The Three Essential Questions

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At a certain point in our life, usually when we are stopped dead in our tracks by an unexpected occurrence or tragedy, we may begin to wonder what our life is all about. There are many sources that will provide us with answers — religion, spirituality, philosophy and science among them, but what if we really want to know for ourselves?


At The Awakened Heart Center for Conscious Living, we suggest people investigate three essential questions. To discover what is true for us by asking ourselves these questions is not difficult if we are willing to be ruthlessly honest and very precise in our investigation. It does help to have the assistance of an experienced spiritual friend in investigating these questions, as someone who has been down these roads can keep us honest, on track and help us get to the truth quickly. 

By being honest I mean not mistaking a belief, concept or trance for your actual direct experience. It is important to avoid the roadside attractions, of which there are many.

The first question is: WHAT AM I?

This is a spiritual classic made popular by followers of  the Indian sage Ramana Maharishi, and yet it is the most essential question to be investigated. Why? Because everything in your life is predicated upon you and yet you do not know what you are.

The simplest, fastest and most direct investigation of this question is by discovering what you are not. It can quickly be discovered that EVERYTHING, including your body, thoughts, feelings, emotions, all of your various sub-personalities and self concepts, experiences, beliefs, memories, EVERYTHING, is constantly appearing and disappearing in your awareness. There is no stable state of experience. Everything, including your self concept, is always changing.

The fastest way to discover what you are is by knowing what you are not. You are not anything perceivable or conceivable. What Are You?

The second question is: ARE YOU THE AUTHOR OF YOUR LIFE?

Again, if you are completely honest, it does not take long to see that “you” showed up in a set of circumstances and situations you did not create. As one of my teachers, Wayne Liquorman, said, if you are really the author of your life, wouldn’t you be doing a better job of it? Really!

We show up with the circumstances of our lives already being here like a hand shows up in a glove. “I” did not create the idea of a human body, of being male, an American, growing up in the hippie/spiritual culture of the 1960s, speaking English, and becoming a yoga and meditation teacher. It was all here before I was. I didn’t choose any of it.  It was all already happening and “I” showed up in the middle of it.

When this point is brought up in satsang, inevitably someone will point out that they have the free will to raise their hand whenever they want and then they demonstrate this brilliant insight by raising their hand. This has probably happened well over a dozen times in my classes. It is like a deja vu all over again. So they didn’t even think up this brilliant idea of raising their hand on their own. It has been written into their script and the script of many others! And they certainly didn’t think up the incredible design and application of their human body that enable them to have a hand to raise in the first place and the ability to raise it.

I had a close friend who couldn’t raise her hand as much as she wanted to. She had multiple sclerosis.  She read all of the “You Create Your Own Reality” books and was a devoted student of their teachings. She spent a fortune on all sorts of healers and alternative medicines. Try as she may, she still couldn’t raise her hand. Clearly, she was not authoring her life. And finally, peacefully, she accepted this.

The final question is: WHAT IS LIFE USING YOU FOR? 

You, as embodied consciousness, are alive. There is an intelligent life force flowing through you. It created you and is living you now. It designed you to have certain abilities, capacities and interests. What are they? The more you break free of the cultural trance and discover what life is using you for, the happier and more deeply fulfilled you will be.

In these investigations WE USE OUR DEATH AS OUR ADVISOR. We are going to die someday and we don’t know when. There is no time to waste. We want to discover what we are and what life is using us for. We want to realize our life is a wonderful gift and opportunity.

This essay is not an in-depth investigation into these questions, nor is it meant to be. It is simply presenting them. You have to find your own answer to these questions. When you do your life will transform in ways that are not imaginable. Again, I highly recommend the support of a spiritual friend who has already explored these three questions.
“If you want to know the way up the mountain, ask someone who comes and goes on it.”
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