I have been asking this question as well. We didn't come to this world to know self, and definitely weren't allowed to get to know self.
The moment, in the cradle, you discovered that when you smiled adults got excited and gave you more attention, your corruption, the corruption of the untarnished, unspoiled self began.
The personality that you now honor as your self is on the circumference of your being. The circumference is rich in adjectives, adverbs, and poor in being.
You say I am this, and I am that, and I have to maintain this and that... or sometimes you say "being this" or "being that."
The moment there is a word after the word "being" we are moving away from Self.
Self is undefined and undefinable. I don't mean you cannot define it or it cannot be defined. I mean that the moment you define it it stops being a self, stops operating like a self.
That is the essence of Self. That it is spontaneous, it is always in the present moment, it is unconcerned, uninterested, untouched by some future, some accomplishment, some agenda, or by others view of itself.
And this is, in essence, why society is afraid of it.
Society wants you to be pigeon-holed, defined, categorized, classified, grouped, and then drop the issue.
The category becomes your prison, and your life is now defined and senseless: you are a thing, that can be owned, by anyone but your Self, or by Life.
Your spontaneity and the joy that comes with it is gone, lost, and you are just a machine, acting, thinking, feeling in predictable ways. Almost.
The problem is not in you being a machine! I have never heard a machine complain. The problem is the Self imprisoned in a machine. The Self pulls one way, the machine pulls another way. Always in conflict, always troubled, always divided, always unhappy, always in some future or some past. You are a schizophrenic machine and I think that is why you are reading this article.
But your intention is to fix your machine, your intention is to put something on top of the current machine, or into it to make it smoother, so there is no conflict.
The consolation type teachers, like religion, gurus, and healers, offer you just that: a little bit of this and a little bit of that. It works for a little while, but it is only skin deep, and the conflict remains.
I once knew a boy who had syphilis. He was a male prostitute and he used foundation to cover up his sores on his face. He kept on infecting thousands of people. That was before AIDS, by the way. Anyone in his environment, once he was reported, had to get a round of antibiotics, every day for a month, injections. That included me.
In a way I am grateful to him, and for the experience: I had no infection, so they put the antibiotics into a healthy body, and my body responded by becoming immune to antibiotics: all sorts, every sorts.
I had to invent ways of healing myself that did not include pharmaceuticals, and I would probably would not have developed to the rebel I am now without this experience.
So how do you get to Self if it is not defined? You can't rummage through your characteristics, and find one that is the "real" you... because self has no characteristics other than the characteristic that it has none.
It is like your naked body. It has no style, it has no texture. It has no "cut", it just is. Under your clothes. But that is not where you look, you look inside your clothes closet, or you look at the dressed body in front of the mirror... and you try this on, and that on, and try to see which is your "real" self.
None of those. Those are the reflections of the clothes you are wearing. Reflecting from others, like it is reflecting from the mirror.
When you look at the reflection in the mirror, you are trying to decide if you like it or not. The concern is coming from the same place as everything else: the circumference. The circumference of you is only interested in looking good and making it.
Those are very restrictive requirements, giving you a very narrow, very scripted, very dull and repetitive way of being. While inside the real self, imprisoned, is banging on the circumference.
The real self is not allowed a word sideways into the discussion what you should do, how you should be, who you should like, love, spend time with.
I had a conversation with a musician yesterday. I mentioned her newest photo on facebook: how she forcefully opened her eyes, knowing that it supposedly looks better on photos.
She looks unnatural, and fake. Trying to be something she isn't.
She said: But I was tired and I had to be "on" for the audience!
I asked: Can you be "on" and be tired at the same time?
These are conflict of terms, but only on the surface. But of course for the other unnatural and fake beings out there, there is a rule: you are only accepted and followed if you have a big beaming style, if you exude energy, otherwise people will think: I don't want to be like him/her, enlightened/powerful/etc. people are never tired, never down, never relaxed, they are always up... that is what I want to be, popular, well thought of, so I will NOT follow anyone who is tired when they are tired, who is real, who is sad when they are sad, nervous when they are nervous, angry when they are angry.
The past few weeks I have been really tired. Working seven days a week, on myself.
I recorded a video yesterday and I noticed that I am talking slowly, with hardly any energy. On one hand MY mirror part was mortified: suddenly really understanding why people aren't buying stuff as much as they did before this month began.
On the other hand I was really pleased that I allowed myself to just be, making no airs, pretending nothing.
So, you see the conflict, and you see the difficulty in the process of returning to your real self.
In a world of machines, happy machines, successful, self-assured, high energy machines, smiling machines, spiritual machines, healing miracle making machines, an ordinary person with the extraordinary courage to be their real selves, is not going to attract the other machines.
They will go to buy the fake-making wares of the fakes...
And though I know that once I shed the sad Sophie, and the angry Sophie, and the victim Sophie... and it is a matter of weeks now, I can smell it, I won't be tired, I don't know if my real being will be even interested in attracting machines that just want a little shining, a little fixing, a little more energy, or whatever people have been wanting from me.
When I feel, emphatically, people like Osho, who is closest to being real: I find the fake, I find the personality, I find that the reason they were able to make a living is because they built a personality.
Maybe that's what's next. Once I end up completely naked, I can choose the clothes I wear (personality) and do it consciously, out of my free will.
But unless one is willing to go through the death of the personality society has given you, you can never find out, can you?
If this is how it works, then I still have a few weeks of work to do, and then a short period of total nakedness, and then I will pick a persona.
I like politically incorrect, I like rebel. And once they won't sit on the top of "sad, angry, victim" they will fit me well... I will be naked under the new outfit, chosen by me, consciously, with my eyes open.
You are not naked under your outfits. Under your outfits still sit other outfits.
Everybody wants to find their selves, but this process is a take-away, an undressing process. You find the fake, and you hang it on a clothes hanger. You find another fake, and you fold it and put it in your drawer.
You like them? Does our musician likes to be sunshine girl? Be my guest. It is a pretty outfit. Just make sure you know it is a costume! Do not identify your self with it. Watch it, watch it work wonders with the machines, and have fun.
The "Find your real self" and the "Self-Discipline" activators are the best support tools I currently have to offer. They will help you in the peeling, shedding, identifying process. They will give you courage, eyes, and the power of distinguishing real from fake. If your issue is being really clear, seeing subtle differences, because you are stuck in a fixed way of seeing things, then the "Astute" activator is perfect for you. If you have a difficulty "owning" your life and therefore you can't see that you can change anything, then the "Responsibility" activator is there for you.
Even if you don't quite succeed, your life will become so much better. I am not quite done yet, and I am so much happier, healthier, smarter, it was worth it. You will not regret getting on this path.