The Who and Why

Who are you, and why?

Typical answers to this question might include:

  • I am a human being
  • I am a man/woman
  • I am a « name of your profession here »
  • I am a soul
  • I am a soul in a human body

A Hare Krishna answer would probably be I am servant of the servant of the servant … I know because I was one!

But interestingly these are all answers to the questions what are you? or what do you do? Not so much to the question Who are you, and why? I believe there is a subtle yet significant difference between these questions. Perhaps it is telling that people often find it difficult to exactly grasp the question?

So let us try to go deeper.

Consider an actor named John Smith playing the part of Detective Sergeant Trotter in the stage production of Agatha Chrisitie’s Mousetrap. Let us try to dig through his different levels of who and why, starting with the more external. It might go something like this:

Who … Why

  1. I am Detective Sergeant Trotter … trying to solve the mystery 🙂
  2. I am John Smith playing the part of Detective Sergeant Trotter … making a reasonable living
  3. I am John Smith, the classical actor … I have always liked acting
  4. I am John Smith, the man from London … because I was born there
  5. I am John Smith, the husband of Mary Smith … I fell in love the first time I saw her
  6. I am John Smith, the father of Sally & Tommy Smith … I believe my wife has been faithful
  7. I am John Smith, the son of James and Margaret Smith … they are parents
  8. I am a soul that has taken birth in a male body as the son of James and Margaret Smith … I existed as a soul prior to my present birth. It was my karma to take birth as the son of James and Margaret Smith
  9. I am a soul that is entangled in the cycle of birth and death in the material world … I am envious of God so I’m trying to enjoy seperately from God
  10. I am a servant of God … that’s how God created me
  11. I am a servant of the servant of the servant (etc.) of God … God is more pleased if I serve His servant that if I try to serve direct
  12. I am a part of God … I am qualitatively equal to, but quantitively less than God
  13. I am God in the form of an individual soul … I am a little version of God
  14. I am God … although I am a little version of God, I am nothing but God.
  15. I am God pretending not to be God … This is part of my enjoyment.

How far down this list did you go before starting to feel uncomfortable?

How far I get changes day to day.