Nothing blows me away more than the realization of who I am.

I don’t mean “me” as a set of self-definitions; I mean that now and forever, this being who occupies the corpus that I presently carry around, is someone that only I can be. There is no option here. I cannot trade my consciousness, my karma or my future with anyone else. For better or worse, I am who I am for the whole of whatever awaits me. When I think about that, especially when my deficiencies are on display, it’s rather disconcerting.

Are you ever struck by that awareness too? You are you, a consciousness for all of eternity, and there’s nothing you can do about that except carry on.

I suppose there is some consolation in seeing that we are like everyone else. But in likeness is where the resemblance ends. No one else can know what it is to be me, nor am I always sure of this myself.

Eastern sages tell us that all of this world is a dream. Yet, the dreamy point of view that you and I possess… well, it just isn’t the same. We interpret according to our own specific desires and predispositions, many of which have doubtless been hauled forward from past incarnations. Each of us may be inching toward a consciousness of unity, but our progress continues to suffer the millennial delays of our delusions. Here, again, though we tend to self-obstruct in similar ways, I have my own unique manners and methods, and so do you.

Within this universal dream, human nature is, for me, its most fascinating feature. I love how people get so wrapped up in their personal notions of what is what, and what each what implies! Rarely do we pause to consider, as Yogananda affirmed, that “Circumstances are always neutral.” It is only our reaction to them that gives them a particular charge. And this, of course, is what causes us to careen out of control, into labyrinths of unpaved, hard-scrabble karma.

Few lessons are as hard to grasp as this one

…that how we see the world and its goings-on says nothing about them and everything about us. Society has thrown its full weight behind the idea that circumstances are either pro or con, and it has trained us to judge whatever we perceive, to develop likes and dislikes, and to seek satisfaction in pursuit of material and egoic fulfillment. But in truth it is these reactive conclusions that condemn us to every suffering we accept.

As long as we adhere to society’s pro-or-con criteria, we are bound to wind up worshipping

our mistakes. Only at the quiet center of perception, in the stillness that is the altar of God, does suffering disappear. There alone, in the moment, is where worldly desires and attachments are given no time to establish roots, and where freedom awaits.

Okay, so you’re not there yet, and neither am I. This is the downside of coming to grips with being the one and only you that is you. By degrees, though, we are all in route to the same blissful summit. Our mission is simply to keep climbing, calmly active and actively calm, with the aim of owning our delusions and desires along the way.

Although we cannot inhabit each other’s mind, at least not precisely, and although we are ultimately in this dream alone, the lessons we have to learn are entirely the same. After all,

we are cut of the same cloth. Our destiny is One. In the end, which Yogananda described as endlessness, our ties to this contentious adventure will dissolve, and we will discover that we are more than we ever imagined. With courage and good cheer, let us carry on.