Holger: In the context of nonduality,
where did the question “what am I” originate?
The question “What am I?” is a fundamental inquiry that has been pondered within various philosophical, spiritual, and contemplative traditions, including those that explore the concept of nonduality. Nonduality refers to the idea that reality, consciousness, and existence are fundamentally unified, and it transcends dualistic distinctions such as self/other or subject/object.
In the context of nonduality, the question “What am I?” often serves as a contemplative tool to encourage individuals to deeply investigate their own sense of self and reality. It prompts individuals to examine their assumptions about identity, consciousness, and existence, with the aim of realizing the interconnected nature of all things.
While the exact origin of this question is difficult to pinpoint, it can be found in various philosophical and spiritual texts throughout history. Advaita Vedanta, a school of Hindu philosophy, is one of the traditions that has extensively explored the concept of nonduality. In Advaita, the question “Who am I?” (rather than “What am I?”) is a central inquiry used to guide seekers to recognize their true nature beyond the limitations of ego and individual identity.
The question “What am I?” or similar inquiries are also present in other spiritual and contemplative traditions, such as Zen Buddhism, Taoism, Sufism, and even in more modern expressions of spirituality and self-inquiry. The question encourages individuals to shift their perspective from a limited and separate sense of self to a more expansive and interconnected understanding of existence.
In summary, the question “What am I?” has been a key element in various philosophical and spiritual traditions, particularly those centered around the concept of nonduality. It prompts individuals to explore the nature of their own identity and reality, ultimately leading to a deeper understanding of interconnectedness and unity.
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