There is a story that has been told in various ways about a rabbi named Zusya. As Rabbi Zusya was dying, he told his visiting students that he was very afraid.
The students were shocked and said, “But rabbi, you have always told us that God is full of love and kindness!”
“I’m not afraid of God,” said Rabbi Zusya. “I know that God will not ask me why I was not Moses or Isaiah. I’m afraid that God will ask me why I wasn’t Zusya.”
Whether there is a God or a hereafter or not, you will never be asked why you are not Moses or Jesus or Mohammed or Gandhi. But it is of the greatest importance that you be you. Christian saint and mystic Francis de Sales said, “Be who you are and be that perfectly well.” Bishop John Shelby Spong wrote,
The way to what human beings have traditionally called God is not through some external projection of our needs, but through entering the depth dimensions of the human experience. The divine we have always sought turns out to be a dimension of the human.
This view of what religion means has long been the practice of mystics, but is only slowly coming into mainstream religious thinking. It is what Humanism is all about.
As I see it, being our authentic selves requires, first, knowing that we are not god. This is that getting rid of ego and self thing than many religions teach and that Humanism relies upon. Second, being our authentic selves requires realizing that we are part of a much greater and very beautiful whole. Sometimes this is called cosmic consciousness. Humanists see it as an acceptance of our place in evolution and in the cosmos—you, me, and all of humanity are only blips in the cosmos.
Being your true self means losing yourself and doing something good in this life; on this planet; for the planet and its living things, human and otherwise. Despite confusing concepts such as free will and change and fate and miracles and religious claims and all the rest, the answer is to get over yourself and be yourself.