Monday, August 20, 2012

The Search For Self

Who am I?

What makes me who I am?

Why do I do anything I do?

Why do I care?

Have you ever asked any of these questions? If you have, you probably did it because you wanted to better understand the meaning of life, or at least your role in it. At the very least you have wondered what it is that makes you unique; what gives you a soul. If you believe in such a concept that is.

A lot of people have a notion of an afterlife beyond death. Something that involves either a paradise or hell, depending on actions you have taken, or things you have believed in. Specifics of what this would be like can vary drastically depending on which theology you follow.

I was talking to a very devout Christian once about the afterlife, and his comments made me wonder what his idea of self would be like when he died, if his beliefs proved true. The way he talked, it made it sound like he would be magically transformed into a perfectly sinless being who would sit at God's feet for eternity in holy communion. It made me wonder what he thought would become of all the things that made him who his mortal self was. All the idiosyncrasies, quirks, awkwardness, and even the darker thoughts like anger, lust, and greed. After all, those are surely a major part of what made him who he is to.

We may not like the things we consider negative about ourselves. At times we may even hate ourselves for them. It's likely this behavior is what leads us to feel a great deal of guilt throughout our lives. If we are honest, it's probably what has shaped our afterlife ideas of a place of hell that awaits those who don't behave. Because surely you must be punished if you are not a good boy or girl.

But who determines what is good?

The religious person will say it is the responsibility of the divine and we learn this through religious scripture. But so much of what is written heavily conflicts with the concept of self. Everything I have read in the Christian scripture, tells us our base instincts are often the source of bad behavior. In essence much of what makes us who we are is what makes you bad. So if you just try to resist these temptations long enough, one day you will die and be rewarded by what; having those parts of your personal makeup deleted from your very being? Think about that for a moment, your personal core being will be, _poof_, gone. In its place will be a new being who will be perfect. It will be very much like the Invasion of the Body Snatchers where people are replaced by pod people who look the same, but at their very core, they are very different people. When you look at it that way, it's hard to not look at that as a sort of brainwashing or lobotomy.

So what does that mean?

To answer that, I think you must first determine what makes you who you are. Not some lofty delusional of what you would like to be. You know, the part of you that you show off in Sunday Church, or on Facebook. I'm not suggesting you shouldn't have goals of personal growth. Or you shouldn't try to change things about yourself that you don't like. But you need to know who you are at your core, and not try to define yourself by some type of facade you hide behind to the public.

Only when you know who you are can you face eternity and be able to honestly consider what it might mean for your soul to live there.


  1. Bravo! I've often wondered what erasing the ego, sense of "I" from my core would lead me to be like. Emotions, opinions, judgement, social influences, person experience of learning matters of the heart... What is left of who we truly are?

    Granted I still have along road of maturity ahead of me, but I'd not want to give up a single thing I have learned. Anger, jealousy, hate, heart break... all of that also helps shape who I am and without those stepping stones, I'd reach a an eternity of nothing. No further development. Can't be "perfect" without experience lighting the way. My thoughts anyway. Great write!

  2. Aw, thanks Cora! That's one of the things I love about you. You are always yourself, and no make no apologies for that. You don't hide behind pretense or have some grand delusional of who you are. You are always you and I think more people would do well to take a lesson from that.

    The only thing I wanted people to think about here was what they really believe will happen if there is some heven/hell at the end of life. I think some people think Heven will be there if they meet some indistinct goal, and it will simply be a place they can do whatever fits their fancy here in life (endless parties, sex, drugs and rock and roll if you will). If that's the case, then probably nothing I said here will apply to them. LOL

    This is probably more for the people who are deeper into their theology. Who are resentful towards the parts of themselves that make them human, and look forward to having those parts removed in their idea of utopia. If that's truly what they want, then what is the point of them being who they are? Why did they ever have to suffer through the grueling process of being sinful/imperfect if everything that makes them who they are is going to be removed and in their place will be this new person who thinks completely differently.

    Will the only point be to have the memories of the life they lived prior to the change?

    I just wanted people to think. :)