Why Who You Are May Not Be Who You Think You Are
Many years ago, I heard a well-known teacher say: I am spirit that lives in a body and has a mind. At the time, it seemed more like a nice doctrine to wrap your head around than a life-changing revelation. But what I have come to understand in the last 15 years is the depth of truth contained in those words.
The reality is that most of us identify with our mind – our thoughts and emotions – and not our spirit (consciousness.) We identify with the thinker as who we are. Another word for this is ego. It’s called ego because there’s a sense of self, of I (ego), in every thought or emotion. Many people are not even aware of the egoic patterns in their thoughts. They are essentially lost in thought and thus unconscious to their true self – their spirit or unconditioned awareness.
But when you begin to awaken from the dream of thought to pure, unconditioned awareness – Presence – you will notice how almost every thought has a form of “I,” “me,” or “mine” in them. Even those who consider themselves “spiritual” most often identify with their thoughts. They may say, I am spirit that lives in a body and has a mind. Yet, it’s more of a mental concept rather than a living reality. In other words, it still has an egoic pattern.
Perhaps you wonder what difference it makes. The problem with the egoic mind is that it lives on identification and separation. Deep down, the ego seeks to identify with what enhances its sense of self and what separates it from the “other.” The ego needs “the other” as an opposite to make ‘self’ feel bigger and superior. It requires an “enemy” to criticize or condemn to strengthen its sense of self.
When you are in the grip of the ego, complaining about people and things seems like the natural thing to do. Yet to make yourself right and the other wrong is a device of the ego to strengthen identification with your thoughts rather than your spirit. Ultimately, this identification with ego is the cause of so much suffering and unhappiness in your life. It’s the cause of our collective suffering in the world.
Both our individual and collective path forward is, therefore, to awaken to our true self. The Apostle Paul communicates this awakening when he writes, “I have been crucified with Christ and I (ego) no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” In another epistle, he then adds that when you are aware of Christ in you, you see Christ in everything and identify with everything as Christ. You are conscious of the divine presence resting in all things.
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