I received a message this morning from an old grade-school girlfriend I haven’t seen or connected with in…15 years maybe. Wow! As we exchanged messages, I watched hundreds of “pictures” (scenes from the past) cross my awareness. How interesting to review all the memories from that time in my life! It brought tears of joy to recall the fun, playful years of girlhood with my friend.
What I noticed most as I watched the memories surface was how many different dramatic changes in perception and identity I’ve been through in the past 20 years. For those on a path of transformation, rapid and frequent shifts in how we see ourselves, “others” and the world become quite common, until one reaches the inner-most sanctum of true Identity. When we reach the place within where all is One, where we are the Self that lives in each seemingly separate individual, we come to truly know ourSelves. Until then, in and throughout the process of transformation and awakening, there are epochs or waves of identifying with this or that role, ability, personality trait or relationship. We may create our identity around our job, our primary relationship, our most useful talent or ability; yet as these roles, jobs or relationships change, so does that identity we held onto. During times of great change, many experience an “identity crisis,” and are required to really look at who they are. If they are ready, their awareness will reveal the Truth: the unchanging Self that remains unaltered behind the veils of the identities created out of the various appearances that come and go in the world.
This is the practice of detachment, or non-attachment, that so many Eastern traditions teach. It is not a resistance to, or an avoidance of, any of the appearances, roles or identities we take on in the world. It is simply an awareness, throughout any roles or appearances we wear, of Who and What we truly are, and an identifying always with the eternal unchanging Self, rather than any of the transient aspects of our roles, relationships, talents and experiences. Non-attachment allows us to Be while we are being a parent, a student, a lover, a lawyer, a teacher, a doctor, an upset person or a challenged person. We can Be no matter what our being is experiencing.
What we come to realize as we know the Self, is that identity creates, or determines, perception. And, likewise, perception reflects our identity: who or what we think we are. Any identity build around the idea of a separate self results in perceptions of separateness. In fact, perception is separateness, for there needs to be more than one in order to “perceive”: the perceiver and the perceived. When we identify with our Identity–our True Self, the One Self that Is–we are simply Aware. We are Awareness aware of the various perceptions or appearances that come and go in the mind filled with thoughts of “what if we could be separate?” (Fortunately we can’t 🙂
When we perceive pain or suffering of any kind, we have identified with separateness and the cascade of beliefs (or thoughts) that follow: fear, guilt, confusion, shame, resistance, anger, etc. When we become aware, we know that these perceptions are simply that: perceptions, appearances that come and go. We can then give them space and allow them to be. We can step back, so to speak, with our awareness, observe them from the space of Love: Acceptance, Forgiveness and Peace. We then find that the appearances/perceptions shift again. Eventually, the more space we allow, the more peace emerges in our experience, until all that remains is Love.
Jesus said: “Identify with Love, and you are safe. Identify with Love, and you are home. Identify with Love, and find your Self.”
May we all seek until we find this Self. May we all remember to identify only with Love, and thus set the world free.