Mistaken Identity

Sundar Kadayam - USA Articles, English 3 Comments

mistaken identity

We all hold beliefs about various things in life. Even with our quest to realize our true nature, we hold beliefs on what that is all about.  Here are some commonly held beliefs about the spiritual journey.

The Transformation

We may think of ourselves as caterpillars presently.  Full of prickly, unsightly things, such as worries, fears, anger, guilt, resentments, pride and so forth, caught in the cocoon of life.  And we may think of the journey as one of transforming little by little into a butterfly, that is beautiful, and will one day be free to fly.  Sure enough, with a committed spiritual practice, we notice that we are a bit more peaceful, more happy, less judging of others, more humble etc.  And this confirms and affirms for us that we are indeed transforming from a caterpillar to a butterfly.

The Peeling Away

We may think of ourselves as having layers and layers of crap that is covering up our inner light.  Crap like worries, fears, anger, guilt, resentments, pride, things we are attached to, memories of past experiences that are vivid and so forth.  And we may think of the journey as one of shedding these layers little by little.  We may even think of this as being like an onion, with layers, that we need to peel away one at a time.  And that eventually we’d get to where there are no layers.  Sure enough, through our committed spiritual practice, we can see that layers are falling.  Some of the judgments made in the past don’t happen any more, some of the fears and worries in the past have gone.  And we can almost see the inner light shining a bit brighter in our lives.  And this confirms and affirms for us that we are indeed peeling away layers and that we just need to keep going, until no layers are left.

The Wisdom Quest

We may think of ourselves as being short on the wisdom we need to awaken.  That it is some vital piece of knowledge, some deep clue of wisdom, some technique we are missing, some perspective we lack today, that is holding us back from the goal.  In turn, we might go on a quest to gather wisdom, from many books, from many teachers, from many modalities.  Flitting from one thing to another, gathering a flower here, a flower there, assembling the bouquet of wisdom that we think will result in the awakening we seek.  And in this process, we see a great quote here that enriches us, a nice technique there that seems to shift us etc.  Inspired by these we might notice that we are not feeling as worried or fearful, as judgmental as before and so forth. And this confirms and affirms for us that we are indeed on the right path and that we may be just a few more flowers of wisdom away from our goal.

The Karmic Pawn

If you are from the East, or have been influenced greatly by Eastern traditions, you surely believe in the law of karma and its flow across lifetimes.  In turn, you might believe strongly that it may take lifetimes to be free.  After all, many authors, teachers and even some masters have written about this.  Yet, you may strive hard with your practice, hoping sincerely that this is the lifetime in which you may be set free, but if you can’t, at least you are, through committed practice, creating better karma for the next lifetime.  Seen from this belief, the goal to awaken can often seem ever so near, and yet so far.  Achievable, but out of reach.  Still, the committed practice does have its benefits, of making us calmer, less fearful, less judgmental.  And this confirms and affirms for us that we are on the right path and that we may just be one turn around the corner to awakening.

There’s nothing inherently right or wrong about these beliefs.  I, for one, have had the great experience of believing in all of these simultaneously 🙂 

One common thing, however, that we can see across these beliefs, is that our experiences turn out to reinforce our belief.  And in all these cases, there is an indeterminate period of time that may elapse between where we are and where we seek to end up, which makes our “journey”.

But who is wanting to awaken?  Who wants to be free?

Intellectually we might have gathered that our true nature is the great bright light (DKM).  Intellectually we might have convinced ourselves that we need to “Be Reiki”.

However, we already are the great bright light.  We already are Reiki.  If we weren’t, we wouldn’t be around in the first place with a life in this form.  The great bright light, the Reiki, the true nature, is what we already are!

Then who is seeking what in this journey?

How can you journey from where you are to what you already are?

The butterfly believes it is a caterpillar!!

The infinite inner light believes it has layers covering it!!

True inner wisdom is on a quest to gather outer wisdom!!

The timeless unchanging one thinks it is caught in a causal web of time, space and karma!!

How hilariously absurd, my friends, is the idea of a “journey” in the first place!  

It all arises from not knowing who you are, who you really are!  By “knowing” here, I don’t mean “thinking” about who you really are — that is just another intellectual play of the mind — I am talking about “knowing” beyond thought, about who you really are!

An ironically funny case of mistaken identity!

You are already that which you seek!  You can see Usui san hinting at that in the Reiki precepts.  You can see Usui san pointing at that with the method of Reiju. 

Comments 3

  1. Avatar of Susan

    Hi, Sundar,
    Thank you for another teaching about the Real Self that already is.  I can distinctly remember being at a gathering where Sogyal Rinpoche was teaching.  From time to time he would ask the question, ‘Who is doing the looking?’  I was reminded of this by your questions: But who is wanting to awaken?  Who wants to be free?;  Then who is seeking what in this journey?

  2. Avatar of Marnie

    I don’t find it absurd to believe that life is a “journey” or that our practice is a “journey” because when the “journey” ends, we are ultimately dead. I do, however, find it absurd to believe that there is a destination. For me, the journey and the destination have become one and the same. “You are already that which you seek!” Now that is truth. Well spoken, Sundar.

  3. Avatar of Sundar

    Susan, Thank you for sharing the question posed by Sogyal Rinpoche, “Who is doing the looking?”.  We are so used to the vantage point of a separate “I”, that a question like this, inquiring the true nature of one’s self is something that halts the continuous thought process, for a short while.  For me, I find this process of self-inquiry to be something that is very potent, something that is helping to loosen the grip of the separate “I”.

    Marnie, Thank you for those kind words.  If we already are that which we seek, then what does it mean to have a journey or be on a journey?  Who might be the one that is on the journey?  i.e. From the vantage point of the real self, the idea of a journey doesn’t hold any meaning as I see it.  However, from the viewpoint of a separate “I”, of course, we can think of journeys, destinations and such, as we typically do in our practice.  This is what I was seeking to communicate with the point about the absurdity of a journey, when we begin to recognize that we are already that which we seek.

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