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Who You Really Are: Self-Perception and Pantheism

Introduction

The entire world is struggling with a crisis of identity. No one seems to know, on a fundamental level, who they really are. When pressed, people tend to describe themselves in terms of what they do or how they think. They call themselves a Christian clerk, a liberal lawmaker or a nihilistic educator. But these descriptions are hollow, and everyone who’s ever said them knows it. They are but empty tellings of our tribe and our position within it. These are no identities; they are farces, and they need to be replaced so what we have a better grip on what it really means to be us. Thus, we must dig up the deceptions we have about ourselves, one by one, until we’re left with a portrayal of reality.

The Deceptions

The first deception is the most obvious, but also arguably the hardest to erase. It is the idea that we can identify ourselves in contrast to anything else. We identify ourselves as not Muslims, as not conservatives, as not optimists, or whatever the specifics may be. This, of course, is foolery. Identifying ourselves by saying we are not something is not saying we are anything. One could say that they are not defined by any label whatsoever, but if so, then they are nothing. Do not define yourself as something in opposition or contrast to something else. Your identity does not hinge on what you are not; it hinges on what you are.

The second deception is one that the modern world has took and ran with, and to catastrophic consequences. It is the idea that we can identify ourselves with what we have. More broadly, it is that we can identify ourselves with anything outside of ourselves. This is not just the fault of materialism run rampant, although that definitely has not helped. It is, as it seems, a natural tendency. We are always thinking of ourselves in terms of what items lie around us, how much money we have saved away and what titles our society has given us. None of these give accurate depictions of us, though, for one very simple reason; without our possessions and our statuses, we are still us. We do not become less of a person when our belongings burn. We do not lose a part of ourselves when we fail a class or quit a job. We may think that our identities depend on what we have, but even when we have nothing, we still stand. We may be hurt; we may even feel completely broken; but we still stand. Thus, we cannot be what we have. So what can we be?

The third and last deception is that of separation. When stripped of all possessions and descriptions, we tend to think of ourselves as simply us. I am me. You are you. Nothing more. But this, too, is a deception, and undoubtedly the loftiest of all. We go through our entire lives acting as if we are set apart from the rest of existence. It is difficult to blame us; we definitely feel as if the fact that we are not physically or consciously conjoined with others makes us separate. And, on a practical level, we certainly seem separate; we have sovereignty over ourselves, just as everybody else has over sovereignty over themselves. So what is the problem here?

Interconnectedness & Divinity

The problem is that our scope is too narrow. We are not strangers in this world. We are not wholly separate entities. We are merely systems; each and every one of us. We are systems, made up of smaller systems, that make up bigger systems. We are not all separate and single entities. We are simply gears within the universe’s infinite machine. You are not, then, a separate being any more than your heart or liver are separate from you. You are your own system, indeed, but you are irreplaceable and integral to higher systems, just as your heart and liver are lower systems integral to you. You should never see yourself as a stranger in this world. You are not a stranger. You are not unnatural or unimportant. You are, without a doubt, integral.

Consider the God praised by the best of minds; by Bruno, Spinoza, Beethoven, Emerson, Jung, Einstein, Sagan and more; the God of the pantheistic world view. This God is, by definition, infinite; everything that exists. And, if we exist, then we are part of God. Without us, God would not be all that exists, and thus, God would not be God. We are all integral to God; that is, to the totality of existence. Existence cannot go on without us. God, in a sense, requires us, just as much as we require God. And this is how we should see ourselves. We are fundamentally divine. We are all different expressions of the same unifying substance. Or, more simply put, we are waves.

The Wave Analogy

With the deceptions of earlier cleared away, we can see the reality of what we are, and without any convoluted jargon to go along. What we are, free from deception yet deceivingly simple, are waves. More elaborately, we are individual waves in a ceaseless sea of cosmic consciousness. We all arise out of the same sea. As we grow and move throughout our lives, we all seem to be acting on our own, but in reality, we are all the same sea moving in different ways. And, when we die, we all return to the sea, in a cycle that continues for eternity.

This is who you really are; a human wave in the ceaseless sea of God. Life contently as a little wave carried blissfully along by the others. Or life fantastically as a momentous wave that towers over all the rest. The choice is yours. Just remember, now and always, that no matter what happens, you are always godly, and you always belong.

painting by Carmen Alonso

painting by Carmen Alonso