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Excerpt from Return to Essence

Who You Are

There is only One, and that One is you. You are a human manifestation of the Oneness. You are not apart from the Oneness, but part of it. You are not just connected to it; you are it. You are not the whole of it, however, because there are many other manifestations. Everything we see and sense and so much more is a manifestation of the Oneness. Everything is the Oneness in disguise.

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Why the Oneness manifests in form is not so difficult to understand when you examine why you do things. Much of what you do, you do simply for the joy of doing it, the joy of creating, or the joy of experimenting. That is also why the Oneness does what it does—for the joy of doing, creating, and experimenting. There is immense pleasure in seeing what will happen when you do something, create something, or try something. You feel joy when you do things, which is the Oneness's joy in you.

For the Oneness to experience joy, it had to create the possibility for experience, which it accomplished by creating manifestations of itself to interact with. For that to be as interesting as possible, it created great diversity and uniqueness, for what would be the point of duplication? Why duplicate an experience? If you look around, you see that the Oneness is infinitely capable of creating diversity. It delights in it. No creation is a disappointment or a mistake. Each and every one results in joy and contributes to the Oneness's evolution.

The Oneness is constantly changing and evolving, just as we are. “As above, so below,” as the saying goes. We experience change, growth, and evolution, and so does the Creator. It created what it did to experience just these things, so it should be no surprise that change, growth, and evolution are so much a part of life. Without these, what would life be? Very dry and uninteresting. And what would be the point of experience if it didn’t provide those things?

The Flow

Many wonder what the point of existence, of experience, is. The point is the joy of experience itself, the joy of doing, creating, and experimenting and the wisdom and growth that come from that. We love to achieve new levels of understanding, expertise, beauty, creativity, and love. That is the Oneness's enjoyment as well and its motivation for doing, creating, and experimenting through you.

That joy can be experienced in any moment. It is an ever-present quality of the moment. The joy of the Oneness permeates life. It’s tangible. It’s real, and it propels life forward. The moment, the Now, is like a river that carries us forward, ever-changing and ever moving. We either flow with the moment or reject it and fight it, but that doesn’t stop the flow. It only determines our experience of the flow.

When we glide along with the flow, the experience is joyous, as we are able to experience the Oneness's joy in the moment it has created. When we fight the flow, we experience tension, anger, and dis-ease. We can’t be happy when we are fighting the flow because we are too busy fighting it to experience the joy. We can only be happy when we are gliding along with the flow because happiness is synonymous with agreeing with the flow, with saying yes to it.

Just saying yes isn’t enough if that yes is a resignation, a reluctant giving of ourselves over to the flow. Saying yes is a step in the right direction, but too often it is a stopping point, one that leaves us joyless. To experience the joy and happiness available in any moment, agreement with the flow must include a real willingness to have the experience of the moment. We not only need to say yes to the flow, we need to embrace it. We need to love whatever is happening.

Loving the flow is the secret to happiness. The first step in loving the flow, in loving what is, is saying yes to it, even if you don’t feel that yes fully. Being willing to say yes to whatever is happening can lead to a real feeling of yes. That’s where your free will comes in: You can choose to say yes to the flow even when you don’t like it.

Loving the flow isn’t dependent on liking it. Loving the flow is much easier when you realize it is okay to prefer that something else be happening. Loving the flow only requires that you jump into that moment, into whatever is happening, and experience it fully, whether you like it or not. The Oneness loves experience, and that’s all you have to learn to love if you want to be happy.

The Ego and the I

Happiness comes from loving the flow, from giving yourself to it fully. That is easy to do when you like what you are experiencing, but not so easy when you don’t.

Who is this you that likes or dislikes an experience? The Oneness obviously doesn’t have such preferences. It welcomes every experience, even unpleasant ones, or it wouldn’t have created or allowed them. Unpleasant experiences are equally interesting and valuable to the Oneness and sometimes even more interesting and valuable because of the challenge that unpleasant experiences present to the you who is resistant to them.

The you that you think of yourself as coexists with Essence, the Divine in you, and usually overshadows Essence so that you come to think of yourself only as this you. However, the Oneness, as Essence, could never be apart from you. It breathes you and moves you, although its subtle presence isn’t very apparent. Its expression in your life often goes unnoticed.

The Oneness created the you that you experience yourself as to be the protagonist in the drama of your life. And just as the Oneness created you to be a unique and complex character, it created everyone else to be unique and complex, because this provides the Oneness with a multitude of experiences.

When authors or screenwriters create characters, they create juicy ones, full of flaws and contradictions and with many different perspectives and talents. What will happen when the characters they create encounter others or face certain situations? The Oneness wants to know this, just as you do when you are taking in a good novel or movie. What is it like to realize that your uniqueness and flaws aren’t a mistake but serve both the Oneness's and your personal evolution?

The ego, which is the sense of being a separate entity rather than at one with the Oneness, is not a mistake. The the Oneness programmed everyone with a distinct personality that is driven by an ego and supported by a unique mind and body. The ego is the sense of being you, of existing as an individual with distinct desires. Desires are central to the ego. It makes choices based on whatever desires are currently foremost.

The ego’s desires are always changing and often contradictory, so going after your desires makes for the drama in life: In one moment, you choose one thing; in another, you choose something else. Meanwhile, others are making their choices, which are often in conflict with their own and others’ desires, and their choices are constantly changing as well. Desires fuel most of the activity on earth and result in the evolution of consciousness, as we learn and grow from the consequences of our choices.

The ego, the sense of being you, is programmed to feel real. When you say “I,” you really believe you are speaking about someone. Very few people stop to question the reality of this I, but what is it really? Here’s an exercise that will help you discover who you really are:

Exercise: Finding the I

Stop a moment and try to find the I. Can you locate it anywhere? You may point to your body when you say “I,” but this I is not just the body is it? Does it reside in the body? If it resides in the body, what is it that is aware of your body and your thoughts and even able to contemplate this question? Could that be who you really are? Is awareness, consciousness, limited to the body or the mind? What if you were that awareness, and you were just pretending to be attached to a particular body-mind for the experience it provides consciousness? Who would you be then?

These questions can wake you up out of the illusion that you are the I, that you are an individual who has certain beliefs, thoughts, tendencies, desires, memories, and dreams. The ego is deeply involved with and defined by the stories it spins about itself. But really, all the ego is, is stories about itself that are generated by the mind.

The real you is not your body, your mind, your personality, or any of the things you call yourself. What are these labels, after all? They are just ideas. Are you an idea, or are you what is aware of the ideas, labels, thoughts, desires, and feelings of a particular body-mind?

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97 Reviews on Amazon averaging 4.5 out of 5 stars!
Here's what reviewers are saying ...

  • "Return to Essence is a joy to read. Clearly originating from a higher place, it is permeated with the truth. Unpretentious but compelling, it is written as a direct, informative, and practical guide to the mystery of life. It is an easy, yet profound, introduction to who you really are." —Keith P.

  • “For fans of Eckhart Tolle, this book shows us how to concretely apply those teachings in our everyday lives. This book is not an airy-fairy new age spin on nondual philosophy and its application, but an extremely well-written guidebook on the practical application of nondualism to one's life so that one's experience becomes more and more enjoyable and adventurous and in harmony with the Divine.” –J. B.

  • “Did you ever wonder about the meaning of your life? Did you ever ask, 'What am I doing here?' Did you ever think, 'Is this all there is?' Find the answers in Gina’s wonderfully enlightening book. Everything on these pages flows, from the message to the style." –R. Grenier

  • “This book has helped me to be so clear about exactly how I am blocking the divine guidance that I desire in every single moment of my life and more importantly how to stop doing it! If you are ready to begin your process of awakening to the truth of who you REALLY are, this is easily a book that you will NEVER stop reading and re-reading!" –Carlos S.

  • “This book was so timely for my journey, so much so that I cannot express with words what this book has meant to me. I felt like it was my companion during a rough time, a companion to support my questions with love, pure love. It is a book of affirmations for a life worth blossoming into.” –Sarah S.

  • “Masterfully powerful in its simplicity, this is THE best book I have ever read to help someone really GET the distinction between ego and Essence and how to more consciously align with Essence. I am going to be recommending this book A LOT over the next few years to my friends, patients, and students.” –Dr. D. Kamnitzer

  • “This book will help you to truly understand why we are here and what your purpose in life is. If you are lost or struggling in your life, I implore you to read this book. It will change the way you think about your life forever. Highly recommended.” –Mimilu

  • "Return to Essence is one real treasure. By reading the book, my soul felt like in one hammock. The state of peacefulness is still present." –Lacrima S.