On the journey of awakening, many aspects of the person fall away. Here and there, we can run into unexpected and amusing consequences for a short while during adaptation. Simple things like routine conversation can reveal profound inner changes. The witness experience, for example, where the body is having a conversation but the person no longer appears to be involved. We simply observe, and may see things we didn’t before, like odd habits of speech.
Perhaps we’re walking down the street and run into an old friend. They’ll ask “What’s new?” It’s not considered good social etiquette to respond that change is an illusion. But if the mind has not been reciting it’s story about what’s “happening”, it may take a moment to come up with a suitable response. “Interesting question” will not be expected. “Nothing much” may not work, but the mind may be silent.
If someone asks “how’s life?” and we respond with an enthusiastic “Absolutely Fantastic!”, some people may be confused if you didn’t win the lottery. “Nothing much” really won’t work then. Surely there’s a reason you feel so happy??
When we first meet someone, usually the first 2 questions asked are your name and your role, what you do for a living. They expect something formatted like “I’m Fred. I sell used cars“. If your identity has just fallen away, even though the person may still sell cars, questions like “What do you do?” may at first draw a blank or seem meaningless. If they ask “What’s your name?” and you respond “What do you mean?“, they’ll probably not ask again. If they ask “Who are you?“, they won’t be expecting poetry. Nor a statement like “Oh! You mean this thing. (pats chest)”
Of course, I’m being silly. But it can be amusing how internal changes can show up in unexpected places. Friends may think you’ve moved to another planet – even without talking about the experience. (laughs)
It also illustrates how fundamental social interactions revolve around ego identification. Indeed, the English language is founded on ego. Even the most basic verb conjugation is To Be. I am, you are, she is… And this reveals another unspoken question ego uses to differentiate itself, gender.
Who am I? The answer is a hallmark of the spiritual journey until there is no longer an answer. No longer an I or an am, no longer a seeker, no longer a question, no longer words. But we still have to answer the question sometimes. 😉