“Who am I?” is really the first question. If true, isn’t it mysterious how easily each “I” forgets “I-self”?
But it is true! When I hear, who hears? When I see, who sees? When I taste, who tastes? “Don’t be daft! You do!” “I do? Well, who am I?”
When I think, who thinks? In the absence of thought, who is here? Yea, in the absence of all phenomenal experience, who is this one?
People speak of near death experiences (NDEs) and of out of body experiences (OBE). Who speaks? Who is not the physical body? Who am I if the physical body’s destiny is not necessarily my own?
Mind arises, we read in The Diamond Sutra, but I do not abide. Oh, well, who is this “I” when mind does not arise?
I wake up in the morning. Who is here now? Where did I go before? “You went to sleep.” “OK, but who went to sleep?” Where do I come from? Where do I ultimately go? Who, indeed, am I?
Who am I who am I who am I???
“Who am I?” is definitely the first question, and this first question cannot be answered by appealing to some theory, thesis, position, or rational exposition. For who is proffering this theory, that thesis, this position, or that rational exposition? Who is this one?
Every time the question is asked the real answer is ducked. Taking one step back, discriminating mind transforms the prior questioner into an object. But this dualistic two-step–1. step back. 2. reflect on the object–simply won’t do! I mean: WHO AM I?
Before I answer this question of myself, everything else remains secondary. Until I awaken to this question, who I am remains in the shadows. After I realize the answer, the whole cosmos dances.