All real enjoyment is as good, from the point of view of energy production and conservation, as suffering. —J.G. Bennett


My place is where I am, and your place is where you are. Not only have I got to bear my own situation, I have to bear your situation also. First of all I have to bear the truth about myself and little by little I have to bear all truths —J.G. Bennett


Joe Naft

Being Yourself

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Explanations of how to be yourself often focus on how to not be what is not yourself. Though we will come to that shortly, on its own it leaves a void. If I know what I am not, I still may be muddled about who I am.

Who we are is our will, which shifts the problem to clarifying what will is. We are our I and our I is will. We begin with our attention, which is one of the powers of our will. Attention focuses our consciousness and our sensitive awareness but is neither of those energies. Our will is what directs our attention, what chooses where to put our attention and what actually puts it and keeps it there. So the first approach to becoming our real I is to be our attention, to be the one who directs our attention moment-to-moment. If we practice that, it will bring us right into our I. We cannot see our I, because our I, our will, is the one who sees what see. Though we cannot see our I, we can certainly be it and the most accessible way into that is through being our attention, being the one who directs our attention.

This practice of being the one who directs our attention can be undertaken at any time. But it may be easiest to start during a sitting meditation, when we are likely less distracted into whatever our attention alights upon. When we are focused, our attention is like a beam of light. At such a moment, we inwardly move back along the beam of our attention to be its source, to be the one who points the beam, to be the action of pointing the beam. As you persist in working with this, exploring it, it becomes less murky and more you.

Although we cannot see our I, our will, our attention, because we have no mirror for that, other people come close to being that mirror. When we look at and interact with others, we can have a sense of the person behind their person, of the will, the I within them. We get the sense that there is someone there behind those eyes, just as there is in us. And by reflection we can see ourselves through them, in them. Paradoxically, the more fully we become ourselves, the closer we are to others.

Our will is not material, not a function of the brain or of consciousness. It is the user of the brain, the perceiver behind consciousness. It is its own force, with the ability to be, to decide, to choose, to direct, to understand, to see the truth, to create. Our will is not a thing and is not static. We may focus, but that focusing is an ongoing act, moment-to-moment. We cannot grab hold of our will or freeze it. It is dynamic, even when the ongoing action is to quietly be ourselves or to be empty and receptive before the Sacred.

Can we reclaim our life, reclaim ourselves, from what we are not? We are not our job. We are not our phone, computer, TV, or anything shown on those screens. We are not our possessions, our bank account, or our resume. We are not any idea or belief. We are not our body or our emotions. We are not our memories, our stories, or our thoughts, not even the thought "I." We are not our sensory awareness. And more subtly, we are not our consciousness.

Can we reclaim ourselves and be who we are, be our will, be our I? Can we be the one who cognizes what our sensory awareness displays on our consciousness? Can we be the one who thinks, when we think intentionally? Can we be the one who sees what we see, hears what we hear, knows what we know, feels what we feel, and does what we do? There is only one of us. Can we be that one?

For this week, please be yourself. With enough practice it can become your natural state.