Question: If I understand you right, you are saying the self-image is something separate from the soul. The soul, which is already complete, is the real of us. If this is true, how do I reclaim the soul as my true identity?
Let’s say someone gives you tickets to the Broadway production of The Wizard of Oz. As a member of the audience, you seat yourself before a stage. The house lights are still up, the curtain is drawn and the audience murmurs in quiet anticipation of the drama about to unfold before them. At this point, there are two worlds. There is the world of the audience and the anticipated world yet to unfold on the stage. The music begins, the lights go down, and a hush falls over the audience. At this moment, a transition occurs. Two worlds merge into one. As a member of the audience, your world is dimmed while the world on the stage before you is brightened.
To make this arrangement work, you must suspend your disbelief and agree that the world you live in is no longer the real world. The world that is taking place on the stage is now the real world. Your problems are of no concern. It is now the problems of the protagonist, in this case Dorothy, that become the full focus of your attention.
Think of Dorothy in Oz as your self-image and you, the observer in the audience, as your soul. Dorothy and her problems are really not your problems. You and your house have never been caught up in a Kansas tornado and dropped into a strange new world populated by munchkins, flying monkeys and good and evil witches. But you momentarily allow yourself to be caught up in this world as if it were real.
The self-image is a character that you and I create and drop into this play we call our life. The mistake many make with this analogy, however, is that you, the audience member, have written the play, set the stage and created the cast. They suggest that you are the actor, the self-image. This is not true. Regardless of how convincing this play is, there is always a part of you that remembers that you are you and this play and its actors are something else entirely. You have simply agreed to give your attention to this world, but you never fully enter it. You remain an observer.
Those who suggest that you are the actor in the play will advise that if you don’t like the play you are experiencing, simply write a new one. In other words, if you don’t like your life the way it is, get your creative imagination flowing, break out the vision board (story board), visualize and create a new set, a new story line and a whole new cast that is more to your liking.
But you are not the actor or the producer of this play. You are a member of the audience, an observer. The observer neither creates nor acts in the play. When the play is over, you, the observer, get up and return to a different world. Get your self-image to write all the plays it wants but you, the observer, will never participate in a single one.
The breakdown in this illustration occurs with the realization that your soul never attempts to escape its reality. It will never buy a ticket to a play produced by your self-image. It never enters the world of the self-image as anything more than a distant observer. At the soul level, you know you are not the self-image or the world of problems it has created. Your soul always knows it is sitting in a theater observing a play that is being acted out by the self-image.
So, who is this observer? And what is the true nature of this stage you call your daily life? Can you leave this theater created by your self-image and step into a world that requires no acting, no suspension of disbelief, no role playing, no convincing others you are something you are not? Can you enter this world with no makeup, no costume, no techniques or acting skills that require much effort to sustain?
The beauty of The Wizard of Oz is in its portrayal of a story within a story. Dorothy’s adventure in Oz was a dream brought on by a severe blow to the head. In truth, she never left her home. She became the actor fraught with the problems of a world that did not exist. In this sense we can think of the Dorothy who resided in Kansas as the soul. The Dorothy who found herself in Oz is the self-image. The remedy to all her Oz-based problems was not found following the yellow brick road. These problems were solved the moment she woke up. The real Dorothy exited the theater.
As you think of your life and all of its many issues, it will help to focus on yourself as the observer who is looking at all of this. Your soul is not suffering from physical illness or limitations. Your soul does not experience financial challenges, hunger or fear of the unknown. Your soul has never been chased by flying monkeys. Your soul is that part of you that looks upon all of these things with the understanding that they are projections of the self-image.
While you do not want to ignore this play and pretend like it is not going on, you do want to make the conscious distinction between the onlooking soul and that actor that is your adopted self-image. The problems of the self-image are not the problems of the soul. You are in that world as the observer, but you are not of this world you are observing.
Think of the events of your day from this perspective. Who knows, you may join Dorothy in her great relief of waking from this very strange dream.