Critical Dharma for Thinking Minds
Your sacred wild self by Yeshe Matthews.
Do you know who you are apart from the opinions of others? Do you know who you are without the labels you apply to yourself or your process of identity in the public sphere? Do you know who you are without your accomplishments and mistakes? Do you know who you are without your pain?
Right now, before you automatically begin to argue that these things are all ways of knowing yourself, before you begin to defensively reach for security in your list of labels or identity markers, before you react with fear to empty presence, try instead to just play pretend: in your mind’s eye, strip off all appearances and become a vast swirling cloud of nothingness. Just try it for one minute, knowing you can always come back.
“I am not my name. I am not my appearance. I am not my preferences. I am not my gender. I am not my religion. I am not my social media persona. I am not my job. I am not my relationships. I am not my problems. I am not my….”
Who or what are you when you are not made of things? Who or what are you when no one is looking? Who or what are you when you are not reporting to anyone, judged by anyone, approved or legitimized by anyone, or compared to anyone?
You are, now and always, nothing more or less than a sacred wild self. You are something beyond language. beyond identity, beyond appearances, beyond pleasure and pain. Your name, your labels, your appearance, and your experiences may serve to describe you, but they are not YOU.
YOU are a very smart animal that wears clothes and labels, but that also hears the call to return to a less contrived and more natural state in which labels, clothes, words, identities, and ego all disappear, replaced by the naked song of your heart. Your sacred wild self clings to the naked song of your heart, the music that only it can hear, even when every other sense and sensibility seems to drop away in times of grief, pain, death.
Your sacred wild self is inconvenient at board meetings. She is a mess at cocktail parties. She gets in trouble on the Internet for having strong opinions and fighting with people. She does not behave herself in church, or in line at the DMV. Your sacred wild self gets you into some problematic situations and warns you against others (whether you listen or not). Your sacred wild self bows to no one. She is more likely to sniff at the hand of a stranger warily than offer hospitality. So often, because she is not socially acceptable, you ignore her or try to keep her quiet, or put her on a leash, or chain her out in the yard when company comes over.
But your sacred wild self is also the most raw, authentic part of you, who is there for you at some of the most extreme moments of your life. She kicks free from negative situations, she gnaws through societal shackles, she growls at those who would cause you harm or hardship, and she sings you to your death with her wyrd, haunting, discordant song.
For everything else you might wear, do, or say, your sacred wild self is who you are when life strips all of those things away. She deserves your respect. She deserves your caution. And she deserves to be nourished by appropriate activities. She loves to be in nature. She loves good food. She loves sex. She loves sleep. She loves nudity. She loves getting her ears scratched. And when she doesn’t get these things, she gets irritable, gruff, and bitey.
When was the last time you nourished your sacred, wild self? If it’s been a while, how might you nourish her today?