In Spirit, one recognizes the story of oneself. This story is made up chiefly of what others have thought of her or him or decided he or she should be or become. This is not who one is. Who we are is who we were before birth. A child comes into the world himself or herself. The mirrors that provide the child an identity are of those around the child, projections onto the child-self. The child has no innate identity, no sense of being an individual among individuals. The child is born in innocence, not in maturity, however ~ innocence refers here to without any added identity, it does not mean fully-developed as though we would all be better having remained a baby. No one offers the child a mirror that reflects only the child to the child. Spirit appears in the child through the child emerging through growth. The pilgrimage, then, of the self is the return of Spirit to Spirit.
* * *
Who am I really? How do I reclaim this native vision? How do I see? How do I reclaim the feeling of this innate wholeness and beauty? How do I come to celebrate that I am? These are questions one faces if she or he continues on the Way. The questions come to us when we are ready for them. Such questions may even lead one to seek a spiritual way, looking for an answer to these questions arising from within. They may lead one from one religion to another, one spiritual path to another.
* * *
Who we are is not socially-constructed; we cannot go more into others to know ourselves. More mirrors add more options to identity. One becomes more confused by arriving at a new identity after asking, "Who am I really?" We go within. We are not a story. We are not a patchwork made of characters to validate the idea others have of themselves. We need to integrate the characters as characters, the story as a story.
"Who am I really?" Buddhists call this our Original Face, the face we were before our parents were born. Hindus speak of the Self. Christians refer to True Self, soul, or spirit. Yet, these easily become an identity, though now to be our true identity. We have no true identity. The Self is naked of identity, like in the Garden of Eden in the Hebrew Scriptures. The man and woman are naked, innocent of identity. Nakedness indicates this innocence. What is it that wears identities, like clothing, but is without an identity? We take on identity, to grow into innocence; yet, this is not the first innocence, the innocence of the child before the child becomes aware of itself as a self among selves. This is the journey to a second innocence.
* * *
Jesus, in the Gospel of Thomas, saying 38, appears to address this finding the answer to innocence within oneself.
Jesus said, "Often you've wanted to hear this message that I'm telling you, and you don't have anyone else from whom to hear it. There will be days when you'll look for me, but you won't be able to find me."
That is, even Jesus, here used as an archetype of the outer "Teacher," will not be present to provide an answer. One will come to a time when the answer one seeks, he or she realizes is not outside ~ a teacher, a religion, a book, anyone, anywhere. Now, Spirit reveals Spirit directly, not through.