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Who am I?

First we conceive the “I” and grasp onto it.
Then we conceive the “mine” and cling to the material world.
Like water trapped on a waterwheel, we spin in circles, powerless.
I praise the compassion that embraces all beings.
—Chandrakirti
“Despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage.”
Billy Corgan
I used to have a red-eyed mouse that sat in a cage near my bed. At night he would get on the stainless steel wheel attached to the frame of the cage and run from dusk to dawn. The squeak of the wheel would keep me up and down, so I moved the cage to the far side of the room. He seemed to put even more effort into running and squeaking until I finally put drops of machine oil on the rubbing parts of the wheel. I never saw that mouse run again -- It was nothing without the noise and the commotion it caused.
Countless forms of fear run us and distract us from seeing what is real and inside ourselves.
We fear losing what we have or not getting what we want and think we need.
We distract ourselves with anxiety caused by alternating the holding on and grasping.
And what are we distracting ourselves from?
I went backpacking with my Uncle as a young man. We hiked two days out of Bishop, straight up into nowhere. It was spectacular; the stars at night infinite, the color or reflections off granite blinding. On the third night we sat around a small fire and everything left me – the distractions of what I do, where I live, what I owe, what I want and what I need. It was as if I had a list on a chalk board of all the things I was:
Father
Nurse
Brother
Son
Handyman
Driver
Decider
Buyer
Seller
Addict
Thinker
Dreamer
Lover
Fighter
Friend
Multi-media addict
Phone caller
Movie goer
Sports nut
Talker
And more
All those things that made me me – that took up space and occupied weight – all of them left me as if at once
And I have never been more afraid and alone then I was at that moment..
And the question – what are you if you take away the list?
And what happens if you stop running?

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