For some folk, at least for a while anyway, there is no issue with themselves. Although there are some problems, the world is basically a good place and life is pretty good! Cheers to you! Other kinds of folk stuggle more with all sorts of things, some desperately so.
We are all born into this world. Newborn humans cannot speak, cannot reason, relate and feel the way adults do. Most newborns emerge into a ready made scenario, a family. The family scenario is in a larger context like a race division, an income class sector like poor, middle class or wealthy. Then there are political, general educational and religious factors that play a big role in the future development and life of the child.
In a discussion of consciousness, what seems to matter most, is that one way or another we are all permanently bombarded from day one with consciousness imprinting – energetically educating material.
Every item and detail of the world that our parents and those we are in conact with, create reality collectively on a daily basis and continue to do so. This becomes gradually our own reality as we steadily grow up! By the time we reach adulthood and have been rolled through various educational belief systems, we can truly be called ‘children’ of the current world.
Many today recognise and take for granted that we are all deeply conditioned and that this plays a big role in how we all percieve situations, respond and just plain turn out in life as we grow up and on. However, I think very few realise the extent, the depth and scope, the ultimate implications of this collective, consensually participatory conditioning and consequent ‘reality’ we all live out on a day to day basis.
From something as simple as a holding a peanut, to the ability to have speech, all the way to the mind of an astro-physicist deeply involved in equations and speculations, or maybe some dubious political power-monger, pulling a grand, convoluted manuever to gain strategic power – we all learnt every single minute detail, nuance and conditionality from those around us and those that went long before us.
Belief systems, moods, feelings, ways of processing emotions and behaviours, ability to think in rational terms, how we take action and everything else you can think of, were all programmed into us.
We have to ask the question: ‘What could possibly be left after such a massive programming of our consciousness? From one angle, it certainly seems like we are just one of many pawn pieces within a giant and complicated cosmic software program. Perhaps for the arcane use of some powerful unknown entity or group. But then again, perhaps not.
And so the false self is also born the same day we are. It usually takes many years however, indeed likely only later in life, that the veil starts to wear thin and we begin to catch sometimes devastating glimpses of the un-real personality we call ‘our-self’.
It’s in the times we are alone for a while – most folk can’t stand being alone for very long – that the contradictions become more apparent. We often feel that we do not know ourselves and frequently end up disliking what we percieve – quite a lot. Curiously, it’s usually the things about ourselves we once used to love so dearly that turn around one day and bite us back so viciously.
The false self is the complete contents of our personal history. Everything from our names, our genders, our age all the way to our occupations, station in life, achievements and accolades, education, personal and political influence and everything else you can think of about yourself. The false self includes conditioned emotions, feelings, thoughts, beliefs, attitudes and even our so-called physical abilities.
Considering all this, we may feel trapped, caged, unable to change things since the very things we are concerned with seem to form the fabric of society as a whole. The fabric of our own reality seems to be inside our very heads and hearts.
There is a common ‘trendy’ idea that its really important (and cool) to be ‘authentic’, to be ‘real’. They mean you must act and come from a genuine place within yourself – not a fake smile or gesture, not a cloned version of society’s impossible expectations, or of the extravagant flavour of the day. While this is a laudable idea in itself, upon a little examination of this ‘real’, and ‘authentic’, self, you simply find, yet again, the false self. Perhaps hiding skillfuly behind layers of persona.
These folk are forever avidly seeking new experiences, since in these, they dont ‘know’ themselves so well, or maybe not at all, and so have a chance to realise and validate beautifully there drive and purpose of ‘being real’. I know I sound a bit cynical here. No cynicism intended.
Consider that a ‘real’ self can never be found in identification with experience, old hat or brand new. Experiences come and go but what residue is left in there wake? We like to say that we ‘grow’ from diverse experiences.
Perhaps the beliefs the ‘experiencer’ has about themselves change and grow. ‘I know many more more things now than i used to before that experience’! Or ‘I used to believe that’ . . .
It’s easy and glib to say ‘I can change my beliefs anytime’. While this may appear to be more or less true, most of our life governing beliefs are nowhere near our waking conscious layer of mind. Rather, they are very deeply buried indeed in our sub-conscious layers of mind.
The other issue is that the vast majority of folk live there lives ‘facing forwards’, towards the future. People plan out there lives and what they want to do, where they want go, who they want to go along with and so on. Mostly it seldom works out that way at all!
Now-a-days it’s found everywhere ad nauseum that we must ‘live in the moment’, the past is gone the future has not happened yet. Okay. That’s all cool and true from within the perspective of linear space and time. But maybe that is also only true for the false self?
Many people ‘reflect’ upon their lives, try to use that reflection as a tool for adjusting into a better course. Mostly we somehow miss ‘adjusting’, with the ‘spirit’ as the reference. We adjust perhaps to move into a stronger financial or social position. Perhaps into a better personal health situation. So in reality, the reference was actually: get a bigger house, a more expensive phone, a fashionable car, a more sculpted, sexy body, designer clothes . . .
If there is a ‘real’ self somewhere, surely it is not going to be found ‘fettered’ within linear space and time? Concerened, often deeply so, with various material and social gains. The facing forwards mind frame is always the tell tale of the false self.
Dont stress, i’m not advocating that we stop planning or stop investing ourselves into all the wonderful things life has to offer. I’m also fully aware that conditioning is needed in order to make some sense of the world and share it ‘meaningfully’ with others! I’m simply trying to probe a deeper layer and find another perspective.
‘Authentic’ can also simply be the place where we have the deepest familiarity and good feelings about ourself and our experience and this is then what we identify as ‘ourself’. This is probably the commonost way ‘confident’ folk seem to naturally live and embody their confidence.
Maybe this is our own personal brand of everything from morality, academic and rational abilities, kindness and empathic qualities, material achievements, accolades of various kinds, our presentation of deep life experience, being the life and soul of the party, to being a great artist and many more.
One of the biggest issues with the false self is that until it’s edges and foundations have started to fray and crack, usually much later in life, we live fully by it, identify with it and think it is us and we are it. It’s probably safe to say that the entire fabric of our society and culture is built on this false self – as if the individual fake self were a real self.
Could this be the true hidden reason why the world seems to be in so much trouble today? It’s absolutely possible and happens all the time, that folk act on fake premises. Generations upon generations of false selves have built up a formidable, current global scenario and with todays ever expanding and accelerating tech capabilities, the false self agendas are mushrooing exponentially. Agendas and motivations that have there roots in quick sand and of course bear the fruit so ubiquitous in the world today – quick buck, one-up on my team mates, screw the environment, fck the workers, who cares if there are no bees left in the world, I can do yoga poses better than you can, giant predatory economic monopolies, the vast digital deluge . . .
Perhaps seeing as this is a blog post and not a book, I will have to do a part 2 in order to discuss where to find the good news – our actual, genuine, authentic self. That other ‘self’ among ‘selves’ that is so easily missed, glossed over, forgotten, buried, un-cultivated and deeply misunderstood in its freedom from the shackles of time and space.
So please join me for part two shortly.
Paul Carlos is the founding director of Sacred Spiral Yoga School and offers Yoga based Spiritual Coaching Online.