For awhile, I was more than a little obsessed with what used to be referred to as Multiple Personality Disorder, now known as Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). Yes, it’s a fascinating phenomena on its own, but what caught my attention was the window-on-the-Who-Are-You?-ness of it. Sometimes Reality is glimpsed through rends in the known; DID is one of these cases.
In the “conscious community” (dear Lord), talk abounds around the topic of illusion—that the self is an illusion, death, “reality” is illusionary etc. etc. Sure. In a theoretical, intellectualized way, this is clear, evidenced by the apparent fact that “we” are “here” and then “we” do something called “dying”, after which the “we” is no longer “here”. (And yeah, that’s a whole lotta douchy air quoting if I was just verbally relaying this, but here I’ll argue it’s merely necessary punctuation, as none of these terms has any real meaning when we get down this far. Get ready for more.) But what about the actual experience of those illusions? What entrances me about DID is that it lays bare the ultimate illusion of self, stripping self-concept away to… what exactly?? Answer: the fine mist that is Self itself.
Oh goody, my divining rod is twitching 😉 Let’s go dowsing.
Transformational comedian Kyle Cease, who also happens to be my delightful, handsome and brilliant fiancé, speaks at his events about the fact that Who We Are cannot be our bodies or our belief systems; we inhabit, at different points in our lifetimes, a child’s body, a teenager’s body and an adult’s. We may lose or gain weight and muscle mass. We change shape. Likewise, when we change or adjust our beliefs (which we do all the time), we continue to conceptualize our “selves” as “us”, despite the fact that almost everything about “us” can and has changed at one point or another. DID simply lifts the veil a little higher, revealing that the personality itself (what we typically think of as the bottom floor of “who we are”) is also an illusion.
The personality, or who we typically mistake ourselves to be, is simply a construction of the mind.
How do I know this? Because Sybil. Because through the mere existence of DID, it becomes undeniably clear that when a person is stressed to a highly significant degree, the mind exhibits the ability to dump one personality (or self) to escape the pain of a situation, and simply create another one. And then if necessary, another and another and another.
Disorder? Yee-haw. Coping mechanism? Certainly. But while DID creates order from a horrific kind of chaos the mind itself is not equipped to deal with in a usual manner, considered with any depth, DID will also rampantly dis-order our typical understanding of Who We Are. If we peer closely enough through this tear in everyday consciousness, the “disordered” coping mechanism of DID clearly reveals the Great and Powerful Oz as he truly is: a little man behind a curtain, moving dials and switches, speaking through a megaphone. In other words…
We are decidedly NOT who we think we are.
In DID, the mind creates often quite disparate personalities that seem to take turns existing in time. These personalities may be mentally, psychologically and physiologically very different people: one might be blind or visually impaired while the other has perfect vision, one might exhibit a severe allergy to orange juice and another doesn’t. A particular personality may be that of a child, while others are adults of different ages and genders. One personality might be outgoing and flamboyant, another shy and withdrawn. The personalities may be aware of one another and even write notes to each other, or completely oblivious to the existence of the others. And on and on. The point is, these are clearly and literally different selves inhabiting one body.
But here’s the thing—the personalities are not typically under any significant degree of conscious control. And what does that mean? A ton. Here are a few implications:
- We are not our personalities
- Our aversions and proclivities are not “us”
- Physiology is undeniably malleable
- Illness and disability originate within the mind rather than the body
So basically, we can just decide to be whoever we want to be and then be that, right?
Um… not quite. In fact, I propose it’s not only not that simple by any stretch, but perhaps even impossible. An extremely important caveat here, laid bare by DID and not typically acknowledged, is the fact that we do not consciously create our “selves”, and thus significant, deep and lasting psychological change is also not effectively wrought through merely conscious means.
Sure, we can absolutely change things about ourselves. We can create different habits. We can stretch our current understanding of who we are by challenging ourselves to do things we previously thought terrifying or even impossible. We can carve out new lives through re-conceptualizing ourselves and our limitations through skilled counseling and therapy. We can transform our bodies with adjustments to exercise or food. All useful and important stuff. But what I’m saying here is that not only our ability to bring about change within ourselves, but the very concept of doing so originates from the creator of the self itself (the mind), and is by definition therefore limited by the boundaries of its own construction.
In my opinion, a lot of damage is done via half-assed (mis)understandings of the concept of self in relation to Self. A lot of self-inflicted (wah wah) distress and pain arises from intellectually understanding that we are not this body, not this mind, and then thinking (inescapably from the mind, of course) that we are not only able to but responsible for creating disease-free bodies and minds and perfectly executed lives and circumstances. And when this doesn’t “work”, we blame ourselves (our selves). “I didn’t meditate hard enough.” “If I make a more specific vision board, I can manifest this.” “My intention wasn’t strong enough”, “I’m doing it wrong.” “I have to figure this out.” “If I really let this go then my body will heal.”
So why doesn’t it “work” when we consciously try to manifest that parking space, a Ferrari, glowing health or the perfect partner? Again, here’s the missing link we miss:
We can only consciously create from within the bounds of our conscious understanding of the self, which is unconsciously created by the mind itself. A classic Catch-22.
So…riddle me this: Is there a way to consciously transmute the experience of self into Self? Can we consciously transcend our mind’s limited band of consciousness and live our lives as “who we truly are”? Although these questions only originate from the lower-case self (the only way out is through), the answer is YES. But this is not “accomplished” directly by the mind.
*Stick with me for a sec here, this is a tricky rabbit hole and a bit difficult to articulate.*
Anything we do only from and of the mind is merely self-manipulation, a kind of personality contortionism. Masterbation. However, incredibly, the mind can use itself as a tool for transcendence, employing mind-altering techniques, practices or substances (including food, hence my raw food journey) for clarity and to thus assist in seeing past itself, which opens up an available-for-transformation space where the mind can actually be bypassed by the Self which will then express, uninhibited. To truly transcend the mind (the self) we must ultimately enter a space of mind-less-ness. We must, as they say, lose our selves to find our Selves.
This is anything but a word/mind-game.
We are always either creating our experience from beliefs and old paradigms (self) or we are creating from Self, from pure consciousness.
Here is the mind-bending, tongue-twisting question to ask: How can the mind surrender it’s self itself to Self?
Answer: We inhabit the place where the self does not exist.
Where the hell is that?! The mind creates the self (patterns of internal experiences expressed as responses/behaviors) from memories of past experiences and projections into the future. Period. The actual ME is consciousness in this moment (which is Self and NOT the conceptualized self).
The magic tincture here (Drink Me!), is that the mind and its Frankensteinian creation, the personality, never exist in the present. Go there.
- Self observation (meditation is one great—and non-toxic, cost-effective—tool for this) eventually leading (spoiler alert) to the realization by the self that the self itself does not actually exist
- Simple BEingness (non-existence of self); through complete surrender into the Now (doing what you love, engaging, paying deep attention)
We can call stepping back into the pole-position for mind-less-ness as aligning the mind (and thus the self, the personality, the ego) with the present moment, where it finds it doesn’t exist and then violà, simply ceases to be. We tend to toggle between self and Self, but HERE is where we truly are. Where bodies change and lives transform effortlessly. From the mind, the personality, we only have so much influence. Making the transition from a life directed by self to Self happens spontaneously, in fits and starts, and usually quite gradually, and although we can stack the deck in our favor, we cannot MAKE it happen. We cannot will this change, get to it through discipline, or understand it. We cannot “wrap our brains around it”, “embrace” or “let go” of anything, or make sense of it. We cannot orchestrate it. We cannot name and claim it. We must simply BE HERE when we are aware to do so. But access to the Whole must come at the cost of the personality, which is what we normally think of as the very basis of who we are, and giving up the self is the thing we (as the mind/personality/ego) LEAST want to do (THIS is the ultimate mind game). So therein appears, at least, to lie the challenge.
There are many ways to live, but if we allow it, eventually the only job of the mind becomes consciously putting itself in the state of receptivity, of openness, of expanded awareness and bypass-ability. Experiencing what’s there in the moment and allowing the Self to lead, where the mind acts only as the Self’s humble and useful servant. Through mind-less-ness, we access embodiment of the Self. In BEing, we simply ARE Self, without effort. No blame and just as much, no credit.
And thus from the DISorder of DID, the order of Truth. Of BEing. Of Self. Of truly LIVING.
This is what I mean by LiveLove&BU. So, once again my friends, from my heart to yours, LiveLove&BU <3
Image credit wikipedia