The delusion of the compulsory self

Sometimes I wonder at the person I go around in the world as, and at times how I managed to become him, if I simply managed to convince myself that I am him. A personal reminder slips into focus: Anything that I call my self that is changeable is not the actual, true self. It is at best a reflection. Mannerism, inner sense of culture, dominant thought pattern, habit, hang-ups: all transient, changeable, not lasting. With so much of who and what we appear to be on the surface turning out to be a simple series of changeable elements and preferential choices, we need to peel back and look beyond all of the parts that are simply preferred, and find the next deepest layer in an effort to discover what we are. To shake free of the delusions and false assumptions that offset our perception and keep us from experiencing the truth of the world we live in, look beyond the preferential to that which is compelled.

Defining and allowing the self to be forged out of our compulsions is like being in the not-quite-center of a tornado. All of these images of life are whirling by: impressions left behind by the voices of the past, the thoughts planted in our heads by the days events and passers by, and our reactions to them. All violently tossing about. There is no footing at all, and there is no way to just reach out and grab a hold of any one image or life with any deliberation. Reaching out and trying to get some footing, letting whatever is possible to latch onto define who we are only leaves us becoming a chaotic mix-mash of related but out of order and out of focus desires, selves, perspectives...compulsory. Where is the actual self, then? Lost and clinging in a chaos of the past, of illusory realities and short-lived pleasures, all compulsory attempts to bridge a sense of exterior preference to greater inner happiness. The spaces in between the mix-mashed images are uncomfortable, uncertain, and unstable places, and they grow the more we fail to overcome compulsion, and we end up trapping ourselves in some dreamless sleep that marks the heart of some great denial of self.

“What is the nature of consciousness?”

“I don't know, but it can be unlocked through dream.”

Compulsion. Preference. What is left beyond both the person we prefer to be, and the person we are driven to be when we finally realize our clinging, and stop responding to them? It's both as simple as, and so much more than just saying “The person we are,” and instead training to feel, listen to, and express our own inner, deeply rooted voice. Then does the world lay itself bare before us, and all at once the illusion cast by mind stands out. I am the person I am, not the person I want or prefer to be, nor am I the person I feel I need to be. I am something more mysterious and profound: the person I am. Sometimes it comes simple, like in a dream. Sometimes not so.

There is a part of me that invents all of the rest of me, and is always at the beginning of the awareness of the fact that I exist at all, and will continue on long after it's inventions have whithered away. That is what we are.

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