Why We Struggle to Find Ourselves and How to Do It


“On a deeper level you are already complete. When you realize that, there is a playful, joyous energy behind what you do.” ~Eckhart Tolle

For a long time I’ve had a bit of an obsession with coming home. Not my physical home, but Home with a capital H. Being with myself. Knowing who I was. Leaning back into me and having that “ah” feeling of being totally whole, and totally at peace.

I felt like there was something missing, and that I needed to find that missing piece to complete the puzzle.

I thought that if I found the right job, or met the right man, or had the right friends, or went on the right adventure that I would find it.

I always imagined myself on a beach somewhere, with tanned skin, with my soul mate (who was obviously gorgeous), and felt that then I would be at peace. Then I would know myself.

I went to satsangs (literally “true company,” when an enlightened person shares their truth/wisdom with people who want it). I tried to work out what these people had that I didn’t. What did they know that I didn’t know? And how could I know it too?

I imagined that they had reached a place. They had meditated hard enough and had reached a place of enlightenment, of wholeness, of union.

I felt the burning desire to be united with myself, and didn’t know how to do it.

The idea of a pilgrimage appealed to me. I liked the idea of starting off not knowing who I was, and then walking my way toward me and finding myself at the end of the tunnel.

In addition to satsangs, I met Indian gurus, and meditated, and worked on all my issues, and did healing courses.

Helpful as they all were, they never quite brought me to myself. They came close, and sometimes I got a glimpse of this elusive self I was looking for. They helped me in many ways, but I still hadn’t found the missing piece to complete me.

I presumed that it must be because I’m young. People walk the path for twenty, thirty, forty years, and they still haven’t found the self, so while I’m lucky in that I’m starting young, I still have a long way to go.

And then, my understanding of what I was looking for started to change. This linear journey from not knowing to knowing started to fall away, in its place appeared a circular, non-journey.

Suddenly this idea of following a path and finding myself at the end of it seemed ridiculous. Obviously you don’t find yourself at the end of a long journey.

The only way you find yourself at the end of a journey is if at your final destination there’s a massive mirror that reflects back to you who you are.

Out of nowhere the idea of me looking for myself seemed crazy. It’s like walking into a room full of people and not finding yourself amongst them. Obviously you won’t find yourself amongst the crowd, as you are the very thing that’s doing the looking!

It’s like how the eye can see everything but itself. It’s looking for your glasses when they’re on your head. You can look in all the elaborate places you want, but you’ll never find them until you stop and look in a mirror.

What I’m trying to say is that when the thing that is looking is the same as what is being looked for, you’re in for a very long, fruitless search.

When you are what you’re looking for, the only way to find yourself is to turn inwards, and find that you were there all along.

So long as we’re looking “out there,” we’re never going to find who we are. We might meet someone who holds up a mirror for us, and so long as we are with them and their mirror we can feel at one.

But even then we usually presume that it is only around this person, teacher, or guru that we feel good, and we imagine that they have the key to unlock who we are. This Is why we can get so attached to our mirror holders, and believe that they have something we don’t.

They journey to the self is much less of a linear path to be trodden, and much more of a turning back to ourselves.

It’s a stopping, a slowing down, and the realization that we are already complete and whole.

That’s not to say that all the satsangs, teachers, and gurus were a waste of time. They helped me let go of enough stuff; they helped me loosen my identification with ego so that I could turn in. Thanks to them there was less illusion, and less conditioning standing between me and myself.

But it wasn’t until I stopped trying to get somewhere, be it the perfect future or the end of a spiritual path that I could see that I was what I was looking for. And, that I’m in here, not out there.

It’s like (my favorite teacher) Adyashanti said at a satsang in London: if you have something really valuable that you don’t want anyone to find, where do you hide it? On the top of a mountain? In a Himalayan cave? At the end of a long journey, or on an exotic beach?

No. You make the seeker out of it, and they’ll be so busy looking for it, that they will never realize that it’s hidden in plain sight, is literally right under their nose, and is in fact their very essence.

So call off the search. You don’t need to be found. You’re already here.

Photo by Peeratam Tangtua

About Jade Doherty

Jade is a laugh-aholic who went looking for herself only to discover she's been here all along (ta-dah!). She isn't really sure what she's doing with her life but she does know that her calling lies in drinking tea and wearing a onesie. She enjoys geeking out over Philosophy books, going to satsangs, watching football, and having good conversations laced with wine. You can find her on her blog, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

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