Who are you? That may seem like a silly question. Naturally, though, to answer it, there is a temptation to grasp at key phrases that are easy to claim as an identity. But before responding, challenge yourself to give an answer that doesn't have an identity attached to it. Momentarily, allow yourself to forget concepts like names, race, gender, careers, or group affiliation. Instead, see yourself in this exact present moment and genuinely ask, who am I?

This self-inquiry is a kind of meditation taught to advanced spiritual practitioners. If, after asking this question to yourself, you feel stumped, then you may have begun to understand the hidden meaning behind the question. The answer is there is no answer. As the Dao De jing says, the Dao that can be told is not the eternal Dao; the name that can be named is not the eternal name.

What we are is elusive and mysterious. No words or labels can chain down something beyond all knowledge or reason, and asking this to ourselves is akin to asking an actor on stage to break character. Something is deflating about it. You may find that it even ruins the show. Who would want, during a thrilling narrative, when you are so deeply lost in the story's drama, to be reminded by someone that it is all just make-believe.

However, asking for the proverbial mask to be torn off, even for just a moment, might change something for you while going about your life. If behind that mask was the face of the creator, what would that mean to you? What would all the difficulty that comes with being alive mean anymore? Could you justify suffering as most people do daily while knowing your role in all that happens?

It is possible, Alchemist, that after realizing that you are the actor, the audience, and even the stage itself, that the story wouldn't crumble. In fact, it may seem livelier than ever. The wonder of being alive, of experiencing reality; it is truly a gift to cherish.

Look outward and remember, Alchemist, reality is a reflection of your wordless, nameless self.

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