Two monks were washing their bowls in the river when they noticed a drowning scorpion. One monk immediately scooped it up in his hand and set it upon the bank. In the process he was stung. He went back to washing his bowl and again the scorpion fell in. The monk saved the scorpion once again and was again stung. The other monk asked him, "Friend, why do you continue to save the scorpion when you know its nature is to sting?" "Because," the monk replied, "to save it is my nature."
It would seem the monk had clarity and certainty about who he was — his “true self” — but then again, maybe he only had certainty about his nature. This begs the question, is he his nature, or is his nature merely part of him? Does it define him, or is it simply a guiding force? If it is a guiding force, is it an emotional, spiritual, or psychological guide?
My brain hurts already and I've only just started typing! I don't know how far I'll get with this philosophical exploration in a thousand words (or so), but being the adventurer I am, I thought I'd give it a bash. After all, how hard can it be?
Today I went against my 'no research' policy and Googled the term “true self.” I got 143,000,000 matches. Clearly, there's no definitive answer or consensus on the subject.
It seems the religious folk, the academic folk, the personal development folk, and the philosophers don't agree on much.
I didn't do it, but I reckon if I interviewed ten 'experts' and asked them the one question (what is “true self”), I'd get ten very different answers. Good thing I'm here to end the debate and clear up the confusion on this topic for mankind, once and for all - my humble little gift to humanity.
When I write for the site, I typically do no research. Zero. Nada. Sorry, I hope you don't feel ripped off. As a rule, I sit at my computer and write from the head and heart, from my experiences and observations.