Ask yourself, “Who am I?” Ramana Maharshi told his disciples, “and the masks you hide behind will disappear.” When I ask myself, “Am I a man?” The answer is, “Yes, but only for a short time.” “Am I white, American, and do I live in New York?” — more masks that need to be peeled away. As I remove these masks and look at my naked self, I’m aware that I’ve hidden my true identity: not a man or a woman, not rich or poor, not white, black, yellow or brown, not a person with a country, not tall, short or handsome or plain. When these masks peel away, I’m left with an empty vessel that fills up with spirit, and all conceptual imagery vanishes. At best I am a human being and even that will disappear in time.
Enlightenment isn’t who or what I am in my own eyes or the eyes of others. It’s a state of being attained after deep inner work and surrender. We no longer hide behind masks; we no longer have to ask, “Who am I?” We “are,” that’s all, and by living in the moment, we have stepped off the wheel of karma.