Who We Are - Chapter 3 of THE WAY: A Small Book of Wisdom

Copyright © 2020 Oliver Bardwell

Who We Are


I have said Ye are gods, and that all of you are children of the most high.

—Psalms 82:6



The Buddha is in you.

—Thich Nhat Hanh



Is it not written in your law, “I said, Ye are gods”?

—John 10:34


Who do you say you are when you introduce yourself upon first meeting someone, or when you’re at a lunch group, and everyone is going around the table giving introductions? It’s your turn, and you say, “My name is so-and-so, and I am a such-and-such.” It may sound something like, “My name is Jan (or John), and I’m an investment banker. I have a master’s degree from Iowa State University. I am married and have two children: Johnny Jr. and Ava.”


I’ve struggled with that question at times. My wife and I sometimes joke about how I need five different business cards depending on the situation and on a person’s need. I had someone recently ask me to come to her networking group. I wondered what I would tell the group when it was my turn to introduce myself. “Hi, my name is Oliver Bardwell. It’s a pleasure to be here. Thanks for inviting me. I own a residential and commercial interiors company. I am a home builder and developer. I’m an author, life coach, business consultant, and real estate investor. I’m a husband, a son, a brother, a friend. I’m a soccer coach, a martial artist and a photographer. My most important role has been being a dad. I meditate and practice yoga and try to see every moment as part of our spiritual journey. I am a divine being, as you all are, sharing this human experience with you. How can I help you on your journey?” That last part might be interesting.


We define ourselves with names and forms, or sometimes, with what we’ve accomplished and how much money we have in our various investments and our 401K. Maybe it’s by the type of car we drive, the clothes we wear, our favorite hobby, or the number of followers we have on our social media accounts.

We are actually none of these things. These are things with which we identify. That identification is part of the ego, the make-believe façade that hides our true self.

When asked who you are, you have probably never thought or said,

“I am a Divine Being, having a human experience. I am that I am.”

You are a Being of Light, having a human experience. You have forgotten your divinity. Beyond the mind and the ego is your true self. To realize this self is the purpose of life.



Practice: Sit quietly and focus on your breath. Allow your mind to follow each inhalation and exhalation. Now imagine all the roles you play in life, all the ways that you define yourself, and the ways others may define you. Maybe it’s as a mother, father, husband or wife, daughter, son, boyfriend or girlfriend or by your profession or sport; maybe it’s as a student or a teacher. Imagine yourself in those roles and let each pass away, one by one, one after another, until there are none left. Now, as all the roles have faded, relax into what’s left, what’s been obscured by the demands and expectations of the world, that deep inner being. As you open yourself up to who you are beyond names and forms, enjoy the peace, love, and light that fills you and flows through you.



Beings of Light

Walking in Darkness

Forgetting who they are

And from where they came


Beings of Light

Clouded in Darkness

Bowing their heads in sorrow

And in shame


Stop playing in the storm of desire

Begin looking inward to the light of your soul


Uncovering your light

And dispelling the darkness

Make it your life’s most important goal


When your soul shines brightly

And you walk in the world

You will become a beacon of hope


A brilliant reminder of who we truly are

And of what we inherently know


You are a Divine Being

Having a human experience

Awaken to your divinity.



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