Markers on the Path to Personal Authenticity

Personal authenticity is seldom taught or referenced, despite how essential it is to personal and societal well-being. This collection of how to be true to yourself quotes gathers teachings about personal authenticity taken from song, film, drama, literature, philosophy, and diverse spiritual traditions.The quotations reveal the multi-dimensional experience of authenticity (personal and spiritual). They are grouped by the psychological and spiritual themes and issues related to personal authenticity.

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Quotations theme: Some persons are fortunate to be called to an authentic life by nature, upbringing, or good fortune. Many however are called by the psychological pain of an inherently inauthentic life. These pains are messengers, as Rumi notes. Rather than run from these pains or numb ourselves to them, were we to heed them, then we would be lead to an adventure in self-discovery. ~ Read Quotes ~


Quotations theme: Some persons will respond to the call of spiritual emergency by resolving to become their authentic selves. The person who does so initiates a psychological process that tends increasingly to differentiate herself from the values and beliefs bestowed her by the happenstance of the social and cultural conditioning into which she was born and raised. Relative to the community of shared values and beliefs that she previously knew, she has metaphorically exiled herself into the isolation of the wilderness of her own undiscovered self. There she will thread her way by distinguishing between the values and beliefs given her by society and those revealed by her own nature and determined by her own choosing. ~ Read Quotes ~


Quotations theme: Being reveals itself uniquely through each person. As children, we are socialized to become members of our culture. Without further psychological maturation, each person’s unique potential may succumb to conformity. Living authentically instead asks that we honor and reveal that unique potential. ~ Read Quotes ~


Quotations theme: Autonomy is the moral freedom of the person who chooses to act according to her own self-direction, not the given values and beliefs of her society. In the context of personal authenticity, this self-direction is not arbitrary. Rather it is a freedom whose direction is sourced by the values and inclinations of her own unique nature as it is experienced in the moment. ~ Read Quotes ~


Quotations theme: The danger of moral autonomy is not that we will be lead astray by a nature that is presumed to be corrupt. Rather it is the misunderstanding of autonomy as license to do what one will. The social context in which we autonomously live is one inextricable interdependence with fellow beings. Autonomy is ever exercised within the context of relationship and interdependence. ~ Read Quotes ~


Quotations theme: The Self is not a noun, but a verb; not a static entity, but a psychological process. Each instant the process reveals unfolding experience within and without, guided by a dynamic or Will which some call individuation, others self-actualization. The Taoist practice of Wu Wei or nonaction expresses how when we identity with this process, it unfolds naturally and spontaneously according to each moment’s necessity. ~ Read Quotes ~


Quotations theme: It is difficult to realize the spiritual state which enables the seeming non-action of the Taoist Wu-Wei practice which is suggested by living in process. Until that realization, we experience ourselves as separate selves which express authenticity through existential will, valuing, choice, and capacity to act. ~ Read Quotes ~


Quotations theme: We distort our inborn natures when we mistakenly assume that the path to personal development and virtue is a path of fitting oneself into molds suggested by conventional society, teachings, or the examples of luminaries. To do so is to actualize an image of how one should be, rather than one’s authentic self. ~ Read Quotes ~


Quotations theme: The drive towards self-actualization impels us towards transformation. How do we consciously cooperate with this drive in a way that complements our authenticity? Do we slice and dice ourselves according to others’ dualistic notions of good and evil? Do we subordinate the person to objective moral laws? Or might we allow the unfolding of our nature within the field of presence? ~ Read Quotes ~


Quotations theme: What is the relation of being authentic to belief and believing? Is one’s belief self-chosen, based upon one’s own experience or assessment of evidence? Is believing mistaken for knowing from personal experience? For many, beliefs are safeguards against existential uncertainty, though those safeguards remain personally unsubstantiated. For most persons, beliefs are simply knowledge claims which others have given them.

More importantly is the belief (a mental construct) mistaken for the reality to which it may point? Might Truth instead be more majestic than words ever could explain? ~ Read Quotes ~


Quotations theme: Sometimes the expression of personal authenticity may seem to conflict with the given moral standards of the culture in which we live. Those standards are expressions of dualistic concepts of right/wrong, good/evil, etc. Many standards vary from culture to culture. All are mental constructs which belie the natural perfection of what is, of Being from which the deepest expressions of authenticity originate.~ Read Quotes ~


Quotations theme: Authentic presence expresses itself as psychological wholeness. Other paths might presume to achieve a gilded image of personal perfection made possible by the repression “unworthy” or “unspiritual” parts of ourselves. But nothing is thereby redeemed. The practice of wholeness reintegrates, allows for transformation, and expresses unconditional love to ALL parts of ourselves. ~ Read Quotes ~


Quotations theme: Typically we experience life through the filter of mind: its ceaseless thought, feelings, sensations, and experiences. Yet mind is the conjurer or illusion. When mind stills, the spontaneous presence of awareness (Being) stands more clearly revealed for what it is: the most deep source and meaning of authenticity. ~ Read Quotes ~


Quotations theme: While individuality may be an expression of authenticity, Being / True Nature / the Essential Self is its source. Being authentic is not a project to be undertaken by the ego, as in being different for its own sake. Rather authenticity is the spontaneous and unfettered expression of the deeper Self which underlies the identities, roles, thoughts, feelings, and sensations with which we might be identified. That Self is a presence to which visionaries throughout the ages, contemplative traditions, and humanistic and transpersonal psychologies attest. ~ Read Quotes ~


Quotations theme: The seeming trajectory of contemporary life may blind us to the innate worth and dignity of a human being. Yet Buddhists suggest that it is an exquisite and very rare privilege to be human. Humanists remind us of the magnificence of human nature. Personal authenticity expresses that innate value for what it is: the inexhaustible preciousness of Being displaying itself through each distinct human form. ~ Read Quotes ~


~ Note: If you have found the quotes in the above sections to be supportive, you may be interested in my book How to Be Yourself: A Guide to Living an Authentic Life which contains more than 300 quotations such as these which are organized into different topics related to authenticity. The book is available on Amazon in print and ebook format. (See top right cover image for a link to more info). ~

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