You Cannot Perceive Your True Self (You Can Never Perceive Who You Really Are)
Anything and everything that you could ever perceive cannot be you or tell you anything about yourself. No sight, no sound, no smell, no taste, and no feeling.
In order for something to be perceived, there must be a perceiver to experience it. You perceive the world and everything in it from a subject/object perspective. There must be a subject that can perceive an object in order for a perception to arise in the first place. An object cannot perceive another object, unless it has a life of it’s own, in which case it becomes the subject in its experience.
The ideas and forms you take yourself to be are perceptions made by yourself and therefore cannot fundamentally be you. Your name, your family, your career, your hobbies, your pets, your house, your car and your body are perceived by you. More subtly, your thoughts, emotions, beliefs, feelings, the sensations you feel, your hopes, dreams, the energy moving through your body, your sight itself and all other sense perceptions are all perceived by You. You cannot be found in any object no matter how seemingly solid and material or subtle and fleeting it is. You cannot be your body, because you can observe it, you cannot be your thoughts, because you observe them.
The language we use everyday demonstrates this subject/object relationship we have with the world. We say “my body”, “my beliefs”, “my values” or things like “my mind is driving me crazy” or “my body is tired”. It’s right in front of us. Who is the “my” who is aware of these things? The “my” that perceives everything, whether in the “outside” world, or in the deepest parts of the mind cannot possibly be any of the things it perceives.
That is the real You.
The You that has no name, no form, no beliefs and no stances. The changeless You that perceives the changes in your body as you age, the changes in your mind as you grow and experience life, your move across the country, your first bike ride, the start of a new career, etc.
Take a moment and review your life up until this point…
Hasn’t your body changed since you were a baby, a child, a teenager, an adult? Haven’t your opinions and beliefs changed over time as you gained more knowledge about the world?
Who knows this? Who has been here the whole time and has watched the world change and your body age? Who is aware of perceiving this sentence right now?
That is the real You.
So what do we mean when we refer to ourselves as “me”. Is the “me” we take ourselves to be the body that has gone through several transformations or the mind that has taken on various ideologies? If those things were actually you then when they disappeared (when you grow up, when you change your mind), you would have had to disappear too. You would have to have a stagnant body that never changed, with a set of ideas that never developed in order for you to still exist as the person you used to be.
But you know that that isn’t how life works, your body ages and your beliefs change so dramatically over the course of your life that it almost seems like you’ve been several people throughout your lifetime, and yet you are still here. The different versions of yourself that you experience throughout a lifetime are perceived by none other than You. You can call this your true self if you want.
Instead of referring to the body or mind, when we say “me” we are referring to the one who perceives everything, who is aware of everything, who has watched this body age and this mind change.
Taking another look at the language we use may be helpful here. When you say anything you automatically imply that you are aware of it. Obviously you must be aware of something to see it, understand it and talk about it. It’s so obvious and natural that we have to be aware of something in order to think or talk about it that we don’t have to say it. But for funsies, let’s just plug that obvious bit into some sentences.
“I am aware of my body and the changes that it undergoes.” “I am aware of my beliefs.” “I am aware of my values.” “I am aware that my mind is driving me crazy.” “I am aware that my body is tired.” “I am aware that I have changed dramatically over time.”
The only constant that never changes is that we are aware. We were aware as babies (before we even had language or concepts), we were aware as kids, as teenagers, as adults and we are aware now in this moment. Do you think we are just as aware now as we were then? Do you think the awareness itself has changed or just the objects that you are aware of? Are you less aware now then when you were little or are you just as aware of the world and your body?
For you to see and experience changes occurring in all aspects of the body and world around you, you had to be there to witness the change happen. The unchanging awareness that watches the world go by, including your body, mind and self-image, that is the real You.
But you cannot be aware of yourself in the same sense that you can be aware of the world. In the same way that a knife can never cut itself, the sun can never shine on itself and you can never stand up and take a step towards yourself, you can never perceive the real you (your true self) because anything that you perceive must be an object in your awareness.
Test this for yourself in your own experience, because my word is not good enough.[ms_list icon=”fa-question-circle” icon_color=”” icon_boxed=”no” background_color=”” boxed_shape=”square” item_border=”no” item_size=”14″ class=”” id=””] [ms_list_item]Have you ever been aware of something outside of your awareness? Of course not, how could you? You must be aware of something to perceive and experience it. [/ms_list_item] [ms_list_item]Can you stop yourself from being aware right now? [/ms_list_item] [ms_list_item]You can’t make yourself unaware of things. If you close your eyes, you can still hear everything. If you close your ears you can still smell. If you plug your nose you can still taste. If you take away taste you can still feel (through your sensations and emotions.) When all of this is taken away (like in a sensory deprivation tank) you can still think and imagine, and if all of that leaves your awareness (as in deep meditation), you are aware of nothing. [/ms_list_item] [ms_list_item]Can you imagine experience without being aware? You can’t, because in order to have an experience, you must be aware of it. [/ms_list_item] [ms_list_item]So awareness is the only thing that is essential to you, because it is the only thing that is always present, in any time, place, body, that you find yourself in. It is the only thing that you cannot be without in order to experience reality as we know it. Everything else can and will come and go, but the changeless awareness that you are will always be there to experience it come and go. [/ms_list_item] [ms_list_item]So does awareness have a smell, or a taste or a sound to it? Does awareness look like anything? Can you experience awareness more than just knowing that you are aware?[/ms_list_item][/ms_list]
The real you has no body and has no thoughts. Instead, You (the one who is aware) perceives all of these things taking place in your awareness.
The real You, the unchanging You, the You that has always been present through life, is awareness. And awareness can never be perceived, because it is doing the perceiving.
You can never know yourself in reality, because you can never be an object in your reality. You will always be the observer of your reality, the awareness that observes here and now and every other moment, so naturally and so seamlessly that you didn’t notice until now.