My dear friend Lily and I have an equal appreciation for Italian and Medieval Art. Mine is for the tapestries (mostly because each tapestry tells a remarkable story) and hers is in marble, stone carvings and sculptures. Lily feels that each stone absorbed pieces of the artist…whether it was sweat, blood, oils from the skin, etc. In her mind, each piece of stone has absorbed and held the essence of the artist. She once told me the story of how Michelangelo was asked how he sculpted the magnificent classic statue of David. “I looked into the stone and saw David. Then I simply cleared away everything that wasn’t David.” Makes sense.

Our work in life is exactly the same. We do not have to create who we are; indeed, we have been created in utter perfection. We just need to discover what about our life is not who we are, and, (here comes the good part) simply let it go.

The great Indian sage Ramana Maharshi offered one straightforward path to enlightenment: Continually ask, “Who am I?” Sincere, consistent inquiry into this most important question will eventually reveal that many of the things we identify with, are not who we are. When all of our illusions are peeled away, only Divinity remains.

Who are you? You are not your name, which could change. You are not a husband or wife only–your identity goes far beyond your relationship. You are not your bank account, which rises and falls. You are not your house, from which you come and go. You are not your job, which is temporary. You are not your emotions, which wax and wane. You are not your religion, which is a mutable belief system. You are not your body–some people have body parts removed, and they’re still a whole person. You are not even your thoughts, which vacillate and turn in all directions.

But if you’re not any of these things that you commonly identify with, who are you?

We are all spiritual beings, and any other identity detracts from the majesty of our true essence. Let’s all begin to let go of false beliefs about who we are; let’s be like Michelangelo and clear away what isn’t so that we can shine in magnificent splendor.

Nothing real can be threatened; nothing unreal exists. In this truth lies the peace of the Universe and the capacity for our true selves to live to our highest potential.

Deep Bows

Ajahn