Who Are You?

Many years ago, a friend described to me a job interview that had left him perplexed. In it, the hiring manager had asked him, “Who are you?” 

My friend immediately began to list his “accomplishments”—his degrees, work experience, etc. 

“That’s all well and good, but who are you?” the interviewer persisted. 

My friend next rattled off pertinent info about his family and community—he was a son, a father, a brother, a husband, a Presbyterian. 

“Yes, but who are you?” was the response. 

Flummoxed, my friend gave up. (He didn’t get the job.)

Perhaps you can infer what this interviewer was getting at. Each of us, while incarnated here, takes on many templates, and the collective sum of them is who most of us think we are. For example, “I”—Tina— am a white woman, an American, a college graduate, a brunette, etc. In reality, though, I am none of those things. Rather, I am experiencing them. While here on earth, we have a built-in operating system, to borrow a term from technology, and this operating system—known as the ego, or personality structure—is who most of us think we are. The ego is not only what we think of as our personality, but also all of the subconscious programming we hold, such as childhood wounds, past-life experiences, karma, etc. The ego experiences everything through the lens of its programming, its five senses, its physical body, and takes actions accordingly. It also experiences everything in a linear fashion (the time/space continuum) and focuses on the past or future; its stock in trade is fear-based thinking: regrets, anger, desires, worries, what ifs, etc. A favorite thought pattern of the ego is judgment; judge yourself or judge others—the ego doesn’t care which! If and when you catch yourself thinking about how you are unworthy, undeserving, unlucky or not good enough (not rich enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough, etc.), or making similar judgments about someone else, you can be sure it’s the ego in action. And all of those thoughts and feelings stem from the same place: fear. Fear is really a synonym for the way we perceive everyone and everything in the world as separate from us. 

This 3D, or separation consciousness, causes us to see lack, rather than abundance, in our own lives and on the planet. Let’s use immigration as an example. Some of the arguments against immigration include the following: What if these immigrants are criminals? What if my tax dollars have to support them? What if they take too many jobs from current citizens? What is each one of these arguments really saying? “I am afraid that someone may harm me or my loved ones. I am afraid there are not enough financial resources and jobs in this world to go around. I am afraid.” 

Up until now on this planet, most of us have lived most of our lives thinking we are our egos, our small selves, so to speak. However, our True Self (call it soul/spirit, divine spark or whatever resonates with you) is who we truly are; it is the infinite being that is here having this experience. Our True Self exists in the present moment (scientists have proven that linear time is an illusion, and we exist only in an eternal present) and speaks to us not from the ever-chattering monkey mind but from our heart. We’ve all experienced intuition or gut feelings and deep within recognized them as the whisperings of our soul.

In theologian and Episcopal priest Cynthia Bourgeault’s wonderful book, The Wisdom Jesus, she explains that the teachings of Jesus are essentially a wisdom path, and that “The Kingdom of Heaven lies within” is a reference to our True Self, which sees things from a higher perspective—5D, or unity consciousness. Much of Christianity teaches that man is separate from God, sinful and in need of salvation, but this is a misunderstanding, and it results from those living in ego/duality consciousness trying to understand and teach non-duality. When we incarnate, the veil of ego allows us—Divine beings—to experience the illusion of separation so that we can ultimately experience again and again that rediscovery of Oneness, of unconditional love, of inclusivity. Unfortunately, for thousands of years, we’ve been walking around this planet thinking/believing we are the illusion, never quite awakening, pulling the veil from our eyes and discovering our Oneness.

Put another way, by Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, “Enlightenment is when a wave realizes that it is the ocean.” The True Self knows that we are each an expression of the Divine; each of us is a unique focal point of God, but we are all cells on the One body, so to speak. In that sense, there is no me. There is no you. There is only the One, experiencing Itself in infinite ways. And, so it follows, what is in the highest good of one of us is in the highest good of all of us. This notion of the highest good is one where the ego will often object; ego loves to see winners and losers, so I’ll share an example from my own life that illustrates this principle:

Early in my career, I had an entry-level, low-paying job. When there was a job opening in a different department that offered a lot more money and better benefits, I applied for it. I wasn’t particularly interested in the (marketing) work, but it certainly seemed sensible to try to “move up the ladder.” I had a wonderful 90-minute interview/conversation with the department head, at the conclusion of which he told me, “I know you could do this job. But I just don’t think it’s your passion. It’s not where you belong.” Someone else got the position. A few weeks later (and through Divine synchronicity, because our soul always has a bigger plan for our lives—though that’s another blog post), I was offered a job at another company—and this job was a dream job! Not only was the work fulfilling, but I made two of the best friends I’ve ever had there. The highest good of one (the person who got the marketing job) was also my highest good, even if it didn’t seem so when I wasn’t hired. And this is always the case, though often we (the small self) don’t understand this until much further down the road. Again, the True Self sees things from a higher perspective; our soul has the view from the mountain/long-term, while our small self only sees things from ground level/short-term. What is meant for us will never pass us by.

Unchecked, the ego keeps us in a prison of our own making. Deepak Chopra has a wonderful quote about most of us preferring the familiar—even if we are miserable in our lives—because we are so frightened of change. And when we fear change, we know who is calling the shots—good old ego. The True Self, the soul, on the other hand, fears nothing; it knows its eternal nature. One of my favorite quotes from A Course in Miracles speaks to this: “Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Therein lies the peace of God.” What the ego thinks of as “real” is merely an experience we are having to evolve our soul and learn lessons of love. When Einstein said, “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one,” he was speaking of this 3D world—a world that those of us incarnated here are in, but most definitely not of.  

I’ve written previously of the opportunity the Universe has given us, via COVID-19 (it is the Universe telling us to go inside, not only literally but figuratively), and I want to return to that now, looking at it in terms of 3D/separation consciousness vs. 5D/unity consciousness. In this moment, the coronavirus is once again surging in many countries around the world, including the U.S. The world has been rife with discord between those who support(ed) a complete shutdown, and those who consider themselves rugged individualists who should have the right to choose. I have two thoughts about this I want to share:

1) If, when the virus first began spreading, every single one of us had isolated and always worn a mask during essential outings, it would likely have been eradicated in a few months. If every person who exercised his/her individual freedoms and socialized, etc., had instead chosen the collective good and stayed home, we would probably be through this by now. The highest good of one is the highest good of all, in this case because had those who didn’t want to isolate done it anyway, they would have more quickly found themselves back in a world with concerts, travel, etc. All of us would have reaped the benefits of quarantining as One body. Instead, choices made in separation/ego desire have led to the COVID experience continuing for us all, with no end in sight in this moment. I want to emphasize that I say this without judgment of those who have chosen not to quarantine, with only love and compassion for every being here on the planet, which brings me to

2) Our world is changing: It is moving from separation consciousness to unity consciousness. COVID is but one of many harbingers of this ascension. We have been experiencing a collective dark night of the soul on this planet. Chaos precedes evolution, and the ego/fear behavior run amok—whether it be maskless gatherings, racism, you name it—is literally all of this planet’s inhabitants’ collective wounds coming up to be seen and—more importantly—to be healed. And the healing has begun. It is happening individually, as many of us awaken. And we are seeing the seeds of it collectively every day in the way people around the world are becoming galvanized as forces of love in support of various causes. As the old question goes: How do you get world peace? You have a world full of people with inner peace. Inner transformation is key.

Let me be clear: I am not making a political statement. I (early) voted for Joe Biden, as his party’s policies most closely align with my intentions for a world where all are respected, cared for, loved—not only people, but all beings and the planet itself. But intention is what matters. One can just as easily vote Democratic from a place of fear and loathing as one can Republican. As Wayne Dyer said, “What you are for empowers you. What you are against weakens you.” This may seem like mere semantics, but it is not. One of the principles of spirituality that I live by is, “What you damn, damns you back. The action of fear is to claim more fear.” This does not mean condoning or excusing fearful behavior that causes harm to others, but it does mean understanding that “hurt people hurt people” and having compassion for those whose journeys are different from our own. There are no “sides.” Rather, there are two states of being: love and fear.

I think that most of us sense intuitively that the world is changing. Pain precedes growth and we are experiencing this individually and collectively. I don’t know how long this raising of our collective consciousness from 3D to 5D will take—years? Perhaps lifetimes. When it happens, what it will mean is that each of us has become integrated, i.e. all of the elements of our personality will be used in service of the Divine self. This True Self knows who we are; it knows our highest good, our heart’s truest desires. We think of surrender as a giving up, but surrendering to our True Self is actually the gateway to walking our highest path and living to our fullest potential. When we have a world where each of us is doing this, we will quite literally be experiencing heaven on earth. 

I’ll close with part of a poem by Rumi that speaks eloquently on the topic of ego and soul:

Who Says Words With My Mouth?

All day I think about it, then at night I say it.
Where did I come from, and what am I supposed to be doing?
I have no idea.
My soul is from elsewhere, I’m sure of that,
and I intend to end up there.

This drunkenness began in some other tavern.
When I get back around to that place,
I’ll be completely sober.  Meanwhile,
I’m like a bird from another continent, sitting in this aviary.
The day is coming when I fly off,
but who is it now in my ear who hears my voice?
Who says words with my mouth?

Who looks out with my eyes? What is the soul?
I cannot stop asking.
If I could taste one sip of an answer,
I could break out of this prison for drunks.
I didn’t come here of my own accord, and I can’t leave that way.
Whoever brought me here will have to take me home…

Into the Mystic

In my early 20s, when I first began exploring the big questions (Why am I here? What is the meaning of life?), there was one concept that I always found particularly horrifying: reincarnation. The notion that my lifetime as Tina was but one of hundreds or thousands of incarnations of my soul, that the pain and suffering that I had experienced in my lifetime (indeed, that each of us experiences while here) had been and would be repeated many times, was dire. I refused to accept it. “And if reincarnation is real,” I assured myself, “I have free will and I am not coming back! Who would choose this?” 

As it turns out, I would. You probably did, too.

To explain how I reached a place of understanding that I am a divine spark, a thread of God consciousness that is incarnated here in this (illusion of) time and space having the experience of Tina to evolve my soul and be of service to others, and my knowledge that this is only one of many such experiences for my spirit, would take thousands of pages. But here in a nutshell is the understanding I have come to about reincarnation along the way:

The Universe is governed by laws. Most of us understand and accept this without thought, when it comes to the natural world. We know that gravity keeps our planets in orbit around the sun. We know that sun rises every morning and sets every evening. Plants and animals follow the cycles of the seasons. We can see that we exist in a marvelous, magnificently designed Universe. Yet many of us believe that this divine order does not extend to humans. Instead, if we believe in God, we often believe that horrible things happen in life and there is no understanding why. “Why do bad things happen to good people? Why are some people so lucky and others seem to get nothing but tough breaks? Why do some people live long lives and others die young? Why are some born into poverty and others wealth? Why are some so healthy and others beset with many illnesses? Why do we suffer?” These questions are often difficult to reconcile with our notion of a loving God. And that’s if we believe in God. Others of us feel that this must be all there is. We live and when the body dies, we cease to exist. “Life is very unfair at times, and that’s all there is to it,” many of us think.

However, if we view the “fairness” of life through the lens of reincarnation, we get a very different perspective. Here is what I have come to understand: Earth is, in effect, a school for our souls, in which we come to learn lessons about love. We exist eternally in the spirit world (call it what you will—heaven, 5D, the higher realms), and in that world we understand what we truly are: threads of consciousness, each created by God and literally made of God. What we are is energetic light beings of pure love. In 5D, there is no contrast—no fear, no duality. So we incarnate on earth (and part of incarnating is putting on a veil of forgetfulness so that don’t recall who we truly are) to experience the illusion of separation, i.e. the feeling that we are individuals, disconnected from others. It is this illusion of separation that allows us, when we do love, when we do help, when we do connect with others, to rediscover the joy of who and what we really are: Love. And sometimes our soul makes these discoveries through contrast, e.g. a soul might experience a real hardship so that, in overcoming it, it discovers its resilience and eternal nature. This is really key to understanding why “bad things” happen to us. We must understand that, no matter how painful something is as we experience it (and trust me, I know despair), the soul sees an opportunity for growth. As the proverb says, “All sunshine makes a desert,” and often it is only through hindsight that we can see that those “rainy times” are what helped us grow, developed our strength and character and compassion. And sometimes, what we experience was chosen, on a soul level, to help others grow. When we see someone else hurting, in need, they are offering us a chance to give love, understanding, compassion, help. And we all know that those times when we know we have truly made a difference are the times when we have tapped into the deepest, truest parts of ourselves. 

To evolve, each soul wants a depth and breadth of life experiences, so it incarnates many times. It chooses long lives, short lives. It incarnates into bodies of different races, nationalities, sexes, sexual orientations, income levels, etc. I know that in my life, for example, all of the characteristics of Tina—my physical features, my talents, my personality, etc.—were all chosen by my soul to best help me achieve what my soul wanted to accomplish in this life. And what’s even more beautiful and amazing is that, on a soul level, we coordinate with one another. The plan wouldn’t work if we all came here as doctors or actors or farmers. Every single one of us is here contributing to the divine tapestry that we are collectively weaving; as each of us learns, gives love, and evolves our soul, we are also contributing to the highest good of all because, ultimately, there is only One of us here—God experiencing Itself in billions of different ways. 

I am sharing my thoughts now because I know that for many of us, this is a time of great fear, and fear often brings feelings of powerlessness or hopelessness. I’ve written before of the opportunities the pandemic has been presenting, and the same is true for our larger world experience. The natural disasters in the U.S. and around the world, the fires, COVID, the polarized politics of us vs. them, all of these things and more are essentially a collective dark night of the soul for our planet. But. It’s important to remember that spiritual crisis precedes higher consciousness, and chaos precedes evolution. I believe that is what our planet is moving toward. It may not happen in our (present) lifetime, but it will happen. Every choice made in fear is a remnant of the old paradigm of separation, which sees lack and finite resources. Every choice made in love, from an open heart, lifts us up toward abundance and cooperation. 

Finally, I’d just like to say that, whether we remember or not, each of us chose to incarnate here on Earth at this time. In some ways, I feel like we are each on a service mission—we knew the going would be tough, but we wanted to be part of making this world a better place. I think each of us is pretty brave for being here at this time. Namaste. 

P.S. For anyone looking to read uplifting spiritual material at this time, I highly recommend The Light Between Us by Laura Lynne Jackson and Alchemy by Paul Selig.

The Light Between Us, by Laura Lynne Jackson