Ken Wilber once wrote a very moving account of caring for his newly wed wife through her last illness. As those who know his other writings will appreciate, he is a born intellectual with a huge appetite for acquiring and integrating knowledge and understanding. His books get longer and longer. But as it became clear that his wife’s cancer was terminal he abandoned all his other activities and interests to concentrate on caring for and being with her.
As the stress of the role increased he began to crack under the strain. Ominous shadows began to appear until a friend told him to take at least an hour or two each day for his intellectual work, which he wisely did.
We are who we are, and we cannot change ourselves by will or thought alone. Being is all we are most deeply meant to do. It is complete fulfillment and happiness and allows for the fulfillment of our responsibilities. The first step in being ourselves is to accept who we are even – especially – if we think we should have had other features written into our software from the moment of our creation.
‘In meditation we accept the gift of our being’. John Main’s short definition rings truer each stage of the journey of meditation. Its meaning can be explored ever more deeply. Yet this work of self-acceptance is a great deal harder and more demanding than the merely self-help mentality appreciates. Therefore, accepting and being who we are should consciously start as early as possible, before the encrustation of imaginary selves becomes too thick. Many of these selves are sources of suffering and complexity because they set us up for patterns of failure and so often lead to self-rejection, the very opposite of what is natural.
Shedding these layers of identity is like refusing unnecessary clothing. We need some clothes, for warmth or protection or to be respectful to our neighbours on the subway. But, on the spiritual journey, as few as possible.
Jesus would have been crucified naked. In the Resurrection clothes were no longer an issue.
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