The true self, seat of love. (part 2/2)

Another necessary prerequisite to be loving is to have the freedom to be yourself. If the State, society, or any other exterior determinism forces you to remain in an identity (whatever it is), then you lose the freedom to leave that identity and experience love.

This all leads to one important question: how do you know if you are your true self? One indication would be whether you are still subject to the indoctrination you have received (all those “shoulds” and “musts” that we use to evade our true self). I don’t think it’s possible for a person to be completely free from it, but it is possible for it not to affect our behaviour or thought patterns, except as a curiosity. Another indication would be whether the person is comfortable in saying and doing what he truly desires. Another indication is whether the person is happy with his life as a whole. A person who “follows his bliss” (to quote Joseph Campbell) is much more likely to be happy than a person who suppresses it.

When I say you should be comfortable in saying and doing whatever you want, I don’t mean that you must necessarily be a hedonistic, short-term centered being. Obviously the human being does have a bias towards pleasure and short-term benefit, but we are also thinking beings with our own values, and those values that are authentic should not be rejected. I may have to stop myself from doing something because it would not be beneficial to my values in the long term. As long as the reasoning is rational, it is not a suppression of the true self, but rather a fulfillment of it.

Indeed, we must not fall into the trap of saying that the true self is immaturity of irresponsibility, as many people believe, and that “doing what we should do” is a sign of maturity or responsibility. Quite the opposite: because identities are based on unthinking obedience, because they are roles assigned by someone else, following them is quite irresponsible. We see this expressed most strinkingly in the “soldier” identity, where one must obey all orders, even mass murder, without question. Once you make the choice to surrender your moral compass, you should not be surprised to learn that you have become something quite unholy. As for maturity, while it is true that little children live mostly free from shoulds and musts, being raised and educated beats this into them, and being able to come back to that state requires a great deal of courage. “Maturity,” at any rate, is mostly a word used by people to mean that you do your “musts” and “shoulds” like everyone else.

The end result of this process, when you get back to the true self, we call authenticity. Apart from being fully yourself again, and having access to your source of love, what are the benefits of authenticity? Depends how you go at it. If you’re less diplomatic about it with others, you may become somewhat less popular. But what is universal is that people who are authentic experience less stress, more happiness, and feel that their life is much more meaningful- because they follow their own path, and are likely to feel less powerless or railroaded by life. They are also more likely to have successful relationships. Being authentic pushes one away from conformity, away from the trivial, and towards the important, but it also opens one to all the little pleasures in life that might be repressed by a more “mature” person.

Being authentic is scary because it demands for one to look at the good and the bad in himself, and to do the same with others. It is uncompromising, but it is the only way to live.

There is one objection I expect to be raised, so I will address it here. One might say that part of human nature includes things that are very much against love, such as xenophobia and jealousy. That’s true, and certainly someone who is authentic would want to recognize it in himself, so he can deal with it, if he does feel those impulses.

As for myself, I have never felt those impulses, or only in extremely small quantities. I cannot claim to be a completely authentic person (I do not know if such a thing is possible), but I am very satisfied with the level at which I have been able to “clear myself.” I feel that I am not constrained by anything but my own values (of course, whether I am correct or not is another matter). I am happy, not stressed, in a great relationship, focused on the important, and experience all the little pleasures of life that I want- and everyone I know feels the same way. I know personal experiences are not evidence, but I can at least tell you I know it works.

4 thoughts on “The true self, seat of love. (part 2/2)

  1. kentmcmanigal July 23, 2008 at 21:43

    These have been very interesting. Thanks.

  2. Francois Tremblay July 24, 2008 at 03:36

    Thanks for reading it!

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