Who am I? Waking up to Reality ? Part II
Last week we explored the simple but profoundly life-affecting mistake of identifying with something we are not. Self identity or who/what I think I am is the deepest influence on all our perceptions, thoughts and actions, and therefore our destiny. We saw that all our fears and angers, which means all our stress, come from a variety of mistaken identities. But we also acknowledged that it's only half the story. While we explored what happens when we believe we are something that we are not, it still left us with an unanswered question 'who am I'?really?
While it would be easy to name or label the entity that is the 'I' that says 'I am' it would make little difference to the way we think and live. If we are to change or even transform the quality of our life from inside out it is necessary to go beyond words and ideas, beyond names and labels. Like many spiritual teachers and philosophers throughout history we could give 'the self' another name like 'spirit', or 'soul', or 'consciousness', but it would only be just another label. Behind any name/label is a concept of spirit, a concept of soul, a concept of consciousness, and we would likely identify with the concept and be back where we started i.e. identifying with something we are not. Neither I nor you are concepts!
This is why you cannot 'learn' who you are only 'realise' what you are. You are already and have always been what/who you are and, in truth, you can never be other than what/who you are, but it requires 'realisation' i.e. that moment when you 'see it', when you 'get it', sometimes referred to as the AHA moment!
There are essentially two ways to 'realise' who and what you really are. The first is a process of elimination, sometimes referred to as 'netti netti', which roughly translated means 'not this not that'. In this process of elimination everything you are not is seen within your awareness as false and is discarded. You might start from the outside in. It's obvious you are not things, places or other people. But as we saw last week they are common mistaken identities. It's not so obvious that you are not the form that you occupy. This is the deepest 'conditioned identity' that we all assimilate. If you recognize that the world (of perceptions/thoughts/feelings) within your consciousness is your primary reality, and physical reality is secondary, you will begin to separate your sense of self from your physical costume and all the stimulation that comes through it. This is of course where such practices as meditation and contemplation can speed the process of 'seeing' and 'feeling' that you are not a form, but the invisible, intangible energy that is the animator of form.
Even then, some further elimination of false identities is required. You may begin to see the more subtle identities that you adopt around memories and beliefs, around emotions and feelings. And yet you know from experience that all thoughts and feelings come and go. All attitudes and beliefs come and go. All come to pass in the literal sense. So they pass, but who remains, always? Who is the watcher, the observer of all things passing through your life both externally and internally? Who remains, always? You do, the 'I' that says 'I am' always remains.
So what is left is nothing, or more accurately 'no thing'. All that is left is the 'I'. Nothing else. Just the self, the watching, witnessing being that is the self. Awareness itself! And in that state of awareness nothing can touch the 'I' that is no thing. When described in this way there is the tendency to think about what is being described instead of just watching. And when you think about it, it can start to feel threatening, as all the things we have been comfortably identifying with seem to be slipping away. You may even start to think this process of eliminating all that you are not as the road to a small, empty and naked self with no support and nothing to hold on to. But somewhat paradoxically (until you stop thinking about it) the opposite happens. There emerges an overwhelming feeling of freedom, of being in an unlimited state, able to embrace and accept everything and everyone and every event. The movie of life becomes just that, a movie, a story that is unfolding around you, outside the body you occupy. And yet you also become aware that it is clearly a story that is unfolding within your consciousness, yet outside your self, outside the 'I'. There is the 'I', the watcher, and there is the story. But now you don't get sucked into the story. You don't try to grasp and hold on to anything in the movie, because you know it must pass. You see it for what it is, a shimmering dance of many energies, a display of many shades of light, rising and falling, flourishing and fading. And intuitively you gradually come to sense, to know, your part within it.
This is why no theory, no writing, no set of concepts, however well crafted in words can actually give you the direct authentic experience of who you really are. Only you can do that. By watching. By seeing. Not with physical eyes but with the eye of your awareness.
Which brings us to a second method. Experiment in your meditation/contemplation with the following phrases. I am a being of energy. The energy of 'I' the being, is light. The light that 'I am' is radiant. I radiate the light that I am, as peace. I am peace. In the peace that I am there is stillness. In the stillness there is no change, no sense of the passing of time. I am timeless. I am eternal. Still. Silent. Forever.
Each phrase/word is a signpost pointing into your conscious awareness. Follow the steps we covered a couple of weeks ago i.e. think it, see it, feel it, know it, be it, live it. As you make this inner journey you may notice all the other false identities losing their power, losing their grip on your conscious awareness. Unless of course you don't want them to lose their grip, which is fine too. It sometimes takes a little time to find the courage to let them go.
Some of the signs that you have either arrived or that you are well on your way to knowing and being what you really are will be as follows.
When you know who you really are you will be at peace with your self
not only because peace is your true and original nature but there is no longer any inner division and therefore conflict between the many identities that you had previously created (gender/nationality/profession/possessions etc).
When you know who you really are you are at peace with others
. You no longer have to defend or protect any false image of your self, so you no longer perceive anyone else as a threat to those images. The authentic you can never be threatened.
When you realize who you truly are you are at peace with the world
because you will contain the world instead of it containing you. Whereas before you allowed the world to impose itself on you and shape your perceptions and feelings according to your particular sense of identity, now your self-perception is stabilized in the correct identity you are able to receive the hold the world. In a sense you shape the world as you bring it into your consciousness.
When you realize who you truly are you can never feel insulted
because you no longer cling to any false image of yourself, so others cannot judge or criticize you because they cannot see the real you. They may project their image of you onto you, and as they do they may criticise that image, but you don't take it seriously because YOU know who YOU are, and you are not someone else's image of you.
When you know what you are you will never be late
because whenever you arrive anywhere the moment of arrival is always the right moment, because it is the only moment that is possible! Although you respect chronological time, time is no longer a function of a clock.
When you have realised who you are your capacity to empathise with others increases naturally
. You are no longer caught in your own mixed and often tangled feelings based on multiple identities, so you are more open and sensitive to the emotions and feelings of others. Your capacity to care is magnified.
When you know who you are your faith in life itself is restored
. You sense your connection with all of life around you and there is a deep awareness that universe will show up with whatever you need in the right way, at the right time in the right place. Your peace and the patience that flows from it are infinite.Question
: Which of the above seven signs do you feel you are experiencing the most?Reflection
: Imagine you know who you truly are, in what ways do you see yourself responding differently to the key people in your life?Action
: Take five minutes every day to practice the meditation/contemplation exercise in the text
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