Excerpt About Authenticity
Our Experience of Ourselves Can be TransformedWhat makes it so difficult for us as human beings to be deeply authentic and spontaneous, to feel free to be who we naturally are? One aspect of the answer lies in what most spiritual traditions understand to be a case of mistaken identity. Most of us are consciously and unconsciously identified with self-concepts, which greatly limit our experience of ourselves and the world. Who we take ourselves to be, as determined by the sets of ideas and images that define us, is very far from the unconditioned reality that deeply realized human beings have come to recognize as our true nature, who we truly are. Numerous approaches, such as psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, and various self-improvement techniques can help us change our self-concepts so that we are more realistic, more satisfied, and more effective in our lives. But only an exploration of the actual nature of the self, beyond the details of its content, can bring us to realms of experience which approach more deeply fulfilling, fundamental levels of philosophical or spiritual truth. Our experience of ourselves can be transformed from identifying with our mental self-images to having awareness of less contingent, more fundamentally real aspects of the self. It is possible to arrive at a place where we can experience ourselves as the actual phenomenon, the actual ontological presence that we are, rather than as ideas and feelings about ourselves. The more we are able to contact the actual presence that we are, the less we are alienated in a superficial or externally defined identity. The more we know the truth of who we are, the more we can be authentic and spontaneous, rather than merely living through concepts of ourselves.