We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.
– Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
If you have been to a job interview, a date, or any other social event requiring introductions, you have – at least once in your lifetime – had this question posed to you.
“Tell me about yourself.”
Terrifying, right? Regardless of the context, you will almost always begin by saying your name, where you come from/live and what you do, be it working or studying. In some contexts you may be required to reveal your age and religion, especially now that you can either land your dream job or meet the love of your life, by simply filling out an online form. These parameters, more often than not pass for a proper description of who you are in society.
Every once in awhile, though, you will meet someone who is genuinely interested in knowing who you are. So upon further prodding, you will begin to give your opinions, thoughts and feelings about various topics – politics, global warming, love at first sight – your values, beliefs and motivations among other things. This is as deep as anyone will go in describing themselves. For those with depth handicaps, expressing a genuine and meaningful opinion about a certain topic will be virtually impossible unless it’s in the form a hashtag. #AllLivesMatter #MakeLoveNotWar
From this variety of human beings, you will get answers along the lines of where they eat, buy their clothes, the malls they hang out at, the last road trip they went on and how many of their friends brought along a selfie stick.
Do these things really constitute who you truly are, though? Are the beliefs you held five years ago still the same today? Haven’t you aged, questioned mainstream religion at least once, graduated from school, changed jobs or moved houses? Do these transient parts of the human reality truly describe your authentic self?
Your Authentic Self and the Purpose of your Being
In my post, Lessons from the Prince Who Became Buddha, we discover that one of the primary purposes of life is to experience the state of being alive and human, and make peace with it. The only way to experience something is to become aware of it. You could be eating the most tantalizing meal of your life, but if your awareness is not firmly in the present moment, you wouldn’t even know it. That spiritual being having the human experience, that consciousness or awareness, that part of you that is indestructible, is your soul. Your soul is your essential self, whose other primary purpose is to direct your life through the expression of free will.
The two primary purposes of your True Self are to direct your life through the expression of free will (choosing experiences), and to experience the state being human (living out these experiences).
The other aspects, the mind – which is the center of our thoughts, the heart – which is the center of our emotions and the body – which is the center of our actions, are not our True Self, but are nonetheless vital to our being. Soul experiences the state of being human by thinking, feeling and acting. These ever-changing things make up the human experience, which is freely chosen and experienced by our Souls.0