In a previous article “Know Thyself,” I wrote about the Johari window as a tool for ways to reveal hidden aspects of yourself. Although useful, this process is not the endpoint because the truth is you are not what you think you are. Remember, the fundamental belief of the ego is you are a body. Before proposing to you what you really are, you need to know about the ego’s primary psychological defense mechanism that results in complete self-deception.
The Capacity for Self-Deception
Denial is the process of blocking from awareness anything which is fearful or painful. This can range from denying an unpleasant quality about yourself to denying the death of a loved one. However, the most incredible consequence of denial is the ego has convinced us that we are something we are not. It has convinced us that we are bodies living in linear time, fragile, subject to illness, decay, and ultimately death. This is the most remarkable of all self-deceptions.
What Are You?
Do you find it incredibly challenging to believe you are not a body? If so, for evidence to question this belief, I refer you to the book Meditation and/or the article Why So Much Hate? Now if you sense a very strong resistance to letting go of your belief that you are a body, that resistance is entirely understandable because questioning that belief is perceived by the ego as a threat to its existence, and the ego will do whatever is possible to protect and preserve itself. So I acknowledge your inner sense of threat while also inviting you to consider what believing you are a body has wrought for you. I submit this belief has only brought you pain, loss, illness, conflict, anxiety, guilt, and shame. By clinging to this belief that you are a body you will experience more and more of the same. So, if you are not a body, what are you?
You Are Spirit
I propose to you that you are spirit–pure, formless energy, the closest approximation of which is light. You are inseparable from that Great Light whether you believe it or not. Like a sunbeam cannot be separated from the sun or a wave cannot be separated from the ocean, you cannot be separated from your Source. You can block this knowledge from your awareness by denial, but you cannot change what you really are. Of course, if you believe you are spirit, that means everyone else is also spirit, which logically leads to the conclusion that we are all one.
If you have trouble believing you are spirit, then consider replacing “spirit” with “energy.” I am no physicist, but I think I remember the first law of thermodynamics, also known as the Law of Conservation of Energy, which states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed; energy can only be stored, transferred, or changed from one form to another. Physicists also agree that matter is only condensed, slowed energy. Matter can only be measured by the amount of energy it contains. So, if matter is energy then absolutely everything is an energy field of some form, and if energy cannot be created or destroyed it is eternal!
You are an energy field which therefore makes YOU eternal! You see your and other people’s energy fields as separate bodies, but that is only your perception because you believe you and everyone around you are bodies.
A fundamental psychological principle is belief leads to perception. Now in rare circumstances such as near-death experiences or moments of pure illumination, our ordinary perception can be interrupted and/or suspended, and you see everything in its true energetic form.
An Experience of Illumination
Here is a somewhat lengthy but fascinating and affirming account of such an experience by Dr. David Hawkins, author of Power Vs. Force.
In 1939, I was a paperboy in rural Wisconsin and had a 17-mile route. One dark winter’s night, I was caught miles from home in a blizzard. The temperature was 20 degrees below zero, and my bicycle toppled over on an icy, snow-covered field. A fierce wind ripped out the newspapers that I carried in my handlebar basket, strewing them across the terrain. I broke into tears of frustration and exhaustion; my clothes were frozen stiff, and I was far from home. To get out of the wind, I broke through the icy crust of a high snowbank and dug out a place to burrow into. The shivering stopped and was replaced by a delicious warmth . . . and then a state of peace beyond all description. This was accompanied by a suffusion of light and a Presence of infinite love, which had no beginning and no end, and which was indistinguishable from my own essence. I became oblivious of the physical body and surroundings as my awareness fused with this all-present illuminated state. The mind grew silent; all thought stopped. An infinite Presence was all that was or could be, and it was beyond time or description.
I personally have not had this kind of experience, but I have read many, many similar accounts by people from all of the world’s religious traditions. Some were saints, sages, gurus, and mystics who dedicated themselves to seeking unity with the Divine, but many others were ordinary people who experienced a major crisis or reached a point of contemplating suicide due to unbearable pain. Eckhardt Tolle in the preface to The Power of Now shares his experience of awakening to his True Self in the midst of his darkest moment of despair.
A Leap of Faith (But not a blind one!)
So, for me and maybe for you, embracing the belief that I am not a body is a leap of faith, but not a blind leap. For me, the laws of physics and the thousands of experiential narratives give me absolute certainty that my True Self at this very moment is a dynamic, indestructible, light-infused energy field that has always been and will always be one with that Great Light. Does believing this automatically undo my ego thought system and turn me into a saint? No.
What it does do is give me an awareness and an intent to be a welcoming, harmonizing, and healing presence to everyone every day. Do I forget what I really am? Of course, I do, but I have no doubt that without this knowledge of my True Self, I would feel much more adrift and alone.