There seems to be a natural impulse for us to want to know who we are.
We are born into this world, this body, these patterns that form our personality, and have no idea what happened. We can only try to make best out of it, to learn more how this body/personality and how it functions, and how this larger world functions and operates.
And there seems to be several layers of knowing who we are…
- Cultural identity
These are the labels we learn to put on ourselves by culture. They include gender, ethnic affiliation, sexual orientation, profession, etc. We need to learn the conventions of these labels to function effectively in society, although we don’t need to limit ourselves to/by them.
- Small Self
Here, we get to know ourselves as small self – as a body/psyche whole. We explore how this body works and functions, and how this psyche works and functions. A part of this is to learn to take care of ourselves so we can operate from relative health, and learn different coping strategies so we can deal with the inner/outer situations life comes up with for us.
- Larger Whole
We live within a larger social and ecological whole, and we also need to get to know how these operates and who we are in relationship to this larger whole. As with all of these explorations, it is personal and also occur through collective efforts. Science, myths, rituals, religion, all help us form a view of how/who we are in relationship to this larger whole.
Awareness can awaken to its content, as described in the three previous layers. And it can also awaken to itself – its own nature. When awareness is focused on a body/personality, it tends to at first identify itself exclusively with this body/personality and to function in a more dualistic way. This may be neccesary for it to explore the first three layers sufficiently to function effectively in the world. Then, it can awaken to itself as distinct from its content – as luminous clear space in which all experiences unfold. At this point, we see ourselves as luminous clear space as well as body/personality. Further than this, awareness can awaken to itself as Big Mind, as that in which all phenomena arise, unfold and dissolve. It awakens to itself as God, Spirit, Buddha Mind, and can be focused on a body/personality or have no center. Here, all exclusive identification drops away, although we can still function as/through a small self with all its conventional identifications needed to funciton in society. When awareness awakens to itself as Big Mind, there is a deepening of fluidity in expression – it can express itself as Big Mind and/or small self, and any aspect of these, more freely.