“Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.” Oscar Wilde, 19th C Irish poet and playwright.
During the Retreat at Elohee in January, Jac O’Keeffe, the spiritual teacher who led it, told us that years before, she’d recognized and affirmed that, ‘There is no Personal I.’ She repeated this phrase over and over each day and posted it around her home to train her brain to let go of the fiction of being a separate, personal I.
This made a lot of sense to me because of the contrast between who I think I am when lost in fretful thinking –– and who I know I am when the mind goes quiet and the heart opens naturally. I’d also seen a wonderful TED talk on YouTube by the playwright, actress and poet Sarah Jones, which illustrates the illusion of the Personal I quite persuasively.
In One Woman, Eight Hilarious Characters, Sarah takes on the identities of a host of women of different ethnicities –– including a Jewish grandmother, a fast-talking Puerto Rican young woman, and immigrants from China, India and elsewhere. With the change of a scarf, an accent, a gesture, Sarah demonstrates the mutability of the seemingly permanent personae, which turn out largely to be cultural artifacts –– or masks –– assembled in response to the people and conditions closest to us.
Here are two online definitions of Persona:
- The aspect of someone’s character that is presented to or perceived by others.
- A role or character adopted by an author or an actor.
Based on Jac’s affirmation –– There is no Personal I –– and my attentiveness to resonant echoes between seemingly unrelated words, as well as my experience of the inherent Beauty of Being that becomes apparent when the waves of thought are at low-tide, I suddenly heard it this way:
The Personal I is the Persona Lie ––
The Only Truth is Love!
And this is how I expressed it tersely in verse many years ago:
We’ve a cellular line to the Divine
But ego causes static.
As we each
let go and enjoy the flow ––
Our lives become
Emotional ‘Nudity’ as a Personal Strategy for Upgrading my Operating System: Personalities to some degree may be innate. But, as we also know, they are built to a significant extent on the beliefs we develop in response to our early experiences. These beliefs relate to our inherent value and safety, as well as the amount of happiness, love and money we think we’re worthy to receive and can therefore allow into our lives.
The belief system that gets cobbled together subconsciously throughout our growing-up years, then becomes our default Operating System (OS). And this system drives our ‘body-mind vehicle’ through largely familiar territory day-after-day because the familiar seems so much safer to the ego –– even though it may be totally miserable.
One of the deeply held, self-limiting beliefs I’d installed into my Operating System by the time I was 12 was the assumption that, ‘It’s too late for me.’ And that belief colored everything I ever tried to do subsequently. So, I avoided envisioning higher possibilities for my life because I didn’t want to subject myself to even more devastating disappointments than those I’d already endured.
In the comfort and safety of Jac’s retreat at Elohee, I boldly blurted out some of my darkest, oldest fear-based beliefs about myself. Jac instantly blew the first one out of the water of my emotional body. I now know deeply, and with certainly, that it simply isn’t true. It was a case of mistaken identity. I’d been living a highly limiting, self-tormenting lie.
I don’t even remember what the second fear was that I openly shared in the group with Jac. But after I disclosed it, I was afraid I’d gone too far and had rendered myself socially undesirable by being so forthcoming and revealing something so completely unappealing. We were observing ‘social silence’ throughout most of the Retreat, so I couldn’t ask anyone if I’d gone ‘beyond the pale’ in telling on myself.
So, what prompts me to be so emotionally forthcoming in a room full of strangers? I think, in part, it’s because I grew up hearing that anyone who thought well of me simply didn’t know me well. There are also times when I receive positive projections from people who encounter my creative work on line and make wildly flattering assumptions about me. I feel compelled to dispel any and all illusions anyone might have about me –– whether positive or negative.
There is also a wordplay-based awareness that emboldens me: It’s the recognition that my seemingly unfixable Faults are what is simply not true about me. For, echoically-speaking, our Faults are False. They aren’t even personal.
Based on this awareness, I don’t give any of my dysfunctional beliefs and behaviors safe harbor in a dark corner of my psyche in order to appear more evolved than I am. When they come into focus –– if I’m in a place where they can be exposed to the light and seen with deeper wisdom and compassion –– then I may share them in hopes that such self-disclosure will dispel the trance state that has kept them active in my Operating System. I’m happy to say that once the retreat reached its conclusion, and people could interact verbally again, I received a lot of love and appreciation for the level of my revelations and the impact that this had on others.
A Personal Global Reset: Receiving the surprising and sumptuous blessing-gift of Jac’s Retreat from a benevolent, anonymous stranger –– out-of-the-blue and at the beginning of 2022 –– is definitely not part of my old belief system. Yet, it very tangibly happened for me. And, as mentioned, new blessings have ensued since my return from Elohee. Taken together, all of this has definitely and irrevocably changed my mind profoundly.
Jac’s Retreat may, in fact, turn out to be my personal global reset into a Life of Happier Dreams Come True. Perhaps I’ll finally get to fulfill my WordMagic Global vision/mission, which has kept me embodied for so long –– through a life with a lot of unfortunate fall-out from my many significant misperceptions of reality.
So, at last I take my hands off the ‘weal’ –– meaning my drive for ‘well-being, prosperity, or happiness’ –– and leave WordMagic to the greater Creator that inspired it. If this Infinite-Intelligent Source wishes to see it become more visible and viable in the world, then it will be so. And if not –– well, it’s already worked its magic on my life so perhaps that is enough.
Now, I can sit back –– ‘Rest on my Laurel’s’ –– and live a life rich with resonant connections, and life-enhancing adventures in beauty, love and higher consciousness. For as Jac O’Keeffe so wisely reminded me at Elohee –
‘That which brought you here is taking care of you!’
This is true for us all. We just have to release –– or be shaken free from –– our death-grip on Life to discover it is so. And then we may also discover, as I certainly have, that it’s never too late to be who we Are in essence already.