Sunday, May 18, 2008

Will the True Self Please Stand Up

We take for granted that whatever we see, feel and think is us, but then we are told there is much more to us. Deep down inside there is the True Self that is connected to God, knows our life's mission statement and, from time to time, gently reminds us that there is more to life than what we currently perceive. How can we discover our true self and be guided by it? And how can we push the ego, the endless chatter of narrow-minded noise, into the background? I am surprised that there is not more written about the art and science of discovering your true self. I believe Gary Zukov, in the Seat of the Soul, calls this field spiritual psychology, but I am not aware of this literature and would be grateful if you could guide me to it. As always, I have a few ideas below, but would be interested in hearing others descibe their paths towards self-discovery.

Vivekananda told the story of two birds. One sits on top of the tree, the other below. The bird on the top just sits there peacefully, the one below it is much more active, picking fruits and berries and jumping from branch to branch. Most of the fruits are sweet, but from time to time the bird picks a bitter one and then suddenly realizes the presence of the majestetic bird above. But soon he resumes eating, forgetting all about the other bird until the next unpleasant experience happens. Eventually it dawns on him that the bird above is his true self, always in peace and unaffected by the illusions of life.

So what can we actively do to stay connected with our true self moment by moment? One strategy is to try removing all the obstacles that prevents our true self from shining through. Seeing the ego at work, for example, is a first step to let it slip into the background. I have commented before that it is actually not so hard to look for ego signs: whenever you compare, measure, judge, plan for the future and regret the past, you can be pretty sure the little fellow is around the corner. Once you recognize these trains of thought just welcome your ego with a gentle "Well, hallo there" and off he goes sheepishly.

I also have recently experienced that pushing the envelope might connect you with your true self. Whenever perceived bounderies get stretched, fear creeps in automatically. I then remind myself about the fact that wherever fear is, God cannot be. This process of pushing fear into the background allows the true self to shine through as well.

Lastly, there is the much quoted power of now. You are connected with the source if you are here, right now. For me personally, I feel that people have this effect on me. If you are with somebody, you cannot help but being there. You are dancing away moment by moment with your counterpart and stay connected with the source that way. The same applies for all types of creative work. A higher force just takes over and you stay with the flow instinctively.

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