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Who are you? We all have names we go by everyday. Dad, mom, friend, brother, sister, mentor, teacher, employee, employer and the list goes on. We even spend hours a week developing these identities.

But is that really who you are or is it just a title? Our attachments to these identities could be holding us back from experiencing life to its fullest.

In today’s show we will discuss the identities we hold onto, how our focus on identity can be robbing us of our experiences, and how “I don’t know” can open us up to endless possibilities and deeper connections.

Here Are The Show Highlights:

  • Bodhidharma shows that lack of knowledge is the greatest wisdom (0:34)
  • Is having an “identity” preventing you from experiencing joy? (7:53)
  • Why your imagination is inadequate in determining your identity (12:10)
  • What would happen if we just enjoyed life? (17:13)

If you or somebody you know is looking to drop the ‘F’ Bomb of freedom in your life and break free from addiction, depression, anxiety or anything that’s making you feel flat-out stuck, head over to www.liberateaman.com and book a call where we can look at your situation and give you the roadmap you’ve been missing.

Read Full Transcript

It's time to rip the cover off what really works to ditch addiction, depression, anger, anxiety, and all other kinds of human suffering. No, not sobriety. We're talking the "F Word" here - Freedom. We'll share, straight from the trenches, what we have learned from leaving our own addictions behind, and coaching hundreds of others to do the same, and since it's such a heavy topic, we might as well have a good time while we're at it.

Bob: The time was the 6th Century AD or CE, depending on your preference. Bodhidharma is a monk. Right? By all accounts and we have talked about him a little bit before with Huikě. By all accounts, he was tallish, from southern India. He was likely from a warrior caste, a warrior tribe, third son of a Brahman king, so to speak so the king had some Brahman relations somewhere in their family, which is the highest caste in India, and so he was well trained possibly in warfare, which is why a lot of martial arts trace their origins back to him, both Shaolin Kung Fu and a lot of Chinese Kung Fu, Silat in Indonesia, and a lot of the Japanese martial arts through China all come back to him. [0:01:18.6]

So he's the guy who originated Zen Buddhism and a truckload of martial arts. I mean, the dude was prolific and if you're sitting here wondering, oh yeah, this monk stuff and Zen stuff - think differently, my friends. Martial arts was a way of really finding the truth, which is why archery became associated with it, swordsmanship, but also flower arranging and calligraphy and all kinds of other things. All these activities as a way of really seeing directly into your own true nature and discovering the truth of what life really is all about, like viewing your original self. Right? So that's what Bodhidharma was about, and in his travels as the 28th patriarch of Buddhism, some say he traveled by sea; I think that's the more favored one. [0:02:05.3]

There's a great novel called A Sudden Dawn by Goran Powell where he takes the overland route, which I kind of personally prefer. It's a really great adventure novel, martial arts novel if you are into it. If you're geeking out about martial arts - most of you maybe not will like it. I don't know what your background is, but that's a plug for Goran Powell. It's one of my favorite books. The overland route. Either way, he gets to the emperor's palace in Nanjing, Emperor Wu and so he's there in the emperor's palace, in Nanjing. We know we have historical documents of the fact that he arrived and that he had an interlude or a meeting with the emperor and all we have is a very short excerpt of their conversation and that conversation is going to help us today to figure who you really are. Are you excited for this? Okay, here we go. [0:02:56.1]

So this conversation … he shows up. Remember, this is a master of Buddhism, someone who has achieved nirvana or enlightenment, someone who has really achieved the highest heights, who has like let go of all the bad karma and everything else like that and he is there and the emperor has a chance to meet with this dusty, foreboding, you know, martial artsy foreigner who is, you know, obviously in tatters and rags from a long journey but as presentable as he can be. Maybe he stunk, smelled bad. By all accounts, he had wild hair, really piercing gaze, usually a big beard. He carried his sandals on his walking stick instead of wearing them a lot of times and he was probably dusty from the journey, his big black robe there, inside of the emperor's palace in the Forbidden Kingdom of Beijing but in the kingdom, the palace down in Nanjing. The emperor, you know, probably wearing his yellow garb with his nine embroidered dragons and this like highly priced Chinese silk, someone who nobody gets an audience with regularly, who always, there's a guard between him and the other person that private meetings maybe didn't happen as much. [0:04:01.7]

This is the ruler of the free world. This emperor is a man who has literally spent tons and tons of state money supporting monasteries and building temples and shrines and paying for the translation of Sutras and sponsoring different religious traditions to try and help this flourish. He's heard about Buddhism. He's a fan of Buddhism and Taoism is also one of the traditions at the time. Obviously, Christianity wasn’t really around then, at least by any accounts that I know of, but there were several other kind of folk religions and other things and the emperor is there to kind of support all of this. With that backdrop, he and Bodhidharma, two very different people, have a conversation. The emperor asks Bodhidharma, "What merit, what karmic merit have I gained from sponsoring all of these religions, from building these temples, from having these Sutras get translated, these scriptures - what karmic merit have I gained in my life?" [0:05:01.3]

Bodhidharma looks at him and with the blunt directness that he is well known for, says, "None. I mean, you might get good karma from doing that in this life, but there's no merit in what you've done." Who talks to the emperor this way? Nobody talks to the emperor this way. Nobody tells the emperor, straight out, what is going on here and nobody tells him that what he's done has no merit at all. Usually, the hangers on of the emperor are telling him, "No, you're the sun. You're a god on earth. You are the king. Like everything you do is worth everything on the planet" even if it's trash, I will eat it from the bottom of the soles of your shoes. No, this is not what this dirt-stained, dirty, traveling monk master from India says. No, he looks him straight in the eye and straight up says, "No, everything you've done is worthless." The emperor, we don’t have a record of his emotional reaction, but you can almost imagine what it was. If I've got no merit, we don’t know his emotions, we know his words - no merit, and this is a paraphrase. [0:06:07.2]

I'm trying to make it make sense to you guys. There's a Wikipedia article on this. There's a couple of extra lines, but here you go, alright. If I… no merit for what I have done, then who are you? Right? Implied in this is okay, you're a guy who says that you're like this amazing master of whatever, but have you built all of these cathedrals, I mean not cathedrals, but temples and shrines and stuff and monasteries - are you supporting all these monks? Are you translating scriptures? Are you doing all this other stuff on top of running an army, on top of running a country? You're telling me that I've got zero merit for anything that I'm doing in my life? For all of these amazing good deeds? But you're standing here in front of me, smelling like you just got off the back of a manure truck and you're telling me that I have got no merit? Who the heck are you? Who do you think you are? So his question is, then who are you? And Bodhidharma, with the same unflappable directness looks him in the eyes and says, "I don’t know." [0:07:09.0]

That's the end of the conversation. The end of any historical record we have it and you can only imagine the confusion in the emperor's mind as he thinks he's cornered this man to try and justify himself, feeling resented, using his own deeds as ammunition like we talked about in the last episode, to try and pin Bodhidharma down and prove that Bodhidharma is less than him, to tear him down. And Bodhidharma just speaks the truth - I don’t know. Now, this is crazy. How could a person being enlightened not have a clue who they are? In today's coaching industry, most of what you're going to see, personal development and otherwise, is getting very, very clear on your identity - who you are and shaping and deliberately molding your identity so that it creates for you possibilities and opportunities in life. Right? [0:08:09.6]

This starts… Tony Robbins did it. He admits as much in his documentary, "I am not your guru." Great, fantastic documentary. There are some cuss words in there, so if you're adverse to cuss words, then I'd say don’t watch it, but the documentary is worth watching. It's beautiful and amazing. Wonderful documentary. Right? Everywhere along the line, when people are talking about mindset issues and limiting beliefs and everything else, when they're talking about affirmations, stepping up in front of the mirror every day or to inspirational music, saying I am bold, I am strong. I make things happen. You know, I am a child of God. You know, there's religious overtones to these, and all of these identity markers. We're in an age where you have to know who you are, that your identity matters, but here's this master at the top of his game, this guy who literally has what people are looking for, not financially maybe, obviously, but spiritually, the peace, the joy, the happiness, the pure bliss that just oozes from him in his presence. People want. [0:09:12.5]

They want what he had. Like we talked about it before. People have cut off their arms to learn this stuff. They want what he has, and this guy says he doesn’t know who he is. What on earth could that mean? And how could that be powerful for you because a lot of what I do stands contrary to what a lot of these personal development things will have you do, which is define who you are, create a new identity for yourself and make that a possibility because your identity is then going to create thoughts, which will create emotions, which will create behaviors, which will create the results you want. So everything I've been talking about in all these episodes, it seems like if I create a new identity, that would make sense. Right? But this comes from a massive misunderstanding, a massive misunderstanding that says if I take away some negative identity, then what's left is going to be this vacuum and unless I fill it with something good, then some other bad thought is going to come in and my life is going to go haywire. [0:10:09.8]

But this misunderstanding misses the fact that what this negative stuff you're dealing with, who you really are is buried by that and it assumes that if I take this negative stuff away, then what's already there, the thing that was created not by you but by whatever the creator is, is somehow inferior and needs improvement by a human who doesn’t grasp the true nature of the universe at all. We don’t even know what water is. We know what we can do with it. We know how it chemically reacts to stuff. We know like the constituents of its atoms, but we don’t understand what it is really and you're 72% water as a human. So you don’t even understand who you are, but somehow you believe that you can improve on what the intelligence that created this whole planet has done. [0:10:58.2]

If you, or someone you know, is looking to drop the F Bomb of Freedom in your life, whether that's from addiction or depression and anxiety or just anything that's making you feel flat out stuck, but you have no clue how to shake it and just want help doing it, head on over to LiberateaMan.com and book a call, where we can look at your unique situation and give you the roadmap you've been missing.

Bob: And so we sit there and we say, no - I'm going to create this new identity. Where does that new identity come from? It comes from our imagination. So we sit there and we're like, dude - I want to be this person like this, so I either read about somebody that I really admired and I have a hero or I've looked at my pain and my trauma in my past and I want something opposite, and we create this new identity and we create a morning formula for some people or morning affirmations for some people or a routine that sticks us or mind movies or vision boards or other things that allow us to anchor in and cement in and sledgehammer into our subconscious this idea that this is who we are, but let me tell you something, folks - anything you can imagine comes from your past. [0:12:10.3]

It's just dressed in drag. Everything that you're trying to imagine for yourself is a reaction to your past. It has nothing to do with who you truly are and if you truly want something totally different in your life, trying to imagine it can only be useful in small doses, but overall, it's not going to really reveal what's possible. So Bodhidharma is standing there and he's saying I don't know who I am. I don't know in the sense that here is a seed and a seed, as it's given the nourishment that it needs, the sunlight, the water, the soil, it starts to grow. It starts to swell. Certain chemical reactions happen inside of it and it's a seed and if it's defining itself as a seed, then what does it want to be in the future? A bigger, better seed but then one day, if it stops trying to be a bigger, better seed and it just accepts the nourishment of life that its being given - by the way, that's nourishment that you just have to receive, you don’t have to create it. [0:13:09.7]

It just accepts that nourishment and life that it's being given and then one day, a sprout happens, and now it's not a seed. It was a seed, but something new happened that it didn't expect. It came from within. It wasn’t like somebody tacked it on on the outside. It's not like it needed new cars and new clothes and a new environment or something. If we kept picking up the seed and sticking it in new environments, would that help? No. We just put it in a good environment where we can and then we nourish it. Then one day, a sprout happens and as this sprout is growing, it's like, yeah, I want to be a good sprout. I want to be a better sprout than I've ever been. You see that sprout over there? He's taller than I am. I want to be a taller sprout than him. The more it's trying to be a taller sprout, it's missing the point, but if it just sits and accepts nourishment, then one day, it turns green. Shocking, startling green of new growth. [0:14:01.3]

And then as it continues to just accept the nourishment, that green deepens and then leaves show up and little shoots show up off the side and then as that happens, then one day a bud appears off the central stalk, and it's all green and what not, and if it's busy just trying to be the biggest bud on the earth, that's nice. We're all buddies. And I want to be a bigger bud than you. But we miss something. As we just accept the nourishment, one day, the bud opens and flower petals, a whole different color, a whole different smell like this beautiful odor shows up and fragrance and inside of that, a stamen and some pollen and then bees show up and they start to fertilize it and now this thing can actually seed and create seeds and create more of itself, all of which the original seed could not have imagined. It was within it. It was embedded in there from the beginning. [0:15:01.8]

The potential was there, but if the seed was busy trying to construct its future from imagination, it never would have gone anywhere, but if it just sat and enjoyed its life and soaked in the nourishment that life was giving it, slowed down and actually appreciated each breath, each heartbeat, each moment of pure peace and joy, each physical touch inside of a relationship, each laughter, each passing glance, each funny phrase, each moment of sadness, each chance to work with its hands - if it just sat there and enjoyed it, what would happen is new things would appear in its life and a whole new level of capacity would show up. Then new things would appear in its life and a whole new level of experience would show up. The seed never gets to know what its like to have the fragrance of a flower and to feel the tickle of a bee's feet and to know the joy, if there is joy in a flower, in creating another seed to then get spread. [0:16:07.3]

It never gets to experience any of that if it's busy trying to be a bigger seed and a better seed and trying to react to the fact that it's been a seed. It only grows as it just accepts the nourishment around it. So what if Bodhidharma is not saying "I don't know" in a sense that "I have no clue who I am; I have amnesia" but what if he's saying, "I don't know because everything that's happened in my life may have nothing on what's going to happen in the next 10 seconds and I am just open to the fullest experience of life and the fullness of who I really am, that thing that was created that somehow is enlivening this body, where it's going to go, what it truly is in the end of all things - I don't know, so I'm waiting and watching and enjoying it." What if, folks, who you really are is so far beyond anything you could possibly conjure in your imagination that the attempts to imagine yourself better is actually is a disservice to yourself? [0:17:14.4]

What if you just enjoyed your life? What if you received all of the moments that it gave you - without judgment, without resentment - when you put down the bad ones, you know, the ones that you don’t enjoy - you just put them down after you've crossed the river like we talked about in the last episode and you just … you pick this up. Right? You just allow yourself to move forward with your life and enjoy the rainfall like the master monk did? What if who you really are is that and what if instead of having to constantly replace this negative thought with a positive one, what if you are able to let go of the negative thoughts and then just experience the bigger truth of who you really are, and stop trying to have to construct yourself as this being that has to be something, "Who do I have to become to whatever?" If the seed asked itself that, it would be way off track. [0:18:02.8]

We are the only species on the planet that believes that we can do better than the creation did in creating ourselves and we have done this with all kinds of other species as well, and that doesn’t mean it hasn’t provided comfort. It doesn’t mean it hasn’t provided rad experiences for humanity, but we're the ones that believe that we somehow have a leg up on the intelligence that's holding the entire universe together, when literally we are tiny dots on a blue speck spinning in the middle of a vast universe, whose problems are fleeting and this life is fleeting and we spend so much time trying to make it something that it isn't instead of being able to enjoy the fleeting gift that it is. I'll have you consider, as we wrap up today, that I don't know is the most powerful place to be because it means that something new could happen. You could actually discover something deeper. "I don't know who God is" allows you to finally look and see more about maybe who God is or what God is. [0:19:08.8]

"I don't know who I am" allows you to finally stop making up assumptions about who you are and stop trusting all these personality tests that say who you are, when the reality is all these personality tests tell you like, oh yeah - you're a blue, except for the times when you're not - you're a red, except for the times when you're not - you're an INTJ except for the times when you're not - you're a you know whatever it is. Your love language is this, except when it's not. Like they're very, very limited tests and what if you could say, look, these are great because they help me understand some things that have been going on, but ultimately, I want a choice in my life and what if "I don’t know who I am" is the most powerful opportunity that you get to explore the power of who you really are and what if in your relationships with your wife and your kids "I don't know" is the most powerful way that you could show up for them because then you'll pay attention and actually listen instead of assuming you understand them. [0:20:03.7]

I still spend sometimes minutes, sometimes you know, lots of minutes every day just staring at my wife because I have no idea who she is, still - 15 years married and that's short for some of you - I don’t have a clue who she is. I don't know why she ticks the way she ticks or anything and I've been around - it's not like I haven’t been observant, especially these past few years but literally, if you cut her open, you would see like fat cells and connective tissue and blood vessels and veins and muscle cells and bone cells and organs and livers and all this other stuff. You would not see her. You would see the body, but who is she? Who is the intelligence that's powering that, that has these thoughts, that's making this stuff happen - how does she tick? Who is she? I sometimes just stare in awe at my wife going, "Who are you? I don't know who you are and it's beautiful to be here and to watch and discover this life unfold," and it's funny that her name's Jasmine, this flower, bloom. [0:21:09.8]

Go into your life today and instead of assuming that you know, what if you could let go of needing to know, and we'll talk about this next time, the culture of knowledge, because I think this will be really powerful - you could let go of needing to know and finally experience the joy of life without having to have it fit into some logical box that you've got in your head. So that's a wrap for today. We'll talk next time.

And that's it for today's Alive and Free Podcast. If you enjoyed this show and want some more freedom bombs landing in your ear buds, subscribe right now at wherever you get your podcasts from, and while you're at it, give us a rating and a review. It'll help us keep delivering great stuff to you, and plus, it's just nice to be nice.

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