When you are little your parents won’t let you be yourself. They have different ideas about eating the whole chocolate cake or drawing on the walls with crayons. Later on teachers keep you from being yourself. Then teenage peer pressure takes over, and finally, once society has imposed its demands, freedom is more restricted still. Alone on a desert island you might be able to be yourself, only guilt and shame would pursue you even there. The inheritance of repression is inescapable.
The whole problem is one of boundaries and resistance. Someone imposes a limit on you, and you resist it in order to break free. Thus “being myself” becomes a relative thing. Unless someone tells me what I can’t do, I have nothing to push against. By implication, my life would be shapeless. I would follow one whim after another, which itself is a kind of prison. To have a hundred wives and a feast on the table isn’t being yourself, it is being your desires.
When boundaries and resistance both melt the problem comes to an end. To be in unity, you cannot have limitations. You are wholeness; that is what fills your perception. Choice A and choice B are equal in your eyes. When this is true, desire can flow where it will. You are not your desires. Being yourself no longer has the slightest outside reference.
Doesn’t this deprive you of choice? Both yes and no. A person will want to dress and talk a certain way; there may even be decided likes and dislikes. Yet these are karmic holdovers from the past. All and Nothing doesn’t erase the necessities of this world, and in fact the great mystics do preserve the trappings of ordinary life.
To be really free, there is no option except to be yourself. By being yourself you open the door to what is, the never-ending play of cosmic intelligence curving back to know itself again and again.
Adapted from How To Know God, by Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, 2000).