Why should I need freedom in order to be who I am? Isn't it obvious that I am already completely free to be who I am? Surely I don't need to become free or anything else in order to be myself, for if I am not myself, I would have to be somebody else and since it 's clear that I am not somebody else, then I must, inevitably, be me, and since I am me, then I must be I who am.
"I am who I am " is both a fundamental spiritual statement of truth and a deep spiritual statement of intent. If we peer into these apparently simple words, they gradually spread apart and we find more and more spaceÂ?..more and more possibilitiesÂ?.more nuances of meaningÂ?. more questions and possibilities unfolding. Often it is the simplest statements that open the largest doorways into insight and perception.Â?.that lead us to deeper levels of understanding and to a more profound knowing. "I am who I am " would not be such an important spiritual statement if I were already, and always was, the being that I truly am.
So lets have a look at what I am, nowÂ?..at my starting pointÂ?.
I am the product of years of experience, of learning and development; I have evolved and grown to become what I now am. But if I track back into my history, I begin to notice that in time past I was somebody other than the somebody that I now perceive myself to be. Or, rather, I know that I was, and am, the same person, but the personal that I perceive myself to have been - the person that I expressed to the world - was different to, perhaps less mature than, the person I am now. I have grown and evolved, so something has changedÂ?. the "I" that I experienced myself to be then is not the "I" that I experience myself to be now. "I" am not as fixed as I might have first thought.
If I look back at my own childhood, at the childhood's of others I know and also look at children in the world around me, I see a number of processes taking place which have the effect of taking the individual child away from being his or her authentic self.
Firstly, I see children being told that they are negative in some way;-
"You're so stupid"Â?. "You useless child"Â?. "Come on, dimwit"Â?. "You're not very good at that, are you?" Â? "You're a bad boy"Â?. (boys in particular seem to get that one) "Who do you think you are?"Â?."Don't you think you should try something else?"Â?. Quite naturally, the young mind, open to learn about itself, takes such a piece of information literally and places it deep in the unconscious as a factual statement about itself. And there it will stay. The child is being told how it IS instead of being told about how it is behaving.
Being told how to behave in society is an important learning process; a couple of generations ago this was overdone and we were led to believe that how we behaved was who we were. "A nice girl simply doesn't do that kind of thing"Â?. which led to a lot of split personalities, or hypocrisy and inner torment. These days, it seems to be underdone and many of the younger generation seem to have been given little idea of how to conduct themselves.
A variation on the above theme is when children are told who to be instead of how to be;- "Why can't you be more like your sister?"Â?."Be thisÂ?. don't be that"Â?. Ideally, children should be spending their childhood exploring and discovering who they are for themselves, instead of having their self image manipulated by others for their own convenience. I see young children being strongly discouraged from being who they really are Â?.I see inconvenient parts of their personalities being suppressed and other, more acceptable parts being emphasisedÂ?. The more the child listens and responds to the instructions that are given to it when it is far too young to analyse and appraise, far too young to judge and decide for itself, the more it becomes a product of it's social environment and less the being that it truly is.
Secondly, the young person may have experiences to which it's awaking consciousness draws incorrect conclusions; the young girl whose father dies may come to the conclusion that if she loves a man he will go away and leave her. ItÂ?s a valid conclusion and, once it has settled in the unconsciousÂ?.what kind of relationships is she going to have with men in the future? Significant events for a child may be obvious to an older person, or they may not appear to be major experiences at all and pass quite unnoticedÂ?.only by being genuinely sensitive and understanding can we hope to be of practical help at such times.
The third situation is the most subtle and insidious;- it is when a child grows in the absence of a state or quality such as support, caring, interestÂ?.even love. Despite having an undeveloped consciousness, some profound level of it's being knows that something important is missing and there is an appropriate sadness or sense of lack at a very subtle but deep level that is, again carried forward into adulthood. The child accepts this feeling as 'normal', so whatever circumstances the eventual adult finds itself in, he or she will simultaneously find themselves experiencing their own personal deep, embedded sense of loss and sadness. The other aspect of this is when the child grows up in an environment containing active negative qualities, such as anger, violence or abuse. Again, they assume at an unconscious level that this is 'normal' and will, tragically, search out or recreate similar situations in later 'normal' adult life.
Experiences laid down in the subconscious remain as firmly embedded as programs in the memory chips of a computer. They sit there as fundamental assumptionsÂ?.assumed truths that are too deep to be challenged directly, under normal circumstances, but which influence, affect and undermine our legitimate experience of what is really true, both within ourselves and around us.
Consequently, few of us reach our teen years with a strong sense of our real self intact. If we are capable of being ourselves and aware that we are being ourselves, we will feel strong, stable, secure and connected, both to the planet and to the more subtle worlds. I suggest that for most of us, this is simply not the case.
I would suggest that most of us feel quite insecure, both within ourselves and in our relationship to the world around us. I would suggest further that although we experience ourselves as being like this and accept that this is the way that we are, in fact, we are being like this because we are not being the way that we really areÂ?..that we are not being who we really areÂ?..that we have lost touch with our fundamental strengthÂ?..our fundamental truthÂ?..our fundamental beingÂ?.Our experience of present reality is being undermined by instructions and processes that we experienced many, many years ago. Cast adrift from the solid island our own identity, we have struggled, helplessly or less helplessly, to come to terms with the fluid, insecure environment in which we find ourselves.
Our greatest tool in this struggle has been the development of our personal ego and the corresponding inner belief system, usually built on little of substance, that gives us a sense of ourselves (however inaccurate) and of our value or importance in the scheme of things. We construct an image of ourselves to fill the space that should be filled by the Self we know ourselves to be. But the ego is fragile and tenuous and vulnerable to challenging influences from outside of itself so, in our mind's eye, we tend to change our perceptions of the outside world to fit in with the need of our ego to protect itself from the patterns of belief and experience with which we were impregnated in our vulnerable years and which have now become what we experience as Reality. Developed and evolved over many years, it is little wonder that we eventually find ourselves entrappedÂ?..ensnaredÂ?..caught in a web of our own creationÂ?Â?a far cry from the freedom that we tend to assume that we have, simply because it was our birthright.
However, within the recognition that we have lost that birthright, in recognising that we are not free, we have the possibility of becoming more free and of regaining our real selves. In recognising that we have become entrapped, we find that we have the tools for our own salvation. Although the original thoughts that were given to us were not ours, we have accepted them and made them our own and put them into practice. Now it is our turn to empower ourselves with our own perceptions, our own decisionsÂ?Â?to turn back this processÂ?Â?to roll it back to where it came fromÂ?Â?to contact again who we were in the beginning and who we still are, now.
The de-programming of the personal psyche is quite a challenging job, certainly not something that can be done overnight, but it can be done in a methodical way, given consistent will and intent. Fortunately, we are beings of Spirit and of almost infinite creative potential - as we have already demonstrated -; our whole being has a natural desire - and the capacity - to be whole. Once we have recognised the reality of our circumstancesÂ?Â?become clear in our intention and embarked upon its realisationÂ?. our Creative Potential or Inner Being or Greater Self begins working within us to make it so. Situations will arise within our lives that we will experience and respond to, that can illustrate to us the "not me" nature of what is arising from within. If we choose, we can look at these old beliefs, these old responses as they arise and assess them, consider them, reflect upon them and feel within ourselves whether they are truly ours, whether this is truly where we are coming from. If it is, then we will know that it is ours, that it is who we are. And if it is not genuine, not authentic, if it has been given or borrowed or accepted, then once recognised for what it is, it is not hard to release it as an impostorÂ?Â?a foreignerÂ?Â?an uninvited intruderÂ?.and await the next opportunity.
Although the ingrained grooves of the habitual habit pattern can stay with us for a while, and need to be picked up on each time that they arise, little by little, track by track, the process of un-becoming what we are not allows us to experience the sensation of growing, more and more, into what we feel we truly are. Accompanying that, there is a sense of developing strength that is not vulnerable to outside influencesÂ?Â?a sense of one's own inner truth that is not vulnerable to the behest of others and a sense of increasing connectedness to the energy, the consciousness, of the planet and to the energy and the consciousness of the more subtle worlds around us, so that over a period of time we begin to be who we really are and to experience the real freedom that comes from not pretending to be something else, other than ourselves.
About the author:I am a healer/therapist, based in York, working in the field of Spiritual Alchemy.
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