“We are all patchwork, and so shapeless and diverse in composition that each bit, each moment, plays its own game. And there is as much difference between us and ourselves as between us and others.” Michel de Montaigne, Essais, Second Book, 1
When we live from our habituated selves, we live as it were, from a narrow perception that cannot be open to new experience or possibility.
All our experience is interprative; defined by the personal platform of a myriad of cultural, racial, sexual, tribal and religious filters we wear as our sense of who and what we are. This is the ground upon which we build a coherent sense of self. Perception itself is forced through these channels of habituation so that all understanding becomes saturated, colored through and through by the values and mores of its conditional and singular awareness. We can thus only know the familiar, the ‘facts’ of our own assembling, which give our world its dependable and certain contours.
Yet within this predictability we are bound to mere rote repetition of past experience and cannot know anything outside of the perceptual and interprative boundaries this assembled self has placed upon itself.
You cannot know what you are not. Yet know we must.
Knowing who you truly are is so much more unknown and unknowable than any known self can ever be. Yet know we must.
It is out of this unknowability and the courage it takes to fully embrace this unknowing that any newness can come into our experience of our selves and all others. We cannot see anew what we have already judged. We cannot see anew what we think we already know.
Our experience of ourselves is our experience of everything else. If we are simply the bare facts of our experience, then we cannot either know or discover who or what we are in all its multidimensional wonder and power.
’Facts’ are appearances of events in time. What and who we are is both in time as an evolving, transforming self as well as an unchanging Self that is entirely beyond the net of time. This larger, shall we say VAST Self, is entirely free of the story we have told ourselves we are.
The ‘concrete’ experience of self is based upon the inability to view oneself and the totality of one’s behavior outside of one’s own inner landscape of being. And the degree to which one is identitified with it as a separate entity amongst other separarate entities, one is blind to the newness of self that is possible beyond this paradox of who we appear to be…
Our conditional self-perception is built on the sliding morain of an ever changing kalaidoscope of desire, emotion, and intent, with a dash of objectivity – usually what others tell us about ourselves, which is equally based upon the self-deception of self-projection, the co-created projection of self and others. This cannot alter the fact that the ‘self’ appears to be composed of a poorly spliced film strip of partial and selective memory biased towards self-inflation and self-agrandizement; or alternatively some version of self-defeating self-deflation and self-loathing… Both approaches to self appraisal demonstrate the creative use of narrative fiction.
“It takes divine courage and divine strength to live with oneself in perfect truth.” This quote from ‘Night Train To Lisbon’ by Pascal Mercier allows for the promise of inner stillness beyond the noise of the “story-of-me”.
To see onself as if one were someone else, or, seeing yourself as others see you, means living with the sometimes unflattering views of onself that ‘others’ gift one with… It is also to witness the ongoing strategies of self-preservation-at-all-costs, which is the egos bid to survive a true self-encounter – to avoid the discovery of self beyond the habitual defence of perceptual filters.
To See As God Sees is to see with eyes naked to the full spectrum of life’s endless display, vulnerable to its least nuance. It is to see with eyeballs ‘skinned’ to witness Life living Itself through all these temporary names, forms and functions. It is seeing these permeable, relatively flawed vessels of personal self without the accompanying filters of belief and opinion, which prevent a clear view of self in all its aspects – seen whole – not broken up into constituent parts subject to the discriminative incriminations of relative perception.
Seeing-as-God-Sees is to witness life without the least partiality or judgement – this “seeing” is not simply the seeing of physical perception, the evidence of the senses which, by virtue of their attributes cannot be separated from what is seen. It is the ‘seeing’ of an informed spiritual intuition, which reveals this Self beyond self, this Self which inhabits all ‘selves’. It is the animating principle, the life of life, the “light” which is self-revealed; it is the light of naked awareness which lights all other knowing. This you beyond the me; the I behind the i…
The ironic paradox is that without the excrutiating experience of a partial self which appears to be trapped in acting out a poorly scripted personal reality, the desire for the experience of unconditional self cannot arise.
Becoming free of the illusion of a compromised reality is what spiritual and religious practice can potentially give one. Yet the enlightenment which is so avidly sought as some rare treasure is closer than breathing, closer than thought itself, hidden within the innermost depth of one’s ultimate being. Without losing the conviction of self as time-bound within a limited physical and inescapably historical narrative, the ultimate truth of oneself cannot be found.
The ability to imaginatively reflect upon the past, present or future is the the ability to remove oneself from the purely linear perception of self. It is to place one’s awareness outside of chronological time – beyond the intemparate logic of the time-bound self; to place the attention and intention of open possibility beyond local circumstance.
This is the ability to dream a better dream.
What is this ultimate Self, this ultimate Reality? It is the irreducable sense of self beyond which nothing else exists…
“In that (final) state the Purusha (or Self) having realized his true nature and having shaken off the yoke of matter has no attraction left even for the subtlest kinds of bliss experienced on the highest planes of existence… This Vairagya (discriminative non-attachment) which is based upon the destruction of Avidya (ignorance of the truth of Self) and the realization that everything is contained in the Purusha himself or the Purusha is the source of everything is the highest kind of Vairagya…” “The Science of Yoga” – I. K. Taimni page 30 Section 1 (15, 16) – 1967 The Theosophical Publishing House, India.
Yet this knowing of Self beyond persons, places and things, beyond the incorrigible self-referencing of the personal self – is only possible by following the outward turned senses to their inmost source – the point of all origin – the birthplace of ultimate silence which breathes all things into being – it is returning ‘home’ to the common source of all conditioned selves – to the unfettered uncompromised Selfness which is our spiritual and divine birthright.
This is the Self of all selves, this is the opened door of heaven – and the heart, pure, naked and utterly undefended is its only key… a key we must turn to discover the already existing truth of Self beyond the limiting drama of personalities and events…
This is the key to freedom from the conditioned self -even while living through the limitations of the physical self – it is to know the self-illumined in the midst of darkness – it is to know limitless love in the midst of spiritual drought – it is to know largeness, even vastness of being beyond the smallness of “me-and-mine” – beyond the need to believe one thing over any other thing, to care for one member of life’s endless parade over any others – it is knowing the boundary-lessness of a cosmic awareness which is the source of all knowing – it is being aligned with this cosmic Self that allows the flood of love that It is to pour forth through on all equally, not to any chosen few, but as generously as the sun bathes all in its its life giving warmth and light – it is seeing as God sees…