Fisherman, Hiker, Driver: Who Am I ?
- "Our aim is to become one, to have one permanent "I". But in the beginning work means to become more and more divided. You must realize how far you are from being one, and only when you know all these fractions of yourself can work begin on one or some principal "I"s around which unity can be built. It would be wrong understanding to unify all the things you find in yourself now. The new "I" is something you do not know at present; it grows from something you can trust. At first, in separating false personality from you, try to divide yourself into what you can call reliable and what you find unreliable." - P.D. OuspenskySomewhere in the past, I had the good fortune to learn to fish. It started out as curiosity and peer pressure, but mostly came from a desire to spend time in the wilderness. Since my better half at the time thought it inappropriate for a grown man to just hang out in the woods, a socially acceptable excuse was needed... fishing it was. It went from a part-time habit to a full-time obsession in short order, then vanished as quickly as the marriage. What remains is mostly an inability to come upon a body of water and not look at it with the eyes of a fisherman. As soon as I approach the bank, I notice an immediate change. I become the fisherman and slip into the habits of years stalking trout in countless streams and lakes.For a few years, this habit was identified with: "I" was the fisherman. In recent times, I've been able to simply sit back and watch this fisherman as he goes through his well-worn act. He's no longer me, for the "I" thought is no longer present in him. The fisherman is no longer in opposition to his environment, but is lost in it. He and the fishing are one, but who was "I"?On a recent hike, I had the opportunity to see this character in action, this fisher person, and several more besides. I noticed a person who hikes. It was interesting to watch how he made decisions as to route finding, rationalizing the climbing of "just one more peak", how he resisted the inevitable coming of the end of the day; his confidence and skill. Like the fisherman, he was an old friend of sorts, having once been 'me' too.Later, when the day was drawing to a close, I noticed yet another 'person' in the entourage: the fellow driving the car. This chap was by far the oldest of the group and the most set in his ways. He had been 'me' at times for most my adult life, and behind the wheel during many episodes, some best forgotten, at least by the insurance industry. Now the strange thing about these persons, or little men, is that at some point I had said "I" to each of them. I had even said "I" to them in turns several times over the course of a day, interspersed with a whole zoo of others. Who are these characters, and what is this mysterious "I" which floats with ease from one person to another? And most importantly, why don't most of us notice this?The truth of the matter is simple. The fisherman is the response to fishing, the hiker to hiking, the driver to driving, or the attempt at driving. They are the insentient response to a particular set of circumstances, just one side of the coin of an event. There is no "I" in them. The only thing that is present in all circumstances, and paradoxically free of them, is our simple awareness. We say "I" to the least and greatest of our response patterns, but never question the apparent absurdity. Instead of remaining fast 'asleep', become the hunter of yourself. Stalk this "I" thought, see where it leads. To be identified with and trapped in the confines of circumstantial response patterns, one after another, without rest, is hell on earth and the cause of our needless suffering. To be free is to reside in that which does not change, yet is aware, and does nothing. Keep watch on this sense of "I", and see where it leads you.Bob Fergeson