Ever try to define your "true" nature? Can it differ in different contexts? If success is more lasting when it follows our natures, why do so many desert their talents?
I am? I am that I am? I'm basically good, naturally bad? These are the questions I ask.
Pema Chodron (Tibetan nun) on "Basic Goodness"
Something's thinking, but it does not follow that it is some permanent, perfect, unchanging self. "Self" changes. It changes at every moment. It can identify with anything. What is it? The Buddha defined it as "materiality and mentality" or "form (body), feeling, perception, mental formations, and consciousness."
These are the Five Aggregates of Clinging. They cling to one another, and illusion clings to them. They are empty and impersonal in an ultimate sense.
To be fully oneself, to embody one's potential, to utilize the talents brought over from countless past lives (or given as "gifts" at birth for no reason), to cultivate skills, to move beyond personal suffering and self-esteem issues... are a few angles to investigate.
Watchers of Gilligan's Island already know, "To thine own self be true." That is important. But is that enough. What is the self "I am" being true to?
If only Western mystics had a way, a step by step way.
All speaking, none showing
All searching, none finding
Traveling roads that go on winding.
- Seven (unforgettable words scrawled on my philosophy class desk)
The mind is confused. The mind confuses. The mind, to keep itself a going concern, delights in illusion. It deceives itself. It drags us to suffering. And all the while that seems the thing it dreads. But there it is, standing in the way of Truth and freedom.
SEVEN: You know that saying, "If someone's in your way, and you kick him/her as hard as you can, your butt is going to hurt"? I identify with mind, which is changing at every moment, and stand in my own way. Maybe if I just was rather than imagining "I am this, I am that, I was this, I will be that," maybe if I followed the Buddha's advice and pondered four useful things, I could be free of all suffering.
It is so easy to become distracted, to forget, to lose direction, to fall off the wagon or get carried away. But I am learning to true my wheel, which can be as simple as coming back to my breath. That is the first and maybe only step in reevaluating my true nature.
I may be uprooted at times, which happens even to the healthiest of trees, so one aspect of my nature is impermanence. In the breath my true nature is revealed, and in feeling the unsatisfactory nature, in mind the impersonal nature... and in nirvana the boundless liberation free of all impermanence, suffering, and delusion.