Living from the Heart

Apr 2, 2024

On Being your true Self

Most of us don’t question the identity we have come to believe in.

That is, we take ourselves to be the person that is going through this life experience. That person has an identity or personality which has taken shape over many years and after much conditioning.

Do you consider yourself as a person to be what you truly are?

When we were first born we didn’t have an identity.

We didn’t even know ourselves as a person nor could we differentiate ourselves from others or the environment. We had to be trained or conditioned into a human identify and the consensus reality that it is based on.

So you have not always had the identity you do now.

That conditioned identity is what we typically take ourselves to be and because of that we live our lives a certain way. One way to characterize this way of life is suffering.

The questions we must confront are:

  • Are we the personality or identity that we have come to identify with?
  • Is the suffering we experience in our lives inevitable or even necessary?
  • Or are we something before, beyond or beneath the human being?

There are those that are moved by an insatiable need or drive to question who they are and what reality truly is. Such people are not satisfied with the version of reality they have been fed by society. In fact they are often quite perturbed by it.

This process of questioning can be illustrated with an analogy of three actors who are each trying to act a part which is symbolic of a personality.

The First Actor

The first actor represents the vast majority of people.

This actor does not realize that he is an actor. He has completely identified himself with the character (the personality) he is playing. The character is taken so seriously that they don’t realize they are simply acting a part.

For this actor, playing the part is more like a job or a chore because it requires great personal effort. He only enjoys his work when there are moments of satisfaction but that is interspersed with struggle, failure and fatigue.

When we live this way, we have completely identified ourselves as a person or personality. We are convinced our body/mind is what we truly are and the world in which it lives is the true reality.

This makes life feel very serious and the outside world quite threatening because body/mind is inherently impermanent and fragile. It is constantly under threat.

There is a feeling that our existence is fleeting and so we grasp onto it desperately trying to justify and extend our fragile experience.

This results in anxiety and misery. The basis of human existence is anxiety which is quite apparent when you observe the world humans have created.

It is not really possible to be happy this way, at least not fully or sustainably.

The Second Actor

The second actor is what we become when we have begun to question our experience and our idea of reality.

This actor has doubts about the character they are playing and whether it is truly what they are. He has great difficulty playing his part. Questioning and doubt make him uncertain about his role and its significance. He is barely able to function.

Yet life is still taken quite seriously as the questioning has not yet penetrated deep enough to shake the habit of body/mind identification.

When we live as the second actor we experience confusion and discomfort because we are no longer sure of our reality or identity. These things are in question and that is not a comfortable place to be. However it is a necessary step.

What we fear most in this is the unknown. A person has a strong need to know. To know who they are, what is real and what is meaningful. Not knowing these basic things is felt as terrifying.

So there is a choice at this stage.

Go back to being the first actor and try to take life at face value again OR keep questioning and see where it leads.

The Third Actor

This leads to the third actor who not only knows they are acting a part but is completely clear about what he truly is and the fictional nature of the life experience he is having.

Knowing that he is not the character, the third actor is able to remain personally independent of the role they are playing which ironically means they can play their part to the fullest.

When we live as the third actor we feel a detachment from our human experience.

In that detachment we feel peace which cannot be disturbed or affected by what is happening in our lives. Yet we allow all of experience without needing to fear what we are afraid of or chase after what we desire.

Instead we play our role in life with passion, effortlessness and gratitude. We know what we are.

Questioning who we are and what is real requires a great deal of courage as it is not something that is en-couraged by our society. However if one wishes to discover true happiness and freedom it cannot be avoided.

The result, if we can see it through, is an elevated life which has shifted from surviving to thriving.

This is our birthright as human beings…

Thanks for reading! In addition to being a technologist, Colin writes about life from the heart and topics involving peace, mindfulness, freedom and spirituality. He holds a masters degree in psycholgy and has worked as a mindfulness based counselor.

1 Comment

  1. Kara Smith

    Thanks for sharing this post Colin! I really identify with what you call the actor stages and how difficult it can be to gather the courage to pierce the veil. There’s so much to feel and let go of once we set down the path to truth, it’s no surprise that many find it daunting. Thankfully, while the suffering FEELS like it lasts forever, it doesn’t.

    I’m looking forward to hearing more from you!


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