Our understanding of who we are changes everything. It changes how we act and behave, how we orient ourselves in life, how we interpret every event in the world and every event of our lives. Whatever image we carry in our souls of what the human being is – of who we are essentially – becomes the guiding principle of our lives – it is our “God”.
Knowing this can help us understand why there is such a battle to present the most compelling version of this understanding or “image” of who we are. Are we a bio-chemical mutation? Are we spiritual beings imprisoned in the cycle of incarnation and afflicted with the thirst for existence? Are we sinners in need of a savior? Are we the light of the world, the salt of the earth? Are we customers? Scientists, Spiritual Teachers, Op-Ed writers and advertisers are all working to present a compelling vision of who we are.
How else can this be happening except that we are the only part of the whole universe where this is a question! Everything else knows what it is and acts accordingly. With us, it is a burning question: Who are we, and why are we here?
Each individual is asked to use their own powers of judgment and insight to find an answer.
If we, ourselves, attempt to perceive or ‘feel’ where we experience our own essential nature or ‘self’, the experience that often naturally arises is of a point of consciousness, a concentrated point of awareness. If we are attentive we might even sense where this self can be felt: roughly at the point of our forehead, just behind the surface, known in the Eastern traditions as the “third eye”. This natural sense of self is a selfhood in space: a single point: a ‘here-ness’, a there-ness. With this sense of self we feel ourselves in the world of physical space and can say about who we are: I am here.
John of Patmos, in his book of ‘uncovering’ known as Revelations or Apocalypse, asks us to stretch our understanding of who we are into the realm of time:
Grace and peace to you from the one who is, and who was, and who is to come…the first, the last, the living one. – Revelations 1:4,17-18
Living with this vision of self-hood, of God-hood, we feel ourselves stretching out into the past and into the future from a point into an infinite line. From this moment in time, from my experience of being a self in this moment, I can feel into a future life, a future history of humanity, a future evolution of worlds. Worlds, cultures, and lives open up and expand into the future before me and all that I will one day become. Stretching back into the past ‘behind’ me are all of the experiences of my life that have made me who I am today: all the important people and events in my life, cultural developments in art and education, in music, in politics and war, in religion and spirituality, in climate events – in the evolution of the whole earth stretching back to whole worlds and galaxies of evolution that had to come into being for me to be able to be here in this moment, breathing, alive.
As I walk into this meditation of my self in time I awaken the sense that I am indeed a point, but not like a static ‘thing’ in space but a point in time; I am a crossing point, the crossing point in the evolution of all reality. Through me all reality is passing from the past through the present moment into the future. Through me, the future is pouring into the present moment becoming part of the past. I am the worlds that were; I am the worlds that will one day be and all of this passes through the creative choice of what I do with this very moment.
Meditating on my self in the stream of time can awaken an awareness of my true nature as a creator.
I am given this moment. In this moment I live, in this moment I shape my time, I make choices, I shape this moment and in so doing work to shape and create all that will come into being in the future. Feeling the gratitude and sense of awe for all that has made my life possible from the past I look towards the future and the world that inspires me and a way of being I aspire to and in this moment I work as a co-creator on the fabric of reality, a fellow writer of the story that will be our history, a participant in the generation of worlds.
I come closer to understanding who I truly am when I discover the self beyond space, the God in time: the one who is, who was, who is to come. In this way I myself do not just receive an answer to the pressing question about our true nature. Through my choices, through the way I shape each moment, I live the answer.