Once upon a time, ten men were making their way across a jungle. After arriving at a wide, swiftly moving, six-foot deep stream, they decided to cross it. After reaching the opposite bank, one of the men counted the members, forgetting to include himself. He shouted, “There are just nine of us! Someone is missing!”
Another man decided to check, so he recounted the group, but also forgot to include himself. “Yes, you are right,” he said, “there are just nine of us, so someone is missing.” One by one, the others also counted, each forgetting to include himself. Soon they were crying because they suspected one of their members perished in the stream.
Before returning to the story, take a moment to think of five great people, five people that you respect and admire. Did you think of five people that you look up to?
Why didn’t you include yourself in the list of five people? Aren’t you just like each of the ten men in the jungle who failed to include himself? Virtually all people are guilty of this flaw.That is, when they consider illustrious people, they never include themselves.
That’s because most people don’t realize how magnificent they are. The few people who do are called self-realized, or said to have reached self-realization or enlightenment. These are other ways of saying they have discovered their True Self. Embarking on the journey of self-discovery is the greatest adventure that life has to offer.
We can loosely divide the way we experience life into four categories or levels. First we have the pessimists. They believe life is a struggle, full of suffering, and pointless. Next we have the optimists. They believe difficulties can be overcome, enjoy life, and have a reason for living. Whenever they are unhappy with their circumstances, they work on self-improvement. Their deeper understanding of life brings them many rewards, including happiness.
But some adventurers continue on, exploring a deeper level. They make exciting discoveries. They learn that they are not what they thought they were! They thought they had self-doubt, fears, and limitations, but they uncovered their True Self, which knows no limits. Unlike optimists that are satisfied with merely repairing a damaged self, these adventurers work on remembering, reclaiming, and restoring their perfect self, which was always there, waiting to be claimed.
Our True Self is our true nature, and it is clearly visible in infants and uncorrupted young children. Infants are trusting, loving, courageous, curious, and cheerful. They are explorers, adventures, and discoverers. But as they are raised by parents and guided by teachers and society, they are knowingly or unwittingly programmed to believe they have many weaknesses and imperfections. This transformation from perfection to a problem- plagued life represents the collapse of our True Self and the creation of our False Self, and it happens so quickly that we soon forget who and what we really are.
The adventurers who take the trouble to discover their True Self are well rewarded. For the ordinary happiness known by optimists gives way to endless joy and freedom. Adventurers have discovered what Czechoslovakians have long known, “The person who God shows a treasure to must dig it out himself.” (Czechoslovakian proverb)
Just as there is a formidable chasm between our True and False Selves, there is a huge gap between the third and fourth levels of experience. The first three levels are psychological, but for the fourth and final level, we must leave the realm of psychology and enter the field of spirituality. Yet, doing so is perfectly natural and scientific. After all, what am I? Am I not a swarm of incessantly moving molecules? How is that any different from you?
And what are molecules? Aren’t they composed of atoms? But what are atoms? They are composed of subatomic particles. As we delve deeper and deeper into the ultimate composition of the universe and the ‘glue’ that holds it together, we reach the nonphysical, which we can label as immateriality, energy, or spirit.
So, what am I? At my deepest level, hidden in the recesses of my being, I am spirit. The word ‘spirit’ is just another label. We can choose to use different words. Some call it God. I choose to call it LIFE (It’s the same thing). Life expresses itself through me, you, and everything in the universe. We are the notes in its majestic symphony. I can no more be separated from life than sunbeams can be separated from the sun.
So, the greatest adventure that life offers us is the discovery of our spiritual True Self. This discovery awaits all spiritual seekers. It is not an intellectual exercise but a life- transforming experience. It is akin to a near death experience; it completely liberates us.
The pessimist is locked in a prison cell of his own making. The optimist has unlocked the door of his cell and his free to roam anywhere in the prison. The adventurer who has discovered his psychological True Self found the key to the prison and is free to roam anywhere in the city and country. But the seeker who discovers his spiritual True Self knows unabated freedom. He is free to roam anywhere on earth and beyond.
Adventurers who discovered their psychological True Self, see themselves in a very positive light. They may see themselves as brilliant scientists, world class athletes, nurturing parents or teachers, inspiring leaders, social activists. But for seekers who found their spiritual True Self, these descriptions or labels are far too restrictive. For they see themselves and their possibilities as boundless as the universe. Although adventurers experience love, spiritual seekers become love itself, for that is the nature of our spiritual True Self. These enlightened beings radiate compassion wherever they go, for they are profoundly in love with all that is. As for freedom, Walter A. Keers explains, “If you are enlightened, you are not free as some people would say, but you are freedom itself. Not like a bird in the sky, but like the sky itself.”
The question is, then, how do we uncover, recover, and discover our psychological and spiritual True Selves? We are all capable of doing it, but most of us will need gentle guidance and help along the way. If you wish to join me on this amazing adventure, here are some guide books that will take you by the hand and lead you to yet undreamed of adventure and discovery. Check the books out on the Internet; find one that matches your disposition, get it and dive in!
Meet Your True Self Through Meditation by Swami Shyam, International Meditation Institute, 1994 (Hard to get. I got the last one from Amazon.com)
The Silent Miracle by Ron Rathbun, Berkley Trade, 1999
HOW TO MEET YOURSELF: …and find true happiness by Dennis Waite,O Books, 2007
HOW TO FIND GOD IN EVERYTHING: An Invitation to Awaken to Your True Nature and Transform Your World by Amoda Maa Jeevan, Watkins, 2008
OPEN THE DOOR: A Journey to the True Self by Joyce Rupp, Sorin Books, 2008
EMBRACING OUR TRUE SELF: A New Paradigm Approach to Healing Our Wounds, Finding Our Gifts, and Fulfilling Our Spiritual Purpose by Paul Ferrini, Heartways Press, 2007
UNDERSTAND THE TRUE SELF: The Treasure Within by Floyd Jerred, Trafford Publishing, 2006
Does this subject awaken your interest, but appear overwhelming? Don’t be discouraged, for as S. I. Hayakawa (1902~1992) wrote, “It is the individual who knows how little they know about themselves who stands the most reasonable chance of finding out something about themselves before they die.”
Finally, when you discover your True Self, you will discover the cure for failure, for as William James (1842~1910) wrote, “There is but one cause of human failure. And that is man’s lack of faith in his TRUE SELF.”
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