I was looking at the “I” thread. It is an important thread, but because it became very long and degenerated somewhat I chose a fresh start with that very question we must and do ask ourselves: “What am I”.
The real purpose of the question this asks is for this: What is the “I am” that I am that I should accept and love as myself? We use self-perception as identity for this cause. This is to satisfy an emotional need. It is impossible that we not at least try to accept and love ourselves, even if we fail. The satisfaction of the mind demands it. What is the alternative: confusion and depression? This is also why ego is so powerful, not because it is anything real or true, but because it appears to be the answer that appears to satisfy that deep and powerful human need to accept and love ourselves. The problem it that is always fails. If you would accept and love yourself do not try. This may sound counter intuitive, but only when you cease trying do you succeed.
I think that we miss the idea of Buddhism if we neglect the tenant that we need seek be the Buddha Mind. I say this because the idea of the Buddha Mind is that It is your true Self, the wise and the permanent You in you. Ego is thoughts that are impermanent and not you. Now the following was taken from the “Gospel of Buddha”. This is not an ancient text but a compilation. Search Gospel of Buddha.
“Yet you love self and will not abandon self-love. So be it, but
then, verily, you should learn to distinguish between the false self
and the true self. The ego with all its egotism is the false self.”
While this may not be ancient text in itself, I believe that this text goes to the root of our problem and the fix. What is the ego-self for, but for identity? Identity is to identify with something that is or we think is us, and for the purpose to accept and love ourselves. If we assume that the Buddha Mind is our true Self, then, so must we identify with what that Mind is. To identify with the Buddha Mind is to identify with our true Self. The problem we face is that while identifying with ego is a manifestation of our imagination, the Nature of the Mind, which gives the Buddha Mind meaning, cannot be imagined; it can however be known. Thus knowledge trumps all perception. Thus we must give up the idea that we can imagine what we are. If this feels like emptiness to let go of our imaginary self’s then let it be so, for the emptiness shall pass and be filled with the truth in us.
Ego is the idea of self-perception that comes in the form of self-imagery. Thus we equate self-imagery with self-perception. This is a lie. What is self-imagery but an imaginary self that we only imagine? That self is then nothing more than a figment of the imagination. Ego, this false “I”, is purely imaginary, which means that ego is a fantasy and an illusion. It is this false self that we project from our imagination onto the world believing it reality, but as the way we wish others to perceive us, so that even the opinions of others might even define what we are. Because ego is a fantasy it means that as much as we may want it to be true, ego does not exist as anything real. Ego has no reality. It is only a reflection of what we chose to imagine as to see as our own personal reality. That “I” of ego is non-existent, yet, it is the idea that you have made the definition of your existence, even as it appears the power to create what you are and thus create your own reality. This is an impossibility that is not rational. You have no power to create the reality of what you are by imagining it.
There is more that I would say but perhaps this can get us stated and past some of the conversion that somehow the “I” we perceive is real by experience as opposed to the truth. The fact is that we have only two choices of a way to perceive ourselves, either as Mind, which is the Nature of the Mind as the Mind really is, or, as ego, which is purely a product of vain imaginations. Now while there are an infinite number of ways to perceive yourself as ego, they still amount to only one, illusion. Your choice between Being and ego is the choice between reality and illusion. If the Mind is what you are, and it is then:
Either you perceive yourself in truth, or, your self-perception is an illusion.
And if you live in that illusion how are you in your right Mind?