One challenging and intriguing practice often recommended to spiritual aspirants is to simply probe into the question “Who are you” or “What are you”? Such sincere inquiry reveals that our familiar sense of self, that which we ordinarily call ego, is quite elusive despite the fact that we constantly refer to this sense of self as “I”. Gail Brenner’s definition of ego is helpful: “The ego is another word for the separate self. It’s the psychological sense of ourselves as a person in the world with a given identity. This identity is a collection of stories, memories, beliefs, desires, fears, judgments, and feelings that we believe to be true about ourselves.”
Beginning at birth our identity is shaped by our genetic and cultural heritage together with numerous other external influences of our environment that are endlessly repeated and gradually become assimilated as the “story of me.” Once thinking patterns in the brain are established, whether true or not, we continually reinforce them through the repetition of our personal stories. The problem is that many of our stories are untrue. As Jac O’Keeffe likes to remind us “You are not who you think you are.” Our job is to see through or beyond the falsehoods.
The biggest challenge for most spiritual seekers is
to surrender their self-importance and
see the emptiness of their own personal story.
It is your personal story that you need to awaken from in order to be free.
The revelation of Being Here while residing in a human body is infinite. The dimensions and textures of ‘here’ only seem to expand with each breath and deepen with each day. Every moment of being alive is truly a miracle: An opportunity to open and receive the blessing of discovering the most intimate relationship we will ever have.
But unfortunately for most of us, no one told us this. No one could show us how to receive and celebrate the blessing of being truly alive. Rather, most of us inherited the DNA that carries the tragic cultural narrative: life is just something you are here to suffer, conquer and survive.
Add to that the fact that developmental trauma is a given for most of us, by virtue of where we are in evolution. No matter which way this narrative has played out in your personal, cultural and ancestral story line; the crux of it lands in each of as an unconscious core wound of separation from the Source of who we are. When our native innocence is not met, seen or affirmed in early life, a core misperception of our true identity ensues.
~ Ajaya Sommers
We are trained to know who we are and what reality is through our definitions, through others' definitions, through cultural parameters, religious parameters, and even spiritual parameters. We limit ourselves when we rely on knowing ourselves indirectly, through predetermined thought.
When I met Papaji, he told me to stop. When I let that stop in, I recognized that he meant to stop every habit of defining myself. He meant to stop creating and recreating myself. What a monumental task that is, and yet it is absolutely immediate and simple. The truth of who we are is freshly revealed when we take responsibility for its direct discovery.
Whatever mind presents is just story. Seeing it as story is one thing but really to recognize it as story removes its life-force. When you recognize a scenario as story, honor your own spiritual path by always dropping it. When we chose a story knowingly, having seen it is a story, and we still find it entertaining/interesting then we are turning our back on the truth.
~ Jac O'Keeffe
The world is nothing but my perception of it. I see only through myself. I hear only through the filter of my story.
~ Byron Katie
When you are present in this moment,
you break the continuity of your story, of past and future.
Then true intelligence arises, and also love.
~ Eckhart Tolle
Life will always touch you in some way .. but who you really are cannot be touched.
Opening wide to allow the paradox of this means you become vaster than who you think you are. And in this vastness, you live from the space within which everything happens.
Now you are free of your story.
~ Amoda Maa Jeevan
In the story of you, you believe you are going somewhere, to some future moment of awakening. But you are not going anywhere. More precisely, there is no "you" to go anywhere. There is only thought happening.
That thought paints a picture of past that you call, "Who you are." It paints a picture of future that you call, "Who you are going to become." But you are not thought. You are not the past or the future. Because you are not thought, you cannot find yourself through seeking, which is a dream of thought.
In seeing that the spiritual search is happening all on its own, there is the possibility that awareness will start to see it for what it really is -- a dream of thought. When awareness sees the dream of thought known as "you and your spiritual search" and sees that it is happening spontaneously and involuntarily, all of the mental and emotional effort drops out of the search. There is a natural resting into what is.
~ Scott Kiloby
Oftentimes when we are caught in the story it's very hard to come to the simplicity of the sensory present moment experience. But it is important because in the noticing of what is here, the mind can have a moment of rest. And that very moment can be a gateway to presence.
First we recognize awareness. Once we get used to that, quite naturally if we're willing, we'll put less emphasis on story and we'll start to enjoy the soothing presence of aware-being. When we get used to that, we fall in love with it (ourselves/essence) and there is non-referential, yet crystal-clear bliss.
~ Bentinho Massaro
You need to hear the truth about yourself as frequently as possible, because your mind is so preoccupied with false self-images.
~ A Course In Miracles
Language helps us interpret the world in story. We tell ourselves stories all the time. The categorizing of information in terms of opposites: do or don’t, win or lose, good or bad, like or dislike, and so on. These dichotomies lend themselves to value judgments. Every belief, every value, is another story. See that language is a tool. Pick it up and set it down. It’s an interpretation of the world, of you, of life. It’s limited and inaccurate.
~ Jac O' Keeffe
The ego sustains its separation from life by telling itself stories about whether life is or is not trustworthy, or whether life is essentially good or bad. All these conclusions comprise our personal myth about life, and they are the prism through which we experience life. They perpetuate the ultimate myth, which is who I think I am—the imagined ego. So can life be experienced without any conclusion, any judgment, any story? What is life then? Dare we experience life with such directness and simplicity? Who are we without our personal myth about ourselves and life in general?
Do not answer this question in your mind. Do not say ‘consciousness’ or ‘awareness’ or even ‘love,’ because these are stories too. Just live in the questions. Let the questions reveal reality beyond all descriptions.
Because you see thoughts, feelings and sensations as inside you, you identify with them. . . .Take a deep interest in your own story. Face your reactions. Every time you face your reaction you cease to be an accomplice with it and without fuel it fades away.
When you live free from all reaction you find yourself in a new dimension that is always interesting. In life you must make a choice and the choice should be to live in beauty. So become more acquainted with beauty.
Consciousness is not divided, it is the timeless source from which the waking, dreaming and sleeping states emanate and into which they are reabsorbed. It is the background to the thinking state. Consciousness always is.
~ Jean Klein
You can't make a decision. You can only experience a story about how you made it. Decisions make themselves; they are happenings; they come when the time is right. Who would you be without the story that you need to make a decision?
~ Byron Katie