• By Dana Sparks

Something to Think About: Who Are You?

October 20, 2016

a woman holding a bright shining light in the palm of her hands
Dr. Amit Sood
says, "Seeing the light in others will help you see the light within yourself."

Dear friend,

“Who am I?” is a powerful question. Spiritual luminaries have held the thread of this question and tracked inward to attain profound insights. While doing so, some have arrived at the perception of emptiness, while others have found oneness, a connection to everything as a unified whole.

I struggle with finding meaning in emptiness. Emptiness could calm me, but it disconnects me from the world that I find solid and real.

Experience of oneness, an intensely pleasant feeling, is more tangible. However, whether this feeling of oneness is truly an enlightened state or a mere sensory phenomenon produced by the firing of specific brain networks isn’t clear. Scientists note that people experiencing certain strokes and brain tumors sometimes have a similar perception of oneness. The activation (or inhibition) of certain brain areas can provide similar experiences of unity. I don’t find it worthy to commit my life to evoking just a brain state, however pleasing it might be.

To me, seeing the light in others, by becoming a kinder human being, is more important than the sensory experience of seeing the light within me. The question that I believe directly leads me to kindness isn’t, “Who am I?” It is, “Who are you?”

That question prompts me to look deeper. I see profoundness unseen before. I stop seeing you as a means to an end. I see you as a conscious, sentient being with the same struggles as mine. I see you in your circle of love. I see the sacred in you. I identify with the “I” in you.

My commitment to seeing you at greater depths makes me kinder. I believe that through practicing kindness for you, I will become kind to myself. In the process, I will live a good life.

The ultimate wisdom one attains after a lifetime of learning teaches one to become a kinder human being. Why not start right there as a first step?

Thank you for being you.

May you seek kindness before oneness, meaning before fulfillment, and compassion before salvation.

Take care.

Dr. Sood 2

Read, Who Are You? and previous blog posts.

Also, follow @AmitSoodMD on Twitter.

Dr. Sood is director of research in the Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program on Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus in Minnesota. He also chairs the Mind-Body Medicine Initiative at Mayo Clinic.