She knew me as a listener to one of my shows. She agreed to come on as a guest and talk about some of her high strangeness experiences. “Do you have any questions before we begin?” I asked, dangling my finger over the record button.
“I do have one question—Who ARE you?” She asked it with the exasperation of a fan. But I wasn’t sure she was a fan. I could have been misreading her. Perhaps she was asking me for my qualifications as an interviewer. Like, who am I to be doing this in the first place?
In answer I ticked off my media resume and a few types of high strangeness experiences I’ve had. I wanted her to feel comfortable opening up about her life to this stranger in ways even she might not have thought through.
In answer to that she said, “Oh, okay. I just wanted to see where you were spiritually. Clearly, you still have some ego. You should have answered, ‘I’m no one,’ or, ‘I’m nobody special.’ You’ve still got some work to do.”
And in this way did she feel special.
What does setting up spiritual blind tests for people they meet say about the people who do? Why do we need to categorize each other in this way? We may claim it is a means of discernment, but that cannot be, when the inflection of the tone of the question and the situation in which “Who are you?” is asked bring to mind other mundane, obvious reasons for asking. The how and the when and the where of a question like that take their own discernment. You’ve got to learn to read the room.
But how can you read the room when you, yourself, are cut from the same egoic mold you’ve grown such disdain for? If you knew how to read the room you’d never ask a question like that in the first place. The answer is not a password to a spiritual speakeasy.
So then why do we ask it? Why really do we ask it? We ask it as a defense mechanism to pick and choose who we let into our lives–who we speak to about shallow everyday stuff and who we let into our personal sanctum. That sanctum is filled with the idols and adages we’ve absorbed to strengthen the self. We are looking for like minds but have deluded ourselves into believing that those minds are spiritually higher than average. We put ourselves on a pedestal by mouthing the words of a humble person and look for other people who read from the same script. Hierarchical, exclusive agreements about self are the only way the feeling of a pedestal can exist outside of a mental institution.
We find “our people” through questions of humbleness that are judgments. We say we’re nonjudgmental because we’ve been told judgments are tools of the ego. We say we’re humble for the same reason. We read about the ego. We attend lectures on it. We cast it away like an exorcist casting out demons. But the ego is you. You cannot cast away yourself, although you may create and believe in the division of yourself from “your” ego and then spend your life disowning it.
When we make ourselves we make ourselves miserable. What takes place when we stop all of that? How will you find out, since there is no how?