Pride, lust, envy, greed, the characteristics we judge in others are in us. They are in all of us and are part of the human condition so it is our job as evolving humans to overcome the lower instincts in favour of using the giant cortex we have to make conscious choices about what we do with our time, energy and resources.
Many try to completely transcend the suffering of the human ego by a process known as spiritual bypassing. They may check out for years in meditation, perhaps go on a pilgramage to India, take an Ayuascha trip or simply believe that some life crisis in which they felt God now means they are completely enlightened. Perhaps they are, just maybe they are the lucky ones for whom it was their karma to get it so easily. However, all too often they have bypassed the "work". Any truly enlightened master (Adyashanti, A. H. Almass, Echardt Tolle, etc) will tell you that unless you have done and continue to do 'the work' on self then you are deluding yourself. Many who have been on the path of self exploration for a long time are still 'not there' for the ego is a trickster and it will take great pride in believing it knows the ultimate 'truth'. This is not to say people don't have moments of meditative bliss, mystical and out of body experiences, awakenings and realisations but the path to true enlightenment takes lifetimes and unless we are commited to the ultimate truth of who we are then we are easily lead into believing we a done and, worse, can go forth and tell others how to live their life. You can see their ego taking pride in their diet, their path, their calm state of being. But checking out on plant medicine or sitting on a moutaintop is easy. Put that person in a house of toddlers, obnoxious 8 year olds, mean bosses and hostile trolls and show me thier loving kindness. We need to awaken in the world and stay part of the world if we really want to make our gains worthwhile.
So this is a great place to tell you, I am not 'there' by any means. I have had many mystical experiences, heard the voice of angels, been at one with the cosmos, felt the energy of the universe, transcended fear and weathered many a life crises, I have had the long dark nigh tof the soul, had my heart cracked open so wide it hurt and lost everything, I have spent hours with energy moving through me, had spontaneous past life experiences felt completely without boundaries and such love I couldn't speak, but I would never say I am enlightened. My ego remains and despite decades of work on self I am still very very human. However, I have done so much work on myself I know I am far along the path enough to shine a light for others to tread without falling too hard. And its not necessarily that I have the degree of a psychologist or the diploma of a psychotherapist or the years of experience, it is because I know what it takes to be a deeply flawed human who cares so much about the suffering of others that it has been my lifes quest to discover myself and to know my purpose. It is to serve, to teach and to love. To love humanity, the truth and growth.
So how do we know ourselves? I guess I can only tell you how I came to know myself. There are many paths and many teachers, also many distractions and many obstacles and given the ever unfolding nature of consciousness, it really is a never ending process. You need the integrity to want to grow, the will to endure the tests, access to teachers you will listen to, the ability to own your shadow without crumbling into self loathing, tolerance of painful emotions, a heart that is willing to open and most of all, you need to love the truth more than anything else. Oh, a sense of humour sure helps. You then need to start working with someone for you will avoid anything too painful or threatening to your self image if you do it alone. Most seekers have several teachers, some minor guides, some gurus of transmission, some ruthless masters and some compassionate caring counsellors. All you need to do is seek, and as the saying goes, when the student is ready, the master will appear. And then you just keep working and never think you are done until you draw your