Though we seem to be sleeping, there is an inner wakefulness that directs the dream, and that will eventually startle us back to the truth of who we are. —Rumi
Who are you? Not what is your name, job title, or societal roles… which are but outer expressions of the self. But who are you, actually? Surely there is an inner self with which you came into this world before family and culture could mold you; and with which you will eventually depart this world, shed of all its trappings. Who is this self?
Another way to contemplate the same question might be to ask, “What brings you joy?” Naturally, we will generally reply with references to people in our lives, our partners or children, for example. Or our favorite activities and things or accomplishments. It is true that dancing and chocolate cake bring me joy, as well as roses, poetry, and my loved ones. But why? How is it that for me joy arises while dancing but not while running, while eating chocolate but not licorice? The self that derives joy from dancing but not from running, is indeed the very same self. So underneath the particularities of the whats is something more fundamental—joy itself.
Or perhaps we might be startled back to the truth of who we are by considering our raison d’être. Why are you here? For what reason do you exist? Surely joy is intimately intertwined with one’s own raison d’être. But like joy, it is not exactly the particular whats that is of most significance, not necessarily the raison but the d’être that is more fundamental.
Être. Just being. What arises when you sit quietly, listening to your heartbeat? What do you feel? In the characteristic excitement and chaos of life, we may feel an entire spectrum of emotions… sadness, delight, fear, worry, happiness, melancholy, anger, and so on. But if we keep listening, keep paying attention and being present, we will eventually discern something fundamental underneath it all.
When all the clouds in the sky have passed by, what remains? Light.
When the monsters of fear step out of the shadows and into the light, what is revealed? Love.
Can it be that the dance of our likes and dislikes, our preferences and particularities, our biases themselves, are the garden in which love grows to discover itself? The garden in which the fundamental joy of being is the light which startles us back to nothing other than the truth of who we are? To nothing other than Love its self.