How to Find Yourself Through Your Perceptions of Others

by Nikki Sapp –

If we take any random person then pick five people in their life and interview them about said person we are bound to hear five different perceptions about them. One person may perceive them as funny, kind and warm-hearted while another person may see them as irresponsible, immature and unintelligent.
So whose perception is the correct one?
One of the biggest key in the path of self-awareness is the knowledge that our perception of others has nothing to do with them and everything to do with us. We literally concoct our own perception about people that we meet based on our own relationship with ourselves and our own personality traits.

“We meet ourselves time and time again in a thousand disguises on the path of life.” –Carl Jung 

The ego, fearing attention being brought to it, tends to always look outside of itself for someone or something to “blame”, when in fact, it is only recognizing its own traits in other people.
For example, let’s say a person has never experienced the feeling of envy, how could they recognize this trait in another person if they have never experienced it? We can only recognize traits in other people that we also possess or at least have possessed, which means turning our attention outward and blaming or judging others is a pointless endeavor.
When we come to realize that our opinions and judgments of other people have nothing to do with them and everything to do with our own ego, we are then able to use every reaction we have towards others as an opportunity to bring light to an aspect of ourselves that needs healing.

“What angers us in another person is more often than not an unhealed aspect of ourselves. If we had already resolved that particular issue, we would not be irritated by its reflection back to us.” –Simon Fuller

Our reactions to other people are the keys that unlock the forming of an integral and authentic relationship with our self.
If we pay close attention to who or what brings about a strong emotional reaction from us we are able to utilize this to our advantage.
Negative reactions indicate either one of two things.
  • One being that either we are attached to an idea or belief about the way things SHOULD be or the way someone SHOULD behave which means we are trying to force our own agenda on to other people, when in fact, no one HAS to behave the way we think they should. Anytime we hold people to OUR expectations of them instead of accepting them as they are, we are sitting in resistance of the present moment.
  • The other thing a negative emotional reaction can indicate is [social locker] that there is an aspect of our self that we are not wanting to look at, so we are literally finding it in other people as a clue to us that we need to bring awareness to this trait in ourselves.
We may think that we are victims of circumstances or that life is just randomly happening to us, when in actuality, our own unconscious is trying to make itself known to us through our external circumstances and through people that we meet.

“When an inner situation is not made conscious, it appears outside as fate.” –Carl Jung

When we start seeing our own self as the “problem” in every circumstance, we are then able to shed the light of awareness on all parts of our “shadow” self (or the part of our psyche that our ego tries to hide from others and sometimes even our self) which will consequently heal these traits in ourselves.

In order to truly heal a part of our self that we have become conditioned to hide from the world we must start to practice 100% honesty with ourselves.
If we are experiencing anger, we admit and allow our self to experience anger, when we experience fear, we identify the fear and only become aware of it. 
It doesn’t mean we have to judge ourselves as good or bad because of the emotions it only means that we are aware of it, and are then able to send unconditional love to these parts of ourselves.
Although, it may sound terrible to always see ourselves as the “problem” and always have to turn our hand and point the finger back at ourselves when we so badly want to point it at another person, it actually is the most empowering move we can make. When we see our self as the “problem” we automatically become our own solution.
If it is our own perception of the world and our relationship with ourselves that is causing us to see shortcomings in others, we become completely empowered to change the situation by merely healing the parts of ourselves that is identifying and resonating with the same “problem” in them.
When we start to see our self in everyone we meet we automatically start forming an honest and authentic relationship with ourselves. In this honesty we are able to cultivate our own awareness and consequently we become calmer, more confident and more accepting of every aspect of ourselves.
When our relationship with ourselves is loving and accepting, we start not only seeing these same traits in other people but we realize that things or people that used to bring about a strong negative reaction from us are now met with forgiveness and compassion.

We quite literally change and heal our relationships with others by changing and healing our relationship with ourselves.

About Author: Nikki Sapp – Inspirational writer/blogger and lightworker, focused on self awareness and personal development. She is dedicated to helping others raise their vibration, discover their true selves and encouraging them to live a life that they truly love.

Life’s Paradox

by Dorothy M Neddermeyer PhD –

The Self is neither small nor big; it is both simultaneously. Your spirit is like a drop in the spiritual energy ocean, yet it is an integral and significant part of the whole.
You have a spiritual Self that animates your body and infuses your thoughts and feelings. Your language is limited to what you perceive and descriptions are one dimensional based on the perceptions people comprehended at the time. Thus, only metaphors approach the expressions that give a true sense of a spiritual nature.
The paradox lies in opposing concepts and perceptions, all of which are true at the same time other concepts and perceptions are operating. In the context of harmonizing the opposites, you begin to know the wonders of the spirit.
The Self is neither small nor big; it is both simultaneous. 

Although, your spirit seems small, separate or disconnected part of the whole, it is still comprised of the same things and can become part of the vast spiritual ocean. Your spirit seems to inhabit your body like a passenger in a vehicle, however, at the same time is not bound by your body.

Spirit can reach across the miles to touch the heart of past, present and future or expand to become one with all energies. You might feel small and insignificantly young when you look up at the stars, yet you are made of the same basic elements – Energy.

Looking at the stars is a mere reflection of what is going on within each atom and cell of your being. Your spirit is ever renewing, yet ageless and eternal. Thus, the Self is not new or old; both are simultaneous.

Your spiritual Self is neither small or big nor new or old. 

You may experience life as good or bad, right or wrong, happy or sad; however, this is the experience of the linear world of dualities, not the truth of your spiritual nature.

By going within to touch the eternal and changeless energy at your core, you can go beyond the contrasting metaphors to the experience of oneness. 

In that connection you can know big and small, new and old, movement and stillness. By accepting the paradox of life, you open yourself to the fullness of your whole being – Who you truly are.

About Author: Dorothy M. Neddermeyer, PhD implements a highly effective protocol called ‘Transformation’ to discover the root cause of all issues both personal and professional. With more than 30 years of experience, Dorothy facilitates Transformation that is direct, focused and combines creating success while changing old habits. The results are precise, powerful, empowering and an accurate, sustainable way of changing the landscape of your life and business. 

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Total Absolute Level of Fearlessness and Integrity


by Rashmi Khilnani – 

Question for Babaji: Babaji, I find the world over that even people on a spiritual path of one kind or another, still try and please others in the name of so-called unconditional love. I observe that many continue to be afraid of offending their friends and families, even when this servility on their part leads to a total compromising of their deepest truth, love, and integrity.
Sometimes, a spiritual aspirant walks their talk in one area of their life, while they continue to sacrifice their integrity in the name of keeping the peace, which shows a total lack of courage.
I find that few people will speak their truth in a crowd, particularly if their expression of integrity is in conflict with the views of the mob. Yes people are waking up and great miracles of conscious connection are occurring but this lack of courage that I am pointing out, here now, continues to be chronic and widespread. How can we shift out of this fear of being and embracing who we are or of loving others through having to say no to them or even at times oppose the views or behavior of the people we love?
Babaji speaks: In esoteric wisdom you are often taught about the path of the peaceful warrior, the spiritual warrior. It is imperative for human beings now to take responsibility for their lives, their words, their deeds and their co-creations. The ability to respond from conscious-centered awareness comes from keeping a part of your attentive consciousness in the center of your being which is empty, silent and in the unmanifest realm.
Once you have accessed this state and become firmly anchored in it, you no longer have to worry about when to speak and when to be quiet, when to fight the good fight and when to harmonize with others through gentle silence or peaceful discussion.
In each moment of now, you just calmly or forcefully, as the case may be, follow your inner guidance and wisdom and you will not be afraid of the opinion of others or offending others or trying to please or manipulate them into your way of being or thinking.
Clinging to the Past: Fear, Stress, Worry
Question: I feel that so many of us, even the so-called spiritually enlightened, are clinging to the past, to the sorrow and sadness of the past.
Babaji: I observe that most of humanity is feeling a vast amount of fear, stress, and worry in this ending of the Kali Yuga, which involves tremendous change. I encapsulate the energy that triggers deep courage in your hearts and minds, here now, in these words as I speak them to you. You cannot cross the bridge of fire and water and endure the storms of accelerated transformation without inculcating deep fearlessness in your mind, body, and soul.
Your Atma (soul) is essentially fearless.
Move forward as a spiritual warrior with peace and love and find the energy to speak your truth with courage and to be silent when necessary, with an equal amount of bravery and single-pointedness.
There will be no self-realization and moving into Satya Yuga without a total and absolute level of integrity, where your thoughts match your words, which then match your deeds.
Moving Forward in Trust and Awareness
Question: Babaji, thank you for amplifying the energy of bravery and love in our hearts through this dialogue, in this now time, when we are all being intensely challenged to let go of lifetimes of memories, attachments, desires, people, and places. Could you share with us any information about how to reduce our fear and come into our knowingness, with the serenity of moving forward in trust and moment-to-moment awareness?
Babaji: My children of the light, you know very well that the darkness, the fear, and the ignorance are illusionary. However, you continue to be completely mesmerized and caught up in the drama of Maya: of polarity and the demons of fear-based living and being. Repeat the Maha Mantra, Om Namah Shivaya It is there to purify your mind and bring it to stillness — a centeredness that exists at all times, even as you interact with the world.
It is useless to talk about practicing universal dharma while not having the courage to stop clinging to those things, ideas, and people that your inner knowingness is asking you to release from your reality.
Transcending and Transmuting Fear
Question: Thank you, Babaji. I suppose what we have to remember is that we eat every day for the whole of our lives and so why should we forget to chant every day, to show praise and gratitude every day to the sacred elements: earth, water, fire, air, and ether, and to achieve unity consciousness from an ocean of devotion through repeating the Maha Mantra, “Om Namah Shivaya,” or for that matter any mantra that resonates with our hearts.
Babaji: If you want to transcend deep fear, then be with the fear, accept it, release denial and look at it in the face.
Keep meditating on the cause of the terror or anxiety, or keep looking at it and you will find that, if you breathe into the experience and allow it, you will transcend this angst and come to a place, on the other side of the fear tunnel, of great peace and in some cases, bliss.
The only way to overcome the fear of the unknown is to face the unknown, step into it and have a thorough experience of it. For of course when one experiences the unknown, it transforms and becomes the known. I, Babaji, find this extremely funny, don’t you? One observes that many of you, like my dear Rashmi, are at times captivated with making themselves totally frightened through their supremely vivid imagination as a form of excitement and entertainment.
P.S. So with fear remember to accept it, embrace it and let it become one with the light which you are within and thereby transmute it.

©2014 by Rashmi Khilnani. All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted with permission. Publisher: Rainbow Ridge Books.
Subtitles by

Excerpt from: Shiva Speaks: Conversations with Maha Avatar Babaji
by Rashmi Khilnani
Shiva Speaks: Conversations with Maha Avatar Babaji by Rashmi Khilnani.
Simple and powerful teachings that revolve around the energy of truth, love, and simplicity. They help us bridge the seeming diversity of the world to reside in the unity consciousness at its core, from which we can resolve many of today’s pressing problems. Babaji encourages us to embrace our own truth and be courageous in its defense, to become spiritual warriors and take up the sword of light to cut through our own darkness . . . to be ordinary in our extraordinariness and extraordinary within the simple ordinariness of our being.

Click here for more info and/or to order this book on Amazon.

About the Author

Rashmi Khilnani., author of: Shiva Speaks--Conversations with Maha Avatar Babaji
Rashmi Khilnani was born in Chandigarh, India and spent the first six years of her life in Cairo, Egypt. She went on to study and teach with world-renowned avatars, gurus and teachers and became a specialist in energy medicine. She is on the forefront in bringing the ancient Mystery School teachings of Egypt, India, Tibet and China, as well as the teachings of the Essenes, into current time and making these wisdoms simple and accessible to people at all levels of soul journeying. Rashmi is the host of 2013 and Beyond with Jeremy McDonald heard monthly on She is the author of The Divine Mother Speaks, and Buddha Speaks. You can visit her website at

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10 Keys for Creating Your Extraordinary Life

by Jane Straus –

Recognize that you are enduring.

Do you feel that you never have time to stop? Do you distract yourself with eating, working, volunteering, cleaning, etc.? Do you resent that you never have time to do the things your spirit longs for? Do you feel resigned rather than inspired? 
If you wake up most mornings feeling anxious, bored or numb, looking forward to some imagined future time when you will feel happier – “when my children finally start school,” “when my bills are paid off,” “when I retire” – then you are enduring.

Release your self-judgments.

Your negative beliefs about yourself that are holding you back-you’re untalented, too fat, not smart enough, etc.- are probably rooted in your childhood. Why would you let your “inner seven-year-old” run your life?

These judgments are real but they are only as true as you have believed them to be. Give yourself compassion for having carried the burden of your self-judgments. Replace them with affirmations and find new evidence to support your willingness to believe in them. Affirmations are as true as you allow them to be.

Question your limiting beliefs.

When you tenaciously hold on to the belief that the world works in one particular way (against you), or that there is only one right way to do something (and you are doing it wrong), or that your actions will inevitably result in a specific and predictable outcome (bad), you are strapping on blinders.

Make a commitment to take off those blinders. It will take practice and patience to stay out of “limiting belief territory,” but eventually it will become second nature. You’ll quickly start to see that life no longer feels boring and predictable.

Drop your acts.

When you put on the armor of an act, you sacrifice your authenticity for protection. For instance, you think no one can hurt you if you’re tough enough…or that everyone will love you if you’re nice enough…or that everyone will respect you if you never admit to being wrong.

Your acts will become your prison. Instead, give yourself joyful permission to become more of who you really are. You will feel free and you will find that who you are is much more interesting than any character you could possibly play.

Face down your fear.

What fear is keeping you from living your extraordinary life? Whatever it is—quitting your unfulfilling job, leaving an abusive marriage, telling the truth about your past—you must face it head on. Recognize that F.E.A.R. means “False Evidence Appearing Real.”

Think of the worst-case scenario and see yourself living through it with dignity. Get support from others. Create an affirmation, such as, “I am now courageous.” Then, just do it. Remember that no matter what the momentary outcome of facing down your fear brings, your worth as a person is constant and never in question.

Free your feelings.

If you feel bored, you are probably ignoring or avoiding something. Make an effort to connect with your feelings. Sit in a quiet place and close your eyes. Take some deep breaths.

Check in with your body. Do you feel any tightness or pain? Give that pain or tightness a name, such as fear, hurt, anger, resentment, sadness.

If your body feels light and open, give that an emotional name such as joy, love, happiness. Whatever emotions you feel and name, just allow them to be. If they change, let that be. Let yourself be. Learn to honor your emotions. Give them an opportunity to inspire you.

Heal your anger and resentment.

When you can acknowledge that your resentments are fueled by your personal regrets, you free yourself to step out of the victim role. It is not that you are letting others off the hook for unkind or unfair behaviors; they are still responsible for their intentions and actions. But the moment you uncover your regrets, you are empowered to let go of resentment.

Forgive yourself.

Make a list of the wrongs you have done to others and to yourself. See them as results of survival strategies. Acknowledge the consequences of these strategies to yourself and others. Grieve for your losses and your mistakes.

Make amends with yourself and others. Create an affirmation to replace the self-judgments that drove you to using your survival strategies. And remember to treat yourself the way you would want others to treat you.

Know, speak and live your truth.

Commit to being truthful in all you say and do. Realize that being truthful is not synonymous with being honest. Truth is a complex blend of honesty mixed with compassion and vulnerability.

When you are “brutally honest,” you are expressing your judgment but not expressing your truth. Your spirit knows the difference between truth and honesty. When you express your highest thoughts and intentions, you are able to live a true life, not just an honest one.

Create your extraordinary life every day.

To live in your truth is to allow your spirit’s energy into every cell of your being and into every thought and action.

Here’s what this means in everyday terms: 

When you tell the clerk at the grocery store checkout counter that she has given you too much change, you make truth and spirit matter more than money.

When you hear gossip and don’t pass it along, you make truth and spirit matter more than your momentary desire to feel important.

When you tell someone you love him or her, unsure of whether he or she will say it in return, you make truth and spirit matter more than your fear of rejection.

Make these decisions every day. It takes courage and commitment to be your extraordinary self. You will be amply rewarded with a rich and fulfilling life.

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When Others Lay a Guilt Trip

by Gwen Randall-Young –

Do you have people in your life who make you feel guilty when you do not do what they want you to do? Do you feel like you are walking on eggshells because you do not know how they will respond?
I am not talking about times when you forgot to do what you said you would do or otherwise dropped the ball. Rather, I am thinking of times when others are trying to manipulate you into doing what they want.
This seems to happen a lot when someone is trying to set clear boundaries or is trying to learn to say “no.” When one who has been a pleaser tries to bring some balance back into their dealings with others, they may run into resistance. Sadly, this is often enough to get them scurrying back to their pleasing way.

“He who does not have the courage to speak up for his rights cannot earn the respect of others.”  –Rene G. Torres

If you are going to be your own person and truly take care of yourself, you must learn to be comfortable with the unhappiness or disappointment of others. You even have to accept that some will not like you. 
Think about it: 

If someone only likes us when we take care of them and dislikes us if we take care of ourselves, what kind of relationship is that?
Part of growing up and becoming an independent adult is having the ability to know what works for or is comfortable for us and to be able to express that. 
It is being able to do so without second guessing ourselves because of the reaction of others and finally, it is recognizing that we are not responsible for the way others choose to respond to our speaking our truth nor do we have to fix it.

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5 Questions to Help You Know Yourself Better

by Lissa Rankin –

When Gretchen Rubin, author of ‘The Happiness Project’ spoke at World Domination Summit this past summer, she said that the key to happiness is to be more of who we are. In order to know who we are, she suggests that we ask ourselves a few key questions. Try writing down your answers to the following questions.

1. Who do you envy and why? 

Gretchen says that when someone has something you want, that’s very useful information about who you want to be. Rather than focusing on the negative aspect of envy or the judgment you might put on yourself for feeling that way, focus on being grateful for this additional information about what you value and care about.

2. What do you lie about? 

Anything we try to hide is a big red flag. The lie is a disconnect between your behavior and your values.

3. What would you do for fun? 

It is a sad fact about happiness that when you say to adults, “What would you do for fun?” many adults are truly mystified. HINT: If you don’t know the answer, answer this- What did you do for fun when you were 10 years old?

4. Are you an abstainer or a moderator? 

Think of something you find very tempting- chocolate, cigarettes, sex, alcohol, Cheetos, shopping- whatever.

Gretchen says there are two types of people- abstainers and moderators. To avoid temptation, abstainers have to go cold turkey. They can’t even get started with a bag of potato chips or they’ll eat the whole bag. Moderators, on the other hand, can eat just one square of dark chocolate and be happy, and if they abstain completely, they get totally cranky. Moderators feel rebellious if they’re not allowed to have just a little bit.

Since part of what makes people unhappy is trying to resist temptation, it helps to know whether you’re an abstainer or a moderator. If you know yourself and your own nature- and you OWN it- you’re much better prepared to handle temptation. In other words, just accept your own nature and act accordingly.

5. What’s the nature of your relationship to the expectations of yourself and others? 

When you are trying to change a habit, you’re trying to impose an expectation upon yourself. But there are two kinds of expectations- outer expectations (work deadlines, a request from a sweetheart) and inner expectations (what you desire for yourself.)

Gretchen explains that there are 4 categories of expectations:

• Upholders 

These people respond well to both outer and inner expectations without much fuss. They just do as they’re told, whether their motivations come from internal or external expectations. These are your classic “goody two shoes,” who follow rules pretty blindly. If a sign is posted, they will obey it. If they set a New Year’s Resolution, they’ll just do it.

Upholders are motivated by fulfillment. They feel good when they meet expectations. They hate to be blamed or let people down. They want to know the rules, and they’re great rule followers, but they’re unhappy if they don’t know what is expected of them. They’re good self-starters. 

If they make up their minds to do something, they do it. But the dark side is that if upholders don’t know what’s expected of them- if things are ambiguous, they feel paralyzed. There’s a grinding quality, a relentlessness, to upholders. They need to stay within their comfort zones to feel happy, and that includes knowing what is expected of them.

• Questioners 

These people question all expectations, whether internal or external. In order to change a behavior, they must be persuaded. If their questions are answered to their own satisfaction, they can be persuaded to meet an expectation. If the motivations for change don’t make sense to them, forget it!

Questioners can have either upholder tendencies or rebel tendencies, but most lean one way or another.

Questioners wake up in the morning and think “What needs to get done today?” They want to know why they should do something. The questioner is saying, “Why are we doing this at all?” They love information and research. If they accept an expectation, they’re good at fulfilling it. 

They endorse everything internally if they sign on. But their upside is also their downside. If you don’t get a questioner on board, they’re not going to meet expectations. It’s hard for them to act if they feel they don’t have enough information. This can make them seem totally arbitrary.

• Rebels 

These people resist all expectations, inner or outer. A rebel wants to do what a rebel wants to do. If you set an expectation for a rebel and tell them to do something, they’ll actually go out of their way to disobey you and fail to meet the expectation, just to prove a point. 

The upside of the rebels is that they’re willing to think and behave outside the box. They can be creative nonconformists who push the envelope. But they can be incredibly frustrating! Gretchen says rebels can be manipulated by challenging them and suggesting that they CAN’T do something. Tell a rebel she can’t do something and she’ll be all, “Well, I’ll show you. Ha!”

Tell a rebel, “I don’t think your team can get that done by Friday!” Then watch them be ready by Wednesday.

Although rebels are not motivated by following the rules, rebels may occasionally (and shockingly) choose to do something purely out of love for you- not because you asked them to do it but because they love you. But not always. So don’t get your hopes up.

• Obligers 

These people readily meet outer expectations but have a hard time meeting inner expectations. So they’ll go out of their way to please others, but they do at the expense of what is in their own best interests. These are the typical “people pleasers” who sell themselves out for the approval of others.

Obligers wake up and think “What do I HAVE to do today?” They are motivated by external accountability. They’re great to have around- great team members, great friends, great family. They hate to make mistakes. They bear the brunt of it on themselves. They hate being people pleasers but they can’t stand to let someone down. 

An obliger needs to build in external accountability for inner expectations. So if they’ve made a New Years Resolution, they need to tell everyone by blogging about their intentions, for example. Then they’re motivated to please those they’ve promised, even though they’re really serving themselves. 

Obligers are not good self-starters. They need deadlines, coaches, late fees, check ins. They’re also very susceptible to burn out. Everyone else takes advantage of the obligers. So if you’re in a relationship with an obliger, be mindful of that.

Certain combinations of people and jobs work better together. Rebels are almost always married to obligers. Upholders must be in relationship with upholders or questioners with upholder tendencies. Otherwise, it’s a disaster in the making!
In the end, we can only build a happy life on the foundation of our own true nature. To learn to understand yourself is the adventure of a life- to love ourselves, to accept ourselves and to live in accordance with your true nature.
I’m definitely a questioner with upholder tendencies. What about you? Did you learn anything from answering these questions? Tell us who you are in the comments!

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The Masquerade Ball

by Dan Joseph –

Imagine that you are invited to a masquerade ball.
You spend weeks deciding upon a costume for the event. Should you dress up as royalty? As a villain? As someone famous? As an angel? You eventually settle on a costume, and go to the ball. There you find hundreds of other people, dressed in the widest variety of outfits. The party is all in good fun, and you play through the night in your chosen role.
Then, around midnight, a strange thing happens. Everyone in the costume ball suddenly falls asleep. When they awake, their memories have vanished. Where am I? everyone asks. And silently, they wonder: Who am I?
People look around the room, and begin to sort out the situation. Over there is someone dressed in gold finery, with a crown. She must be the queen of this place. And look at him over there – he has knives and swords. He must be dangerous. And look at that one: she looks like some sort of animal. Maybe she’s crazy.
There’s a great scramble. People flock to the “good” people, away from the “bad” ones. Some of the good people bravely begin to round up the bad ones, using the weapons at their disposal. For a while there’s a chaotic melee. Eventually, after a struggle, things settle down. The bad people are subdued, and they sit – tied together – in the middle of the room.
Then, abruptly, part of a man’s costume falls away, and a woman cries out. “Wait,” she says, “I remember now. That pirate – he’s my husband. He isn’t really a pirate.” The memories begin to return. “She isn’t a queen – she’s just dressed that way. And he’s no priest, I’ll tell you that.”
As the costumes come off, people begin to remember their true relationships. “I’m sorry, I didn’t recognize you,” they say as they untie their friends and family. “Please forgive me – I forgot who you were.” “I don’t know what came over me.”
The party-goers shake their heads at the strange turn of events. They tear off their costumes as they walk out of the party, concerned that they might forget again. “How easily we are fooled,” remarks a man as he tosses away a mask. “A little cardboard, a little paint, and our loved ones are gone.”


As strange as this story sounds, it’s similar to what happens in this world. Each of us comes into the world without a stable human persona. Then, as we “mature,” we work to “find ourselves.” This usually means that we try out a variety of worldly roles, until we find one that feels comfortable.
The problem is that these roles are as flimsy as costumes at a ball. If we were to recognize this, we could have a bit of fun. But like the partygoers who fall asleep and confuse themselves with their roles, we tend to forget who we really are.
Let me give a personal example of this.
 When I was in college, I considered myself a student. After that I saw myself as a spiritual seeker, and a writer. Then a businessman, a writer again, a teacher, and so on.
The problem is that a student has to study – otherwise, his identity begins to fall apart. A seeker needs to seek. A writer needs to write. A businessman needs to make money; a teacher needs students. So there was a great deal of pressure that arose from these roles. When I was twenty-one years old, and my time in college ran out, I fell into a panic. I was a student! And there were no more classes! What would happen to my identity? It was rather terrifying.
Almost immediately, I made the shift to writing. But what happened when a writing project was done? I couldn’t exactly be a writer unless I was writing, right? I became almost manic in my pursuit of new writing projects. And so on. 
The deeper I identified with my worldly roles, the more pressure I felt to strengthen them. 
It was like being at the masquerade ball, and finding that my costume was continually falling away. I had to be constantly vigilant to keep it all together – constantly reinforcing the stitching and the buttons. What a horror to lose one’s costume!
The other problem with this dynamic was that everyone became distanced from me. I was a student, after all; but he was an executive. We couldn’t possibly have much in common. I was a spiritual seeker; she had no interest in spiritual things. Might as well not talk. I was a writer; they barely read anything at all. What a waste of time, trying to connect.
The roles were all that mattered. The costumes were the thing. As I slipped into this confusion, I became very isolated. There came a time when I felt all alone in the world.
What I didn’t realize was that I was being fooled by the masquerade. 
The student, the spiritual seeker, the writer – these were nothing but roles. They were not who I was. The executive, the agnostic, the non-reader – these were costumes as well. Regardless of how strongly people identified with them, they were merely thin coverings, ready to fall away. Until I began to consider this, I never thought to look deeper.


To offer another example of this idea, imagine that you have a young child whom you love. He invites you to attend his school play. You sit in the audience, watching the play unfold, until – there, dressed up as a ferocious lion is your child.
You grin widely, delighted to see him up on stage. As he plays out his role, you see him for what he is – not a lion, but your beloved son. He’s dressed as a lion, of course – and he growls and prances around like one. But you’re not fooled for a minute. What your eyes show you doesn’t deceive your heart.
This is what happens as we begin to look past our worldly costumes and roles. 
He looks like your political nemesis. She seems like a threat. He might be your ticket to happiness. She appears powerful and bold. But this is all just a play of roles. Beneath the costumes is something that transcends them all. As we begin to treat the surface wrappings like the flimsy coverings that they are, we begin to catch a glimpse of what lies beneath.
For a moment, our hearts are touched by a flash of beauty – perhaps we see it in a friend or family member; perhaps a stranger. But for a moment, we find a glimmer of something that we didn’t know was there.
For a moment, there’s a shimmering of glory that makes the costume seem ridiculous. It might be gone an instant later, but we saw it. And we can see it again. As we let our vision be led past the outer trappings, the light within begins to emerge.
A Course in Miracles frequently reminds us that we will see what we want to see. 
Either a costume, or the truth. A role, or reality. Our vision will align with our desires. And what we choose to focus on in another person, we will see more clearly in ourselves.
By seeking for the truth that lies beneath the costumes, we will increasingly find it. 
This may, of course, take some practice. We may need to frequently remind ourselves that we’re being fooled by a costume. But as we peer beneath the covers, and find a hidden glory beginning to shine forth, the process becomes like stepping from a room of shadows into the light.
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