"Remember who we truly are." WTH does that mean? Many new-agers use this phrase including me. Whenever I do, I ask myself does anyone know what that means. It's one of those statements that people make and no one questions it. They just nod their head. Sometimes I see their eyes getting glossy and I'm sure they must be thinking. Yeah Okay Whatever. I know what I mean when I use it so let's see if I can explain it. I'll start with what we are not and see if the explanation emerges from there.
The mind AKA the ego needs definitions. It works through comparison and labels and needs to put concepts in a box. The ego needs to define who we are. Define a self-image. Define self worth. The ego has the need to constantly be fed. Whether it is to diminish or enhance the image it doesn't matter. It only needs the blank filled in. I am (fill in the blank). We'll start with the easy one:
We are not our things. We love to use things to define who we are. Starting with my toys, then my car, my house, etc. The ego loves things because it's easy to define self using what things we have compared to other people. Evita from Evolving Beings.com wrote a post this week about David Hoffman, a documentary filmmaker, who just lost all his "things" in a fire. He chose to look at the positive of the event without getting all messed up at the loss of his treasures. Evita discusses the concept about us not being our things.
"Can't take it with us" is a truism that we all know and describes the place that things hold in our true identity. The things we have or don't have are definitely not who we truly are.
We are not what we do. I am a doctor, lawyer, Indian chief. Our education, Our societal "status. The ego needs these labels to makes sense of who we are. I am smart or I am stupid or I am rich or poor. These labels change over time. They are not with us from birth to death therefore how can they be who we truly are. Once again, they are just the box that our mind likes to put us in to give us the illusion of self. Defining our self-worth by designating what we do to who we are. Anything that changes with time cannot be who we are.
We are not our roles. I am a father, mother, husband, wife. I am black, I am Canadian. I am Jewish. I am a Christian I am a victim. These identifications are merely roles. Our mind can attach to these roles and we can believe that they are who we are. Aren't they just more examples of food for the ego to put us into a form?
We are not our minds. Many like to identify our self with our thoughts. The mind uses the content of our life to define who we are. It uses our past "story," and it uses what I have mentioned to form the sense of self. It uses our past beliefs to determine who we are. Lots of people have great minds but does that make them who they are? Is that all we are? Are they better human beings because of their minds? Can we think our way through life? Our mind is a great tool for interpreting information. That's what it is - a tool. Not who we are.
We are not our bodies. When we look in the mirror what do we see? The mind uses the body to form an identity. We are either male or female. Fat or thin. Beautiful or ugly. The physical image we see in the mirror can often be confused with who we are. Many people tie their sense of self worth with the outward appearance of their body, both to enhance or diminish their sense of who they are and their place in society. Society in general does a great job of perpetrating that illusion. Of course these aspects change over time so if we think that we are our body then when that beauty or strength is lost we can also lose our sense of self. This happens to many who believe their outward appearance is who they are. That can't be who we are.
Our body consists of water and carbon. How can a blob of these elements be who we are. The ritual of dressing up the body at a funeral for all to take one last look at the person makes me laugh. Can that be the person's true self in that coffin?
My mother passed in 2001. She had lung cancer and had quit chemo. She was basically waiting to die. Her breathing was very labored because of her condition. I was on my way back from Vancouver to be with her when she transitioned. My sister described what happened moments before she died. She said my mother took one deep breath and after that her breathing became even and unimpeded.
I knew that at the moment she took that deep breath was when her true self left her body. Her eternal self moved on.
That's a clue to the answer of who we truly are.
If we are not our things or what we do or our roles in society or our minds or our bodies then we must be the observer of all these things. Shut off your mind for a minute and feel. Can you feel the core of your being? Can you feel the life force running through your body? Can you stand back and observe that your mind is thinking. That awareness is your true self. Like someone who had an out of body experience or near death give witness to this awareness.
So many names for it. Divine self, god self, higher self, soul. It has no form. When you peel away all the layers it's what is left at the core.
Your true self has no fear. It is eternal. It has no needs. It has no feelings of separation. It has no limitations or walls. It is your awareness of right now. Not your past. Not your future. It has the inner peace that we all crave because it knows without needing to understand how it knows. It's what comes to the forefront in times like the death of a loved one or a time of emotional upheaval when the mind steps aside and allows your true self to be in control. When anything that you have identified with as self is lost, like wealth or a job or like David, his things. These times are your opportunity to see your true self. To become aware that you are not those things.
When you open up and see who you really are you are experiencing the awakening I so often talk about. You are recognizing your true self. Once you know who you are you will never feel unworthy or imperfect. You will not be driven or defined by ego. You will be the observer of your human life story. You gain the ability to detach yourself from it and see it for what it truly is. A game of life and you get to play it for a while until you return to your formless self. Only now when we remember who we truly are we can go from doing to be-ing.
Like the story of Moses when he asked God what name should I say when they ask me who you are. His answer was,
"I am that I am"
I Am (no blank to fill)