Each of us has a core of authenticity that we must honor. The authenticity guides us each day, it watches out for us, and makes sure that we never get too far off track.
In the movie "The Matrix" the character Trinity tells the character Neo, "The Matrix cannot tell you who you are", a way of saying, "The world cannot define you." I remember back into days when I really had no clue who I was on the inside and I looked to the world to define me. I wanted my job, or my things, or my relationships to give me a sense of self. It's like having chameleon skin on the inside, never being able to access what is right for myself, always looking to have that defined by the outside. When the outside defines us, we are never secure because the outside is constantly in a state of flux. Our sense of self is never secure because we are not guiding ourselves by a steady and reliable compass.
Underneath this sort of inner chameleon stuff is usually a powerful sense of guilt and fear. I was always afraid that if I were true to myself, I would hurt people. In fact, in being true to myself, I have hurt people. There is nothing that causes me a greater sense of guilt than feeling that someone is in pain because of something I have done. However, when we are truthful in the name of authenticity to who we are, we are actually acting in the most compassionate way possible. Why would we allow ourselves to continue on a road that we clearly know will not serve us? And why would we drag someone else down that road with us? Authenticity demands that we step up to the plate and do what is right. And, as we all know from the cliché, what's right is almost never easy.
We have become so used to listening to outside sources in our culture that we have lost touch with who we are. We are more accustomed to listening to advertising than listening to ourselves. We want someone else or the world to tell us what's right and what we should want. In the yoga world this translates to what I call the "guru trap". We look to our teachers to define the parameters of what is right and wrong, good and bad. We want the teacher to have all the responsibility. And, there are many teachers all too eager to step right into that role. It's a very seductive place for yoga teachers because it makes the teachers feel needed and valuable. But newsflash teachers, it's not about you so get over it, get your validation from yourself not from your classes. The most effective teacher is one who guides you to your own guidance, not one who proclaims they have an answer that you need.
Who we are is who we are. We must be who we are. We must accept who we are, and when we do, then we can let everyone else be who they are. We don't need to, as Marianne Williamson puts it, "police the universe" anymore. We can relax and know that when we are true to who we are, and others are true to who they are, we are all much happier. It doesn't mean we all have to join hands and sing Kumbaya, but it does mean that we can let ourselves and everyone else be. It means that we might finally know that we are ok exactly as we are, and that nothing is more important than to simply be who we are. Trust your own core of authenticity and you will never get far off course, it is always your true and steady compass.