The core of what I teach is the conviction that the shift in paradigm that so many of us recognize is needed, requires a transformation in the human sense of self. The practice of wormhole inquiry that we are exploring in this book is designed to facilitate the kinds of radical shifts in identity that can deeply transform our sense of self. I believe that the evolution of the self occurs through successive transformative leaps and that the larger purpose of spiritual life is to actively participate in the process of giving birth to a new self. The spiritual experiences that we have, the breakthroughs, openings and energetic surges are all stirrings of a new self that we are being invited to live into. Our spiritual work allows a new possibility in selfhood to reveal itself and catalyzes a shift in our sense of identity from the person we have been to the being that wants to emerge through us.
As I have come to understand it the process of shifting identity occurs through three stages. Understanding the nature of these stages will support you to catalyze a shift in your own identity through the use of the meditation and wormhole inquiry practices.
The three stages of the process through which a new self emerges are:
- letting go of who we have been by entering into non-conceptual awareness
- discovering the possibilities of an emerging self by creatively re-visioning reality
- re-creating the world by creatively expressing new possibilities until they become who we are
Letting Go of Who We Have Been
We are a self – a somebody – or at least we think we are. We live inside of an identity, a self-concept, a collection of ideas about the person we have been. That person has a name and a history. That person is good at some things and not good at others. He or she has fears, desires, memories, hopes, dreams, and aspirations.
One of the most useful ways to think about your sense of self is to think about it as a range of possibility. Some things are possible for the self that you are, other things are not. Spiritual growth always points toward an expansion of what is possible.
In the first stage of evolving selfhood we let go of the self that we think we are by entering into the space of non-conceptual awareness. There are many ways to do that, but in my work I use the time honored practice of meditation in a form I call The Practice of No Problem.
By learning to completely embrace the experience you are having in each and every moment, you generate inner spaciousness and ease of being. In this space your attention begins to slip away from the habits of worry and self-concern that generally hold our identity in place.
As your awareness is liberated from the sense that anything is wrong you relax at physical, emotional, spiritual and ultimately existential levels of being. In this relaxation your awareness slips beyond the sphere of your familiar concerns and eventually beyond anything you have ever known. You find yourself more and more aware of a vast expanse of non-conceptual awareness that lies beyond your ordinary perception.
As you acclimate to the experience of consciousness without understanding, you discover something wonderful. In this mysterious space of awareness you are not a somebody. In fact, you simply don’t know who you are. In these moments you experience the unimaginable freedom of awareness without identity. You are no longer tied to the solid sense of self that has always been your anchor and you enter into a space of unlimited possibility which is ultimately who you really are.
This is the realm of spiritual realization that has been called Enlightenment, Satori, Illumination, God-Realization and Self-Actualization in various traditions.
This depth of awakening frees us from the limitations of self-concept and self-concern and makes us available for a miraculous transformation of self.
Discovering the Possibilities of an Emerging Self
Initially the experience of freedom from the known is shocking, but with more practice we become accustomed to it. And as we relax more deeply into these truly mysterious depths of being we begin to notice something wonderful.
That incomprehensible expanse of awareness beyond identity is not just emptiness. There are stirrings there, we are moved there. We feel things – delicate things, subtle things, amazing things. These are spiritual energies – energies of awakening – that abide beyond or below what we already know.
In the second stage of evolving selfhood we allow ourselves to be moved by the subtle energetic currents that we discover emanating from the unknown. Learning to be moved in this way is simply a matter of learning to trust the inherently positive nature of those energies.
The inner currents of spirit are there to move us, to guide us, to expand our being beyond the limitations of who we think we are into more of the fullness of what is possible. It is important to remember, as was discussed at length in the last chapter, that being moved by these energies is not something we do, it is something we allow to happen. We do not build a new paradigm, we allow it to be born through us.
We float in an ocean of spiritual currents that want to carry us into expansive realms of being. All we have to do is learn to trust them enough to let go of whatever we are holding on to that is inhibiting us from growing into new possibilities.When we do, we will experience insights and intuitions of unimaginable possibilities that do not exist yet, but can, if we are willing to live into them.
Expressing New Possibilities Until They Become Who We Are
I said earlier that the most valuable way to think about a self-identity is to think of it as a range of possibility. Very practically speaking, changing our sense of self is a matter of expanding the range of possibilities available to us. And ultimately we must do that together with others because a sense of self is not just something that exists inside of us. It exists between us in the language we speak and in the ways we behave together.
A transformation in the sense of self is not just about becoming a different human being. It is about becoming a different kind of human being. It is about letting go of our fundamental identity as a separate and isolated entity that lives in the midst of other separate and isolated entities. It is about discovering that there is nothing that separates us. That we are One, and the Oneness that we are includes the reality of our particularity and uniqueness.
As we begin to swirl together in the currents of a new way of being, we will find ourselves swept up into impossible possibilities. We will begin to feel things, see things and even know things that were simply not possible before.
Together we can learn to express these new possibilities, to give them a voice, to articulate them. To allow them to come to life between us in speech and action. By doing this we will become what Dr. Jeffrey Kripal of Rice University calls ‘authors of the impossible.’