Oftentimes, we feel pressured by our desires or fears to pretend to be something we are not. While this may bring us some small amount of temporary pleasure or relief, in the larger picture it causes us immense suffering. Our most beneficial path in life is always going to be the one which arises from authenticity. If, instead, we are constantly trying to manipulate the circumstances of our life through artificiality – through covering over the real person that we are – we will be creating a life that will always feel very anxious & wrong in the deepest levels of our being.
If we want our lives to fit us properly, to be joyful, meaningful, and satisfying in all the right ways, we need to base our lives on who we actually are. No amount of trying to shove ourselves into an ill-fitting shoe of a life will ever make us happy. No matter how prestigious or cool or attractive this shoe may appear to be, we will only end up with blisters. We need a life that fits us exactly right and for that we need to know who we are.
So who are we?
Most of us, when asked this question, will immediately look to features of our mind and body to form our answer. We generally assume that what we can perceive with our material mind and senses is all there is – so we erroneously conclude this is what we are. We think I am a woman or man, with a particular age, ethnicity, nationality, economic class, occupation, etc. We think of our self in these terms and also according to our mental characteristics – such as passionate, mellow, optimistic, artistic, ambitious, intellectual, and so on. In this way, our concept of self becomes based upon the characteristics of our body and mind – and so our life is centered on this material identity. However, this identity is both temporary and superficial. It is not who we really are.
According to the ancient yoga scriptures and other bonafide scriptures of the world, we are not the material body or the mind – we are eternal spiritual beings temporarily wearing the material mind and body. The gross physical body can be compared to outer clothes and the mind or subtle energy body can be compared to under clothes. Just as we are not the clothes we are wearing, we are not the material bodies we are wearing either.
When we mistake ourselves for the “clothes” we are wearing, our true identity becomes obscured by this false identity. Thus, the life that we think we are orchestrating for our selves – that we expect will result in happiness and fulfillment for us – actually has nothing to do with us. Instead, our life is all about the “clothes” we are wearing. It is all about trying to fulfill the demands of the mind and senses. But because we are not these coverings, it does not fulfill us, nor does it engender a life of real meaning, purpose, or lasting happiness. Instead, it leaves us consistently feeling frustrated, bewildered, anxious, depressed, burnt out, and otherwise feeling dissatisfied with our life.
It is not that there is something innately wrong with us – it is simply that we are basing our lives on something that is not us. If we make something we are temporarily wearing the center of our lives, we cannot expect to find real happiness and fulfillment. No more than we would expect to find real meaning and lasting happiness through making the shirt, pants, etc. that we are wearing at this moment the center of our lives.
Because we are eternal spiritual beings, we cannot find fulfillment through living for the satisfaction of our temporary material coverings. If we want a life that is rich and full with meaning, purpose, and joy, we must seek to know our spiritual identity and align our lives accordingly. We have innate spiritual tendencies and qualities, but they have become covered through misidentifying with the mind and body. By engaging in a genuine process of spiritual realization in direct association with our spiritual Source, our consciousness can become purified. As the material influence on our consciousness is dissipated, our true nature – our spiritual nature – becomes revealed.
In the ancient yoga system, the recommended method for spiritual realization and consciously linking up with our spiritual Source is mantra meditation. A true mantra is not something anyone makes up. It is the Absolute Truth in sound vibration. This spiritual sound vibration descends from the spiritual platform to the material world without losing any of its potency. In mantra meditation, a person hears the chanting of the sacred names or sings this spiritual sound and thus is directly relating with the Supreme. This has a profound purifying effect on our consciousness.
Through mantra meditation, we begin to experience the sweetness of spiritual connection – and with sincere, daily practice, our hearts and minds are gradually purified of material misunderstandings and misgivings. As that which is artificial falls away, our true identity shines through more and more. We will find, as we progress, that we actually lose the taste for that which does not support an authentic expression of our self and simultaneously develop a taste for that which does. Through the realization of our true identity and the loving relationship with the Supreme that is inseparable from it, we are returned to our naturally joyful state of harmony.
In this way, we can actually be our self in the very deepest sense of the words. Being our self is not our outward appearance or behavior – it is our state of consciousness when we are in complete awareness of who we are eternally. The immeasurable sweetness, deep peace, joy, and absolute satisfaction that comes of this natural condition of integrity, far surpasses anything that can ever be gained through artificiality.
Being our true self is the only real path of happiness and fulfillment. When we are firmly established in our true identity – knowing at all times who we are, what we are doing and why – our life is naturally sublime.