Discovering Your True Self
Have you ever wondered what you truly are, what your real or higher self is? This is an interesting subject for many people, if not all, because if you do not know what you really are, what your essential self is, then you will be living your life only on the surface and you will never be able to be truly fulfilled.
One of the great enlightened masters of the 20th century, Nisargadatta Maharaja, summed it up beautifully when he said: ‘Only something as vast and as deep as your real self can make you truly and lastingly happy’. If you study every ancient tradition, of every age and culture, you will find that there is a single instruction in them all: ‘Know Thy Self’. They said this because they knew that every human being wanted to be truly and lastingly happy. Everyone wants to live a fulfilled life and it is only by knowing what you really are, that you can do it. Struggling to achieve things in the world while not being aware of your true self, is often frustrating and disappointing. You realise that something is missing, but you don’t know what.
So the adventure for all intelligent people begins, and eventually ends, with the search for the true self. Let’s look at it carefully and so perhaps save you decades of seeking.
What actually are you as you read these words? Are you just a body with a computer-like ‘side effect’ that is called the mind? Or are you a soul or a spirit or an independent mind that has a body which it lives within to explore this experience of life on Earth? These two views are in a way both correct and incorrect. The confusion arises because few people have known exactly where to look to find the true self. And this is the paradox, because the problem, as you shall see, is the search.
Look inside yourself right now and examine what it is that is actually reading these words. There is within you a faculty that is witnessing or observing what you are reading. It is conscious of the mind and the world. It is also prior to the thoughts and images in your mind, because it is the part of you that is observing your mind as it functions. This next statement is important: ‘Anything that you can observe cannot be your true self’. This includes all the contents of your mind, including your personality and the beliefs and ideas you have about yourself and life.
You are not anything you can observe, whether it is in the external world of your daily life, or internally within the realms of thoughts, feelings and dreams, because of the fact that there is always that something else that is doing the observing or witnessing. So the question arises, what is this faculty of observation or witnessing that you always have? Because if you can discover what this is then you have the secret of your self. The key is consciousness. At essence you are pure consciousness.
Your consciousness has a mind and a body to operate through in life. Your mind is the key. It holds undreamed of powers and abilities that can be awakened and applied to fulfil all your desires. But it needs to be fully used and directed correctly. Even though it has so many brilliant capabilities, it can never take you to the self. It can bring you everything that you want in life, except one thing – what you truly are.
Your true conscious self is something quite different from your mind. To discover the self you will need to stop looking for it, because it is not actually lost. It is always present, it is always with you. You are always this consciousness. It never leaves you, even when you are sleeping. You only need to rest in it. It can seem very difficult to do this because of the activities of the mind. Meditation is the best way of reintegrating with your natural self. This is why it has been the single consistent personal development technique for all cultures over thousands of years. It is nothing to do with guided visualisations or relaxation. It goes far deeper than that. Meditation cannot be learnt from a book, it is something that is experienced in the company of those who are regular, properly trained meditators.
When you meditate, which actually means concentrating on the self, you will find that your mind reveals its powers to you. For many people this is an amazing experience. You suddenly find that you have so much potential and so many talents that you were unaware of. You realise very quickly that you have to learn about your mind as soon as possible, because it is actually running your entire life.
By mastering your mind you can bring into your life whatever you desire. And when you are meditating properly feelings of bliss and joy spontaneously arise within you, because the nature of your own self is euphoric bliss and ecstasy. By connecting with your conscious self and using your mind to the full, you fulfil yourself in a way that nothing else can, for these are the actual source of all pleasure, success and love. Life is a consciousness game. Understand your own consciousness and you understand everything.