When do I become visible to myself?
Of course, observing myself in action, I see the identities that operate in me, that I have habitual reactions which carry me through most situations without the need or ability to change anything. When I look to see more, I do not see anything that resembles a permanent, cognizant self, able to be. There is attention and perhaps presence, the lights are on, but no one is home.
Rumi in his discourse 14 says this very clearly…what is real in me is not visible to myself. “You cannot see the attributes of man: examine yourself and you will not find anything so you suppose yourself empty of [His attributes]. Yet it is not the case that you have changed from what you were, only these things are hidden in you, like water in the sea”.
In the presence of other people, more possibilities arise. Someone may see me without prejudice, attentively, and then I may see more of my non habitual self. If another gives me space and uses attention impartially, I am given the gift of greater freedom to be. This is the transformative power of real listening.
This is an important guide for my behaviour towards others. When the other does not impose their opinions of me, when their attention is open and spacious, something more of me may become evident, something not conditioned by my past that is more of my true nature. Alas, the other person may also reinforce my habitual self by expecting and seeing only that, and then my limitations are likely enhanced. Seeing this, what efforts must I make to be more open to others?
There is another possibility. Can I turn towards God? Can I have the sense that I am seen by Him? By this I do not mean the god of the religions, who is a human construction. By this I mean my sense of relationship to a Universal Being, the all-pervading consciousness. Turning in this direction, I become visible to myself as a reflection of Him, having an endowment of some aspects of Himself which His presence naturally calls into being. I feel recognized and I see who I am and have always been.