipping). If there is a just divine intelligence it seems reasonable to assume engaging our sense of meaning through manifesting such patterns would please it. If there is not, "oh noes?" I just lived a life of love, meaning, and purpose. Woe is me? The alternative appears to be aimless hedonism with a constant fear of discomfort/pain. Pass.

Jesus is a beast of a pattern to emulate. I view him as the representation of perfection in this structure of existence/being (aka, perfect pattern of meaning in this reality).

I'm glad Roosh seems less bitter. Encountered him long ago. He has always put himself out there, even knowing the hostility he'd get. I have always been able to respect that. That courage makes me want the best for him.

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My identity from late teens through late 20s was tied up in my running. I was good. I knew it. I was very proud of it. I didn't run, I raced. There was a huge difference in my mind. Having to step away from that and focus on my family and then take on homeschooling, it really aided me in my spiritual life. I haven't been able to run in years now. I do miss it but pray that when I can come back to it one day, I won't allow it to consume me again.

I think having a family to focus on changes people. Focusing on raising a family and homeschooling and living a life pleasing to God is a good way to live. Focusing on ourselves gives us only temporary happiness. I believe it is pride that keeps us wanting more and more recognition for our worldly achievements. Most of us like to feel special and to stand out from the rest and be admired. It could be success in a job or being the fittest person in the gym, whatever it is, pride got us to think we need to be the best and that we deserve the best from others. If we strive to be a humble person and focus on other people instead of ourselves we will not feel the need to stand out and be consumed by it.

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Letter 212 - "Missionary Letters of Saint Nikolai Velimirovich​

Do you want to know the exact application and power of these words?
Say these words in singular and in plural. Cry out like the blind man, Vartimej, "Lord have mercy on me!" And cry out like the ten lepers, "Lord have mercy on us!" Pray for yourself and pray for all mankind.
I pray to Thee O Lord, for myself who was born in weakness - Lord have mercy on me!
And for all other people born in weakness - Lord have mercy on us!
The world beguiled me and I transgressed Thy life-giving law - Lord have mercy on me!
And for all those who transgressed Thy life-giving law - Lord have mercy on us!
Today and tomorrow I am Thy guest in this world and then I will vanish like a shadow and be counted with the departed - Lord have mercy on me!
And for all those fallen asleep in the faith - Lord have mercy on us!
Lord have mercy, thrice I beseech Thee, on those who are in position of authority, for they are tempted to become aggressors.
Lord have mercy, thrice I beseech Thee, on those who are rich, for they are tempted to become depraved.
Lord have mercy, thrice I beseech Thee, on the poor and the orphans, for they are tempted to fall into despair.
Lord have mercy, thrice I beseech Thee, on those with worldly knowledge, for they are tempted to deify themselves and forget Thee.
And whichever human being crosses your mind during prayer, either living or dead or unborn, say immediately - Lord have mercy!
And if your enemy crosses your mind, say - Lord have mercy!
And what power these words have, the blind Vartimej will tell you when you meet him, "I was blind and now I see!"
The lepers will tell you, "We were leprous and now we are clean!"
The possessed will tell you, "We were senseless and now we are in our right mind!" The crippled will tell you, "We were ill and now we are healthy!" The departed will tell you, "We were dead and now we are alive!" The Apostles will tell you, "There was a storm and it was calmed!" The sinful woman who repented will tell you, "I sinned but I received forgiveness!"
The wise thief from the cross will tell you, I was a criminal, and I was first to enter Paradise!"

Good article and thoughtful discussion.
We live in such Godless times, and it's simply astounding that you can go throughout life hearing that you should make more money, should buy a newer car, should wear fancy clothes, should go out more to trendy restaurants, should date women and be seen around town, should travel the world, should have hobbies to keep you buy, should spend money ostentaciously, should watch the latest degenerate film or tv series. All of these things are sold as "improving your life" somehow but never once do you hear that you need God.

I always thought the founders of the US were smart to separate church and state, but really, what they did was create a society, which unlike the European monarchies, had no focus on God, and instead focused on the self.

Which reminds me, I need to re-watch Century Of The Self.

"I always thought the founders of the US were smart to separate church and state"

Respectfully, the Founders never did and never would have separated church and state.
That is largely leftist / atheist agitprop and propaganda.
The first bibles that were printed in the United States were printed in the Capitol building, which also served as a church on Sundays.

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Great article. Right down my alley in fact.

The question, "Who am I?" or "What is I?" is the Ultimate Question.

There is a saying:

He who goes out into the world to search for God, finds only himself

He who goes inward looking for self, finds only God

Jesus himself said, "The kingdom of heaven is within."

What did he mean by that?

If we accept Jesus as a truth teller then this is actually great news. Because it means that no matter where you are in the world - even if you were dropped off on a desert island as a toddler - you have all the tools you need to find this kingdom that Jesus speaks of. Your own body/mind/soul is the temple.

Someone posted earlier in this thread about Ramana Maharshi, one of the great and most humble sages of India (he only owned a loin cloth). His one central message was simply - Inquire deeply into who you are.

Another great sage, whose writings are more accessible in modern language is Nisargadatta Maharaj - probably the single greatest explainer of Advaita Vedanta, or scientific spirituality. By "scientific" I don't mean secular (as this science ends up in the revelation of God). Rather, it is a scientific method of inquiry that has nothing to do with religion. There is nothing Hindu about it. Ironically, this ancient science is the likely genesis of the "inner teachings" of most world religions. It might not have even originated in India. It likely goes all the way back to the not so mythical Atlantian, followed by Mayan and Egyptian civilizations; Then Indian and Greek Logos schools and certain monastic branches of Christianity.

When I read the Philokalia or ancient Greek teachings on silent inquiry, I can spot the obvious similarities to Vedanta. So either all these religious esoteric schools independently discovered the same central Truth, or some more ancient civilization handed it down and the methods/knowledge branched out across cultures.

If anyone is truly interested in deep inquiry into self, I highly recommend Nisargadatta's book, I am That.

Btw, like Maharshi, Nisargadatta was a humble man (no Osho style Rolls Royces or scandalous behavior). He refused all gifts and just ran a humble shop on a dusty street, living a lower middle class lifestyle at best. But his methods and explanations of Self were the most profound ever committed to writing.

This is a book you don't read just once. You read it many times over the years and it will continue to sink in deeper and deeper:

I AM THAT

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I think having a family to focus on changes people. Focusing on raising a family and homeschooling and living a life pleasing to God is a good way to live. Focusing on ourselves gives us only temporary happiness. I believe it is pride that keeps us wanting more and more recognition for our worldly achievements. Most of us like to feel special and to stand out from the rest and be admired. It could be success in a job or being the fittest person in the gym, whatever it is, pride got us to think we need to be the best and that we deserve the best from others. If we strive to be a humble person and focus on other people instead of ourselves we will not feel the need to stand out and be consumed by it.

I completely agree that having a family refocuses a person. I would go even further, having a LARGE family makes it next level. When I only had 2 children, I thought I was sacrificing like crazy constantly (I had quit my job and was staying home with the kids) when in reality I wasn't sacrificing much at all. I got to have daily quiet reading time and prayer. I got to run every day. I took long runs Saturday where I would leave before the kids were up and get home around lunch time. I still raced in local club races and had had enough time to train, often won. I was able to keep my house nearly perfectly clean. Oh, I thought I was giving up so so much. I had no idea. I was still extremely selfish.

My husband and I have visited about this topic many times when we see these families where kids are treated as after thoughts and 40 year old parents are still clearly stuck on themselves like teenagers. When a couple only has 1 child, they can still, and often do, remain entirely self absorbed after the initial shock of sleep deprivation wears off. When there are 2 children, small, VERY small sacrifices will have to be made. But still, life and hobbies can pretty well continue very much along the same lines as pre-kid. 3 kids is real shocker, if you had the children fairly close together. Here is where parents will experience their first taste of real sacrifice. And often this is when you see ppl having their husbands go get the ole snip-snip. It takes courage and faith in God's plan for your marriage to move forward and have that next baby, baby 4, in todays me-me-me culture, which by now isn't really that much different than having only 3. Adding another still (5), very much relatively the same and by now your have excellent helpers in the older children. etc etc. And also by now, you've changed so fundamentally that you look back at your early parenting self and you feel pity for baby 1, because that poor kid had you at your worst.

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