"The Beatles exist apart from my self. I am not really Beatle George. Beatle George is like a suit or shirt that I once wore on occasion, and until the end of my life people may see that shirt and mistake it for me." -- George Harrison
I was working as a musician in the 1970s, and very late one night during a recording session at Capitol Records, George Harrison just sort of wandered in and sat down to listen. Since he knew the producer of the session, he decided to stay for a "few minutes." We all sat and talked, drank a few beers, and sang background harmonies together... for the better part of five hours. I can report to you that the above quote depicts exactly how he showed up that evening. He was not wearing his Beatles identity, he was just a guy named George, hanging out like a kid with some of his buddies in a garage band.
Back then, I was just starting to get a clue about my spiritual reality, but without a doubt, George was already there. He has often been referred to as "the spiritual Beatle." Looking back at that evening, I can see why. He was totally unimpressed with his own fame. Why? Who he knew himself to be had nothing to do his name, fame, money, or for that matter, even his body. He didn't take himself too seriously because he knew who he really was... and who he wasn't. With that clarity, who others thought him to be didn't much matter. George Harrison had discovered the reality of the self he shared in infinite presence and thus had broken free from that which binds most people to their egoic self.
It was ironic: Here I was, a real nobody, struggling to be somebody, and there was George Harrison, a real somebody, acting like he was really nobody. I didn't get the full impact of this irony until many years later when I realized that the closer we get to identifying with our own divine nature (the authentic self) the further we get from identifying with the trappings of the material world and the attachment to ego-based thinking.
How about you? Have you ever taken yourself a bit too seriously, thinking that who you are is actually defined by what you look like, how much talent you have (or don't have), how well known you are (or aren't), or how much money you have (or don't have)? Those are all "garments and labels" you wear during the course of your stay here on this planet, but it's not who you are. At the end of the day, when it's all said and done, you will turn all of that back in just like a car you had on lease. You aren't your name, your personality, your job, your money, your body or even your feelings! In other words, you came in with absolutely nothing and will leave with absolutely nothing except for the karmic energy you brought along and created during your visit. The self you are is 100 percent divine essence -- pure light, individuated. So, you could say that the self you really are travels "light-ly." That's an amazing realization to have, isn't it? It also helps put things in perspective. So, do you see yourself as a nobody struggling to be somebody, or are you somebody (infinite intelligence, individuated) who in truth knows you are nobody? I bet you'll be thinking about that one all day long.
As a mindfulness practice consider the following:
- Take a moment and think of all your possessions (or lack of), your assets (or lack of), your body and what it looks like, your personality, your feelings, your reputation, your talent, and your job. Do you define who you are by means of these things? In and of themselves, these things are neither good nor bad, they "just are."
- Consider the idea that the aforementioned things serve a wonderful purpose because the self couldn't be expressed in the human condition without them. But also understand that they exist apart from the self you are.
- Try now to visualize all of these things as a garment in which the true self travels through life, gaining all of the experiences you've come here to have.
- Enjoy the journey, and while you may wear it well, don't get too attached to the garment -- remember, it has to be returned to the manufacturer.
Note: This writing is an excerpt from my book, "The Art of Being - 101 Ways to Practice Purpose in Your Life." Used with permission of the publisher.