A teacher of mine once said, “You must be willing to die to ALL your identities if you want to live a truthful life.” Those words made sense to me at the time, but I was unable, or unwilling, to do the actual work of dismantling all of those identities right away. I just had no idea how to begin. Instead, I became a “seeker” of enlightenment, awakening, abiding non-dual awareness – whatever it is that spiritual seekers seek. I devoured everything that seemed to point in the direction I thought I wanted to go, which was, vaguely, somewhere OUTside of me.
After years following teacher after teacher, guru after guru, spending countless hours meditating (trying desperately to STOP the flow of thoughts and sensations that made me want to run out of the room screaming) asking Ramana Maharshi’s question, “Who am I?” and thinking I would somehow get some definitive answer just by repeating the question endlessly – I gave up. This is NOT one of those great stories you hear, where as soon as I gave up I WOKE up! Sorry, it’s just not been that flashy for me. I let go of the striving to be some perfect spiritual person, put down the books, tapes and Tibetan bells, gave up chanting mantras, burning incense and looking for yet another spiritual community where I might fit in. Something inside of me did shift though, when I gave up. There was a felt sense of peace in giving up, rather than a sense of failure. Instead, the internal impulse I had was to just rest with it all, not try to figure anything out any more and just BE.
Some startling and life-changing physical challenges occurred about this time which propelled me into a whole new way of perceiving my life. When the identity of being healthy and fit is quite suddenly ripped away, one can choose to wallow in the “my life has been ruined” drama, or quietly give up and surrender to the new identity,(“the one who is sick/disabled”) and soldier on bravely OR, use the opportunity to start really looking into these particular identities, deeply. It was just my good fortune that my natural curiosity had me choose the latter option.
It also didn’t hurt matters much that the particular teacher/authors whose works had resonated deeply for me before I “gave up” were all pointing to ways of doing exactly that: examining every single identity until the actual truth emerged. I thank Adyashanti, Gangaji, Eckhart Tolle, Byron Katie, Emilie Conrad, Susan Harper, Nisargadatta, Jed McKenna and Scott Kiloby for shining the light exactly where it rightfully should be shone: IN. After the seeming collapse of my world, i.e. the major identity of being the healthy fit person (who probably, by the way, would never die), the actual inquiry began.
Using Scott Kiloby’s very simple, elegant and direct protocol, which he calls Living Inquiries, I began to dismantle these identities, one by one. (And there have been so many of them: the one who disappointed her mother, the one who married too young, the clueless young mother, the pulled-herself-up-by-her-bootstraps success, the powerful, positive one, the Healer, etc. etc. You get the idea, right?)
I was so impressed by what occurred doing this work, especially working with one of Scott’s trained Facilitators, that I entered the training program to become a Facilitator. I am now a Certified Facilitator for the Living Inquiries (Aha! Yet another identity!) and have put together this webpage as a way of saying “Thank you” to ALL the teachers who have been pointing their fingers at the moon, all these years.
I have been following what I experience as a breadcrumb trail and now trust completely that the next breadcrumb will ALWAYS be there at the moment I need to know which direction to take. The Living Inquiries have shown me that simply resting as Awareness with ALL that arises, the stuff that is uncomfortable, the stuff that makes me sad, angry or confused – will, in itself, illuminate that next breadcrumb. As a result of these inquiries my life has become much richer and more relaxed than I ever dreamt it could. I invite you, reader, to try working with the stuff of your life, the identities which have possibly begun to feel problematic, the situations which cause your suffering, using these techniques. They can take you IN, where the actual truth of who and what you are lives, and become the next breadcrumb for you.