Knowing ourselves doesn’t mean recognizing what makes us different from others, such as enjoyments, desires, ambitions, and personal abilities. It means understanding the functions and structure of the human machine with the aim of obtaining perfect control of ourselves and our lives.
As written in the previous posts on this and other blogs, on many web pages, and, of course in many good and useful books, the means to achieve this goal is the development of the capacity to observe.
One of the main and often most misunderstood fields on self-discovery, is what the ancient traditions called by the name “Being” or “Essence”, which is the immaterial and permanent reality.
Every human being is composed of two parts: the real and the unreal. The illusory is the non-permanent and imaginative part. This illusory part of ourselves, is the personality, and we are almost totally identified with this field.
The real, genuine part of ourselves is the “Essence”, which is with us from our birth, before the formation of the personality. The personality is acquired through time. The Essence is innate and does not change with education and external circumstances. Instead, the personality changes according to the changes of the external environment. The Essence is the immaterial part of us which survives physical death, almost always wrongly called by some religions as “Soul”. Affirming that the “Essence” is a part of us is incorrect, because We are the Essence! Personality is the temporary form which we use to experience material life.
To better explain our deep identification with the personality, we will use here the example of the Greek legend of Narcissus, who, upon looking at his image in a pond, falls in love with the image he sees, and dies drowned in the waters of life. So, he loses his self-consciousness.
Personality is a term which derives from Greek, and it means “mask”. Indeed, this is a mask intended as a superimposed form which covers our Nature. Below the color, form, and consistence of this “mask”, there is a concrete and real substance; the Essence.
For a better understanding of the concept of being or essence, we will take water as an example, a perfect analogy to help in forming a better idea of what this complex, and infinitely more fascinating part of us, than what we would ordinarily claim to be.
We can find water in various forms: liquid, solid (ice) and gas (steam). It moves from one state to another, changing quality and consistency. By boiling water, it becomes steam, which then condenses and becomes liquid. When exposed to lower temperatures, it becomes ice. So, what is water? A gas? A liquid? A solid? Or all of the qualities which enable it to change form without losing its essence? What is its essence? It is a set of “qualities” and not the forms through which it manifests itself. Similarly, the Essence is related to human life as is the essence of water with the various forms it takes. The true man and true woman is the Being. Bodies, race, personality, thoughts, emotions, and functions of the human machine are the temporary constants that we use to understand, learn, and feel, in order to experience the environment in which we live. By identifying with the form, we forget our true nature. This depends on the lack of an education which would allows us to recollect what we really are. What we ordinarily claim to be – teachers, artists, writers, accountants or other…it doesn’t matter, it’s all false, thus, irrelevant. Everything we think of as us, is in principle, false.
In the ancient cultures, the concept of reincarnation is deeply related to the concept of Essence. It doesn’t matter if we believe or not in reincarnation. It’s a subjective thing, therefore irrelevant, such as any other thing which we believe without direct experience. We will handle this concept according to eastern philosophy which begins from the point of Essence. According to these teachings, this principle – our true nature, tries to understand the nature of the Universe through a long process of experiences, achieving this through many lives, different forms, cultures and so on. The goal of these experiences is to achieve the “Divine Consciousness”, and this means achieving the higher state of consciousness and the “powers” which characterize it.
The ancient knowing, hands down the existence of different planes or worlds, more subtle than the material matter which composes our Universe. The Essence, our true nature, is “consciousness”, not “substance”. Such as water, the Essence assumes a specific “substance” to experience its own evolution in a specific way, which ideally ends with complete conscious enlightenment.
For every human being, experiencing matter represents an important step in the evolutionary path, and it is repeated through various cycles of lives. At every birth, all the memory of the past life experiences arise only if an individual achieves the complete control of his psycho-physical machine, reconnecting consciously with the memories hidden in the deepest parts of his true self.
The fact that we forget our true nature- what we really are, is due to the bad and incomplete education acquired, and from the absence of a valid teaching which would enable us to “return” to ourselves (Awakening).