Your Real Self
You just ARE.
You are pure beingness or spirit. The only thing the same from your birth to your death is your existence. It can physically change, mentally change, consciously change, but it can’t existentially change. You either exist or you don’t. Hindus refer to this as your atman  or essence. It is the unchanging, eternal self that experiences the contrast of life on earth and is the spark within of the Holy (“whole, uninjured“)  Spirit itself.
This is the spirit that all mystical traditions discuss through their unique culture and language. The conversations are colored in different ways, but the essence is universal. We all exist, but that which is most fundamental permeates and even transcends the transient nature of body, personality, mind, and consciousness.
So what does that really mean? Well, words cannot describe it. Words are a construct of the intellect creating mental models to approximate, understand, and communicate about reality. But the intellect exists within reality, it is just a single dimension. So, words will never be able to fully explain reality or who you are. What makes you you, can only be experienced. That is why most prominent members of spiritual traditions described the Absolute as ineffable or indescribable.
Where Science and Mysticism Meet
For millennia, spiritual traditions have shared that the physical world is really condensed spirit. The entirety of existence is merely a thought or projection of the divine mind/God/source/Tao/Alah/Brahman/Absolute etc. We, as a part of creation, are also a projection of this mysterious creative source. That is why it is said that we are created in gods image.
Well, modern understandings of science is actually in great harmony with this long-held wisdom. It is already widely accepted that all matter is merely energy vibrating at different frequencies. Said in another way, there are no real “parts” to begin with. Trees, stars, cats, dogs, thoughts, and emotions are all simply words we use to identify distinct manifestations of the same underlying phenomena. As a modern scientist would say that they are material manifestations of energy within the “quantum field” of the cosmos, a yogi will say that they are different thought manifestations of Brahman [the infinite, ineffable Absolute]. It is merely different language to explain the same phenomenon.
Convincing evidence suggests that the universe is holographic in nature. All information and potential is contained within each apparently distinct part; we merely experience the holographic reality as physicalized. This is not a new theory however. Along with the ancient Indians, the ancient Hermeticists taught, “The infinite Mind of The All is the womb of Universes.”
Your Worldly Self
The essence of your identity is in your beingness, in the infinite mind/matrix of all that is. However, each individual obviously has a unique embodiment as well. This is the mask you wear in the divine play the ancient Indian traditions call Lila  and is evident to our senses in the unique composition of our biology and psyche. This is constructed of your consciousness, mind, personality, and body. It is enlightening to know, the word person comes from the Latin word persona, or a “mask, false face,” such as those of wood or clay worn by the actors in later Roman theater . In other words, the “you” that is recognized by most is simply the character that “you” are playing in this divine game/play of life.
To have a tangible idea of how this makes sense, think of water. Water is a substance that can exist in varying degrees of density. It can be very solid in the form of ice, very malleable in the form of water, almost imperceptible in the form of gas, and completely invisible in the form of plasma. The difference between each state is the rate at which the water is vibrating, or it’s resonant frequency.
Differing frequencies allow for differing degrees of perceptibility to our sense organs (eyes, ears, skin, tongue, nose). This is illustrated in our diagram of the electromagnetic spectrum. We can only materially perceive a very small portion of the spectrum. As the frequency of a substance rise above or fall below our sense organs’ ability to detect, it becomes more and more subtle to our perception. We are then able only to perceive these frequencies psychically or spiritually.
So how does this correlate to your spirit/essence? Well, we most consciously relate to the dense, physical body. However, there are different aspects of our being that are much more subtle. Your mind, for instance, is comprised of thoughts and emotions which resonate at frequencies. They are not materially perceptible to you (you do not see, taste, touch, or hear them in the traditional sense), but you still perceive them and they are a part of you. The spiritual traditions throughout history have simply taught that there are even subtler facets of you on higher frequencies that you may become aware of and cultivate. Just as your body’s organs are distinct parts of the one being that you are, your mind and soul would simply be another subtler component to this unified being-ness. And these invisible parts of our being are actually the organizing principle of our physical constitution. The food that we eat is assimilated and constructed based on the quality of vibrations we emanate from the higher planes of our being. To have a deeper understanding of how this makes sense, remember that all of creation, the visible and invisible, is made up of frequency, and that frequency is sound. Now watch this video that displays this phenomenon of sound animating matter, labelled Cymatics, in action. In it, you can see how galaxies, planets, and all other life is formed.
At the highest level, our most fundamental sense of identity lies in the creative Spirit of All That Is itself (referred to in religious texts as the Logos or the Word). It must be stressed again that this divine connection and knowingness is not something that written words can express. No amount of studying or intellectual understanding can replace divine experience. For humanity to move in a more unified and peaceful direction, each individual must start on the quiet journey within in search of this essential Self.
While continuing to honor our scientific understandings, a greater spiritual orientation will provide the necessary shift in perception that will naturally inspire greater harmony between humanity and the ecosystems we inhabit. Because if the essence of our identity is undifferentiated being-ness, then we all have the same identity, we are all literally the same being experiencing life through different lenses. A true knowledge of this through transcendent experience will make morality and cooperation a natural way of being rather than obligatory regulations. Our world communities would likely experience unprecedented connectedness, cooperation, joy, and peace.
How Can We All Be One With Such Differences?
This can be quite confusing at first. However, an analogy may be helpful. Since we are discussing identity, lets use the analogy within math. In math, the term identity is defined as:
a transformation that leaves an object unchanged.
So, in the equation 3x + 2y – z = 1, 1 is identical to 3x + 2y – z despite appearing different in configuration. 1 would also be identical to 2/2 or 1/2 + 1/2. In this way, 1 can transform into an unlimited number of permutations while also remaining the same.
What Is The Point?
I am sure you are intimately familiar with the all pervasive desire to transcend limitations or improve your circumstances that has followed you through life. It is a natural quality of the human spirit, of all life really. What we are really after, in the grandest sense, is the desire to transcend all limitation and return to the eternal, unlimited Source. We seek to expand our fullest divine expression, the creative Source itself. This is the spirit from which and the direction that all of evolutionary forces are moving in this divine play/game.
A finite And An Infinite Game
Much of the struggle and confusion that we experience in our world is due to the misunderstanding of the overall nature of the “game” we are playing. In game theory, there are two kinds of games: a finite and an infinite. Both games are played for different reasons. As James Carse writes in his book Finite and Infinite Games:
A finite game is played for the purpose of winning, an infinite game for the purpose of continuing the play.
Finite games also have definite and agreed upon players, rules, beginnings, and endings. Infinite games do not. Since our identity lies in the infinite spirit of creation, we are infinite players. We do partake in finite games while we are alive, but our understanding of the games being played and our roles within them is essential. As Carse further elaborates:
Since finite games can be played within an infinite game, infinite players do not eschew the performed roles of finite play. On the contrary, they enter into finite games with all the appropriate energy and self-veiling, but they do so without the seriousness of finite players. They embrace the abstractness of finite games as abstractness, and therefore take them up not seriously, but playfully… They freely use masks in their social engagements, but not without acknowledging to themselves and others that they are masked. For that reason they regard each participant in finite play as that person playing and not as a role played by someone.
Hopefully you can see where the confusion arises. Life is an infinite game, but most play it with finite expectations. Most people export their happiness or fulfillment to future goals forgetting that, as has been repeated in similar words over the centuries, “the journey is the destination.” When we realize that our jobs, our relationships, and everything else of most importance in life is more about growth and continuing the game than getting somewhere specific, much of the seriousness and worry we experience can be released. We will still participate in many finite games within life like raising a child or acquiring a new business client, but a refreshing level of light-heartedness and playfulness will begin to pervade them as we begin to more consciously recognize their ephemeral nature.
For more information, please read James Carse’s book here. It is a phenomenally enlightening read.
Where To Go From Here?
In our modern, materialistic world, the conversation of existence has become excessively physical in orientation. Unfortunately, this divorcing from the understanding that the entire universe is alive and our perceptions shape our tangible as well as psychic experience has had quite a negative impact on industrialized societies. Depression and suicide are rising epidemics among many other ailments uncommon to ancient cultures. Environmental degradation has also becoming unsustainable. We are tearing apart our planet attempting to fill the spiritual void that our materialistic orientation has created.
It is time to bridge the gap between the practical and the mystical. Their views are really two valid perspectives on the same whole that we call reality. In accepting that the universe and all things within it have a spiritual essence does not necessitate that we must abandon the idea that there are also laws that regulate its functioning. Just as Einstein updated the theory of gravitation with general relativity, we must take into account the nature of perception and the spirit on the physical laws we have come to accept and rely on.