Just don’t let anyone else see you
There are a lot of mixed messages we receive today, but one in particular really stands out for me:
“Be yourself!” or it’s derivative “know thyself!”
Have you found yourself misunderstood, or misrepresented? A good intention, that somehow went bad? Here’s an old favorite – “good boys or good girls don’t do that” – the message from our childhood that lasts in our subconscious till death. So many ways we are told to be, yet we are somehow expected to stay connected with parts of us that are considered undesirable or unacceptable – which is usually bundled in with qualities that make us shine and feel alive. We want to be ourselves, but really have no idea what that looks like or how to get there.
Why is this?
We are a mass of thoughts, feelings, concerns and desires swirling around in a vessel that is constantly being stirred by the people and world around us. You add a Samskara or two (I’m being generous here) to the pot for good measure. This complex concoction is your typical human being. Now toss this in with another 7 billion similar specimens and you have our world. So go ahead, be yourself.
And what is the Self?
In order for you and me to get anywhere near the Self , we need to understand how we are constructed by our upbringing, surroundings, relations, and past. The Self (capital S) resides above us, in a space free of our senses, sense objects (desires, wants, urges, etc.) or beliefs . The Self needs nothing nor wants. The Self is eternal. To truly experience the Self though, we need to clear away all of the smoke and debris collected during our life’s journey. We have to deconstruct all of those behaviors and beliefs that get in the way of inner exploration.
Can we find the Self?
I believe yes. But we must first come to terms with the reality that this is our true purpose on this planet. Not to build a legacy or amass great riches – but to deconstruct ourselves in order to move closer to the meaning of the true self. One could say the meaning of life is the process of deep inner exploration to discover the most important, relevant purpose for our being. This is the razor’s edge mentioned in Buddhist text.
Along the way we shed baggage that may have one time defined us. We drop our stories of why. We stop identifying with how others perceive us. We look at ourselves honestly, without judgement. Some of this stuff isn’t pretty, but we have to gather all of ourselves in before we can begin to cast off the old ways of being.
Only then can we be ourselves.