The only thing that can give us true refuge is the awareness and love that is intrinsic to who we are. Ultimately, it’s our own true nature.- Tara Brach
My book “Awaken the Happy You”, is based on the idea that there are two selves existing within each of us—the self we take ourselves to be and the self we really are.
One self is restless by nature, never satisfied, continually wanting more, and on a never-ending search for happiness and fulfilment.
The other has already arrived at happiness. Or more accurately, it has never left.
Its very nature is peace, contentment and joy.
You could call these two selves:
- the self-image, a nebulous construct made up of elements such as your cultural programming, your likes and dislikes, your personality traits and the personal stories you have about yourself and your life. It’s the self we identify with as ‘me the person’.
- the unconditioned self, which is your original, unconditioned nature—the timeless and unchanging essence of who you are beyond your personal story.
This is your true nature—the pure sense of “I am” that exists prior to “I am this” or “I am that.”
I describe the self-image as nebulous because it’s in a constant state of flux throughout our lives.
The ideas and beliefs you hold about yourself and the world today are clearly very different from those you had as a ten-year-old. And twenty years from now, they will be completely different again.
The unconditioned self, on the other hand, is the unchanging aspect of who you are. It is the self you experienced as an infant, before you learned to identify with a body, a gender, a nationality, a life story and a catalogue of achievements and failures.
It is the simple sense of “I am” that was present in you as a 10 year-old and will be there, unchanged, if you live to be a hundred.
In India, they use the expression ‘Sat-Chit-Ananda’ (Truth, Consciousness, Bliss) to describe the true nature—the truth of who we are in the depths of our being, beneath all the surface noise produced by our restless and constantly shifting minds.
Your true Self is eternally whole, complete, happy and at peace.
Identification with the self-image has two main consequences:
- You’ll never be fully accepting of yourself, others or your life situation. There will always be more things to fix, change, improve or try to get right. Finding happiness will always be a work in progress.
- There will always be an underlying sense of “something missing.” No matter how successful you become in life, it will never be enough. You’ll always be searching for something more.
On a deeper level, we intuitively know that we are far greater than the small, limited selves we take ourselves to be.
It is this knowingness that keeps us locked forever in search mode, never fully satisfied and always looking for a deeper sense of meaning and connection.
If you have tasted, even for a moment, the experience of resting in your true nature, you will know it as a sense of coming ‘home’—a sense of great relief.
It’s the end of the search.
As Tara Brach says,
“ The only thing that can give us true refuge is the awareness and love that is intrinsic to who we are—our true nature.”
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How To Come Home To Your True Nature
The good news about connecting with your true nature is that it’s your true nature! It’s already who you are.
It can’t leave you. It can’t go anywhere.
But it can certainly seem so.
Whenever I offer meditation taster sessions to the public, it never ceases to fascinate me how even the most troubled individuals can drop into a space of deep inner peace and calm, even the very first time they meditate.
How is this possible, you may ask? It’s because the peace you are seeking is already there…. as your true nature.
You don’t have to create it. You don’t have to fix or change anything about yourself. Your true nature is peace—however unlikely that may seem.
What you need is a technique to help you break your identification with the self-image— break free of the broken story you tell yourself.
When the busy chatter of the mind subsides, even for a moment, everything you seek is already there, waiting to be recognised
The Lighthouse and Your True Nature
“Awaken the Happy You” uses the analogy of a lighthouse to describe the relationship between the mind and your true nature.
When the sky is clear, the powerful beam of the lighthouse can be seen for miles around.
Imagine a mist roll in from the sea, gradually enveloping the lighthouse. At first, while the mist is fine, the beam can still be seen from afar but, as it gets thicker and thicker and turns into thick fog, the light gradually appears to dim.
In truth, the beam of light doesn’t dim at all. It remains constant. It’s always the same. But on the surface it appears to fade.
And this is exactly how it is with the mind and your true nature.
The busy mind, with all its ideas of separation, limitation, division and brokenness, is like a dense fog that obscures the light of your true nature.
Most people (like me for years) are busy trying to fix the fog, busy looking for solutions on the level of the self-image—on the level of the mind.
We believe that if we can fix our thoughts, heal our emotions or change our circumstances, we’ll eventually find the peace we are looking for.
I discovered that this is a really long and arduous way of going about things.
It takes years of hard work, and even then, the results are far from guaranteed.
And moreover, even if you were to miraculously succeed in changing all the thoughts in your head to peaceful ones (which I don’t believe is possible anyway) it still wouldn’t solve the second issue— the feeling there’s something missing.
The mind isn’t the problem. Identification with the mind is the real issue.
Peace As a Feeling vs The Peace of Your True Nature
“Don’t strive to be a peaceful person. Be peace instead.” — Papaji
There are two kinds of peace— the peace that comes and goes as a feeling—the opposite of agitation or restlessness—and the eternal and unchanging peace of your true nature.
The first type is temporary and fleeting. The second is the ground of who you are.
This is what the Indian teacher Papaji means when he says “Don’t strive to be a peaceful person. Be peace instead.”
But we’ll never realise this truth through words, only through direct experience.
Here’s a great meditation to try, if you want to savour for yourself the peace of your true nature.
Being Yourself Meditation (19 minutes)
If you’d like to have a chat about ways to bring more peace, joy and connection into your own life, why not book a FREE discovery coaching call… offered with no obligation and with no strings attached. You may well discover that peace is far closer than you thought!
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