By Marc Gafni
One of the simplest definitions of sanity used in the psychological literature is knowing who you are. To be sane is to know your identity, to recognize your name.
For example if I tell you that my name is Ken Wilber when my name is really Marc Gafni and I insist on being called Ken Wilber there is a fairly good chance that I am a bit insane. Or more than a bit. Because I am claiming a name not my own and I do not know my true identity. But the distance between the identity of Marc and Ken is relatively small, actually almost negligible, when compared with the vast distance between my separate self and true self.
The distance between the belief that I am but a skin encapsulated ego, merely Marc, and the knowing which literally blows my mind that I am True Self–and that the total number of true selves is one–is literally infinite. To be sane is to know that I am not merely a separate self but true self. From the place of true self, I am able to access not only my limited power, knowing, creativity, and love, but rather all of the power, knowing, creativity, and love in the universe flows through me.
From the place of true self, there is no reason for me to be jealous of you, to lash out at you, or to do anything other than love you as myself. Because in some sense you are myself. The pathological competition, grasping, and abuses produced by the contraction are deconstructed in the emergent glory of True Self. You access a spacious sense of peace, joy and harmonious equilibrium with all other expressions of being and becoming on the planet. The world literally becomes a different place. These are the goods of what has classically been called enlightenment.
So here is the great question. If enlightenment is sooo good, why isn’t everyone doing it? If enlightenment is the answer and it actually delivers on all of its wildly amazing promises — which it does — why is the world not flocking to Center for World Spirituality and other contemporary enlightenment schools, for intensive enlightenment studies? The enlightenment teachers for the most part explain that this is because of the clever brilliance of the ego which does everything in its power to avoid its own death. The ego does not want to die so it attaches you to a narrow identity of small self. Other teachers say that the work of practice required to liberate into True Self beyond ego is simply too demanding for most people. Still other teachers blame the blandishments of culture and society as being so seductive with their pseudo comforts that it is hard to free yourself from the game.
All of these explanations certainly carry some weight. But the deeper truth is that the problem is not with the seekers of enlightenment who are in all of the explanations considered in some sense deficient. Rather there is a core defect in the teaching of classical enlightenment itself. You see the teaching of classical enlightenment is boring, dislocating and alienating at its very core.
It is dislocating because the seeker-student asks rightfully: “If I give up my separate self –ego identity, then where am I?” The seeker asks correctly: “But what about me?” The enlightenment teacher responds by saying this is just the voice of the ego. The price for enlightenment is, “ die to separate self.” Well, that is true but also partial. The seeker senses that “I will disappear into the undifferentiated oneness of True Self–which while blissfully seductive–at some deep level feels not only terrifying but wrong. It feels like a violation of the sacred dignity of the individual.
But not only that, it is also boring. The sense of creative edge, vitality, and becoming seems lost in the being-ness of it all. In this case it is the students of enlightenment not the teachers who are holding the higher intuition. The classical teaching of True Self enlightenment is counter intuitive. It is the Unique Self enlightenment that liberates enlightenment and reclaims its vital energy of transformation as a genuine and necessary option. Enlightenment is not a loss of identity but a reclaiming of your true identity.
Rather enlightenment is the move beyond your separate self to True Self, which is the ground for the awakening of your Unique Self. You correctly sense that the source of your dignity and value is your irreducible uniqueness. What Unique Self teaches is that enlightenment is not a loss of individuality. Rather it is the reclaiming of your infnite individualty as the unique expression of essence that lives as you. To be enlightened means to realize your True Nature as an utterly unique perspective and manifestation of consciousness. This is not boring. Rather it is the energized edge of your evolutionary creativity and becoming that is both indivisibly part of the greater one and ecstatically You. This is sanity. This is what it means to live in a larger context as an evolutionary lover. This is enlightenment.