Who Are We?
When we ask ourselves this question, we struggle to come up with an answer that satisfies us. Are we the roles we play every day? Are we our titles, our possessions, our thoughts? Or are we more than that? It seems like the answer to this old riddle could unfold the many mysteries that burden the minds of seekers of the truth.
The universe, of which the planet earth is just a pale blue dot, is full of potential. It is ever flowing, ever evolving, ever changing, inside of us and outside of us. Science tells us that 10 billion years ago we all were stars exploding into existence and that 10 billion years from now we could be the creative force of our universe – or not. The American astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson has gone on record to say:
So you are made from exploded stars. Get over it. Or better yet, celebrate it. After all, what nobler thought can one cherish than that the universe lives within us all.
But the mystics say that science is far from understanding the nature of the spiritual being. Maulana Rum says:
Inside there are innumerable lands, mountains, plains, oceans – so vast that if this universe of ours were placed in them it would be just like a hair in an ocean.
With the Three Masters, Vol. II
If we were essentially stardust, and are now evolving into becoming the creative force of our universe, then who are we today? And who might we be tomorrow? Instead of asking ourselves the question, “Who am I?” maybe we should think of asking, “Who can I be?”
There is an opportunity knocking on our door, every single day. When a perfect living Master initiates his disciples, he gives us the opportunity to become the best possible version of ourselves. It is intimidating to think that we are made up of unimaginable infinities.
All saints have come into the world with the same message – they urge us to explore our ultimate reality, which is that we are part of God, who resides within us, and that we have the capacity to merge with him and thus become him, to realize him within our being. Yet we doubt that we can achieve such a high spiritual potential. Why?
Imagine if we were locked up in a prison cell for over 30 years from the age of 18. We would not have an adult life experience outside of the prison and therefore our sense of self would be very limited. Upon news of our impending release, we might struggle with the notion of who we will be outside of the prison walls, because we would have spent most of our lives believing that we are nothing more than a prisoner. In Path of the Masters, Dr Julian Johnson writes that we are prisoners walled in by our own ignorance. We are so comfortable with the darkness that we do not even see the light. The darkness becomes our adopted reality.
Dr Johnson goes on to say that in order to be free, man has only to walk out of his self-constructed prison. It is as simple as that. We have to challenge the view that our personalities have been formed by our childhoods and unchanging characteristics. We have to shift our thinking, think in a new way. If we explore who we really are, we will constantly revise our personal stories and open up new possibilities for ourselves.
For who are we but the stories we tell ourselves? Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do.” In the same way, we are who we repeatedly tell ourselves we are. If the prisoner constantly tells himself he is a prisoner, he will believe just that, and remain just that.
We have to have faith in what the Master sees in us. If science says we are evolving beings, then it would be fair to say that when the Master looks at his disciples during initiation, he sees our potential, our capacity. All of us are born with the innate potential to realize that we are the Shabd, the creator and sustainer of this universe.
In J.R.R. Tolkien’s tale The Lord of the Rings, the journey of one of the principal characters, Aragorn, resembles that of a soul lost in the darkness of the world, refusing to believe his dignity and accept his lineage. In this tale, it is only when he realizes who he truly is, where he comes from, and finally decides to become king – to reclaim his heritage – that he is able to defeat the evil of that world. Doesn’t this sound familiar?
There is a choice to be made. Do we want to continue on as lost souls, or should we acknowledge our kingship – that is, our spiritual lineage? The Master often says we are either there or we are not. The journey between the two is one to be embarked upon with conviction. Once we affirm to ourselves who we are and begin our spiritual journey, through the practice of meditation, our consciousness begins to expand from one universe to the billions within us. We start to merge slowly but surely into the One. When we start to experience this we realize that we are not just a drop in the ocean. We are the ocean.