"To have a self, to be a self is the greatest concession made to man; it is at the same time Eternity’s demand upon him." – Soren Kierkegaard
I loved this authentic quote enough to use it in my college one-act. Authentic, a favorite word and concept, is also my idea of success. A childhood memory and understanding offered that the world would work if we each were truly who we are. Now, many years later, that thought still rings true. Authentic, to me, is like a diamond; the gemstone is the being and core, and the facets are the actions extending and honoring the light of the core.
Why "return to authentic?" Repent was supposed to mean "to turn away from (sin)." My first experience (at least in this lifetime) of the language of Jesus came from Rocco Errico, an Aramaic scholar/teacher, who pointed out that in Aramaic "repent" meant "return to." This distinction is important because it means we are coming back to something, something essential, something we already are. We don’t need to find authentic; if anything, we just need to repent!
Here’s a kaleidoscopic turn of authentic through a musical, fairytale, a motto and adoption.
The musical, On A Clear Day, explores social conformity, past lives and has its title song celebrating authenticity: "On a clear day rise and look around you and you’ll see who you are. On a clear day how it will astound you that the glow of your being outshines every star…." Throughout this new year, may you continue to discover authenticity and let that glow "outshine every star."
Another aspect of authentic is revealed in Hans Christian Andersen’s "The Emperor’s New Clothes." Do you remember that tale? An emperor loves fine clothes. Weavers say their magic ones made from precious threads are so exceptional that only those worthy of their positions can even see them. And because no one wants to be considered unworthy, all exclaim about their beauty. Later the weavers leave with the precious threads, etc. while everyone admires the Emperor parading in his magic clothes until a child cries out, "The king is naked!"
Children are authentic. The child sees what he sees and doesn’t know about not being worthy. To me, being child-like means unself-conscious, acting honestly from one’s own thoughts and feelings, not reacting or judging, and being in the moment. These responses are why we need to become as little children to enter the kingdom of heaven.
As a reminder for spirtual journeyers to shine and share your light, I share a women’s college motto: "remember who you are and what you represent." At the college embracing that motto, a major gift I received came from my humanitites/philosophy professor who taught us how to think. His probing question of "why?" taught us to examine what we thought, why we thought as we did, and whose ideas they really were. Later in reading Ayn Rand’s "Good! By what standard?" and "Check your premises," I thought they went well with my professor’s "why?"
Philosophical ideas and questions helped me clarify some of my own issues in life. What would you discover about yourself if you didn’t know your own heritage? While adoption has its own issues, it also offered me some additional choices. With no known heritage or background, I had to learn about myself by discovering interests, finding what touched my heart and soul, what called to me and to what I resonated. All of these discoveries allowed me to make more authentic responses.
Jesus, in Glenda Green’s book Love Without End, explains that the heart needs to be in charge, because it is through the heart that love "commands the particles of infinity" (matter). This emphasis on the heart also brings to mind the Egyptian image of weighing the heart against a feather (in order to enter the afterlife).
Returning to authenticity includes letting our heart and its resonance lead our responses. (And by acknowledging the importance of the heart we would be joining the Egyptians, in case they were onto something!) Repent!