You Truly Are
words were inscribed above the entrance to the temple
of Apollo at Delphi, site of the sacred Oracle. In
ancient Greece, people would visit the Oracle hoping
to find out what destiny had in store for them or
what course of action to take in a particular situation.
It is likely that most visitors read those words as
they entered the building without realizing that they
pointed to a deeper truth than anything the Oracle
could possibly tell them. They may not have realized
either that, no matter how great a revelation or how
accurate the information they received, it would ultimately
prove to be of no avail, would not save them from
further unhappiness and self-created suffering, if
they failed to find the truth that is concealed in
that injunction—Know Thyself.
those words imply is that: Before you ask any other
question, first ask the most fundamental question
of your life: Who am I?
people—and many remain unconscious, trapped
in their egos throughout their lives—will quickly
tell you who they are: their name, their occupation,
their personal history, the shape or state of their
body, and whatever else they identify with. Others
may appear to be more evolved because they think of
themselves as an immortal soul or divine spirit. But
do they really know themselves, or have they just
added some spiritual-sounding concepts to the content
of their mind?
yourself goes far deeper than the adoption of a set
of ideas or beliefs. Spiritual ideas and beliefs may
at best be helpful pointers, but in themselves they
rarely have the power to dislodge the more firmly
established core concepts of who you think you are,
which are part of the conditioning of the human mind.
Knowing yourself deeply has nothing to do with whatever
ideas are floating around in your mind. Knowing yourself
is to be rooted in Being, instead of lost in your
You Think You Are
sense of who you are determines what you perceive
as your needs and what matters to you in life—and
whatever matters to you will have the power to upset
and disturb you. You can use this as a criterion to
find out how deeply you know yourself. What matters
to you is not necessarily what you say or believe,
but what your actions and reactions reveal as important
and serious to you. So you may want to ask yourself
are the things that upset and disturb me?
small things have the power to disturb you, then who
you think you are is exactly that: small. That will
be your unconscious belief. What are the small things?
Ultimately all things are small things because all
things are transient.
might say, “I know I am an immortal spirit,”
or “I am tired of this mad world, and peace
is all I want”—until the phone rings.
Bad news: The stock market has collapsed; the deal
may fall through; the car has been stolen; your mother-in-law
has arrived; the trip is cancelled, the contract has
been broken; your partner has left you; they demand
more money; they say it’s your fault. Suddenly
there is a surge of anger, of anxiety. A harshness
comes into your voice; “I can’t take any
more of this.” You accuse and blame, attack,
defend, or justify yourself, and it’s all happening
on autopilot. Something is obviously much more important
to you now than the inner peace that a moment ago
you said was all you wanted, and you’re not
an immortal spirit anymore either.
deal, the money, the contract, the loss or threat
of loss are more important. To whom? To the immortal
spirit that you said you are?
to me. The small me that seeks security or fulfillment
in things that are transient and gets anxious or angry
because it fails to find it. Well, at least now you
know who you really think you are.
peace is really what you want, then you will choose
peace. If peace mattered to you more than anything
else and if you truly knew yourself to be spirit rather
than a little me, you would remain nonreactive and
absolutely alert when confronted with challenging
people or situations. You would immediately accept
the situation and thus become one with it rather than
separate yourself from it. Then out of your alertness
would come a response. Who you are (consciousness)
not who you think you are (a small me), would be responding.
It would be powerful and effective and would make
no person or situation into an enemy.
world always makes sure that you cannot fool yourself
for long about who you really think you are by showing
you what truly matters to you. How you react to people
and situations, especially when challenges arise,
is the best indicator of how deeply you know yourself.
The more limited, the more narrowly egoic the view
of yourself, the more you will see, focus on, and
react to the egoic limitations, the unconsciousness
in others. Their “faults” or what you
perceive as their faults become to you their identity.
This means you will see only the ego in them and thus
strengthen the ego in yourself. Instead of looking
“through” the ego in others, you are looking
“at” the ego.
is looking at the ego? The ego in you.
unconscious people experience their own ego through
its reflection in others. When you realize that what
you react to in others is also in you (and sometimes
only in you), you begin to become aware of your own
ego. At that stage, you may also realize that you
were doing to others what you thought others were
doing to you. You cease seeing yourself as a victim.
are not the ego, so when you become aware of the ego
in you, it does not mean you know who you are—it
means you know who you are not. But it is through
knowing who you are not that the greatest obstacle
to truly knowing yourself is removed.
can tell you who you are. It would just be another
concept, so it would not change you. Who you are requires
no belief. In fact, every belief is an obstacle. It
does not even require your realization, since you
already are who you are. But without realization,
who you are does not shine forth into this world.
It remains in the unmanifested which is, of course,
your true home. You are then like an apparently poor
person who does not know he has a bank account with
$100 million in it and so his wealth remains an unexpressed
Knowing About Yourself
may not want to know yourself because you are afraid
of what you may find out. Many people have a secret
fear that they are bad. But nothing you can find out
about yourself is you.
you can know about you is you.
some people do not want to know who they are because
of fear, others have an insatiable curiosity about
themselves and want to find out more and more. You
may be so fascinated with yourself that you spend
years in psychoanalysis, delve into every aspect of
your childhood, uncover secret fears and desires,
and find layers upon layers of complexity in the makeup
of your personality and character. After ten years,
the therapist may get tired of you and your story
and tell you that your analysis is now complete. Perhaps
he sends you away with a five-thousand-page dossier.
“This is all about you. This is who you are.”
As you carry the heavy file home, the initial satisfaction
of at last knowing yourself gives way quickly to a
feeling of incompleteness and a lurking suspicion
that there must be more to who you are than this.
And indeed there is more—not perhaps in quantitative
terms of more facts but in the qualitative dimension
is nothing wrong with psychoanalysis or finding out
about your past as long as you don’t confuse
knowing about yourself with knowing yourself. The
five-thousand-page dossier is about yourself: the
content of your mind which is conditioned by the past.
Whatever you learn through psychoanalysis or self-observation
is about you.
is not you. It is content, not essence. Going beyond
ego is stepping out of content. Knowing yourself is
being yourself, and being yourself is ceasing to identify
people define themselves through the content of their
lives. Whatever you perceive, experience, do, think,
or feel is content. Content is what absorbs most people’s
attention entirely, and it is what they identify with.
When you think or say, “my life,” you
are not referring to the life that you are but the
life that you have, or seem to have. You are referring
to content—your age, health, relationships,
finances, work and living situation, as well as your
mental-emotional state. The inner and outer circumstances
of your life, your past and your future, all belong
to the realm of content—as do events, that is
to say, anything that happens.
is there other than content? That which enables the
content to be—the inner space of consciousness.
and Higher Order
you know yourself only through content, you will also
think you know what is good or bad for you. You differentiate
between events that are “good for me”
and those that are “bad.” This is fragmented
perception of the wholeness of life in which everything
is interconnected, in which every event has its necessary
place and function within the totality. The totality,
however, is more than the surface appearance of things,
more than the sum total of its parts, more than whatever
your life or the world contains.
the sometimes seemingly random or even chaotic succession
of events in our lives as well as in the world lies
concealed the unfolding of a higher order and purpose.
This is beautifully expressed in the Zen saying “The
snow falls, each flake in its appropriate place.”
We can never understand this higher order through
thinking about it because whatever we think about
is content: whereas, the higher order emanates from
the formless realm of consciousness, from universal
intelligence. But we can glimpse it, and more than
that, align ourselves with it, which means be conscious
participants in the unfolding of that higher purpose.
we go into a forest that has not been interfered with
by man, our thinking mind will see only disorder and
chaos all around us. It won’t even be able to
differentiate between life (good) and death (bad)
anymore since everywhere new life grows out of rotting
and decaying matter. Only if we are still enough inside
and the noise of thinking subsides can we become aware
that there is a hidden harmony here, a sacredness,
a higher order in which everything has its perfect
place and could not be other than what it is and the
way it is.
mind is more comfortable in a landscaped park because
it has been planned through thought; it has not grown
organically. There is an order here that the mind
can understand. In the forest, there is an incomprehensible
order that to the mind looks like chaos.
is beyond the mental categories of good and bad. You
cannot understand it through thought, but you can
sense it when you let go of thought, become still
and alert, and don’t try to understand or explain.
Only then can you be aware of the sacredness of the
forest. As soon as you sense that hidden harmony,
that sacredness, you realize you are not separate
from it, and when you realize that, you become a conscious
participant in it. In this way, nature can help you
become realigned with the wholeness of life.
some point in their lives, most people become aware
that there is not only birth, growth, success, good
health, pleasure, and winning, but also loss, failure
sickness, old age, decay, pain, and death. Conventionally
these are labeled “good” and “bad,”
order and disorder. The “meaning” of people’s
lives is usually associated with what they term the
“good,” but the good is continually threatened
by collapse, breakdown, disorder; threatened by meaninglessness
and the “bad,” when explanations fail
and life ceases to make sense. Sooner or later, disorder
will irrupt into everyone’s life no matter how
many insurance policies he or she has. It may come
in the form of loss or accident, sickness, disability,
old age, death. However, the irruption of disorder
into a person’s life, and the resultant collapse
of a mentally defined meaning, can become the opening
into a higher order.“The wisdom of this world
is folly with God,” says the Bible.
is the wisdom of this world? The movement of thought
and meaning that is defined exclusively by thought.
isolates a situation or event and calls it good or
bad, as if it had a separate existence. Through excessive
reliance on thinking, reality becomes fragmented.
This fragmentation is an illusion, but it seems very
real while you are trapped in it. And yet the universe
is an indivisible whole in which all things are interconnected,
in which nothing exists in isolation.
deeper interconnectedness of all things and events
implies that the mental labels of “good”
and “bad” are ultimately illusory. They
always imply a limited perspective and so are true
only relatively and temporarily. This is illustrated
in the story of a wise man who won an expensive car
in a lottery. His family and friends were very happy
for him and came to celebrate. “Isn’t
it great!” they said. “You are so lucky.”
The man smiled and said, “Maybe.” For
a few weeks he enjoyed driving the car. Then one day
a drunken driver crashed into his new car at an intersection
and he ended up in the hospital, with multiple injuries.
His family and friends came to see him and said, “That
was really unfortunate.” Again the man smiled
and said, “Maybe.” While he was still
in the hospital, one night there was a landslide and
his house fell into the sea. Again his friends came
the next day and said, “Weren’t you lucky
to have been here in the hospital.” Again he
wise man’s “maybe” signifies a refusal
to judge anything that happens. Instead of judging
what is, he accepts it and so enters into conscious
alignment with the higher order. He knows that often
it is impossible for the mind to understand what place
or purpose a seemingly random event has in the tapestry
of the whole. But there are no random events, nor
are there events or things that exist by and for themselves,
in isolation. The atoms that make up your body were
once forged inside stars, and the causes of even the
smallest event are virtually infinite and connected
with the whole in incomprehensible ways. If you wanted
to trace back the cause of any event, you would have
to go back all the way to the beginning of creation.
The cosmos is not chaotic. The very word cosmos means
order. But this is not an order the human mind can
ever comprehend, although it can sometimes glimpse
Minding What Happens
Krishnamurti, the great Indian philosopher and spiritual
teacher, spoke and traveled almost continuously all
over the world for more than fifty years attempting
to convey through words—which are content—that
which is beyond words, beyond content. At one of his
talks in the later part of his life, he surprised
his audience by asking, “Do you want to know
my secret?” Everyone became very alert. Many
people in the audience had been coming to listen to
him for twenty or thirty years and still failed to
grasp the essence of his teaching. Finally, after
all these years, the master would give them the key
to understanding. “This is my secret,”
he said. “I don’t mind what happens.”
He did not elaborate, and so I suspect most of his
audience were even more perplexed than before. The
implications of this simple statement, however, are
I don’t mind what happens, what does that imply?
implies that internally I am in alignment with what
happens. “What happens,” of course, refers
to the suchness of this moment, which always already
is as it is. It refers to content, the form that this
moment—the only moment there ever is—takes.
To be in alignment with what is means to be in a relationship
of inner nonresistance with what happens. It means
not to label it mentally as good or bad, but to let
it be. Does this mean you can no longer take action
to bring about change in your life? On the contrary.
When the basis for your actions is inner alignment
with the present moment, your actions become empowered
by the intelligence of Life itself.
you think you are is also intimately connect with
how you see yourself treated by others. Many people
complain that others do not treat them well enough,
“I don’t get any respect, attention, recognition,
acknowledgment,” they say. “I’m
being taken for granted.” When people are kind,
they suspect hidden motives. “Others want to
manipulate me, take advantage of me. Nobody loves
they think they are is this: “I am a needy ‘little
me’ whose needs are not being met.” This
basic misperception of who they are creates dysfunction
in all their relationships. They believe they have
nothing to give and that the world or other people
are withholding from them what they need. Their entire
reality is based on an illusory sense of who they
are. It sabotages situations, mars all relationships.
If the thought of lack—whether it be money,
recognition, or love—has become part of who
you think you are, you will always experience lack.
Rather than acknowledge the good that is already in
your life, all you see is lack. Acknowledging the
good that is already in your life is the foundation
of all abundance.
fact is: Whatever you think the world is withholding
from you, you are withholding from the world. You
are withholding it because deep down you think you
are small and that you have nothing to give.
this for a couple of weeks and see how it changes
your reality: Whatever you think people are withholding
from you—praise, appreciation, assistance, loving
care, and so on—give it to them. You don’t
have it? Just act as if you had it, and it will come.Then,
soon after you start giving, you will start receiving.
You cannot receive what you don’t give. Outflow
determines inflow. Whatever you think the world is
withholding from you, you already have, but unless
you allow it to flow out, you won’t even know
that you have it. This includes abundance. The law
that outflow determines inflow is expressed by Jesus
in this powerful image: “Give and it will be
given you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together,
running over, will be put into your lap.”
source of all abundance is not outside you. It is
part of who you are. However, start by acknowledging
and recognizing abundance without. See the fullness
of life all around you. The warmth of the sun on your
skin, the display of magnificent flowers outside a
florist’s shop, biting into a succulent fruit,
or getting soaked in an abundance of water falling
from the sky. The fullness of life is there at every
step. The acknowledgement of that abundance that is
all around you awakens the dormant abundance within.
Then let it flow out. When you smile at a stranger,
there is already a minute outflow of energy. You become