Why is it important to know your self?

Let us try to look at your life as you experience it right now. Let us say you are facing certain conditions in your life that you feel are limiting you, because they seem to have power over you. The question now becomes: “How can I transcend those conditions?”

Conventional wisdom and common experience tell us, that the only way to transcend a limitation is to change the outer condition that limits us. In other words, the only way to change our life experience is to change something outside ourselves.

The problem with this approach is that there are so many external conditions over which we seemingly have limited power or no power at all. In other words, the enigma of life is: How can we change our life experience, if we can’t gain power over the external conditions that we think control our life experience?

What can break this stalemate, this catch-22? What if we asked a different question: “Do external things really have power over us, or do they have power over us ONLY to the extent that we think they do?” In other words, where is the center of power? Is it outside ourselves (meaning we can’t do anything about it), or is it in our own minds (meaning we CAN do something about it?”

Do the “things” in the material world truly have power over us, or do they have power over us only to the extent that we give them power over us?

What if the key here is to gain a deeper understanding of who we really are?

So who are you? Well, what if we said that what determines your life experiences as it is right now is simply a self. It is a self which obviously believes that certain outer conditions are real and that they have power over you—or rather it.

What we have gained from asking this question is a different way to look at life. Right now, you are experiencing life the way you do, because you are seeing life through a particular self. Yet is this the only way you could possibly experience life?

What if your current self is like a perception filter, that we might compare to a pair of yellow glasses?

If you put on yellow glasses and go outside on a clear day, you are literally seeing that the sky is green. So what if you had never seen the sky without the glasses? What if someone had put yellow contact lenses in front of your eyes when you were born? You would have grown up being firmly convinced that the sky really is green and that there is no other way to experience the sky.

We now see that the central problem in human existence can be described as follows:

  • We experience life through a perception filter.
  • We don’t see that this is just one among many possible filters.
  • We think what we see through the filter is the only possible way to experience life.
  • We think what we see through the filter is reality.

We now see that what gives external conditions power over us is the belief, that what we see through the filter is a reality that is independent of our perception.

Once you begin to realize that the way you look at life may be a product of a particular kind of self, a particular perception filter, a tantalizing opportunity opens up. We can now ask a potentially life-changing question: “Is my current self the only way I could possibly look at the world, or is there a different way—a way that would help me transcend my current limitations?”

Obviously, we can all see that there are many other people who don’t look at life the way we do. The logical explanation is that they are experiencing the world through a variety of different selves, different perception filters.

This idea explains why it can be so difficult to agree with others, or even communicate with them. If you have a person wearing yellow glasses and a person wearing red glasses, they will not be able to agree on the color of the sky, because they each see something different.

So what do we do now? Well, we can engage in a process of refining or expanding our perception filters by increasing our understanding of life and spiritual topics. This is what many of us have done by studying spiritual teachings. We gain a deeper understanding of the spiritual aspects of life, and it does help us shift our perception of life.

Yet, we can see that this approach has some limitations. For example, many spiritual people still have certain character traits or habits that they cannot transcend. In fact, some people have even used a spiritual teaching to build a new perception filter, that in many ways limits them as much as the filters they had before finding a spiritual teaching. Some spiritual people are engaged in the struggle to convince other people that: “my perception filter is right and yours is wrong,” a struggle that has been going on for a long time on this planet. Some even have a sense of superiority, because they feel their spiritual guru or teaching gives them a perception that is superior to all others.

This is not to say that studying a spiritual teaching is wrong or that it is wrong to expand your perception filter. Yet what if it is only a phase, and there is an even higher level on the spiritual path? If so, what might the next level be?

Well, how about we ask another question: “Is it possible to experience life without ANY perception filter at all?”

In other words, is it possible to transcend all perception filters instead of merely expanding them? Once we begin to consider this question, we can ask another question: “What is the core of our being?”

Next: What is the very core of your (lower) being?


Copyright © 2012 by Kim Michaels