It is a question I ask myself daily. The idea of who I am has changed as I have changed. It is in part a function of getting older, but first and foremost my understanding of who I am has changed because I have a daily mindfulness practice.
One of the transforming outcomes that occurs with a daily mindfulness practice is the idea of self, changes. This change usually takes a little time to occur, but it seems to be a universal experience for those on this path.
I have spent the majority of my life thinking I am separate from others and the world around me. But in reality, I am not separate. The idea of “I” is dependent upon numerous factors. The belief that “I” exist as a sole individual functioning on his own is an illusion.
How is this an illusion? Let us use the example of a bottle of olive oil that you may have in your kitchen. Think of all that is involved in getting that olive oil bottle into your kitchen. Let us start with just the olives. They come from a tree, which came from a seed, which came from another olive tree. Think of the sun, atmosphere, rain, the soil. Then imagine the people or machines used to pick the olives from the trees. The stories and background of those people and what lead them to be an intricate part of your olive oil bottle. Then the actual process of converting the olives into olive oil. The bottles used and their origins. The process of packing and shipping the bottles to a local store. The people involved in getting the bottle onto the shelf. The vehicle you may have used to get to the store. All the people and materials involved in its construction. If it is a gas vehicle we can only imagine the processes and people involved in oil and gas production. We may continue on and on to possibly infinity of all the processes involved in having that bottle of olive oil in your kitchen.
I hope that you can see that the idea of anything existing on its own is an illusion. All things are interdependent. This is not new age mumbo jumbo. This is logic.
So what may happen to someone across the world from me may actually affect me as my actions may affect them.
Contemplating this process from time to time is a good mindfulness practice that fosters gratitude and compassion.