(This is a multi-part discussion, so please read at least the part before so it all makes sense)
We have been born under a mistaken identity. And almost everything that we see, hear, and experience – almost everything produced by society – keeps us in the dark about who and what we truly are. The mistaken identity is that we are merely human beings, having an occasional spiritual experience; that we are born in sin, worms of the dust; that we are circumscribed by our personality, a product of our culture and family, conceived on a certain date, destined to die. But that’s a lie — the Father of Lies. And when we peel away the dogma and doctrine of all great spiritual teachings, we discover that they have been trying to wake us up from this illusion or Maya all along. ‘Sin,’ as it turns out, is not some demonic quality of our soul; it is an archery term that means ‘to miss the mark.’ The only ‘original sin’ we were born under is this false, limited belief about who we are.
The fact that this human self we perceive isn’t who we really are doesn’t mean it’s bad or that we should disregard it (like some extreme religious practices have erroneously concluded). This human incarnation is a magnificent thing, with the potential to reveal beauty, power, and greatness beyond our imagination. But it’s just a pale reflection of the truth. Every level of our experience – mental, emotional, physical — is a relative expression of an Infinite Perfection, an Eternal Self, forever unfolding in this timeless moment.
Our human self is like a great character in this ‘divine drama’ that we are acting out for the evolution of our soul; like a work of art we are painting on the canvas of our experience. We’re the Actor, not the character; the Painter, not the painting. The map is not the territory. The menu is not the meal. And this person you have come to identify with is not the Real You. Your true Self is ‘made in the image and likeness of God,’ eternal, immortal, changeless, and infinite, whereas your human self is always a relative, finite effect, made in the image and likeness of your ego, history, and the transitory world of changes that arise out of the Self and dissolve back into it, over and over, like a wave upon the ocean.
Everything you need for your total fulfillment is already within you, constituted as a part of this essential Self. And when you are more identified with It, all your needs will emerge without the effort and struggle so common to the human experience.
I remember the first time this principle became real for me. It was a trial by fire, an ‘initiation’, something we’re all called to walk through at a certain point – often many points — on the path of personal growth. An initiation is an experience that forces us to move beyond mere intellectual understanding or belief, and prove the truth of these principles we’re trying to live by – transforming our theoretical knowledge into working wisdom. During this period, I had quit acting, stopped watching TV or reading newspapers, and pretty much cloistered myself in my North Hollywood apartment, meditating, praying, and journaling about my inner journey. At a certain point, I had gone through my savings, had no work or any future prospects, and had exhausted all external means of support. I was basically left with nothing but my spiritual insights — literally living on a prayer. I was also, to be honest, pretty pissed off at God. I mean, here I was dedicating my life to a spiritual practice, trying to be a light in the world – and I couldn’t even pay my light bill!
So one day, after convincing my landlord to give me yet another extension on my rent – or ‘a stay of eviction’ as I like to call it — I sat in my meditation chair and laid down the gauntlet, saying in substance: “God, either there really is a true Self with everything it needs to fulfill its purpose, or this is all a bunch of bull (okay, that’s the PG version). Either way, I’m gonna find out today, because I’m not getting up until I have my answer!” And there I sat, and sat…as daylight turned dark and the choir of crickets began their nightly chorus. I meditated and prayed and beseeched and surrendered, trying to reconnect to this essential Self I had touched in my ‘brush with death’ experience, riding a rollercoaster of emotional turbulence with no end in sight. And at some point in the middle of the night, after wrestling with my demons and feeling pinned to the mat, there was a ‘click’ inside, like a pressure valve suddenly opening. My body drained of all anxiety, a peace washed over me — a warm inner sense of assurance that ‘all was well’ – and I crawled into bed and fell asleep.
For the next few days, I went about my business, actually forgetting that I even had a problem. When I did finally remember, “Oh, yeah, I have all these bills due and not a damn clue how to pay them,” there wasn’t the usual fear or frustration gripping me, but instead an inner feeling that things would be okay.
And then the phone rang.
It was my former acting agent, calling me with an audition. He said he knew I was ‘too spiritual’ to do commercials anymore, but a casting director had called ‘out of the blue’ requesting me. I immediately knew it was my answer, and accepted the audition. I booked the commercial. And in two days, I earned enough money to pay for a year’s worth of living expenses.
There are a few key elements to this experience that I want to highlight. First, I didn’t have any plan, I didn’t create a vision board, or visualize my outcome, I just reconnected to that part of me that was already whole, had a feeling of my innate completeness, then surrendered my control of the outcome. By making this connection, I cultivated the conditions in consciousness that allowed it to naturally emerge. Had I tried to visualize the outcome, I might have fantasized a variety of things, from getting a job as a spiritual teacher or writer (for which I was unqualified at the time), to winning the lottery or receiving an inheritance from a long lost uncle — but I never would have imagined my ex-agent calling me and booking a commercial, because that idea was outside of my known self as a ‘spiritual guy who doesn’t act anymore.’ Yet that turned out to be the quickest, most efficient, and probably the funnest, route to fulfill my needs.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t create a plan or use visualization and affirmations — all those tools have a place in cultivating the conscious conditions for your unfoldment (which we’ll address in Part Two). But in order to allow your greatest good to express in the most effective way, you must begin by turning away from your limited human self trapped in time, and turning within to this boundless, eternal Self. At first, as in my case, it might help you pay your rent and put a little more Kraft Mac ‘n Cheese on the table. In fact, meeting your basic survival needs is usually one of the initial results of making this connection. But the principle behind it has much more profound implications. The truth is, the realization of our essential Self on a mass scale, and the resulting activation of the Law of Emergence, would eventually put an end to crime, domestic violence, wars, poverty, hunger and, ultimately, every other form of lack, limitation, disease, and dysfunction. I know that’s a bold statement, but simple deductive reasoning reveals it’s validity. Once you know you’re already whole and everything you need is within you — including love, respect, validation, power, wealth, and health — what possible reason would you have for demanding it, fighting for it, or stealing it from someone else?
We spin our wheels trying to come up with solutions to all our social, political, personal and professional problems, creating new policies, more restrictive laws, bigger prisons, and more powerful weapons to ‘attack the issues’ – or just twisting ourselves into pretzels trying to solve things. But no matter what new invention, theory, or practice we create and engage in, if it doesn’t arise out of some degree of true Self-realization, out of an awareness of our innate wholeness and completeness, it will never create lasting peace, abundance, or fulfillment in our lives or on the planet. It can’t. Because we don’t get what we want, or even what we fight for and claim – we get who we are in consciousness. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s not personal, it’s The Law.
Besides these broader implications, an understanding of our true Self versus our human self is a primary component in the successful activation of the Law of Emergence. To the extent you identify with the part of you that is changing – the small self — you create resistance to the part of you emerging, much the way an acorn would if it was identified with its shell — or its roots, shoots, branches, and fruits. Everything visible is just an effect of something deeper, something invisible – the true Self forever unfolding. What’s more, as already suggested above, to the extent that you identify with the self that changes, the self that appears lacking, you come under the human laws of limitation and perpetuate them in your experience. This is, in a nutshell, what keeps us stuck and prevents our evolution. We keep trying to solve the problems created by the ‘small self’ and its distorted ideas – such as lack, separation, competition, self-preservation, war, and fear – using the same small-mind that created them. But as Einstein said, “You can never solve a problem on the level on which it is created.”
When, however, you become more identified with your changeless, boundless Self, you stay rooted in your core, even as your human incarnation and external world continue to change form and reveal your ever-expanding good. From this perspective, you no longer live from the level on which the problems were created. You step off the hamster wheel of the ‘business as usual’ mindset that keeps running around in circles wondering why it isn’t getting anywhere, or doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results (which, by the way, is one definition of insanity). You enter into a peace and fulfillment no longer dependent on external conditions, but supported and fueled by the whole universe. You become truly free, on a creative adventure that never ends.