Find Your Ideal Self, Your inner Guru, Guide and Mentor

Mindful Awareness

by Jayaram V

The Vedas proclaim that we are made in the mold of Isvara or the manifested Brahman. All the jivas (both male and female) are Purushas, reflecting the supreme reality of Brahman, who is all-pervading, eternal, supreme, indestructible, infinite and without a second. We each represent a universe within ourselves, and each day we perform numerous sacrificial duties. Just as Brahman, we have numerous identities and manifestations as mother, father, daughter, son, brother, sister, guest, householder, supporter, worshipper, male, female, procreator, devotee, bystander and so on.

We also perform the five functions of Isvara namely creation, preservation, concealment, destruction and revelation. By concealment we mean that at times we conceal our true potentials or true identities or avoid attracting attention to yourself or pretend as if we do not exist at all. By revelation we mean we express ourselves and let the world know how we think or feel or what we are or what we can do. In life, all these functions have a purpose, and they all contribute to our survival and continuity.

Thus, it is no wonder that in the journey of life we assume numerous avatars, roles, duties and functions which are the same as those of the various divinities in our pantheon of gods whom we worship. While we may not realize or accept it because of delusion or ignorance or egoism, these gods live in us and participate in all those roles, functions and duties. Containing them within ourselves, as the lords of our inner universe, knowingly or unknowingly we follow the model of Isvara in embodying consciousness, living our lives, invoking our potentials, strengths and abilities, and fulfilling our aims of desires. Whether you accept it or not, you are the lord of your life and the creator, preserver and destroyer of your destiny. As the Yoga Shastras proclaim, you are the lord (Isvara) of your mind and body. Through your actions and intentions, you manifest your life.

There is another aspect to yourself which is not known to many, but which is universally true. I would call them your three most fundamental aspects or manifestations. They are your public personality, your private personality and your hidden personality. Most of the time, you alternate between the first two according to your convenience or need or desire. You put forward your public personality when you are with people or in public. You bring out your private personality when you are alone or when you are lost in your thoughts. Let us take a deeper look at these three.

Public Self

Your public self or persona is how people know you or perceive you and what you reveal to the world about yourself. It is your surface personality, which may not truly correspond with your true personality since you may not like to betray your true feelings and emotions to everyone. Your close friends and relations may have a better idea of who you are, but even they may not know you fully since you will not tell them your most private thoughts and intentions. We all have public personalities. If you remain most of the time established in your public self, you will be deemed an extrovert, and you will hardly pay attention to your genuine thoughts and feelings or know your genuine self. You may ignore your true needs and spend your time trying to impress others or win them over.

Private Self

Your private self is your more intimate-self consisting of your hidden desires and dreams, your private thoughts, feelings and emotions, memories which make you feel uncomfortable or guilty or the secrets which you keep to yourself and guard them against intrusion by others. It is how you see yourself when you are alone and what you think in the silence of your mind. To the extent this part remains unknown, you will not be able to establish trustworthy relationships with others or create confidence. If you are too secretive people will stay away from you, and if you are too open people may feel intimidated. Also, if you spend your time mostly alone, you will be deemed an introvert, and you may find it difficult to relate to others or express your thoughts and feelings. You may also miss many opportunities to establish healthy relationship. It is important that you pay attention to others as well as to yourself and develop a balanced personality.

Your ideal self

Your ideal self is hidden from everyone. It is the best, the purest, the most excellent, capable, skillful, divine, sacred, intelligent, tranquil and ethical aspect of you. Unless you are a spiritual person and practice contemplation and introspection, it will be hardly known to you and you may hardly ever bother to explore it. Many people even do not know or refuse to accept that it exists. Thereby, they miss a great opportunity to be the best versions of themselves. Even if you are not aware of it, it has always been there. You may not be familiar with it because you may not believe that it exits or that you are capable of being your ideal self. With effort we all can locate it and bring it into our surface consciousness so that we can learn either to see the world from its perspective or learn new ways to think and act. In an ideal world, your ideal self shall be the standard to measure yourself or compare yourself or model your life and behavior. The best way to unearth your ideal self is to use your imagination and envision the best version of yourself, knowing your exceptional skills, knowledge and other qualities, which makes a distinctly good and perfect human being.

Balancing the three aspects

I would call these three aspects of you as ‘you’, ‘yourself’ and ‘your ideal self’. They exist in all of us. The course of your life, your peace and happiness, and many other things in your life depend upon with which of them you identify yourself and in which of them you prefer to remain established. By aligning these three and establishing harmony and balance within yourself you can vastly improve your thinking, discernment, behavior, relationships and problem-solving skills.

A person is truthful to himself and to others and is in harmony with himself and the world to the extent he fuses his public and private personalities and removes major disparities and deceptions. However, we are all conditioned to seek approval and acceptance from others and win them over. Therefore, it is hard to let the world know who you really are or what you think about others or what you want to say. If you are going to be truthful, you have to sacrifice peace of mind and many relationships. Therefore, the best way to resolve this problem is to use your discretion and treat each relationship on its merits. You can be open with those whom you trust or who are trustworthy, and careful with others.

At the same time, make sure that you know yourself better, building a better relationship with yourself and by being honest and truthful to yourself. Pay attention to your genuine thoughts, what you feel, how you feel, and how you relate yourself in the real world. Spend time to know yourself, what you truly feel, where you truly stand. By knowing yourself, your likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, predominant desires and attachments, fears and aspirations, dreams, etc., you will gain control over yourself and your thoughts. This self-exploration is important to become the master of your life and destiny. It will also help you bring to surface your deepest thoughts and hidden desires or forgotten memories and troubling experiences of your past.

You do not have to tell everything about yourself to everyone or trust everyone, but you must avoid self-deception and be true to yourself. As long as you do it to protect yourself or not to hurt, deceive or exploit others, it is perfectly okay to reserve your thoughts to yourself and keep them private. Even in the practice of truthfulness, our scriptures suggest that we should not speak truth if it is going to hurt or harm someone. Concealment or concealing truth of yourself to others is not a sin. God himself is a concealer. He conceals the truth of himself as a part of maya.

Exploring your ideal self

Now, we come to your ideal self, the third aspect of you. It is the most hidden, secret and unknown aspect of you, unknown to yourself and others because you may be disinterested in it or not convinced of it or hardly ever paid any attention to it. Whether you like it or not, accept it or not, your ideal self has always been there waiting for you to explore and discover as your true self or true identity. It is what you can potentially become or materialize out of yourself, at least in your own eyes. You cannot easily identify it because it manifests only when you pay attention to it and make an effort to define it and accept it as the best possible version of yourself.

You can enter the awareness of that personality by using your imagination and the knowledge of your true potentials and ideals. You can do it anytime, even now, by focusing upon the best and the brightest qualities in you, envisioning the perfect, complete, intelligent, pure, flawless and most capable person, and trying to bring him or her into your surface consciousness so that you increasingly reflect it brilliance and purify in your daily life. You can call it by any name, your pure self or best self or ideal self or spiritual self or divine self. What is important is you must resurrect it in your consciousness as the stand version of your whole being, free from disturbances, weaknesses and imperfections.

The idea is that you must find the most ideal version of yourself, who is capable and perfect in every aspect. Through concentration and contemplation, you can carefully build that self-image and pour life into it to keep him active and alive in your consciousness. Whenever you need help, guidance or solution, you can invoke that persona and seek answers. By doing that you are creating your own version of a better you who can act as your spiritual guide and mentor.

Acknowledging your divinity is not a sin

There is no arrogance or egoism if you identify your ideal self with the name of a god such as Shiva or Vishnu or Krishna. Our tradition approves it. If you ever wonder why our parents give us the names of gods and goddesses, here is the answer. There is no affront in identifying the purest version of yourself with any divinity or feeling oneness. Afterall, to attain divinity or merge our identities in the pure self is the ultimate purpose of human life. It is what Moksha or liberation means. Identifying yourself with a deity is much better than identify yourself with a film star or a celebrity, which is unfortunately what many people do and pollute their consciousness with unwanted baggage.

You can worship divinities in numerous ways. You can go to temples, bow before the images, utter reverent prayers, make offerings, give huge donations and express your love for the gods in numerous ways. Your gods will be pleased by that. However, even gods prefer those who worship them as themselves, merging their identities with them and sacrificing their egos and individualities as offerings in the sacrifice of life. The very concept of bhakti (devotion) is rooted in the idea of self-sacrifice and becoming food (bhakta) to the deity, the enjoyer (bhokta).

It is my experience that for your peace and happiness and fulfillment, you should use all the three aspects of your consciousness according to the situation. Build healthy relationships by using discretion in knowing and trusting people. Spend time with yourself and try to know as much as you can about yourself and your true feelings, beliefs and options, strengths and weaknesses, being honest with yourself. Use your ideal self to guide yourself or solve your problems. Whenever you are caught in a crisis, see how it can help you become a better, capable and complete human being, without hurting and harming others or resorting to unethical means. You can also extend the light of your ideal self to your public and private selves and improve their thinking and actions.

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