You Are Already Whole

You Are Already Whole

Some of us have had a tough go of it in life.  We have had experiences, maybe starting at a very young age, that have affected our self-esteem, relationships, and ability to succeed in life.  We might be dealing with depression or anxiety or have difficulty coping.  These experiences are commonly called “wounds.” We feel damaged and strive to heal through psychotherapy and reading self-help books.  We think that if we fix the broken parts of ourselves, we will eventually feel normal again.

The assumption embedded in this focus on self-improvement is that happiness (or contentment, peace) is a state that we might attain some time in the future once all our problems are solved.  It is easy to forget, but essential to remember that:  we are already whole.

All of the wounds we think define who we are are actually conditioned.  They are they result of lessons we have learned based on experiences we have had.  Consider a 5-year-old boy who is ridiculed every time he cries, or a young girl left to fend for herself while her mother lies drunk on the couch.  We don’t naturally suppress our emotions or feel lonely or abandoned – these reactions are learned from situations we encounter.

So who are we before this learning took place?  I invite you to take a look and see.  Drill down, like a miner searching for gold, to the place in you that has existed prior to any learning.  You may be going to your birth, or even earlier.  What do you find?  You will see that who you are before conditioning – that is, the unconditioned you – is whole, free, light, and clear.  It has no problems and is lacking nothing.  No matter how many challenging experience you have had or how badly you feel about yourself, this state of wholeness is still here.  It is who you actually are.

This unconditioned state can be subtle.  You can discover it if you investigate underneath your thoughts and feelings.  It also unexpectedly appears in daily life – do you recognize it?

  • Being caught up in the flow of an enjoyable experience
  • Laughing uncontrollably
  • At the moment of orgasm
  • A second or two of happiness that wells up from nowhere
  • A feeling of peace or bliss when in nature.

When we have experiences like these, we sometimes say that we lose ourselves in them.  I would argue just the opposite – that this is when we actually find ourselves.

What is common to these experiences is that the thinking mind is at rest.  We perpetuate problems in our lives by thinking about them.  Over and over, we repeat the same stories of what should or shouldn’t have happened, of sadness and despair, of being overwhelmed and unable to cope.  They become our identity and we live according to them.  If we look prior to the stories, or if our thinking naturally stops, we discover this place of wholeness and freedom that is, and always has been, present.

In the world of self-improvement, we tend to look outside ourselves for methods that will fix us so we can feel better at some future time.  Try something radical, which is making a U-turn with your attention.  Look inside yourself underneath the wounds, prior to all conditioning, and discover that peace is here, available now.

When you are in the throes of your problems, feeling like you will never feel better or improve, know this essential truth:  You are already whole.

Are you aware of the state of wholeness? I’d love to hear your reactions and insights.

Photo byEvil Erin

Gail Brenner

Gail Brenner, Ph.D. writes at her blog, A Flourishing Life.She offers inspiring articles that support people to untangle self-defeating habits and live conscious lives of authenticity, fulfillment, and joy.

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47 Comments

  1. Love this post… Beautiful image and beautiful writing…

    Reply
  2. Hi Gail.

    I like the message here. It made me stop and think for a bit. We do hear a lot about how we are not fully there yet, or are not a complete 100% of the package until item X or Y is obtained, and this post would negate those messages. I would agree with the mode of thinking you present here because it is on the positive end of the spectrum. We are here and whole as we are, and conceptions that we are broken in some way don’t help us improve in qualities that we see ourselves as broken in anyway.

    Improvement first comes from feeling like a complete package that can go further.

    Thanks for this positive material.

    Reply
    • @Armen Shirvanian, I love your comment, Armen, thank you. We can strive forever and not be perfect. But if we are open to looking inward, and investigating to discover the absolute truth, the wholeness that we always are is revealed. And it’s true – thinking we are broken is not a helpful thought.

      Reply
  3. I agree and have thought this for years – however, it’s sometimes difficult to remember when you’re struggling. I try not to have regrets or wishes that my life should have been different. It was what it was and is and it shaped who I am as I am today. I’ve learned my lessons and have lived my life the best way I could given all of my experiences and perception. That’s all ANYONE can do regardless of their past.

    kudos to a fine post.

    Reply
    • @Amber, Thanks so much, Amber. I completely agree – we are all doing our best in life at any given moment. Remembering that we are whole is definitely helpful – and it is a spark to investigate so that this truth is actually known and realized. It is possible, even in the midst of struggling, to let go of the painful story in the mind and meet our experience (feelings) with compassion. This is the doorway to the direct experience of knowing that we are whole. Sending you love…

      Reply
  4. This is a great post and it is very well written. If you’ve not read “This Light Within Yourself” by Jiddu Krishnamurti, you should! His philosophies (and mine) are quite close to yours.

    It is interesting that you mention the “world of self-improvement.”

    You might agree with my belief that there is no such thing as “self-improvement.” There are only varying degrees of self-discovery. The self, in other words, can not be improved. It already exists in its highest form. It simply needs to be uncovered.

    “One’s own self is well hidden from one’s own self; of all mines of treasure, one’s own is the last to be dug up.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

    “In the cultivation of the mind, our emphasis should be not on concentration, but on attention. Concentration is a process of forcing the mind to narrow down to a point, whereas attention is without frontiers.” ~ J. Krishnamurti

    Reply
    • @Kent @ The Financial Philosopher, We are kindred spirits, Kent. I agree that there is no such thing as self-improvement. Regarding the Krishnamurti quote, attention is the key, and the only tool, to freedom. If we are willing to be fully aware, and meet all experience as it is, the Self is revealed. It is such a joy to really know that there is truly nothing lacking.

      Reply
      • @Gail @ A Flourishing Life: Thanks, Gail. The Krishnamurti book title is actually “This Light in Oneself.” I stated the title incorrectly in the previous comment.

        With your interest in attention, you would enjoy eastern Indian philosophy in general, not just Krishnamurti. Deepak Chopra is probably the best known modern figure in Indian philosophy and spiritual matters.

        Indian philosophy centers upon desire, control and attention.

        “If your attention is fragmented, you are fragmented.” ~ Deepak Chopra

        “Freedom from the desire for an answer is essential to the understanding of a problem.” Jiddu Krishnamurti

        Reply
  5. I agree with you that, at a particular state of awareness, we are all whole. And I also acknowledge that our biology and our brain — and the mind that emerges out of it — create patterns that blind us to the possibility of our inherent wholeness with the rest of creation. Those patterns become who we believe ourselves to be — much like a horse with blinders on does not see the grass that lies at each side of the road. It’s there, the horse is simply not aware of it. Learning how to manage the brain’s bias to create life long patterns, negatively assessed of course, is what opens the door to a deeper sense of what we can be. Without coming to understand and manage the power of our biology over the way we create our lives, claiming our wholeness remains elusive.
    Rande

    Reply
    • @Rande Howell, I appreciate your eloquent comment. I agree that biology is a powerful force that needs to be factored in if our intention is to reclaim our wholeness. Managing that power may lead to moments or periods of realization, but then we are left with continuing to manage it when our habits reappear. This is an effortful struggle that may not be necessary. I have found that when we identify and fully embrace the source of our habitual patterns in love, every time they occur, eventually they soften and even fade away. As these patterns dissolve, the truth of our nature is revealed – already whole, fulfilled, and free. Although initially challenging, this process eventually is effortless and even joyful – simply noticing what is arising in our experience and welcoming it fully. Fear, grief, despair, rage can all be welcomed with friendliness and acceptance. This is like taking the fuel out of the tank – the patterns eventually stop running. Would love to hear what you think…

      Reply
  6. “When we have experiences like these, we sometimes say that we lose ourselves in them. I would argue just the opposite – that this is when we actually find ourselves.”

    Well said, I couldn’t agree more! These are moments to live for :-)

    Reply
  7. It’s funny, I just wrote a similar thing. We are already whole, and we create a false sense of self and start building up negativity. Then in order to feel whole again, we chase all sort of things, when all we really need to do is be still and see how easy it actually is to release negativity.

    Reply
    • @Kaushik, thank you so much for your comment. Yes, being still is an essential support to realizing our wholeness. It can be easy for some people to release negativity, but it can also bring up fear and resistance in people. Even though the false self is false, people can hold it close and do everything but get to know it directly. It definitely helps to bring huge doses of compassion and kindness to oneself.

      Reply
  8. I agree that we are already whole. The mind, people and environment affects us. But we have to look past these things and enjoy life. Go after dreams, live abundantly and add value to the world.

    Reply
  9. I must say…. this is one of the most inspiring and refreshing articles I’ve read in a long time. Thank you so much for reminding us all that we aren’t waiting to become whole. We are whole. Namaste

    Reply
  10. Hello Gail. I don’t believe there could be any better advice than “taking a U-turn” and looking inside for the Truth. But if I may, I’d like to comment on “looking inside” in a way that might sound odd at first. Ready? It can’t be done. Before you run away, let me explain. In essence, we can’t go to this “place inside us” you’ve mentioned …but we can make this place come to us. This odd sounding fact of life is true even for ordinary things. Here’s an example. Imagine a closed box. What’s inside? There’s no way to know unless you open it. Maybe you think taking X-rays of the box would tell you what’s inside without opening it….but that’s just a disguised way of opening it. So what you say? So this. We NEVER get “inside” anything. We ALWAYS make the inside come to us….by going there or opening something or whatever. What’s “inside” before we make it come to us is an ancient unsolved puzzle. It’s the “what sound does a cannon make when nobody’s there to hear it” riddle. Alright, so here’s the point of all this opening and closing boxes. To “look inside” ourselves…..we have to make our feelings, thoughts, emotions, and authentic selves “come out” into the light of day. Like opening a box. To do that we take away one fear that holds us back. Fear of being judged. And so, back to your profound advice. Anyone who does NOT “take a U-turn” and learn how to “look inside” will never find what they’re looking for in life. Just as you pointed out, to know the power of Being whole, we must “know thyself”. But of course, the trick lies in learning how to do it. Ciao Gail and thanks for your insights. John Duffield

    Reply
    • @John Duffield, I enjoyed reading your comment, John. Thanks so much. I have a bit of a different perspective on fear. My experience has been that I cannot eliminate fears. What I can do is meet them directly and welcome them lovingly. Fears exist because somewhere back in time, we cut off a part of ourselves, and it went underground. Knowing fear directly and embracing it in love is the healing balm for wholeness and integration. And when that cut off part is welcomed back in, the fear releases its grip. We are more at ease, and there is space for who we really are to radiate endlessly.

      Reply
  11. Excellent reminders Gail. Life is an interesting balance of living in, and being happy in, the moment, while still learning and making adjustments. I think you are absolutely right that there can be a tendency to attach happiness and wholeness to some future reality.

    Like so many other things, happiness is a choice, not a set of ideal circumstances. In fact, making a decision to be happy now can have a huge influence on the circumstances and situations we attract into our lives. Nice article, thanks.

    Reply
    • @Jonathan – Advanced Life Skills, You mention an interesting paradox, Jonathan, about living in the moment, and still learning and making adjustments. Life is dynamic and flowing, not static. When we are truly alive in the moment, the wisdom can come to make changes – to be more aligned and let go of what isn’t serving so we can live more intelligently.

      Reply
  12. Life isn’t logical, finding our way is intuitive at times…
    To appreciate life you can’t have it be too cerebral, it’s a dance!…
    Love of thinking leads to the conclusion that everythings meaningless
    or that everythings futile. Once you get out of your head and feel you can enjoy the sensual experience that is life, the breeze on your skin, the lushness of poetry…
    We’re just here to feel good, it’s how we feel about life that matters, an ice-cream in the middle of the day, a nice song, that’s all, our emotional happiness from moment to moment – am I enjoying right now? That’s all…I think we forget that sometimes…there isn’t an answer, there’s no purpose its just as simple as a picnic…life is a song rather than a thesis, it’s lighthearted rather than serious, it’s just a fluid, breezy thing, my man!…thinking is too much effort…

    Reply
    • @Zubyre Parvez, So beautifully said, and so simple: Am I enjoying right now? Thanks for the comment, and thank you so much for your website.

      Reply
  13. Exactly.

    We dont make ourselves whole, we only think we have correct or added to what is assumed as being missnig or incorrect

    We’ve just shifted our perception of ourselves

    Great article

    Reply
    • @Jon @ Adventures of the Fearless, Thanks so much for your comment. When we truly understand that we are already whole, it becomes funny to think that we can make ourselves whole. How can we make ourselves whole when we already are? How can we find love when we are love? If we turn our attention inward and are diligent about drilling down to the absolute truth, the searching naturally comes to an end because we see that we already are everything we have been longing for. It’s so simple (although not necessarily easy), and so lovely.

      Reply
  14. A lot of the work I do is Self Relations work under the ideal that everything we need were were given the moment we were born, we just need to access it. The concept that people are “broken and need fixed” is often one my clients struggle with. This very succinctly communicates the ideals that we are NOT broken. Thank you!

    Reply
    • @Marissa Engel, My pleasure, Marissa. Sounds like you are doing wonderful work with people. It starts by you holding the space for wholeness, integration, and possibility. If we investigate deeply enough, we can see that we are not broken. This is not a truth people need to believe – it is available for all to realize in their own experience.

      Reply
  15. Wow. Thanks for a great article!

    Reply
  16. Excellent post. Several years ago, I too was hit by the ton of bricks that I didn’t have to keep searching for “it”. That I was already “it” and had everything I needed all the time. Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, there was no yellow brick road- it was all a dream. My life has done a 180 since then, only because I no longer have to “do” anything. I finally “get it” that I can go with the flow and the right thing to do is exactly what I want to do. Nice to not have to read any more books, do any more chants, or find any more wisdom “out there”. Free at last

    donovan
    Gotham City, WI

    Reply
  17. So beautiful to hear about your experiences, Donovan. “It” is nowhere but here, right in this moment. Here is fulfillment, clarity, and peace, but even these words don’t begin to describe it. And what a relief to realize there is nothing to be done!

    May your light shine brightly….

    Reply
  18. Yes! Amen! I absolutely notice this state of wholeness whenever I am ALLOWING myself to actually ENJOY things…which is, unfortunately, rare. This moment of bliss usually throws me off a little and I sometimes forget how I got where I am at that moment. I always think of it as “Wow, I’m actually living in the moment and not over-analyzing everything.” Thank you so much for this beautiful post. I am very inspired.

    love,
    Kiki

    Reply
  19. I had to click on this!
    I really vibe with the title of this Post and Frankly haven’t read what you’ve written ’cause the title is sufficient.

    You are already whole.
    That is sufficient :)

    Thank you so much for sharing!

    Francesco

    Reply
  20. This is a great blog. It also helps to illuminate the perpetual cycle that the industry of self-help creates. There is always this underlying idea that you need to improve yourself or heal yourself some more. The sense becomes that you are never quite “there.” But as you point out, we are already there when we let go of the mind.

    Reply
    • Great point, Jim. The self-help industry subtly gives us the message that we need to improve in some way. That perspective certainly sells a lot of books, workshops, etc.!

      There is a dichotomy here, I think. The essence of who we are is perfect, whole, pure. But our conditioning is not always pretty, and might need some attention. This kind of loving attention helps to align all of ourselves with the essential truth of wholeness.

      My experience is that there is a sense of letting go of the patterns that don’t serve and relaxing back into myself even more deeply. As you say, we realize we were “here” all along.

      Reply
  21. Just what I needed. I had found this kind of perspective once and was free and happy but lost it some how after tow close friends ( army buddies) committed suicide a while back. I have been searching for it ever since. It is coming together for me now. This was a big missing piece.

    Thank you!

    Reply
    • I’m so glad for you that things are coming together, Tommy, and I am sorry for the loss of your friends. This understanding that we are already whole might be covered over at times, but it is right here, waiting to be found again.

      I wish you well…

      Reply
  22. Hi Gail,

    Love it! Reminds me of this quote: “The illusion, dear friend, is that completion lies just a new toy, friend, job, or idea away. The reality is that no one will ever be more complete than you already are.”

    Wish I could write like you :) Clear, concise sentences which transform your thoughts and feelings into words without trying!

    May I use your article on my site with reference and link to your blog please?

    Thanks,

    Bhav

    Reply
    • Hi Bhav,

      Thank you so much for your kind words. The quote you shared captures the essence of my point.

      I would be happy to have you include this article on your site with link and reference. If you need any more information, please feel free to email me.

      Reply
      • Hi,

        Wonderful, thank you :) It is now posted with credit to yourself and EvilErin!

        Off to read a few more of your blog posts ;)

        Blessings,

        Bhav

        Reply
  23. yes it is true you are already enlightened the way you are

    Reply
  24. WONDERFUL HIDDEN TRUTH.. :)

    Reply
  25. I believe this is true, but when in the throes of truly gripping depression, it’s so easy to forget this. I need help. Do you have any advice on little things one can do or say to get our minds on the right track when we have strayed so far from it? I don’t really understand how to find the place my mind was in when i was a happy, whole being as a child with an unspoiled mindset.

    Reply

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