Coming Out of What You’re Not

“You can never know who you are, you can only know what you’re not. It is coming out of what you are not that is key.”

These are the very first words my mentor instilled in me. He shared them with me the first day we met for meditation.  He continued to repeat this phrase to me for months. At the time I was not sure why he would continue to say such a simple, seemingly easy to comprehend, idea.

This was his way with most things, repetition of the simple ideas which would come to light over time. This idea did come to light, months later. For whatever reason it was able to penetrate a little deeper than it had previously.

It was one of those AH-HA moments that struck me. Excited, I told him what I had experienced and that I knew why he was saying it so often.

“That’s wonderful. Don’t assume you have the answer and you’ll be amazed with what you hear.” Becoming attached to already having something figured out will block any new insight.

Years later while reading “A Course in Miracles”, I came across something that reminded me of my first lesson with my mentor.

“You are not special. If you think you are, and would defend your specialness against the truth of what you really are, how can you know truth? What answer that the Holy Spirit gives could reach you, when it is your specialness to which you listen, and which asks and answers?”

“Comparison must be an ego device, for love makes none. Specialness always makes comparisons. It is established by a lack seen in another, and maintained by searching for, and keeping clear in sight, all lacks it can perceive.”

For one to be that smartest, prettiest, “most whatever” someone else must be “not as good as”. Whatever role we are attached to someone must play a corresponding supporting role for us to continue getting validation from this identity.

We may begin to see something, or rather create something, in another that is not even there so we can continue getting validation for our egoic identity. They are the fool so I can be the smart guy. They play the bad guy so I can be the good guy. They are helpless so I can be the great helper.

My need to be special keeps me separated from another; it creates a dichotomy.  Not only that, my specialness is an illusion of who I believe I am. Whatever role my specialness takes on at the moment it is only mine to borrow at that time.  My specialness makes up my egoic identity and is a distraction from my formless, nameless, constant, nature.

“You can never know who you are, you can only know what you are not. Coming out of what you are not is key.”

Coming out of our attachment to specialness is key.


What do you think about this idea of specialness?

The world we live in can encourage people to think of themselves as special, do you see this as a help or hindrance?

In what way, if any, do you think your specialness helps you?

In what way, if any, do you think your specialness is a hindrance?

It seems like most “self-esteem” is based on someone building up their specialness. Do you think “self-esteem” comes from seeing one’s self as special? If not, where do you think “self-esteem” comes from?