You, are you
“The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.”
― Joseph Campbell
Good morning from a still, quiet Devon.
I'm sat at my desk drinking a delicious cup of coffee, a glass of water poured and I've a little lamp overhead to take the strain away from my eyes.
And I'm blessed — beyond measure — to have this time to myself, to write these daily posts and to have the energy and fortitude to keep showing up, even when or especially when I'm not feeling it — I'm human after all 🙂!
Today's title and content appeared, yet again, as I lay awake at about 3.40 am; I did thankfully go back to sleep. I was going to use the title (which I've used before) "You're perfect" but it didn't feel right and, in any event, I'm not sure I'd have the time to write about (human) perfection when set against all that's going on in the world right now.
Instead, I want to (much like I tilted at yesterday) highlight the idea of true self. This is where I first came upon it.
“Everyone of us is shadowed by an illusory person: a false self...We are not very good at recognizing illusions, least of all the ones we cherish about ourselves. Contemplation is not and cannot be a function of this external self. There is an irreducible opposition between the deep transcendent self that awakens only in contemplation, and the superficial, external self which we commonly identify with the first person singular. Our reality, our true self, is hidden in what appears to us to be nothingness....We can rise above this unreality and recover our hidden reality...God Himself begins to live in me not only as my Creator but as my other and true self.”
― Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation
Actually, this passage doesn't now capture the pure essence of true self. Instead, the words that really caught my attention (and have stayed with me) from New Seeds are:
"A tree gives glory to God by being a tree."
I find those words positively oracular.
You see, I'm not religious in the biblical sense of the world, neither do I worship a god, save to the extent that I see life and particularly death as a deity, but what I do see is that everything in nature is a unique expression of itself. Ditto us. We cannot be any different, no matter how much we try to change ourselves or wear someone else's clothes.
Think about that.
There is no other person exactly like you in the world, even if you exhibit some of the traits and characteristics of your forebears.
But, if it's not too immature a thing to say, imagine, much like the tree that Merton talks about, we were to give glory to [a higher presence, perhaps — or something beyond the ken of our lived experience] — warts and all — for being who we are all body, mind and spirit. Sure, there are parts of us that we detest or avoid but they're us. All of us.
Of course, the paradigm of personal development wants us to believe that we're broken and can be fixed. But who or what is it we're trying to fix? Our fragile egos? You see, once you get to the point of accepting or at least enquiring about the concept or notion of free will and choice, you perhaps come to realise, or this is what it's been like for me, that there's no thing or no one directing the show:
we go where go; we do what we do; and sometimes we feel elated, sometimes crap and in between there's a great deal of ennui.
But that's life.
It can't be any different, despite the sense that when we're down — even with Black Dog or especially with Black Dog — we should be able to adjust our sensibilities, pull ourselves together and be happy.
Sorry, it doesn't work like that — at least for me. It's about sitting it out, riding the waves and being kind to our soul.
Let me put it another way. True self is about being all of us. But it's an acceptance of that not a resignation. We wear a mask but perhaps that too is part of the universal flow. I mean, I can bridle at and criticise myself for previously being such a work and success junky, but that's how I was expressed at the time. If I wasn't meant to do it, then I wouldn't have done it. No one had my arm up my back, forcing me to work 100+ hours a week or beast me for not climbing the career ladder faster than was the case.
Again, my apologies dear readers if this is too metaphysical, too spiritual, too woo-woo or too much to swallow. I can see how fatalistic it might appear to suggest that there's no one directing the show. Worse still, to the raging ego, it's like giving it the green light to act up and act out in ways that I probably can't even conceive or certainly don't want to think about particularly with regards some of the worst things qua humans that we're capable of; but I don't see it that way. In fact, when I said yesterday that following my brush with death I had this overwhelming sense of needing to wake up from my narcissistic torpor, it wasn't said for effect. That's exactly what happened. Sorry if you're read or heard me say this before but I came to (or did it find me?) the Heart Sutra, and these words forever changed me and the direction of my life:
Form is no other than emptiness,
Emptiness no other than form.
Form is only emptiness,
Emptiness only form.
Now, to a hard-headed lawyer, this blew my mind. No, really. I couldn't for the life of me understand how, on the one hand, I could feel my body but, then again, I had this unnerving sense that everything was in motion, and perhaps, just perhaps, we lived in a formless or unformed world. Of course, I had to do or was expressed to do a lot of seeking to undo my conditioned past but once I got to Merton's writing, the idea of each of us being a unique expression of the universe wasn't far fetched or remotely mystical. But there was more. The tree example meant that it wasn't trying to be anything other than itself, whereas I and many others had spent years trying to be somebody or something else — we don't half make it hard for ourselves.
I accept that all this navel-gazing isn't for everyone. In fact, very few people are expressed to enquire "Who am I?" and stay with that question possibly for the rest of their lives. No, they want a solution or programme that will change them and their lives. And that's fine. But having eaten up and been through so many of these, I was able to see that to be happy — truly happy — there was no need to do anything more than be myself 100%. I didn't need a new habit, a new credo and certainly to hang off the coattails of another guru with their magical thinking.
As the quote from Osho says and which you'll find on my Twitter profile:
"Be — drop becoming."
One last thing. I'm not selling anything. To me, not in a holier-than-thou way, that makes a big difference. In fact, I find it mildly disturbing that there appears to be an industry of people who want to tell you something that you already are and charge you for it! I mean, can you imagine paying a lot of money for someone to tell you that all you need to be is yourself? I can't. Yes, it's nice to be around others and to share similar experiences of life but no one knows you better than you, and you know instinctively when you're happy and how that comes about. I'm not suggesting that that's the only thing relevant to life but frankly all the books, all the talks and all the gurus are not going to change the fact that you're human and a unique expression of nature.
I think that's it!
Oops, it's that time again.
Out with the hound. The sun is coming out to play and I'm going to make time to stop and take in all that nature offers.
Blessings and much love ❤️, Ju.
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