by Sheri Rosenthal, DPM -
In spirituality we read much about authenticity and integrity, but I’m not always sure we have a clear understanding of these terms. Some folks have told me they believe these words refer to being honest and true to themselves, but I most often feel that they are speaking about their ego-self rather than the true self inspired by the divine within.
By the time we are adults we actually believe that the way we are is our authentic self, but normally this is far from the truth. We’ve been deceived into believing that what we think about ourselves is what’s real – rather than the no-thingness of the Infinite within us.
François de La Rochefoucauld, the French noble and writer, has been noted to have said; We are so accustomed to disguise ourselves to others that in the end we become disguised to ourselves. When we are young, we mold ourselves to become what others tell us to be until we finally believe that is who we are. Since we are domesticated using punishment and reward, we seek the reward which comes from doing and becoming what others expect from us. Fear of punishment is a strong incentive. Eventually we no longer even know who we truly are – only what we believe ourselves to be. The disguise is complete, our integrity and authenticity gone, traded for a biscuit or a shred of love.
It is this very observation that we must be on guard for in ourselves in every moment. By questioning our motives and our thinking, we can begin to get clarity on what is truth and what is not. It takes persistence and faith that what is ultimately true will reveal itself. In the end it is harder and requires more energy to be what we are not, than what we really are. The disguise takes personal power to maintain and requires constant internal dialogue to uphold. In other words, our constant reiteration of what we believe about ourselves and our world in our mind, helps keep the construct of the disguise in place.
Once we take the time to quiet our thoughts, we can see the construct of the mind fall apart and we are no longer certain that what we believe about ourselves, or anyone else for that matter, is truth. It is in these moments that the truth reveals itself, and we see the light of our integrity and authenticity shining through. We glimpse the perfection of our divinity and see that our faith has been sorely misplaced. And even if letting the disguise fall away is uncertain and oftentimes frightening, our ultimate freedom of expression is well worth the temporary fear we experience in letting go.
In that moment we no longer seek approval or love from others though our words and actions; we no longer need the biscuit or the shred of love. Our actions are genuine expressions of life moving through us, rather than from the neediness of our wounded ego. We are no longer diminished by the disguise; we expand to the width and breadth of the universe, knowing we no longer are trapped and bounded by falsehood. We realize deeply that when we are no longer beholding to anyone for approval or love, we are whole or one unto ourselves and we have embodied our integrity fully and completely.
This is the reward of our spiritual path: Ultimate freedom from the masks we wear that seemingly keep us safe, but steal our greatness and our personal power. I encourage you to go beyond your comfort zone and challenge yourself to let your disguise go, it never really looked that great on you anyway.