Over the past few days I’ve been pondering over the concept of authenticity. What does it mean to be authentic? The term usually denotes being true to who we are, a statement that instantly raises the question: Who are we? Are we simply defined by our personality and interests, or is there something deeper and spiritual behind that?
A different approach to the question comes by dwelling on the concept of the ego, defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance.” To what extent is self-importance representative of the totality of who we are? And what is the boundary between a high self-esteem and vanity? The answers to these questions became clearer to me while reading Gabrielle Bernstein’s Spirit Junkie, which provided me with a whole new perspective on the intricate relationship between the ego and authenticity. Based on A Course In Miracles, the book defines the ego as the aspect of us that believes in separation from God, people and all forms of life. Founded on the binaries of good and bad, right or wrong, better or lesser than, the ego’s job is to instill fear into all aspects of our lives.
In reality, nobody’s more special or less special than anyone, because we are all part of a single energetic web of love and light; we are all flames of the same sun, so to speak. Since we are all connected in a single Source of consciousness, distinctions between good and bad are illusions. When we awaken ourselves to our true nature, then our ego’s illusions crumble apart and we realize that we are meant to thrive, we are meant to be happy, we are meant to love and be loved. All our insecurities fade into the background and we find the love in everyone and everything.
Turning darkness into light
One of the most common tricks that the ego plays on us is judgment. Over the past week I was awakened to the fact that I have indeed been judging people based on their appearance, personality and achievements and fashioned binaries of successful and unsuccessful, beautiful and ugly. Even though I have been using most of these characterizations in a humorous way, nobody’s worth such kind of treatment. Unfortunately, my ego had managed to infiltrate its perspective so deep into my subconscious mind that I wasn’t even aware it was there.
Thankfully, a friend’s confrontation had shocked me out of the illusion. I felt incredibly guilty and angry at myself and spent hours resenting myself for all the daggers of criticism I’d been unknowingly throwing at people. Being on the spiritual path for seven years now, I should have known better! Still, the facts were loud and clear, which led me to realize that spirituality is nothing like a university degree diploma. There isn’t a curriculum to learn or a test to take, but it’s more like a gradual and never-ending process of awakening and self-realization towards enlightenment.
Instead of blaming myself I decided to take action. Equipped with Gabrielle Bernstein’s processes and my own intuition, I formulated an action plan that would help me forgive myself and take a more loving approach:
- First, I took a piece of paper and made a list of all the people I have judged in my life. Getting everything down on paper acts in a powerful way to expose the ego and render it separate from our true self. This would allow me to turn the ego’s darkness into light in the following step.
- Taking one person at a time I forgave myself for judging them by affirming: I forgive myself for judging you. The light that’s inside me resides inside you too. You are me and I am you. We are One. This powerful affirmation has two important aspects to it. Firstly, it gives you permission to forgive yourself and understand that it is OK to be human. Secondly, it heals the ego’s illusion by affirming that there is no separation between you and everybody else, for we are all part of the same Source of unconditional love.
- After I had apologized to every single person I tore the piece of paper apart. This is a symbolic gesture of letting the past behind and starting over.
Having completed the process I felt relieved and empowered, but most importantly I felt proud of myself for becoming awakened to my ego’s illusions and doing something about it. Abraham-Hicks always say that “Words don’t teach. It’s life experience that teaches,” and this experience has led to my unequivocal knowing that: Authenticity is freedom from the illusion of fear and alignment to the reality of love.