Who are You?

Excerpts from a book called "Who are you?" by Chris Butler - borrowed from the Dandenong Library August 16, 2000.

copyright 1984 The Identity Institute PO Box 11039 Honolulu, Hawaii 96828

ISBN 0-912093-00-5

The 'blurb' on the back of the book and inside jacket covers -

The world's foremost authority on the science of identity helps you discover:

* Your true essence

* Your intrinsic worth - and the worth of others

* Where you can find real happiness

* How you can solve your personal problems - and your social problems - by remembering your real identity

* How you can conquer death

"This is the best book I've ever read on the subject of identity. If you really want to know who you are, then you absolutely must read it." - Lydia Gleason, PhD, psychologist.




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Step-by-step, with a blend of science, philosophy and common sense, the author allows you to discover for yourself who you really are.

Along the way, you'll also discover the emptiness of claims that life is material in origin or essence; how our misidentification with matter has led to hedonism, drug use, crime, racism and other personal and social problems; what happens to you at the time of death; and how to realise your eternal nature.

Unlike the thousands of 'self-discovery' and 'self-esteem' books on the market today which seek to instill a feeling of 'self-worth' based on the erroneous materialistic view of the self, this book allows you to discover your actual identity and thus simultaneously realise your intrinsic worth.

Questions from the audience during taping of the author's television series - questions that you might have asked were you in the studio - are intersperesed throughout. The result is to make easy, entertaining and personal a subject which is deep and challenging.

If you want to discover who you really are, this book was written for you.


Chris Butler is the world's foremost authority on the subject of identity. He is the Founder of the Science of Identity Foundation and the Identity Institute, which have branches throughout the world. He spends much of his time on worldwide lecture tours. In addition to being the author of Who Are You? Discover Your Real Identity and Reincarnation Explained, he is also the author of Drugs, Suicide and Divorce, which provides a comprehensive look at some of the major social problems plaguing the West. He has also authored many booklets covering a wide range of personal and social issues. Aside from authoring educational lectures, Chris Butler is also wll known for his television series which airs internationally. A master of yoga practice and philosophy, Chris is a disciple of the late Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami.


This book is about you - your essence. But what is your essence? Is it matter - a mere collection of material atoms and molecules? Or is it something else?

"Who am I?" Maybe you have never even asked yourself this question. You might think you already know who you are. Unfortunately, however, it is likely that you don't know who you are at all. And if you don't know your real identity, you're in trouble. You'll spend your life in a kind of dream state - you'll falsely identify yourself as someone you aren't. Then, on the basis of this false identification, you'll determine the goals of your life and the purpose of your existence. You use these goals to gauge whether you are making 'progress' in life, whether you are a 'succes'. And you are aided and abetted in this delusion by a complex network of relationships with other dreamers. Of course, at death (and sometimes before), the whole thing turns into a nightmare.

So knowing who you are is a very practical necessity. The question "Who am I?" is not a philosophical football meant to be kicked around coffeehouses by pseudo-intellectuals. It's a real-life question. Nothing is more important and more relevant than to know who you are. This book is written to help you realise the answer to this question.

In writing this book for both the general public and the academic community, I have tried to find a happy medium so that readers won't get overhwlemed and confused by scientific jargon, and yet won't find the explanations overly simplistic.

At the same time that I was writing this book, I was also producing a television series on the same subject. During those productions, many lively and interesting question/answer exchanges between the audiance and myself took place. I have included some of those exchanges - with minor editing - at the end of many chapters.

It actually would be more consistent with my view of reality to use the word 'she' in reference to the person or self. But because 'he' is the more traditional noun, I felt that 'she' may distract you unnecessarily. Therefore, i decided to use 'he' to refer to a person/self.

Chapter One
Are You Really Your Body?

You are your body, right? You are chemical in essence ... right? At least, that's what one of America's most influential scientists claims:

I am a collection of water, calcium and organic molecules called Carl Sagan. You are a collection of almost identical molecules with a different collective label.

Like Saga, most people believe that they are their body. So if you ask them who they are, they think and respond in terms of bodily labels.

"I'm Susan, I'm blond, 29 years old, a mother and still 36-24-36!"

"I'm Henry. I'm a white American male and proud of it!"

"I'm John. I'm a lawyer. I'm 40 years old and getting older every day."

"I'm Alice. I'm a femal student. I'm fat and I'm a Methodist."

Name, race, sex, religion, nationality, occupation, height, weight, and so on - all these are bodily labels. Therefore if you consider your body to be yourself, you automatically identify yourself with such labels. If your body is fat and ugly, you think, 'Woe is me! I am fat and ugly.' If your body is 60 years old and female, you think

Lets zzoom aead to page 13 - i may come back - then again it is 430 plus pages! I may not type all that out ...

QUESTIONER #1: Maybe each new self experiences an illusion of continuity. Maybe there is some kind of constant memory bank, and it's the self that keeps changing.

CHRIS BUTLER: "Maybe, maybe, maybe" Use your common sense. Stop trying to be so clever - you may end up cheating yourself right out of understanding.

What is memory? Memory is a storeage of events, feelings and so on that a person or self experiences, and remembrance is the same self re-experiencing or recollecting those feelings, events, etc. If the stored thoughts, feelings and experiences (memories) were experinced by a self other than the self who originally experienced them, then the new self would not experience those memories as a replay of something he had previously experienced. Rather, he would experience such 'memories' as a new experience.


Technically speaking, your body is never over five years old, since no atom has been present in it for more than five years. Yet you think 'I am 35 years old' This is because of your (the self's) constant nature. Because you, the same self, have been present throughout all the changes of your body, you remember those bodies and the experiences that you had in those bodies. It is not that every five years one person or self ceases to exist and a new self appears. You are the same self - the same person. What causes you to think 'I am 35 years old' is your (the self's) subjective appreciation of your continuous existence, contaminated with your false identification with the ever-changing body. Unles you had the subjective awareness of your constant nature, you would never think or fell that you were over five years old.

{August 21, 2000 ... a funny couple of days ... so i'm just opening it at 'random' for the time being ... }

Page 423 -

On the other hand, if we view each living being as a life particle, an eternal spark of God, then we will appreciate that being's intrinsic value. We will see that that living being and his body do not exist for the purpose of our own enjoyment, our own exploitation. According to the ancient yogic text Sri Ishopanishad, all life particles or spirit souls belong to God, and all matter also belongs to God. Mankind doesn't own the lower or higher species of life

Page 131 contains a table -

             Matter influenced by                   Matter by itself
             the element life

1.             Characterised by                                     No metabolism

2.             Maintained predominantly in                    Predominantly
                a thermodynamically                               characterised by
                unstable state                                          thermodynamically
                                                                             stable forms

3.             Grows from within by a                          Growth occurs only by
                intricate construction                               external accumulation
                process involving extensive                      involoving no change, or only
                chemical change                                     very simple changes, in
                                                                             chemical construction

4.             Displays a highly organised                       Displays a simple and
                and sophisticated flow of                          unsophisticated flow of
                matter                                                     matter

5.             Capable of reproduction                           Incapable of reproduction

6.             Strives to adapt to changing                      Characterised by passive
                situations and actively                              resistance to changes
                resists obstacles                                       or obstacles

7.             Exhibits self-induced movement               Moves only when influenced by an external
                                                                             agent or by natural forces

8.             Characterised by complex                        Characterised by molecular
                molecular, cellular, and                            arrangements that are either
                bodily arrangements that                          lacking in specific form
                have specific form and                            and function, or are very
                function and complex                              simple with very little interaction
                organisational interaction

Page 169 (Chapter title is Flies in the soup) -

The theory of molecular evolution is rich in defects. It suffers both from the fatal flaws already discussed and from significant minor defects.

Molecular evolutionists claim that life first appeared onthe surface of prehistoric earth as an accidental result of random chemical activity. Most molecular evolutionists explain how it occured something like this:

First, the primitive atmosphere of planet earth was unlike the atmosphere of our world today. Rather, it had a neutral or reducing atmosphere (it had no free oxygen molecules) and probably consisted of methane, ammonia, water, and hydrogen sulfide. The primitive atmosphere was very violent, with many volcanoes, geysers, and thunder and lightning storms. In addition, there were no ozone layers as there are in today's atmosphere, so ultra-violt radiation from the sun was much more intense.

Gradually, as this primitive atmsosphere was influenced by electrical discharges (lightning), thermal energy (volcanoes & geysers), ultraviolet radiation (sunlight), radioactivity, and so on, a thick 'primordial soup' was formed on the earth's surface. this soup contained simple molecules of amino acids, purines, pyrimidines and sugars.

Within this primordial soup, firther deevelopment occured. Some of the simple molecules mentioned above came together (through random environmental influence and quite by chance) to form macromolecules of proto-proteins, proto-nucleic acids, and other proto-cellular compounds.

Form among these newly-formed macromolecules, a self-replicating nucleic acid emerged. Finally, an even more complex self-replicating unit assembled itself and became the first living cell or 'proto-cell'.

Their hypothesis is based on the following four premises:

1. There was such an environment - the primordial soup really existed - and it remained in existence for a substantial period of time.

2. There is a realistic possibility that the 'right' molecules would randomly combine together to form a profoundly complex molecular structure like that found in a simple one-celled living organism.

3. Matter existing in a very disorganised and chaotic state spontaneously undergoes enormous increases in complexity and organisation.

4. Life can be created by the combination of certain chemicals - if matter is arranged in a sufficiently complex form, then life will be spontaneously generated.

The foruth premise, of course, is th fundamental one. If it were trus that life could be created from chemicals, then the truth or falsity of the other three premises would be highly relevant. But since life cannot be created form chemicals, debate about the validity of the first three premises is largely academic.

(May type more of this chapter later on ...)

Page 175 -

Here is an analogy: If I state that it is impossible for someone in Hong Kong to toss all the ingredients of a 747 jet into the air and for those pieces to fall perfectly into place and for that plane to fly safely to California, you might argue with me. You might say, 'Well it's possible - a person might be able to do it. If 40 billion people tried, one of them might eventually accomplish it. So you can't say it's impossible. There's always a chance.' Such an argument would not be very impressive. The odds against the achievemnet of such an amazing accomplishment are so great that we can, in good conscience, declare such a feat to be impossible.

However, in terms of statistics or mathematics, it is much more likely that a person could achieve such an accomplishment than it is that blind chance and a combination of pushes and pulls of certain protons, neutrons and electrons could result in a complex molecular structure similar to that found in a simple one-celled organism.

Several highly skilled mathematicians and scientists have worked out equations ilustrating the fact that even over a period of billions and billions of years, we could not expect the 'correct' chemical ingredients to randomly combine together in an organised manner comparable to the construction of a very simple one-celled living organism. Some of these calculations have been worked out at great length, using very sophisticated terms. However, some scientists have attempted to make these findings understandable to laymen.

While it helps if you already understand the popular theory of the genetic code, you don't necessarily need a background in biology in order to grasp the essence of the information. Within each living cell, information is stored or coded in the genes in the form of exact sequences of nucleotides* These nucleotides make up the double helix strand of DNA. A gene that controls the synthesis of a single small enzyme molecule is composed of a chain of approximately 1000 nucleotides - 1000 because there are more than 300 amino acid subunits in such an enzme molecule, and each particular amino acid subunit is coded for by a sequence of three nucleotides. Hence 3 X 300+ amino acids = approximately 1000 nucleotides. E. Lester Smith (in Intelligence Came First) has stated that the odds for a chance occurence of such a 1000-nucleotide chain, capable of producing a specific enzyme molecule are only one in 10 raised to the power of 600 (a one followed by 600 zeroes!) Why? Because each nucleotide in the chain represents only 1 of 4 possibilities, so the probability for one link is only 1 in 4. For two links it is one in 16, for three links it becomes one in 64 and so on. With each additional link, the probability of the occurence of an entire chain of that many links is measurably reduced.

* Nucleotides are the essential building blocks of nucleic acid. DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) is composed of combinations of four nucleotides (adenine, cytosine, guanine and thymine) which are anchored to a sugar-phosphate foundation. RNA (ribonucleic acid) is also composed of combinations of four nucleotide bases adenine, cytosine, guanine and uracil) which are anchored to a slightly different sugar-phosphate foundation.

... As Salisbury points out, the entire universe (assumed to have a diameter of 20 thousand million light years) is not nearly large enough to contain so many DNA molecules even packed solid into the whole of space! Nor would there have been time for during the entire existence of the earth as a planet, for so many molecules to have been produced.

{I may also type more of this later ... though as I'm typing it up I'm reminded of the even MORE unlikey odds that 'pure chance' could produce creatures like us capable of love, imagination, consciousness, pleasure, joy, memory, intelligence etc etc ... I mean how does an evolutionist begin to explain our non-physical attributes which in the end are the main things we focus on ...}

... The number of information bits in living sysytems is staggering. The information content of even the greatest space-age computer is less thatn the information content of a single living cell (even a tiny one-celled organism possesses some 10 to the twelfth power bits of information) So the question is, where did all this information we find in living organisms come from ...

[That reminds me - a book called "In six days" - may do a search of the web for "Odds of life arising by chance form non-living matter" ... or the odds of a molecule as complex as DNA - may transcribe it from the book - remind me ... :) ... or 'The origin of life']

Here's a couple from a quick websearch of 'origin of life' -

www.darwinsmistake.com - interesting read even if do not ultimately share the conclusions ...

A theory on the origin of life

How did life originate?

Naturally, there are many others, since there were no independent 'witnesses' ... well, even that's a matter to debate ...

On the subject of the complexity of DNA and 'random chance' -

Origin by Random Chance or Master Plan? - examines both sides.

Evidence for God from Science - again, intriguing info even if don't buy the whole belief system ...

Again, with search engines, it much depends on the key words used and 'exact phrase' etc ... seek and ye shall find ...

Update sept 10 -

Added a few sites to end of this file and a search for "who am i" also tosses up this one -
Creation Evidence Museum ... as always (well, i hesitate to use a word like 'always' because it's NOT so long ago I'd have had to be physically restrained and forced to visit such a site and I would have said many uncomplimentary things about anyone who could 'embrace' the idea of a Hell and a supposedly 'loving' God ... I still do not think it represents the reality of God's nature but I'm less inclined to want to ridicule anyone's belief system because it is not a 'static' situation even if it appears to be ... is that as clear as mud? ... anyway ... the 'evidence' is worth considering and contemplating even if you decide not to share the entire conclusion ... and even the word 'conclusion' ... represents a 'frozen thought' ... but the freeze is never permanent ...

Genome project is worth reading also ...

Chapter Four
You - The Unseen Seer

{I may photcopy this chapter as I know someone who has listened to some Buddhist concepts and they are really wrestling with the notion of 'the observer' - not to mention questions like 'where is your mind'}

What is perception? Right now, you are perceiving this book. And you can perceive the picture of the flower on the opposite page. But what is perception?

(You'll have to imagine you are holding a book open and on the left-hand page is a photo of a flower)

Look at the flower and say to yourself, 'I see the flower.' You are the seer, the perceiver of the flower; the flower is the seen or perceived object. Thus, the two basic factors are the seer (the self) and the seen - the observer and the observed. Now, while you gaze at the flower, ask yourself: 'I am seeing this flower. But where am I, the seer located? And of what material elements am I made?'

You might reply that it is your eye tht sees the flower, and that therefore your eye is the seer. But in fact your eye doesn't see anything.

The physiological 'explanation' of sight, simply stated, is this: Light from the environment stimulates the retina, causing a chemical reaction. This in turn stimulates the fibres of the optic nerve. Once this nerve is stimulated, a chain reaction of electrical impulses is set into motion. The principal direction of the flow of these electrical impulses is said to go 'from retina through brain-stem to visual sensory convolutions of the cortex and back to the brain-stem' (The Mystery of the Mind by Wilder Penfield)

So really, all the 'eye' does is act as a stimulator of the optic nerve. And all the optic nerve does is carry electrical impulses to and through the various parts of the brain. None of this 'technical' information leads you any closer to knowing what and where you, the seer, are.

What about the seer? What about you? This is the crux of the matter. Even if scientists can determine how electrochemical impulses translate into such varying forms as a golden sunset, a red truck, or a flower, the main question still remains: Where is the self who is looking at those forms and images? What is this self made of? In what part of the body or brain is it? In other words: What is your essence and where are you?

You can't answer this question by tracing the image and the electrochemical impulses that the image sets into motion. Are you the cornea? The pupil? The chemical substance (transmitter substance) emited by the nerve cell? A particular brain cell in the visual cortex? Of course not.

Besides seeing, you also hear, taste, smell and feel. All forms of sense perception, including sight, involve the same basic electrochemical process. According to conventional scientific theory, the particular sense organ is stimulated by the external environment (for example, hearing is stimualted by sound waves, seeing by light and so on) and electrical impulses are sent to the brain. But just as researchers cannot find you, the seer, they also cannot find you, the hearer, smeller, feeler, and taster. In other words, the perceiver (you) who is receiving information through these senses has not been identified as any particular cell, molecule, or any other material substance in the brain or anywhere else in the body.

The Chinese science journal Nature recently reported that two Chinese sisters could identify Chinese characters written on paper simply by tucking the paper under their armpits. Furthermore, when one sister had perceived the character by 'armpit reading', the other had only to touch her to find out what was written on the paper. The girls told the investigators that the shape and colour of these objects simply appeared in their minds. So, when the girls said that they 'saw' the Chinese character, it means that they were viewing the character not with their eyes but as it appeared on the movie screen of their mind. This means that all perception really takes place in the mind.

The senses (whether they are the 'normal' senses or 'extra' senses) are really just channels by which information from the external world travels to and is impressed upon the mind.

[Note: 'Mind' here, does not refer to the brain, nor (unlike the theory of many philosophers and brain scientists, such as Wilder Penfield and Sir John Eccles) to the self. A lengthy discussion on the difference between between either the mind and the brain or the mind and the self would take the focus off the main point - namely, that the self is distinct from the brain. However, readers who are interested in the relationship between the mind, brain and the self may refer to Chapter 28 Liberation.]

The self, then, perceives or views information as it appears in the mind. So sensory experences determine the content of your mind and you are the viewer of that content. It's just like going to a movie. You are the viewer of the content of that movie. You, the self, are in the 'theatre' of the body, watching the movie that is appearing on your mind. You're like a person in a theatre viewing a film that is appearing on the screen. Your eyes, ears and other senses of perception are like cameras, recorders and so on. Your mind is like the film or tape that the information is recorded on. You, the self, are like the moviegoer who perceives all the information (forms, colours, sounds, feelings and so on).

To carry this analogy even further, we can say that modern scientists have been able to find only the equipment - such as cameras and recorders (sense organs, nerve and brain cells) - but not the film/tape (mind) or, most importanatly, the person watching the movie (you, the self)

Despite the difference between sense perception and thoughts and feelings, both are perceived by you, the self. Both are seen or perceived, whereas you are the seer or perceiver.

To understand this a little better, try the following exercise: Look at one of the pictures in this book or the picture on one of the walls near you. Don't just look casually at the picture - gaze at it very intently. Don't let your eyes leave the picture. Now say to yourself, 'I am aware that I am looking at the picture.' Next close your eyes and look at the picture in your mind. Now say to yourself, 'I am aware that i am looking at the picture in my mind.' At first, you look at the picture outside your mind - hanging on the wall or inthis book. Then after closing your eyes, you're looking at the picture as it has been impressed upon your mind. But whether you're looking at the picture on the wall or whether you're looking at the picture impressed on your mind, you're still actually apart from it. The picture you are looking at in your mind may seem closer than the picture on the wall but you, the self, are still in the position of looking at it. You are the seer, the picture is the seen, and the mind is the seen.

If you are watching a home movie that is being projected onto a wall and then some peoplewalk in and hold a white sheet in front of the wall, you will still be seeing the movie, even though it is now on the sheet, not the wall. Seeing the movie projected on the wall is like looking at an object or a picture with your gross seses. And seeing the movie after it has moved away from the wall asnd onto the sheet is like looking at an object or picture projected onto your mind. In either case, you, the self, are still the viewer/

A few exercises will make it quite clear that you, the self, are the viewer, or witness, of the stream of mindstuff.

You are not the mind - Meditations
Watching your dreams

Tonight, as you are lying in bed almost ready to fall asleep, watch your body fall asleep. Mentally say to yourself, 'I am aware that my body is falling asleep.' As you fall deeper and deeper into sleep, there is a good chance that you will begin dreaming. In this state you will be half-asleep, half-awake. Watching these dreams. Mentally say to yourself, 'I am aware that I am dreaming.' By persisiting in this practice, you will eventually be aware that you are dreaming, even in deep sleep. But this ability is only a side benefit; the real point is to experience yourself as the viewer of the stream of mindstuff.

Actually, you may have already experienced dreaming while half-asleep and half-awake, and realised 'I am dreaming!' A friend once told me that sometimes while he was half-asleep, he'd start having a funny or crazy dream, 'like a funny movie', and would laugh out loud - often waking himself up completely.

Silent witness meditation

Relax, and sit or lie in a quiet place. Don't attempt to control the thinking process by trying to think certain thoughts and not think others. Instead, let your mind think whatever it may. Now watch your mind and become aware of how you are actually aloof from the thinking process.

Say to yourself, 'I am the silent witness. I amke no effort to think, but thoughths come automatically. I am watching thoughts flow through my mind, but I am aloof from them. I am the silent witness to my mind's activities.'

In this way, you'll be able to experience that you are separate from the mind. You make no effort to breathe or to digest food, but breathing and digestion go on anyway. Similarly, without requiring any conscious effort on your part, a steady stream of thoughts flows through your mind. Some of these thoughts are pleasant, some are unpleasant; some remain within your mind for quite some time, others enter and exit fairly quickly. You can watch these thoguhts flow through your mind just as you might watch the cars of a train pass in front of you at a railroad crossing.

You can also watch the passing emotions, feelings, desires, fears and so on as they rise to the surface of the mind and then pas away. The stream of mindstuff thus flows along and you are the viewer of ti. Just as a person sits by an ever-moving stream, so you, the self, sit by the stream of mindstuff. Just as a stream may be very clear or very polluted, so the stream of mindstuff may be very clear or very polluted. In either case, you are the witness of that stream - not the stream itself.

Some people are not content to just sit on the bank of the river and watch the river go by. They may try to build a dam and redirect the river, or try to stop it altogether. Similarly, you may not be content to watch the stream of mindstuff flow freely, but instead may try to control it, redirect it or stop it completely. But the very fact that you can try to redirect or control your mind, combined with the fact that it is so difficult to succeed in the endeavour, further shows that you, the self, are not the mind or stream of mindstuff. To confirm this, try the following exercise.

Controlling the mind

Gaze intently at some nearby image, in this book or in your immediate environment. Now close your eyes and look at the picture of that image in your mind. Try to hold the image in your mind and look at it for quite some time. If it begins to move around, try to steady it. if it begins to fade away, bring it back.

This exercise should make it quite clear how hard it is to control the mind - to keep something in your mind that you want to keep in your mind. We all have experienced wanting our minds to concentrate on a particular subject, but having the mind absolutely refuse. Frustratingly, the mind wanders everywhere except to the subject matter we want it to concentrate on. Students are quite familiar with this problem. Sometimes they try to read a homework assignment, but hallfway through the first page they realise that they can't rememebr what they just read. Instead of being focussed on the homework assignment, the mind is filled with thoughts of swimming, partying, television - everything but the homework!

If you can think thoughts you do not want to think, this further illustrates that you are different from your mind. Sometimes after a painful love affair, a man will tell his friends, "I just can't stop thinking about her. I just can't get her out of my mind." Similarly your mind may sometimes be filled with desires so disgusting that you would be embarassed to have anyone suspect you were thinking them. When such thoughts and emotions go through your mind, you do not like it. You may feel, 'Why is my mind filled with such thoughts?' However, trying to push such thoughts out of the mind usually doesn't work.

We get ample proof of not being our thoughts when we try to control and to direct them. When we want to think of something abstract or boring, our mental instrument often refuses to obey us; every student who has to learn something that is annoying has that experience. If the mind is rebellious and undisciplined it means the "I" is not the mind.

If the mind is undisciplined, who is trying to discipline it? If the mind is to be controlled, who is to control it? Who is trying to control the mind? It is the self. You, the self, try to control your mind. The mind is your possession. It is not you.

There's also a Question & Answer session which I may transcribe later ... remind me ... you know what I'm like ... :)

Okay, here it is ...

QUESTIONER #1: In the silent witness meditation, you compared a person watching his mind to someone siiting by the bank of a river watching te river or stream go by. But in my case, I feel like I'm in the middle of the stream rather than on the bank.

CHRIS BUTLER: No analogy is perfect. It is also natural to feel like you're sitting in the middle of the stream - like you're in the centre and your mind is not only in front of you but also all around you (for example, not only do you see thoughts and feelings, but you also feel them). Here is perhaps a better analogy: Instead of sitting by the stream, sit like an immovable boulder in the centre of the stream. Let the stream go by; you, the boulder, just continue to sit there and be aware that the stream is going by. Don't go with the stream. Detach yourself from the stream of thoughts and feelings. Have you ever seen a boulder in the middle of a stream that stands out and is undisturbed by the movement of the stream?


CHRIS BUTLER: Sit like that boulder and be undisturbed by the thoughts and feelings.

QUESTIONER #2: What is awareness?

CHRIS BUTLER: 'Awareness' refers to that inseparable, essential, inherent quality of yours, the self, which enables you to perceive thoughts, feelings, the world, etc. and indeed your own existence (self awareness = awareness that 'I am')

Awareness refers not to the stream of mindstuff (thoughts, feelings, emotions, ideas, forms etc.) but rather to the inherent characteristic or ability that enables you, the self, to perceive the stream of mindstuff. Awareness is your natural attribute - indeed, your essence - that makes this witnessing and observing possible. As such, awareness cannot be separated from you, the self.

QUESTIONER #3: There's something I don't understand concerning perception. Exactly how and why do electrochemical impulses appear to a person as a particular form? For example, how and why does an electrochemical impulse flowing through the brain appear to me as a flower, or a beautiful woman, or a dog or whatever?

CHRIS BUTLER: Your question is interesting but it is secondary. The fact is, scientists don't understand how electrochemical impulses in the brain translate into particular forms. They don't know why a particular electrochemical impulse appears like a beautiful woman and another one appears like a dog. Of course, many scientists and philosophers have speculated about this question. K.H. Pibram, who tries to explain perception by comparing it to physical holography, makes an important observation. He admits that even if he or some other scientist could come up with the final answer, we still wouldn't be any closer to understanding the most important factor in the process of seeing - namely, the seer. As Pibram puts it:

In view of these similarities between sensory processing and physical holography, the projection of images away from the receptor surface becomes somewhat less of a mystery ... [Yet] the mystery is not completely solved, for it was Eva and i who saw the images in my hologram demonstration. Who sees the images produced by the neural holograms occuring in the sensory systems?

From Problems concerning the structure of consciousness by Karl H. Pibram in "Consciousness and the brain" Plenum Press, 1976.

Where are you - the self who looks at the forms and images of the world? What are you made of - and what part of the body or brain are you in?

Chapter Eight
The Stuff Of Life?

... But Carl sagan and other materialists arent; and on their television shows, in textbooks, classrooms, science magazines, newspapers and elsewhere, they really do claim with all seriousness that DNA really is the master molecule of life, and that organic molecules are the molecules of life - the stuff of life. They really do say that proteins are the building blocks of life.

When someone tells me that organic molecules are the stuff of life or the molecules of life, I conclude that these molecules are what life is made of - or at least made from. When someone tells me that DNA is the master molceule of life, I conclude that DNA is the very essence - the central core - of life; or at least is the material with which life can be created. When someone tells me that proteins are the building blocks of life, I conclude that life is built from - made of - protein.

So naturally I wonder: Since these organic molecules are the stuff of life - the molecules of life; since DNA is the master molceule of life; since proteins are the building blocks of life; and since these chemicals 'fill the universe' and are 'easily made', why are people allowed to die?

We all know that death causes tremendous suffering. Millions of people die every year and millions more suffer from the death of their loved ones. Have you ever wondered why such misery is allowed to continue when the stuff of life is so easily made? Haven't you wondered why we dont administer these life chemicals to the dead and bring them back to life? Indeed, why do we even wait for people to die? Why don't we have stuff-of-life stations, like gas stations, on every corner? People could be filled up with life at regular intervals and thus kept from dying!

If compassion for the mases is not something that the materialist can relate to, he should remember that it isn't just ordinary people like you and I who die. Great statesmen, artists, athletes, educators, and - most important - scientists also succumb to death. So, even if the materialsist don't like the idea of having millions of stuff-of-life stations all over the country, they should at least consider administrating "life chemicals" to the important people of society. And if they care only about themselves, they should use these molecules of life to keep themselves alive.

Why doesn't this happen?

Because the materialist knows he can't keep himself or anyone else from dying.

In fact, the materialist is a hypocrite and a fraud. He knows that organic molecules aren't life. He knows, after decades of trying, that life can't be created from these chemicals. Yet with a loud and confident voice he declares them to be the molecules of life.

Like most people, the materialsit know what building blocks are - they are used to build something. For example, concret blocks are the building blocks of walls, apartment houses and so on. So when a materialist tells us that proteins are the building blocks of life, he knows that we will think that life is built with proteins, just as a wall is built with bricks. Yet, although the materialist knows full well that life cannot be built with proteins, he persists in calling proteins the building blocks of life.

A corpse is full of organic molecules. DNA, protein - it's all there. There's no the decrease in the volume of this stuff of life at the time of death. The building blocks of life are present; yet life (the life that these building blocks have supposedly built) is missing. Materialists know this, but they can't explain how it could be that the stuff of life - the master molceule of life, the molecules of life, the building blocks of life - is present yet life is not present. Yet if you were to ask them about this obvious discrepancy; they would refuse to even entertain your question - they'd consider you naive and silly.

(May type more of page 142 & 143 a bit later ...)

Chapter Eighteen
Prejudice, Racism and Violence

... In the Bhagavad-gita, the sage is described as one who sees not only through racial and social designations, such as 'worker', 'merchant', 'administrator', 'teacher' and so forth, but who also sees through 'species' designations such as human and animal

The humble sage, by virtue of true knowledge, sees with equal vision a learned and gentle brahman, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog-eater [outcaste]
- Bhagavad-gita 5:18

The ancient Vedic text, the Sri Ishopanishad, gives this description of a wise man

One who always sees all living entities as spiritual sparks, in quality one with the Lord, [i.e. nonmaterial] becomes a true knower of things. What then, can be illusion or anxiety for him?

- Sri Ishopanishad, Mantra 7

All living beings are equal sparks of the Supreme Living Being. Each of us, no matter what kind of body we have, no matter what its colour or age, nationality or even species, is an eternal life particle, a child of God. Such wisdom is the medicine that can transform a world of prejudice and conflict into a world of peace and harmony.

He who sees everything in relation to the Supreme Lord, who sees all living entities as His parts and parcles, and who sees the Supreme Lord within everything, never hates anything nor any being

- Sri Ishopanishad, Mantra 6

Individuals happiness and social harmony depend upon our appreciating our true spiritual essence.

QUESTIONER #1: It all sounds very utopian

CHRIS BUTLER: Why? It's actually very practical. If you know that you are a life particle, a spark of God, only temporarily inhabiting a body, and if you see others in the same light, then you will automatically experience your essential unity with them.

QUESTIONER #1: And what if that person walks up to you with a stick in his hand and is about to smash your head in?

CHRIS BUTLER: No one said you can't defend your body. You've obviously misunderstood what I said. The point is to become free from prejudicial behaviour. Your behaviour towards another person should not be based upon his external skin colour or whatever, but on his behaviour. And no matter how you might have to behave toward another person - for example, if you need to defend yourself - you never need to actually hate him. It may sound strange, but you can in fact love your so-called enemy - even while you are taking precautionary meausres.

... What are zoos? They are animal prisons - that's all. If we respected the animals as children of God, as life particles in animal bodies, then we would be much less likely to imprison them for our amusement.

Chapter Nineteen
Band-Aids Won't Work

There's almost no end to the bitter fruits of materialsim. Many so-called social activists run around trying to patch up these different problems with Band-Aid solutions, but few of them work to eliminate the problem's underlying cause. Indeed, most social activists don't even recognise the underlying cause.But this isn't surprising: Most of them are in the illusion that the body is the self and that matter is the only energy. Those who are not liberated can hardly be expected to help liberate others.

Most social activists think that the ultimat cause of social problems is economic. Consequently, they look for economic solutions. Failing to understand that the body is not the self, they comntinue to misguidedly believe that somehow people can find satisfaction in matter - it's just a question of changing or re-adjusting the method of attaining economic development, not a matter of changing the goal itself.

Capitalism, socialism, and communism have the very same goal: economic development. What for? For sense gratification. Why? Because sense gratification will satify the people. Because people are material in essence. A person is his body.

Obviously, there's nothing wrong with economic development. the body's needs have to be taken care of. But social activists must realise that simply satisfying the body's needs will not satisfy the person within the body. Therefore, a change in economic system - from capitalism to socialism or vice versa - will not in itself solve the personal and social problems that face us.

Most of the social problems we have discusse will always be with us. Even if everyone in the world knew that we are not our bodies and therefore that sense enjoyment alone does not satisfy, each of us would still find it a challenge to keep our body and mind under control. To expect a perfect world, a world with no hedonism and no social problems, is foolish and shortsighted. Nonetheless, if you care about the welfare of others and about society, you must do your part to bring the level of social problems to the lowest point. And I must do my part. But to really be of help, we must first recognise the connection between the manyserious social problems that face us today and the prevailing hedonist philosophy of life. We must recognise that is the false Identification of ourselves as matter that has led us to the serious social crisis we are in today.

Chapter Thirteen

it is natural to want to be satisfied and happy. But when your desire to be happy is combined with false bodily identification, you fall into the illusion that satisfying your bodily senses will satisfy you. So you become a hedonsit. Then you struggle to enjoy your senses to the fullest - you try to control and lord over the world. But your life as false enjoyer and lord brings no real satisfaction or happiness, only anxiety and frustration.

Why is this? There are five reasons. First, you fear you won't get what you want. You believe that sensual pleasure will bring you satisfaction, so you are always trying to get objects with which to gratify your senses. You feel great desire for these different things or people. The fear that you might not get these thongs or people makes you anxious. Since your craving is insatiable - since there is always something that you want that you don't have - you are always full of anxiety.

Second, your desitres are frustrated regularly. You may try to see yourself and live as the 'controller', but time and again you must directly experience the limitations of your controlling power. Whether you attempt to meet and 'make it' with a particular person, or to get a particular parking place, you regularly experience failure and thus frustration.

Third, you are afraid of losing what you have. Even if you succeed in acquiring many of the things you want, you are then plagued with the fear that you might lose those things. You are always in anxiety about someone or something taking away your possessions.

We are all, consciously or subconscioulsy, aware that someday - we don't know when - death will come and take everything away from us. At death, your gross physical body will be taken away from you, the self. Since it is this gross body that connects you to the objects of sense enjoyment, losing your body means losing possession of - and therefore control and enjoyment of - those objects. Since, if you are a hedonist, your body is your vehicle of 'enjoyment' and false lordship, to,lose it is to lose everything. At death, your very self-image as controller and enjoyer is shattered. Therefore, because you know that cruel death will one day come, you are always in anxiety about it.

Fourth, as a successful hedonist, you are plagued with the knowledge (consciously or subconsciously) that despite your 'success', you still are not satisfied. A life dedicated to sense enjoyment hasn't really brought you joy.

Fifth, you become depressed when you actually lose the sense objects to which you are attached. Throughout life, things are constantly lost, broken or stolen, and 'living objects' are constantly dying.

{May type more of this - about Annihilationism - which i experienced for quite some time ...}

Should transcribe page also - it is another Q & A session about perception & the self etc ...

CHRIS BUTLER: If there's perception, then there is a perceiver, a seer. You see your dog, and your dog sees you. So two perceivers, two selves, are involved here - you, and that person you call your dog. He may not be interested in philosophical or spiritual questions. Indeed, his only purpose may be to eat, sleep, mate and defend. But he's still an aware, perceiving self.

QUESTIONER #5: If awareness and purpose are essential aspects of the self, then how come a person or self can sometimes become completely unaware abd thus have no feelings of purpose - for example, during deep sleep or under anaeshesia?

CHRIS BUTLER: A diamond is by nature sparkling and bright, even if it is covered with dirt or dust. Similarly, the self is intrinsically aware and purposeful, but these characteristics may be temporarily covered. You, the self, are not all-powerful. You can be covered up, controlled, and dominated by forces of amterial nature. You can fall into complete forgetfulness. But you still exist, and your essential nature doesn't change.

Obviously, if your awareness of your existence is temporarily covered by forgetfulness during deep sleep and anesthesia, then at that point you are not experiencing any feelings of purpose. But as your awareness again becomes uncovered, you again begin to experience some purpose to your existence.

Selves who are just slightly aware of their existence - for example, selves embodied in the lower material forms (species) - may feel very little purpose to their existence other than survival. Selves with somewhat greater awareness of their existence may see sensual pleasure as the purpose of their existence. Selves who are not only aware of their existence but also understand their actual identity as nonmaterial selves may see the purpose of their existence as much more than mere survival of the body or sense gratification. Not all selves wil always feel purpose (it depends on how much of their awareness is covered by the influence of matter). But selves - and only selves - can feel purpose.

QUESTIONER #6: How can you know that any energy other than matter exists if you can't see it? I can see the element matter, so I know it exists. But I can't see what you call the element "life" or "life force". I can't see the so-called "life particle". I believe what I can see

CHRIS BUTLER: Are your eyes all-powerful? Before you can reasonably claim that something doesn't exist because you can't pereive it directly, you must first prove that you are capable of perceiving everything that does exist. In other words, you must prove that your senses are all-powerful. But no one has been able to prove that his or anyone else's sense perception is all-powerful. Indeed, all evidence points to the fact that the power of the senses is very limited. Since you can't even perceive everything within the material dimension with your material senses, how can you possibly perceive the element life , which is an entirely different energy altogether? In other words, realistically you can't expect to perceive with material senses that which is in essence nonmaterial.

It is the height of foolishness to declare that something doesn't exist because you cannot see it. Such an arrogant declaration is actually an indirect claim to be God. Are you God?

QUESTIONER #6: I'm not claiming to be God.

CHRIS BUTLER: No? Who but an all-powerful entity can claim that he sees everything and that if he does not see something then it does not exist?

QUESTIONER #6: I'm not claiming that my senses are all-powerful. But it's not only me who can't see the element life. Thousnads of scientists have been unable to see it.

CHRIS BUTLER: So now you're saying that the collective sense perception of many scientists is all-powerful. But that's nonsense. If 100 people, each of whom can see 10 miles, get together and look out to sea, they still will not be able to see a ship that is located 15 miles out. Similarly, a collection of 10,000 telescopes, each with a 1000 mile range, will not give you a collective range of 10,000 times 1000 miles. the limit will still be 1000 miles. So the so-called 'combined sense-perceptive power' of individuals is nonexistent. each individual must use his own instruments of perception. There is no way we can combine the power of limited senses so as to have unlimited vision.

QUESTIONER #6: So am I supposed to just blindly believe something exists just because I can't prove it doesn't exist?

CHRIS BUTLER: No. That would be stupid and dangerous. What's necessary is for you to realise that it isn't absolutely necessary to directly perceive something with your senses in order to definitely know it exists. What you can see can often help you appreciate the real existence of something you can't directly see. You can't see electricty can you?


CHRIS BUTLER: But you know it's there. You know it's real. If, when you turn on a light switch, the light bulb illuminates, you know that electricty is present in the light bulb. If you know that the light bulb works, and if the light bulb doesn't illuminate, then you know that no electricity is present. You never actually see the electricity, but you do see the symptoms of its presence (its effects). Therefore you can understand that electricty is a reality.

Scientists often accept the existence of something they cannot perceive directly. For example, biochemists accept the existence of the squiggle bond, although they cannot see it. Physicists accept the existence of the atom and other tiny particles of matter, although they cannot directly perceive them. And archaelogists accept that creative human beings existed 1000 years ago in a particular location, although they have never actually seen such persons. All these scientists base their conclusion that something exists (or used to exist) on certain observable symptoms and evidence. A physicist, for example, perceives the presence of an alpha particle by observing the condensation trail that appears as it travels thorugh a cloud chamber. He never actually sees the alhpa particle; he only see the alpha partcile's effects on its environment.

So to accept the existence of something withou perceiving it directly is not blind faith. Perception of something's existence may be indirect, but it is just as valid as direct perception. Do you understand?

QUESTIONER #6: I think so.

CHRIS BUTLER: Let me give you another example. ... Just as we can appreciate the reality of the invisible wind (as well as its presence or absence at any given time) by observing the differences in behaviour or characteristics of a visible tree, so we can appreciate the reality of the invisible element life (as well as its presence or absence) by observing certain differences in behaviour or characteristics of the visible material elements. When the element matter is by itself, it behaves in a certain way; and when it is under the influence of the life, it behaves quite differently

QUESTIONER #7: For thousands of years, the kung fu and chi kung masters in China have recognised the truth of what you're saying.

CHRIS BUTLER: Not only the Chinese, but also the yogisof India. Both the yoga system of India and the acupuncture and chi kung systems of China are based on the recognition of the existence of the invisible life force.

Both the Indian and Chinese systems agree that the influence of the life force pervades the entire body through a vast, complex network of subtle channels, or 'meridians'. They also agree that the body's good health depends on the unobstructed flow and balance of this energy. They furthe agree that when the life force leaves the body, the body is dead. The great acharya from India, Sri Bhaktivedanta Swami, writes:

This very small spiritual spark is the basic principle of the material body, and the influence of such a spiritual spark is spread all over the body as th influence of the active principle of some medicine spreads throughout the body. This current of the self is felt all over the body as consciousness, and that is the prrof of the existence of the self. Any layman can understand that the material body minus consciousness is a dead body, and this consciousness cannot be revived in the body by any means of material administration. Therefore consciousness is not due to any amount of material combination, but to the self

The ancient Vedic text Mundaka Upanishad says:

The self is atomic in size and can be perceived by perfect intelligence. This atomic self is floating in the five kinds of air, it is situated within the heart, and spreads its influence all over the body of the embodied living entity. When the self is purified from the contamination of the five kinds of material air, its spiritual influence is exhibited.

Mundaka Upanishad 3:1:9

{May type more of this section later ... speaks of the wind and kung fu and yogis etc}

Much more to come - the question and answer session in chapter 24 onward - about materialism and its implications and the way he answers the questions MOST people put quickly in the 'too hard' basket ... worth waiting for - IF I don't transcribe them, give me a nudge through the email ... plus the chapter on the 'root causes of crime' ...

Just in case I take a while to get back to this file (I now have notes from the NetNation Forum to sift through) ... here are some of the Chapter titles:

Lame Excuses / Empty Promises

Full but Still Empty

In the dark about life

False Identity = Bad Economy

Ancient Wisdom: You Are Eternal

"My Body Died But I Didn't" - Clinical Death

The Truth Shall Set You Free

The Myth of Mortality: A Product of Wishful Thinking?

How To realise Your Eternality


Unwrapping Yourself

The Ever-Changing Body

Update September 15th ...

I borrowed the book again from the library and at the bustop i open it to Page 194 - the discussion after the chapter on "Flies in the soup" - I should transcribe that because it addresses the traditional theory of evlution and the origin of life in a way I haven't read elsewhere ... so if I don't transcribe it send me an email - grjallen@hotmail.com - it is one of those books which is so spot on you can jjust open it at 'random' ...

Chapter Eleven

Flies in the soup

{I really ought to transcribe bits of the chapter itself as that is what the discussion is based on ...}

QUESTIONER #1: The flaws in the molecular evolution hypothesis that you've just pointed to seem very significant to me. Why do you consider them less important than the flaws you referred to earlier?

CHRIS BUTTLER: Because even if the flaws i just mentioned didn'e exist, the hypothesis of molecular evolution still wouldn't have any foundation. Until the materialists can give a definitioon for the term 'life', and until they can create life from chemicals, then the hypothesis that life came from matter in the past by accident is without basis. Strangely, most critics of the molecular-evolutionist hypothesis have focused almost exclusively on what i've called secondary flaws or minor discrepancies. Such critics rarely eve mention the main defects that I noted, such as the materialists' inability to create life or to even define what they mean by the term. In fact many critics of the molecular-evolutionist hypothesis unknowingly (I hope) concede to the molecular evolutionists the central issue of the debate: Is life material in origin and essence?

QUESTIONER #1: How do they do this?

CHRIS BUTTLER: Many of them write about the "improbability of life coming from chemicals". They get deeply involved in mathematical calculations about whether or not the "chemicals which can create life could have randomly combined in the distant past". By doing this, they are accepting the materialists' premise that life can be created from chemicals. They don't focus on the question of life coming from chemicals - they focus on the probability or improbability of the "right chemicals" randomly combining to create life. And that's complete nonsense. There are no "right chemicals". We've already shown that life cannot be created from any chemical combination. Since it's not possible for life to be created from chemicals today, the debate over the probability of life being created from chemicals in the past is a debate on a nonissue. The issue is already settled: Life can't be created with chemicals.

QUESTIONER #2: As you said earlier, if we could create life from chemicals today, then and only then could we debate the probability of such an event taking place in the past.

CHRIS BUTTLER: That's right. When a critic of the molecular evolution theory argues over the probabilities of life coming from matter in the past, he's actually saying that the materialists' basic premise is correct: that is the "right chemicals" are combined, then life will be created. When the critic declares that it is "highly improbable" that life was created in the past via a random combination of chemicals, he is actually saying that such an occurence was possible. To call an occurence "improbable" or even "highly improbable" is to call it possible. Something can only be probable or improbable if it is possible. So to take part in any argument about the probability or improbability of life coming from matter in the past is to directly admit that life is material in essence and origin.

QUESTIONER #3: Doesn't the materialist also say that the original creation of life from chemicals was extremely improbable?

CHRIS BUTTLER: Yes. But he says that the highly improbable happened, whereas the critic says that the highly improbable did not happen. So the molecular evolutionist and most of his so-called critics don't disagree about the basic question of whether life is chemical in essence or origin, but rather about the chance that life might accidentally be created from chemicals. But what is the basis for such a debate? If combining chemicals a, b and c could create life today, then we could debate the question of whether or not these chemicals could have combined accidentally in the past and created life. But we can't create life with chemicals a, b and c. Even so, molecular evolutionists and most of their critics debate over whether a, b and c combined in the past to create life. It's completely absurd.

QUESTIONER #3: So the question of the probability or improbability only apples to the materialists' premise that in the distant past, certain chemicals randomly combined to form a complex, nonliving physical structure.

CHRIS BUTTLER: Yes. I've tried to make that point clear. One of the reasons why I even brought up the relatively minor flaws was because I wanted to put such discrpancies in the proper perspective. I wanted to make it clear both to molecular evolutionists and their critics that the probability/improbability debate does not apply to the question of the creation of life from matter. It applies only to the accidental creation of a complex, nonliving chemical structure.

{The library copy also has a pencil addition from one past reader - Harold F Blum "Time's Arrow & Evolution" published in 1951 and a reference to page 163}

Chapter Twelve


Hedonism is "the belief that the indulgence in sensual pleasure will bring true satisfaction or happiness.

Life is an element distinct from matter. Life is your essence. You are a life particle, temporarily living in a material body. If you don't know this - if you are ignorant of your actual nonmaterial nature - then you will identify yourself with your material body. You will consider your body to be you. And this will automatically lead you to hedonism.

It is natural to desire happiness and satisfaction. But when this desir for satisfaction is combined with false bodily identification, it leads to the conclusion that satisfying your body's senses is the same as satisfying yourself. ...

{Should transcribe more later ... I keep saying that ... :) don't I ... last update Septembr 15th, 2000 ... }

{Yes, a quick glance at the rest of that chapter deseves to be transcribed - talks about 'endless consumption and emptiness' & 'hedonism is the religion of modern society' ... and the 'bitter fruits that spring from the tree of hedonism' ... narcissism ... obesity ... sexploitation ... divorce ... teenagers ... rape ... violent movies ... then a discussion session ... makes me wish I could 'telephatically' transfer the contents of the 450 pages onto the web ... or into people's minds ... maybe it does happen to some extent ... how does a materialist begin to explain new ideas & wisdom & imagination & intuition ... )

More to come ... August 23, 2000 ...

Some Links for Chris Butler -

Who Am I?

Brief bio & teachings

Interesting book along similar lines -
Relaxing into clear seeing

Interesting Interview

Absolute Perfection is Here and Now

That site also has a recommendation to drop all questions except "Who Am I" ...
Click here to read it

Mantra meditation & Self-realisation - also has excellent section on identity and the body and cells etc.

Chaitanya Mission


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