COME TO KNOW YOURSELF
Since you are reading this article, I assume that you wish to know your true self; the
authentic expression of joy and peace within. This article offers some practical
steps towards knowing yourself. Knowing yourself is not a matter of finding out
new descriptions and names for that which you are externally, not at all. Knowing
yourself involves discovering and letting go of the old descriptions and labels of
who you thought you were. To know who you are, you need to first come to know
who you are NOT. This is the beginning…the rest is simple.
The current commercial market is packed with products that encourage us to
become more attractive, more perfect and more fulfilled. They offer to deliver
solutions to happiness through their products, which can change the way you are. It
is very much like the pharmaceutical industry; they offer you a tablet to get rid of
the symptoms but is that tablet going to cure the cause of the illness? Will that
tablet reveal why the discomfort manifested itself in the first place? It does not.
Only an holistic approach will uncover that answer.
Very few magazines have been original enough to encourage you to look within, to
unravel the peace, joy and truth in your life. Within the magazine industry, the few
that do approach these issues, manage to defeat their very objective by including
advertisements for beauty products, vanity essentials and dependency inducing
services between the articles, as if they are saying “You are not okay the way you
are. You should change to become somebody else, something else.” This does not
help you to accept yourself just the way you are, nor does it encourage you to
cherish and treasure the unique qualities that only you possess. This is a waste of
time and energy. External solutions have proven to be disempowering rather than
empowering in the long term.
I would like to take a look at the core issues around self-knowledge (or self-
actualization as the eastern gurus tend to call it) to offer you some very simple and
practical insights into who you are not and how your belief patterns contribute to
your identity’s makeup. Don’t worry, there’s no jargon involved, I’ll keep it plain and
simple. It is also far easier to start the process from back to front (by seeing who
you are not) because most people tend to focus on the negative rather than the
positive. In helping you to understand your identity for what it really is, you will see
that you are not bound nor confined in the tight description and definitions of your
name and history.
To be free, you need to be yourself, not your defined identity. I know that you want
peace of mind and yearn for love and acceptance. Whether you are aware of it or
not, you do wish and long for the understanding of what your true nature really is –
deep within. What you may not know is the fact that the key to all of these things is
already in your hands.
WHO YOU ARE NOT
Let us start with the most obvious subject (albeit the least explained subject). You
may have lived your life with set routines and patterns of behaviour in the past, but
how often have you caught yourself feeling desperate to find more meaning in life
and obtain more lasting peace from the ever-jittering mind? Many times, no doubt.
You have a name, history, past experiences, qualifications, social status and a bunch
of expectations of what you want in the future. All of these parts of you form the
label called “me”. You identify yourself by referring to these old definitions, saying
“This is me.” “I am like this.” Your identity is based upon who you once were and in
the future expectations that have yet to happen.
When you or your family pronounce your name aloud, the image of who you once
were will instantly conjure up in their minds. It is made up of your past. People see
you through the story of your life and expect you to behave accordingly, in an easily
predictable manner. If you were ever to be spontaneous and behave differently (God
forbid, why would you want to do that?) they would not be able to predict you and
they would probably feel upset. Most of the time, you see yourself through this
filter of the past, too, although you are probably often unaware of it. Nobody has
ever challenged you on who you think you are. Well, now I am.
Are you really this story of predictable patterns of thinking, behaviour and
appearances? Can your loved ones really know the real you by the definitions of who
you used to be? Of course not! That would be absurd. The identity described
above is only that; a mask, a persona that you wear because it is comfortable,
familiar and secure. Our identity is a dead collection of past definitions, re-lived in
the fresh moment of today. Our personal identify is a label we have assumed to be
ourselves and have adopted as our vehicle for this body and mind. It is not your
real self, however. You may have noticed that I have not mentioned the present so
far, but only talked about the past and the future – this is because the present is the
actual, tangible and authentic reflection of who you are today. It is the fresh, forever
new and potential possibility of who you are within. In this moment – right now –
you can behave differently and be unpredictable. It is not set in stone nor should it
be. The time-line where your persona lives is not valid in the present moment; you
have evolved, changed and grown since your past, so why keep repeating the old
you and the old habits?
The definition of yourself is a simple one:
The Past = what your identity used to be.
The Future = what your identity wants to be.
The Present = who you are now.
The identity is a label that tries to describe the whole of you, but manages only to
portray an image of what your persona is, or was. The real you, however, is
something way beyond this. In the present moment you are real, you can be heard,
touched and influenced, whereas the past you lives only in memories and thus,
cannot be touched.
WHO YOU ARE, THEN
To realize who you are now, today, you need to become aware of all of the things
that are covering over that real spark within. When you become conscious of all the
old patterns of speaking, thinking and behaviour that you re-live today, you begin
to see what is underneath, what is your true identity. This identity cannot be
described as easily as your old one, since the real you is still indefinable. You are
only beginning to take the first steps to seeing beyond your old layers of self, to
penetrate into the unknown, which is not yet defined, it is without labels. Once you
become aware of the old you, with acceptance and love you can then start letting go
of the unnecessary patterns that do not serve you or your relationship any longer. It
is hugely important to accept the old you with all of its painful and less pleasant
parts, because if you were to reject them, hate them or to try to hide them, they
would persist underneath; only to pop up and disturb you every so often. Therefore,
to accept yourself as you have been, with a degree of humour and understanding, is
of great importance. You are then ready to face the unknown, the silent witness
within. Moreover, whether you choose to label the “new” you within is up to you,
but would you really want to build another identity of labels once you have removed
the old one? I certainly would not.
BEYOND LABELS, WHO AM I?
What are you if not all these labels?
Much to your disappointment, I cannot tell you what you are. This is YOUR journey
of self-discovery, not mine. Even if I did tell you what you are, that would be just
another label that somebody else has given you. You will need to go within to
discover it for yourself, like many other yogis have done in the past. Instead, let me
tell you what is underneath my old shells and labels; who I am in the core of myself,
beyond any costumes. This may awaken some recognition inside of you, since we
all possess the same beauty and magic within.
There is the lasting peace that never left me from my childhood. There is a place I
had covered over with the busyness of my mind, life and all of its selfish wants and
desires. This place of joy and peace had been dismissed with the restlessness of my
identity, the constant search for the next excitement and entertainment. My old
identity (also called the ego) had been too busy satisfying its own desires in the
pursuit for the next goal. This gentle peace, however has always been with me, it
laid dormant for a long time until I finally chose to take notice of it.
Deep within me, beyond any of the old labels, I have the bursting joy and laughter
that reminds me of the reason I am alive. This happiness is not dependant on
external outcomes, achievements or people. Yes, you heard me; it is not dependant
on my loved-ones! Happiness and joy – being the very nature of who I am – sees
the world through its non-judgmental eye of wisdom, with an understanding that at
the core we are all united and only appear to wear these different masks; because I
am the universal love within, I can share it with others. There is no neediness in
wanting love from others, before I can have it myself or give it back to others. This
knowledge is very comforting, it is the calm lake that is not disturbed by the stormy
reflections of clouds on its surface, as these reflections will pass away, just as my
thoughts and emotions will come and go. The internal sun on my sky, remains hot
and bright, regardless of whether the clouds pass by and gather on the sky; these
are only momentary movements and can never cover permanently the spark of my
soul or the sun within.
Inside I am in constant communication with the life, the source and the reason. This
union is called by many names, non-duality and God being only some of them. This
is a silent relationship with the knowledge that all is fine and everyone is catered for
to his or her level of need and understanding. The presence of life is a reassuring
promise. It is a promise of the heartfelt joy and trust that we thought was lacking,
but is actually already present in our bodies. All that life is asking anybody to do is
to stop, listen and recognize.
1) Stop rushing around, stop your racing mind and stop the hunger for more
excitement. You already have all you really need in order to be at peace.
2) Listen to the silence within. Listen to the whisper of God within, and hear what
She is asking of you. Listen beyond the hunger of your restless identity.
3) Recognize who you are not. Recognize who you truly are. Recognize beyond any
set of labels and identities that you are free, happy and the perfect reflection of life
The only one holding the keys to your happiness is you. You alone have the
responsibility for your life and only you can uncover the peace within by recognizing
the old beliefs that hold you down; the labels and patterns of who you used to be.
The journey back to yourself is not really a journey at all. You never left home; you
never left who you really are. It was merely covered over by Clingfilm of the past,
the comings and goings of your mind, until you no longer knew where you were
going or why. Nevertheless, the hunger for peace and meaning remained the same.
The peace kept knocking on your door all this time and now it is your chance to
answer it and open the door. It is your time to take responsibility for your own life
and your internal happiness.
Who is it in you that feels unhappy?
Who is it that experiences the torrent of emotions?
This question is the only one that you need to ask, and the answer will always be:
the false identity, the ego.
This question of “Who is it inside of me that …” will always reveal the core of the
problem, the attachment to the old patterns, which keeps you going around in
circles. It will point back to your old identity – your ego.
This article is only a sweep over the subject of self-realization, but hopefully it will
intrigue you enough to initiate the “journey” back to yourself. It is a joyful journey,
with amazing discoveries of what is false and what is real. Take part in this
beautiful adventure to the unknown inside your psyche, your soul, where no man
has gone before. A similar adventure to that of Star Trek, except that here, the
Klingons are not hairy monsters but rather your own creation of personalised
identity that you took to be your authentic self.
The future is bright; the future is in your hands, right now!
Johannes is the Editor-in-Chief of the Know Yourself Magazine. The magazine
publishes practical, clear and simple insights into who you really are, promoting
easy self-empowerment and knowledge. The magazine helps the readers to
discover their true identity, potential and passion within by very experienced
authors and spiritual teachers. The magazine is due to launch in the summer 2006.