deltalimen said'Who am I' is always an interesting paradigm because finding truth is an active process yet the opposite of truth is denial; we're all innately lazy. There's a phrase-- Leaves are most beautiful when they're about to die. In the end, we are the sum of our relationships. It's not the experience but it's the capacity for experience. Some are so scared and fearful that it's not even possible to experience life for it's pains AND joys. It's called taking the joy without the pain; is it really joy if we haven't experienced pain?
For two years I've had brunch every Saturday and Sunday with a 79 year old gay man. He came out in the 1950s-- a completely different world than we live in now. Surviving the arrests, the discrimination, the virus he is still searching for who he is-- and he doesn't know. Most importantly he doesn't care. It's his childlike learning capacity that keeps him open to today and what he may experience, not tomorrow and not yesterday.
Today I'm comfortable with the words 'I don't know' because it keeps me open to the experience. In the past I wasn't. The vast amount that I don't know is far greater than what I can and do know.
I came out at 17. I didn't know what others would think of me-- I was scared. Years later I've realized that what others think of me is none of my business. It's only my business when I'm wrapped up in my defensive ego.
I've never been lazy about exploring myself and through my dreaming practices I've managed to reach in there pretty far and I've been at that since I was a child. My suspicion is not that people are lazy, rather that they fear. Being lazy may add to that mix and make it harder to overcome the fear but I think the fear is the primary barrier. Lazy is functional of course but mostly it is an excuse.
I disagree very much that "we are the sum of our relationships". Besides that it opens the door to guilt by association and to using people, the problem with that statement is that people die, people betray, relationships fade or otherwise alter and the individual doesn't have a lot of control over all of that, as those things happen regardless of our efforts or intentions so they do not define us. As well, a person certainly could remove himself from society entirely, live in a cave, yet be enlightened and so it's possible to be more than you might be with relationships. That may not be very practical in today's society for most people but it speaks to the capacity of the human mind. Ultimately we are complete within ourselves. We are the sum of who we are, not of who they are. We are the sum of our relationships with ourselves, including how we interact with others, not the sum or our interactions with others. You can be a very nice guy and still get totally screwed in a relationship. You can internalize that but it isn't naturally part of you.
"We're born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we are not alone
Recognizing that joy and pain often wander hand in hand is different from wondering "is it really joy if we haven't experienced pain?" Well, of course it is. We don't require knowing one to know the other. We can know each for themselves alone. But certainly my experience has been that my greatest joys have come with harshest pains. The more you love the longer you live the more you lose.
I always said to my puppy dog, "you're gonna break my heart one day."
By our attachments the Buddha noted that all of life is suffering.