What Are Our True Selves?

Older woman outside hugging herself
[Photo by KostiantynVoitenko via Envato Elements]

Come on a journey to your true self.

The question, “Who am I?” has been asked by generations of people seeking to understand themselves and their place in this world. I, too, sought an answer to this question, and discovered an answer after twenty-one days of deprivation and meditation on a mountainside. I felt this realization with my whole being, but I also learned that it matched the wisdom of the Tao, especially a form of Korean Tao known as Sundo, and other philosophies and traditions.

It’s important to have our own answers to, “Who am I?” In order to “be real” and live the most fulfilling life, we need to experience those answers inside us. I’ve described many ways to do that in this blog over the years, and I even developed the workshop known as Finding True Self, which is being offered by Body & Brain Yoga and Tai Chi centers around the world. But, I hope you allow me to describe the answer that I found in words here.

True Self vs. False Self

Existing at the same time as part of our bodies and consciousness, we have a true self and a false self. We’ll always have both these selves while we are alive but only one of them will exist when our bodies return to the earth. Our true self can be called self-existent. It’s always there, unchanging and untainted. This self doesn’t depend on any circumstance; it is steady and undetermined by our thoughts or emotions.

The false self, on the other hand, develops after we are born. As we become conscious of ourselves and the world around us, we form ideas about how things work and compose an identity based on our family, culture, and interpretation of our life experiences. As our thoughts and feelings change, and as events happen around us and we process them individually and societally, how we see ourselves also changes. Our identity changes.

This egoic identity gives structure to our lives and our society. It provides some predictability and stability so that people can understand themselves and each other more easily. Even though our false self is more mutable and dependent than our true self, it greases the wheels of our interactions.

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Who Is in Charge?

Despite the fact that interacting with the world through our false selves can seem easier or more familiar, our lives can feel emptier, lonelier, and more chaotic when we aren’t aware of our true selves. But because we don’t typically learn about our true selves from our parents or teachers, we may never have experienced them—unless our true selves made themselves known in a time of crisis or inner turmoil.

So our false selves sit in the driver’s seat of our lives, and they may lead us to people, places, and habits that make our true selves unhappy and unhealthy. Our true selves may even become suppressed, small, and weak—a soft whisper in the center of our being. Some people’s true selves spend an entire lifetime in this state of silent agony.

If our true selves are expressed, however, our lives can be filled with vibrancy, passion, inner peace, and unconditional love—because that is the nature of our true selves. We bring those aspects into our lives when we listen to what our true selves want and act on those wishes. With time and practice, as we actualize our true selves’ wishes, our false selves can grow to resemble our true selves. Rather than living a life of suppression and regret, we become completely aligned in body, mind, emotion, and spirit.

The Nature of Our True Selves

The true self has also been called the soul, the divine self, and the higher self. We can also think of it as the zero point or nothingness. It’s what we get after we strip away all thought, emotion, or form. We are a piece of the raw potentiality or “Source” consciousness and energy from which everything is created. We are an observer who sees all things clearly.

At the same time, all the values that human beings prize—such as unconditional love, acceptance, gratitude, peace, creativity, and unity—characterize the energy and consciousness of the true self. That’s why these values are absolute and universal. They don’t need to be sought. Just like our true selves, they need to be uncovered and expressed.

Rather than being merely an abstract spiritual or theological concept, the true self is a tangible energy and consciousness inside us. It is the energy of our souls in our hearts merged with the energy of our divinities in our brains. Newsletter signup banner

The Journey of the True Self

On its own, unexpressed in our bodies, our souls in our hearts (heart chakra) have a constant longing to connect with the greater world. In order to do that, its energy needs to become lighter and brighter so that it expands more and more. When that energy becomes pure and light enough, it’s able to pass through our throat (throat chakra) and into our brains (third eye chakra). Guided by the light in our brains, the soul can merge with the divine energy and consciousness that naturally exists there, in the area of the pineal gland.

This merging is like a coming home. Instead of being separated, the true self returns to a state of oneness and of cosmic energy and consciousness. This state is also its true nature.

I experienced this merging on the mountain when I searched for the answer to “Who am I?” My head felt like it was exploding and in that flash of enlightenment, I heard the words, “Cosmic energy is my energy, and my energy is cosmic energy. Cosmic mind is my mind, and my mind is cosmic mind.” I was life itself, immeasurable, infinite, lacking nothing, whole and beautiful and great. That was my absolute value, my true self.

The journey of the true self begins as a tiny seed of the soul in our hearts and ends with the vast blooming of cosmic consciousness. In Sundo, this journey is called Shinin Hapil (divine-human unity). Shin means “god,” in means “human,” hap means “to unite,” and il means “one.” Together, this means that the energy of the soul in the heart—the true identity of each human—encounters and becomes one with the light of divinity in the brain.

Our true selves can’t complete this journey without our conscious choice to do it. Our souls will always remain silent in our hearts unless we choose–or are compelled—to act for their benefit. We can connect to our souls, listen to their whispers, and act on their wishes until they grow stronger, more confident, and brighter. We can put our souls in the driver’s seat so that they can fully become who they truly are.

Editor’s Note: Learn more about the journey of the true self in Ilchi Lee’s book, Connect: How to Find Clarity and Expand Your Consciousness with Pineal Gland Meditation.

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