Stephen Cope, Yoga and the Quest for the True Self.
The concern with reality – with “how I really am” and “who I really am” – begins with the emergence of the introspective self in adolescence. In the first decades of adulthood, most of us find out who we are by learning what we can do, what roles we can play at work and in relationship. But as the identity project matures, a new set of concerns about authenticity begins to emerge, concerns about the self as being rather than doing, concerns about the intrinsic worth, meaning, beauty, and value of the self. The emergence of these concerns signals the capacity for a new kind of relationship with reality.
Thus the identity project finally gives way to a completely new organizing principle of the self, a developmental event that I calll the reality project. As the reality project emerges, we being to relinquish our attempts to make life the way we think it should be, and we turn our attention instead to a minute and thorough inspection of the way life really is.
At the heart of the shift to to the reality project is the eagerness to investigate exactly how things are right now. The preoccupying question is no longer, “What is wrong with this moment?” or “How do I change this reality so that it conforms to my ideals?” but, rather, “What is the nature of this moment – precisely? How can I examine it more deeply?” …
With the emergence of the reality project, the “why” questions begin to become less important, like “Why is this moment the way it is?” Why questions take us into abstractions or concepts. They retrigger the delusions of the false self. With the reality project, the “what” questions become more compelling. “What is the texture, the feel, the feel, the experience of this moment?” As Rajneesh pointed out, “One is interested only in that which *is*, because only the Real can free you, only Reality can become liberation.” This is the developmental need that makes yogic practice and philosophy useful.