Last week, if you’ll remember, I did a Tarot reading, and the card for this weekend was The Hermit.
My interpretation of this card suggested that you can all be beacons of love and light to all you encounter. Some of you may be wondering just how to do that. But, the fact is, you don’t have to do anything; you just have to be something – to be your authentic self.
This is the reason that a time of quiet reflection was advised: to allow you time with yourself to determine just who you are – just who your authentic self is. This sounds easier than it really is.
We are often told that if we listen to the still small voice within, we will be ok, and this is true, but many of us never get to hear that voice. We have been programmed since early childhood with voices from our parents and from our society. So when we hear a voice in our heads telling us how to be, quite often it’s not our own. Even when we have been able to discern the voice of our parents and our society and disregard those, we may hear the voice of our ego and think that this is the real us.
The ego is the self that we created from all the bits of information that we were given as we grew up. It is the person that we usually think of when someone asks us “Who are you?” or “What are you?”. Our parents told us we were shy or bad or good or stupid. Our teachers added some descriptions: good at maths, could do better, talks too much. Our society told us that we are our profession or the number of things we own, so we then became “an architect”, “a check-out chick”, or “a business executive with a mansion, 5 cars, and married to my work”. We learned to be what our parents, our teachers, or our society described us as.
Along the way we began to believe that who we are is what we do, but we also included our beliefs about everything in our vision of ourselves. “I am a Christian”, “I am an atheist”, “I am just one of those people who can’t seem to lose weight”.
We begin to identify with our beliefs, and we take offense when those beliefs are disparaged, because we take them as an attack on our individual selves. I will give you an example of how my ego reacted during this week, when I told an acquaintance that I had done a Tarot reading for everyone.
Her response was “Do you believe in Tarot?”, which naturally I took to mean: “You don’t really believe in Tarot, do you?” My ego stepped in, making me feel as though I didn’t measure up. It reminded me of all the other people in my life who have been disparaging about “who I am”. My ego mind had taken a mere question as an attack on my identity.
This ego voice is loud and brash. The ego is fearful, but it often compensates for this fear by pretending to be the most important person on the planet. Alternatively it allows that fear to overwhelm it, and keep it from doing anything meaningful. The ego is constantly telling us either that we are better than everyone else, or that we are useless and can’t do anything right, so there is no point in trying.
Another example: In my French class this week, I completely misunderstood a question I was supposed to answer orally, about a recording we had listened to. My ego began to tell me how useless I was, and asked if I am ever going to learn how to speak French? (This maybe was my ‘one step forward and two steps back’ feeling that I described in my reading, and my lack of self-confidence certainly was a factor.)
Your authentic self, on the other hand, sees you just as God and the angels do, as perfect just as you are. It sees everyone else in their perfection too. It knows that all that you are is just who you are supposed to be at this point in time, and that all that you do is always good enough. It knows that what some might perceive as a mistake is really a spiritual stepping stone on the river of spiritual life. You may get your toes a little wet along the way, and this can be unpleasant, but it is the best way to get to the other side.
Your authentic self knows that you are not your beliefs about yourself, and that no other person can make you feel badly about yourself. Only you can do that. Your authentic self looks at life differently.
My authentic self would tell me that not everyone needs to believe in Tarot for me to still believe that it is a worthwhile pursuit. It would tell me that the reason for such an encounter may be to allow the other person to consider that there may be some basis to Tarot after all.
My authentic self would also tell me that I can learn by my perceived mistakes. One of the things I might learn is that every time I survive a battering to my self-confidence, and come out the other side with a smile on my face, I am actually improving my self-confidence. I am learning that my confidence in myself need not depend on my ability to speak French well, or do any other thing.
When I learn that my self-confidence is based, not on what I can do, but on who I really am, there will be no stopping me.
Who I really am is that still small voice within, the one I find during meditation, the one I see reflected in the eyes of my dog or a small child, the one who is holding up my lantern for you now, so that you might see the light within yourself.
One way of helping to develop that self-confidence is not to defend your beliefs. If someone says something which is in conflict with your beliefs, try saying “You could be right”. This feels very liberating, because it allows you to understand that you are not your beliefs, and neither is the other person. You can begin to see both yourself and your “opponent” as your authentic selves.
You can begin to understand that, just as you might do sometimes, the other person may be speaking, not from their authentic selves’ point of view, but from the point of view of their ego, their parents, or their society. You can begin to understand that, even if they become really insulting to your ego self, they can say nothing which would make your authentic self think any less of you. When you know that there is nothing that another person can say to you which can change the way you feel about yourself, you can easily offer them your love, no matter what their beliefs.
Once you begin to continually remember who you really are, you begin to be love, think love, and act with love in all that you do, and you begin to change the world.
But we are changing the world now, with all that we are, think, and do. Sometimes we are doing this as our authentic selves – consciously being, thinking, and acting with love. At other times, we may be changing the world for the better, but without even knowing it.
At yet other times, we do or say something which we later regret. Our ego reminds us again that we are useless, and we think that instead of moving the world forward, it may have taken a giant leap in the wrong direction.
It is at these times that we really need to go within and listen to that still small voice. That voice of your authentic self will tell you what you might have done differently, but it will do it in such a way that you will understand that you have nothing to regret. There are no mistakes. No matter which stepping stones we choose to take across that spiritual river of life, the river will always end down at the sea of love. No matter how badly we think about what we have done, the river is never going to turn uphill, and there will always be another crossing up ahead – a chance to learn from our ‘mistakes’ and do it better next time.
The card, The Hermit, always reminds me of the cover of a book about Jesus, with a picture of him on the cover holding up a lantern, just as The Hermit is doing.
Jesus said in John 8:12: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
And in Matthew 5:14-16, he said: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
Don’t let your ego cause you such fear that you are tempted to hide your light under a bushel. If you can follow Jesus’ example and be love, think love, and act with love in all that you do, you will never walk in darkness.
Hold up your light for all to see. You are the light of the world!