What does it mean to know who you are? The process of discovery may have very humble beginnings….
At first, you may not really care who you are, and care more about what other people think of you. The world is your mirror and you check your reflection, believing that the reflection is you. If you like what you see, you keep it up. If you hate what you see, you may still keep it up. You may also feel the need to change your behaviors and beliefs until your reflection meets your expectations. And all this time, you don’t distinguish between yourself and the reflection – while you look outward, you believe that this is you.
Because the outside looks solid, you also feel solid and real. That is comforting – for awhile….
After looking outward for some time, you may begin to wonder why you occasionally feel bleedthroughs of thoughts and feelings that bear no resemblance to your accepted sense of self. You may start to wonder whether there is more to you than can be affirmed by other people. You may even decide that others may be perceiving you through their own filters, and you filter them as well. Eventually, you become temporarily confused about where to look for yourself and which feelings to trust. This confusion births a new space for exploration. So you ask Who am I?
You follow the threads of how you relate to the apparent outer world back to yourself, studying your childhood, your parents, your friends and partners. Rather than focusing on your reflection, you are following the rays to their origin. This is the beginning of taking responsibility for your identity, which is really a form of acknowledging that you are a unique presence.
You explore what you like and don’t like, who you spend time with, and what you believe. You may wonder what you value and what inspires you. As you explore, you also define and redefine yourself – like trying on different outfits. You keep the one that looks good to you, and change into another one later. You are creating your identity and experience through its eyes. Unlike other reflection, you engage in self reflection – but reflection nonetheless.
Eventually, you may decide that the ability to define yourself feels incomplete. You get the feeling that something or someone is watching you create – and that watcher is the real you. More and more, you identify with that anonymous observer, always looking through your eyes. Then, an amazing shift occurs and you let go of the need to define yourself altogether.
You revel in the direct experience of this nameless presence that is pure awareness and your awareness shifts to being that. Then, you rest as bliss.
But even that feels incomplete. After you realize yourself, you yearn to express and manifest from the vastness of that realization. Now you are but a newborn, learning how to relate to the world as you. Everything is new and, unlike before, you do not assume to know or have the answers. You are innocent, but not naive. There is no fear, nor any hesitation. You move spontaneously, directly, and simply to build a new bridge to the world as pure awareness. And the world – well, it no longer feels separate from you.
So, who are you, really?