"Guide[s] us to practical resolution of internal conflict we face in trying to find the real us." Rolling Seas Review
What's It Like Being You?: Living Life as Your True Self!by John-Roger, DSS, Paul Kaye
Practical and profound, this guide to discovering a true self behind the “parts” played in everyday life presents the information and inspiration necessary to achieve fulfillment. Often taking a humorous perspective, this work is centered on a belief that the tools we use to deceive ourselves and others are the same tools we need to know ourselves
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Practical and profound, this guide to discovering a true self behind the “parts” played in everyday life presents the information and inspiration necessary to achieve fulfillment. Often taking a humorous perspective, this work is centered on a belief that the tools we use to deceive ourselves and others are the same tools we need to know ourselves better. Guided meditation is one of a series of practices at the center of this strategy that slowly brings into focus an awareness of life and its possibilities.
"Guide[s] us to practical resolution of internal conflict we face in trying to find the real us." Rolling Seas Review
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What's it Like Being You?
Living Life as Your True Self
By John-Roger, Paul Kaye
Mandeville PressCopyright © 2004 Peace Theological Seminary & College of Philosophy
All rights reserved.
WHO ARE YOU?
Socrates said, "Know thyself." In Shakespeare's Hamlet, Polonius cautions, "To thine own self be true." But which self are we getting to know? To what self should we be true? Where is the self located anyway? Come to think of it, which self is reading these words?
These are questions that playwrights, philosophers, and other serious thinkers have been pondering since time immemorial. If the answers could be worked out through mathematical calculations or experimental measures, mathematicians and scientists would be the most enlightened people on the planet. But the self continues to elude even the greatest thinkers of our age.
We cannot reduce it to a formula, view it with high-tech, brain-imaging machinery, or define it conclusively in words. The self can only be lived and experienced from within. When we ask the age-old questions Who am I? and Why am I here?, we are joining thousands of generations of seekers who have set out to solve the mystery of incarnation, the riddle of human existence.
The nature of the Soul is joyful.
To participate consciously in Soul awareness,
you must come into harmony with its joyful nature.
Cultivate joyfulness in yourself and everything you do.
Joyfulness is more real than your problems.
Where we differ from those who have gone before us is not in the questions we ask but in the way we ask them. In less than a century, our world has changed so radically that we no longer have the appetite or opportunity for contemplation that our ancestors enjoyed. We seem to have lost the ability to slow down, to take time for ourselves. That's no surprise, for we are more rushed than ever. We have more information coming at us and less time to absorb it, as well as a lot more to do. Our continually rising expectations of what our lives should be like ensure that our days are overflowing with activity. The more conveniences we have, the more time we spend using and maintaining them. The more choices we have, the less we have to choose. Years ago, when there were just four television channels in the United States, it took only a moment to see that there was nothing we wanted to watch. Now, we have several hundred channels, and it can take us an hour to find out that there is nothing that really holds our interest.
Today our lives are filled with so many alternatives and oftentimes competing options that although the idea of simplifying our lives may sound like a good idea in theory, in reality it is nearly impossible to do. Yes, it's nice to stop and smell the roses, but then we have to add "shop for roses" to our to-do list. It's small wonder that a grassroots effort called the Slow Food Movement is spreading worldwide, as more and more of us look for ways to get back to what really matters. Carlo Petrini, the movement's founder, has this to say about what we face today:
If I live with the anxiety to go fast, I will not live well. My addiction to speed will make me sick. The art of living is to give time to each and every thing ... Ultimately, "slow" means to take time to reflect. It means to take time to think. With calm, you arrive everywhere.
The Soul, which is your greatest reality, is perfect.
You are already perfect in who you are and what you are.
The ability to engage in self-reflection is uniquely human. If we lose that, do we lose our humanity? A few years ago, there was a movie, AI (short for "artificial intelligence"), about a highly intelligent robotic youth. When the robot realizes that he isn't human, he develops a deep and unrelenting yearning to become a flesh-and-blood boy. We tend to take our human experience for granted. An essential part of being human is having a physical body. The robot in AI had a physical body, albeit a mechanical one, but he lacked the crucial animating factor — the capacity for thought, emotion, and imagination.
Imagination is the source of creativity and innovation. With imagination comes choice: we can imagine negativity and harm, or what is helpful and positive. We can even use imagination to assist in our own healing: science has demonstrated that our mental imagery can change the way the brain and other body systems function.
Human beings also have emotions. We can love, hate, feel fear or joy. Sometimes we don't feel good, but at least we're feeling, something that's impossible for a robot. Emotions give dimension and color to the human experience.
You don't have to be all things to all people.
Don't even try to. Just be you, to you.
That is one of the great challenges.
Unlike robots, we have a mind that can reason, solve problems, and direct our energy, as well as self-reflect. We are free to point our minds in a positive or a negative direction.
We also have an unconscious, a vast repository of repressed and disowned thoughts, feelings, wishes, and dreams, along with unresolved and uncompleted experiences. Even when this unconscious material does not surface into awareness, it can strongly influence our conscious thoughts, feelings, and behavior.
In short, the human experience is so vast, so layered, so multidimensional that it is unlikely science could ever design a robot approaching such complexity. What is even more miraculous is that all the ingredients of our humanity comprise only a small part of the rich experience available to us as total beings.
This total being is the true self, who we really are. Who we think we are, or want others to think we are, is the false self.
THE FALSE SELF
There are many aspects to the false self, qualities you will no doubt recognize. I've listed the most familiar ones below; I'm sure you could come up with more:
Access to the Soul is continually available.
How much you avail yourself of it is up to you.
In Soul, you step free from the past.
There is nothing you have done that you cannot transcend
because you are greater than any of your actions.
Need for Control
"Need for control" is probably the most prominent characteristic of the false self. It is from this that many other characteristics spring. Often the need for control runs our lives, which is ironic considering that, in reality, we have very little control over what happens in the world around us. Thus, the path of control is a futile one, inevitably leading to frustration and disappointment.
The false self's characteristic need for control sends it on a search for power from external sources. We have to seek outside ourselves for something to make us feel good. We are constantly looking for that event, that nod of approval, that recognition that will make us feel more secure. This constant search for approval is evidence of the false self's insatiable need for recognition by any means, even negative ones.
The false self is also called the personality or ego. Some aspects of it are inherited; others are developed through our experiences with family, friends, the culture we live in, our education, and our religious upbringing. Though aspects of the personality may change over the lifetime, the false self tends to become frozen and rigid, full of regret and resentment over missed opportunities. Even when the false self is able to break out of its rut, it usually jumps into another one. A new marriage may repeat the same patterns that doomed the previous one. Giving up smoking often leads to overeating. Is there a way out? Yes, but not through the false self. When we live in the false self, our lives are narrow, confined, and repetitious, although it may take us years to see that pattern emerge. Life is so diverse and diverting that it continually offers "just one more" thing that promises to fulfill us.
Not a single moment goes by
that does not bring you the opportunity
to know the Soul more deeply and more fully.
You are the vehicle for experiencing
and knowing your Soul.
So relax, hold back nothing, and let your Soul be.
When you make space for the blessings of Soul to manifest,
you become a living blessing.
Another notable characteristic of the false self is its tendency to judge. Much as we may hate to admit it, judging others feels good, in the short term at least. It gives us a momentary sense of superiority and strength.
We also use judgment to put ourselves down. We may spend an unnecessary amount of time comparing ourselves to others, and when we find that they have things (or qualities) we don't have, we beat ourselves up. We may tell ourselves we need to improve, which sounds very well-intentioned, but it is really a subtle form of self-judgment. It just may be that you're perfect the way you are. Rather than feeling inadequate when you see that someone else has more worldly success than you, ask yourself why you can't accept yourself the way you are.
Often, instead of accepting ourselves as we are, we judge ourselves and seek to change. Getting us to change is what advertising is all about. If you watch TV these days you can't help noticing the pharmaceutical industry's ads. Even when you don't have a certain medical condition, all you have to do is sit through one of those commercials and you'll find yourself imagining you have a full-blown case.
At the same time that we want to know
who we are and that we are Soul,
we can so easily get stuck in the drama of daily living.
We become attached to our mistakes and failures
instead of learning how to experience success
beyond our wildest dreams.
A key to expansion,
to opening sacred inner space,
is the divine imagination.
Visualize the very best of yourself —
the joy and the loving flowing within you and out of you —
and hold that vision.
As you hold that vision,
it will become a reality
because that's the real you.
Say you're watching a Seinfeld rerun, and during one commercial break, there's an ad that asks, "Have you ever been anxious?" You find yourself nodding. "Have you ever been worried?" Another nod. "Do you have a strong urge to go shopping?" Now you're holding your head in your hands, saying "Oh, yes, that's me. I'm a mess." The ad goes on to tell you that you have psychodyslexaphobia. Just ask your doctor to prescribe Anysyndrome for you. The spokesperson then lists — very rapidly — the drug's side effects: headache, dry mouth, muscle pain, severe diarrhea ... and impotence! If you haven't already tuned out, you think, "Hey, it's worth whatever it takes not to have that problem again."
Instant cures are very appealing: life today is so busy and complex that we'll do anything to solve our problems as quickly as possible. But I see it differently. Life is not a problem to be solved. It's a journey of awakening, and that journey is not a race. You can run, walk, or crawl to enlightenment; the pace is up to you. But trying to change the false self by judging it is doomed to fail, because judgment itself is a product of the false self. You'd simply be going around in circles.
As Einstein pointed out, you can't solve a problem with the same consciousness that caused it. The false self seduces us into thinking it can cleanse itself of negativity. For example, we may judge ourselves for overeating or overspending, and then get angry with ourselves in the name of purging our perceived inadequacies. Yet we continue to overeat and overspend. This is the human dilemma: even when we want to break an attachment to self-defeating behavior, we don't; we merely exchange one false-self pattern for another.
If you want to change anything or anyone,
change it inside yourself.
The fifteenth-century Indian mystical poet Kabir expressed this paradox wonderfully:
I gave up sewn clothes, and wore a robe, but I noticed one day the cloth was well woven.
So I bought some burlap, but I still throw it elegantly over my left shoulder.
I pulled back my sexual longings, and now I discover that I'm angry a lot.
I gave up rage, and now I notice that I am greedy all day.
I worked hard at dissolving the greed, And now I am proud of myself.
False-self behavior can keep us busy for a lifetime while nothing really changes. We don't have to change anything. But we may want to change our perspective, our outlook on life. The false self functions in the realm of personality, the ego. In this realm we identify with what we look like, what we do, how much money we have. But what would happen if we shifted our perspective? Instead of seeing ourselves as stressed-out human beings grasping for enlightenment, for some kind of spiritual experience, what if we realized that we are spiritual beings having a human experience? That spiritual being is the true self.
I'm asking that you go to the place
that responds when you hold a child,
the place that awakens when you help someone
just for the pleasure of doing it.
Connect with the sacred energy
that comes alive when you express loving.
THE TRUE SELF
If we see ourselves as having any spiritual component at all, we might think that the split is at best fifty-fifty between personality and Soul. But, in reality, it's more like ninety-ten in favor of the spiritual side, the true self. The true self is like the sun: it's much bigger and brighter than the false self, which, like the moon, generates no light in itself and shines only as a reflection of the sun.
So what exactly is this true self that shines so brightly, and how do we get in touch with it? Often, it is easier for us to recognize the true self in others than in ourselves. Think of a person who seems to radiate something special. What is that quality? As children, most of us had someone in our lives — a relative, perhaps, or a neighbor or a teacher or a local shopkeeper — who always had a smile for us and a twinkle in their eye. Without knowing why, we were drawn to that person. He or she might have had a hard and difficult life but somehow had managed to avoid judgment, bitterness, and cynicism — had managed to transcend the human condition, in other words, and live from the center we call the Soul, the true self.
Here are some of the qualities of the true self:
Loving (the action of love)
I told myself that whenever a feeling
of depression came over me,
it would immediately move me to joy.
In other words,
I reprogrammed depression for happiness.
Anything less than a state of loving
can be used to reprogram you back into a state of loving.
can be used to move you back to center.
If, indeed, we are spiritual beings, then why, when the false self is running around screaming and beating itself up, doesn't the true self do something to stop it? Perhaps the true self is waiting for us to be quiet and pay attention to it for a few moments, so that it can impart its wisdom and love. To connect with the true self, we need to leave the behavioral field of the false self and enter the field of the true self.
One way we can enter the field of the true self is through observation. We all have an inner observer that watches us as we play out our human experience in the world. This inner observer is aware of the body and its movement. It notices when we are lost in fantasy or when we feel depressed. It watches our minds drive us crazy with racing thoughts and nonstop chatter. When you ask the question, "Who am I?" it is the observer who knows. This awareness is present and alert at all times, monitoring the body, mind, emotions, and imagination. The observer is nonjudgmental, neutral, and unconditionally loving. This is the true self.
The true self has its own language. Joyfulness and loving — love in action — are expressions of the true self. This form of loving is not to be confused with romantic love. Romantic love is conditional: we love someone for what they will do for us or give us, and once they stop giving us what we want, we withdraw our love and give it to someone else we think will fill our needs. The loving expression of the true self is giving, free, and unconditional.
It's important to maintain our optimism
so that we will find what is always present inside us.
When we find it, it is not an end,
signaled with a bell or a round of applause;
it is a new beginning, and it is ongoing.
Soul is here, now.
When loving is unconditional, it is not dependent on how others behave. We will continue to love someone regardless of what they do or say. We may not condone their behavior, and we may choose not to be with them, but our love for them is not conditioned in any way. Unconditional love is like that of a mother for her child. No matter what the child does — poops, cries, poops again — the mother's loving remains constant, a consistent and nonjudging presence.
Unconditional loving as the nature of the true self is beautifully described in a poem by Antonio Machado:
I dreamt ...
that I had a beehive
here inside my heart.
And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
from my old failures.
Excerpted from What's it Like Being You? by John-Roger, Paul Kaye. Copyright © 2004 Peace Theological Seminary & College of Philosophy. Excerpted by permission of Mandeville Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Meet the Author
John-Roger, DSS, is the founder of the Church of the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness and the author of Spiritual Warrior. He has appeared on Larry King Live, Politically Incorrect, and The Roseanne Show. Paul Kaye, DSS, is the president of the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness. They both live in Los Angeles.
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