The Path of Awareness: Answering the Question, “Who am I?”

Written by Steve Beckow

PlotinusPhoto: Plotinus

I’m not sure if you’ve also noticed something that I’m noticing in myself.

Reading a story such as the one saying that Bradley Manning wishes to be considered a woman elicits a response from me and allows me to see where I’m at with things. I notice I feel touched by Bradley sharing that.

Or reading your comments sent in does it as well.

The gentleman from California who exists on an $800 pension and sent the Hope Chest $25 nearly had me in tears.

Well, he did have me in tears. I’m just being a “man” and not coming right out and saying it. I still weep every time I think of it.

Christina was saying that she wept upon watching the video of Dominic Giamo (1) – and I did the same.

Why am I telling you this? Because these small events can be used as gauges of how the energies are impacting us.

I’m much more “touchable” and vulnerable these days. I feel much softer.

I have plans in the months ahead to run an experiment on generosity. I can’t give the details yet, but I’m to be enabled to practice generosity and, as a student of awareness, I plan to make an in-depth study of it.

As I would with any other significant emotion I have, I plan to watch its rise and fall, what opposes or resists it, what my thoughts are that trigger action, where it leads to, what pitfalls present themselves, how I handle them, and anything else I can learn about this divine quality.

I think it must be my second favorite divine quality, next to my first favorite, courage.

That will be a major study for me. I already know it will be.

Many masters have said things like “know thyself” or “the proper study of mankind [humanity] is man [humans].” I personally get the greatest delight out of making of myself an object of study. The path of self-awareness is my spiritual discipline.

I don’t mean for egotistical or narcissistic reasons, although my own egotism or narcissism would become one more thing to study. I mean everything about me – the good, the bad and the ugly.

I watch myself behave – and misbehave – think, feel, and remember, every moment of the day. For some reason, doing that raises love in me.

It’s the opposite of watching another and judging. Nothing kills love faster or more completely than judging.

The path of awareness has always been a major source of satisfaction for me. Many others watch movies or go on picnics or take drives in the country. I walk myself down a city street or sit on a bus and just observe myself and my own doings. I watch the rise and fall of my breath. I watch the ebb and flow of emotions. I watch the thoughts as they whiz by.

When I talk with others, we share our noticings. We compare notes. The very best conversations are those in which we learn new things about ourselves.

Long ago I used to wonder why people talked about themselves. Now I know. We are what we need to know about.

I’m seldom given to commenting on another, unless I feel genuinely inconvenienced by the other’s behavior or words. What I’m most interested in, and I think I always will be, is who am I in the matter?

I watch the impact on me of telling the truth, sharing a withhold, making a promise, making a declaration, or taking a stand.

Plotinus used to call this “polishing the statue” and it’s a major path to enlightenment. (2)

Our task in life is to know who we are. There’s nothing else that’s asked of us than to solve that Sphinx’s riddle.

Look at almost any channeled message and you’ll see that the bottom line is what they may call education, learning, or experiencing and that which we educate ourselves on, learn about or experience is … well, ourselves.

Who are we? That vital question always remains to be answered. And when we find the answer, we also find enlightenment. And when we find the ultimate answer, we reach the end of the road home to God.

Which is who we are. Which always remains where we came from and where we’re headed.



(2) “What is this vision like? How is it attained? How will one see this immense beauty that dwells, as it were, in inner sanctuaries and comes not forward to be seen by the profane?

“Let him who can arise, withdraw into himself, forego all that is known by the eyes, turn aside forever from the bodily beauty that was once his joy. He must not hanker after the graceful shapes that appear in bodies, but know them for copies, for traceries, for shadows, and hasten away towards that which they bespeak. … Withdraw into yourself and look. …

“Do as does the sculptor of a statue that is to be beautified: he cuts away here, he smooths it there, he makes this line lighter, this other one purer, until he disengages beautiful lineaments in the marble. Do you this, too.

“Cut away all that is excessive. straighten all that is crooked, bring light to all that is overcast, labor to make all one radiance of beauty. Never cease ‘working at the statue’ until there shines out upon you from it the divine sheen of virtue….

“Have you become like this? Do you see yourself, abiding within yourself, in pure solitude? Does nothing now remain to shatter that interior unity, nor anything cling to your authentic self? Are you entirely that sole true light which is not contained by space, not confined to any circumscribed form, not diffused as something without term, but ever immeasurable as something greater than all measure and something more than all quantity? Do you see yourself in this state?

“Then you have become vision itself. Be of good heart. Remaining here you have ascended aloft. You need a guide no longer. Strain and see.” (Plotinus in Elmer O’Brien, ed., The Essential Plotinus. Representative Treatises from the Enneads. Toronto: New American Library, 1964, 40-3.)


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