One of my favorite quotes is one attributed to Oscar Wilde: “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.”
Of course, that’s a nice quote to throw around. I’m sure it performs well on social media. Probably garners lots of likes and shares. Because it *sounds* nice.
But the *reality* of simply being oneself isn’t so glamorous.
It’s often humiliating. And that’s on a good day.
There was a time in my life – when I was just a baby – when I was unabashedly myself. I didn’t doubt myself at every turn.
But by the time puberty hit, those days were gone. Junior high school was all about trying to be *someone else*.
Not me. Because me was unacceptable. Someone else – the ideal person – was all that was acceptable. And so my task was to hide myself and do everything within my power to project an image of myself as the ideal person.
This game of hide and seek (and pretend and project) can consume an entire lifetime.
But what’s the upside of this? Relative safety? Simply avoiding some excess bullying and shaming?
And the cost?
The cost is the recognition and acknowledgment of the truth.
What’s the truth?
The truth that this me that is so unacceptable and that needs to be protected can’t even be found.
And please, I’m not saying that we should all trot out the “right, right, yes, I know that…there is no separate self” line.
I’m saying, let’s all pause right now and actually take a look.
What needs to be protected? What is it that is actually unacceptable?
And is this game of hide and seek (and pretend and project) really all that fun?
I will suggest to you that if you actually pause and look right now – or ever – you will see directly that the imagined problem that needs to be solved and the imagined thing that needs to be protected…can’t be found.
Don’t take my word for it, though. Be bold. Look for yourself. Really. Right now.
Even if you have looked in the past. Just humor me and look right now. Be curious.
What needs to be defended? What is in danger? What can be harmed?
Seeing this doesn’t change any of what I thought needed to be changed. It does not get rid of the unwanted, uncomfortable feelings. It does not get rid of the sense that I have referred to as being a person. It does not confer a sense of (everlasting) invulnerability. It does not offer me any greater self-concept. It does not relieve me of frightening or unpleasant thoughts.
It does something else.
It reveals that I am, always have been, and always will be absolutely, perfectly myself. There is nothing whatsoever I can do to screw this up. Neither can I escape it.
And neither can anything escape this, which I have called myself.
Utter non-separation is not something that you or I get to realize or attain in the future. It is the ever-present reality.
We just told a different story about it.
We just called it being an unacceptable me. We just called it hiding and seeking. We just called it shame, blame, humiliation, etc. We just called it separation.
Just take a look. Right now.