It is agonizing, because if you go deep into it, it creates the greatest ecstasy possible… but the way to ecstasy goes through agony. It is agonizing because the moment you ask, ‘Who am I?’ you become aware that you don’t know. Not knowing is very agonizing, it hurts the ego. ‘So I don’t know even myself? This is too much. I was always thinking that I knew everything, and I don’t even know myself.’
This is unacceptable to the ego. The ego feeds on knowledge, on information and this is very very sad: what else to claim you know if you don’t know yourself? What is the point of claiming that you know anything else? The foundation that you know yourself is lacking.
The question ‘Who am I?’ is meant to bring you to your right senses…. It is made to hit you hard so that you become aware that you don’t know yourself. That is the agony of it, as if you had much and the question has taken it away from you. You used to think that you are this, that you are that and this simple question has taken all identities away. You are left in a vacuum.
Just to feel that you don’t know yourself, is so maddening. One wants to cling to something; anything, a name, a form, a body, a mind, a soul, some theory, some hypothesis, anything will do. One wants to cling to something, so that one is not lost in this emptiness. That’s why the agony.
But if you persist, if you persevere, if you go deep into it and you accept that the agony is okay, by and by you will see that the agony has disappeared. The clouds are no more there, the smoke has gone far away. You are in a clearance; things are clearer. Not that you will know who you are. This question is not meant to bring an answer, the answer never comes; it is just a device to destroy the false answers.
The real answer never comes, because a real answer never comes inwards. It is not that some day suddenly it will bubble up and you will know, ‘Okay, so this is who I am’ no! All knowledge will disappear, and then the agony will disappear. You will be so perfectly at ease within yourself, so rooted, so undisturbed, so tranquil and calm. Now there is no answer, you cannot verbalize, but you know.
This knowing is totally different from knowledge. It has nothing to do with the mind. It is not of the mind. It is an experience or rather, experiencing. You have encountered your reality face-to-face; you have seen it.
Not that you can say who you are, nobody has ever been able to. Whosoever has come to the ultimate core of his being has never said who he is. It cannot be said, but it is tremendously blissful to see it, to feel it, to be it. It is not an intellectual answer that arises, but an existential response.
You become a babe of bliss. You become a great blissful state. Old identities disappear, and a new identity is not formed. Agony is there and you have to pass through it; that is the price we pay and then there is ecstasy.
If there is no agony in asking ‘Who am I?’ then you are not asking the question rightly. You are just playing around, you are not penetrating deep, it is not yet like an arrow.
But it has been good. You suffered this and this is good. This is a good indication that you worked hard at it. It is painful. All growth is painful.
OSHO, Blessed Are the Ignorant, Chapter 8