The simple fact that so many of us are separated from who we truly are is one of life's greatest tragedies– and a source of so much sorrow.
We are all essentially the same. We are all the Self –pure, limitless awareness
Yet, for everyone of us, this awareness, this consciousness, manifests in different ways.
It's critical to remember that. Suffering is unavoidable if we don't, and if we aren't genuine to ourselves.
We jeopardize ourselves and our integrity when we don't live in accordance with our own nature, our dharma. We live inauthentic lives in which all we do is act out the script that others have written for us.
We become estranged from our own selves.
When this happens, no matter what we do in life or what we pursue (fame, riches, romance, or an unending supply of chocolate chip cookie ice cream), we will never be satisfied.
We will never find the happiness and wholeness we want, no matter how hard we try.
We are unable to do so because we're looking for it in the wrong place.
Only by living authentically and following our own nature can we find happiness.
To do so, we must dare to be ourselves and do what makes us feel alive.
Only by living authentically and in accordance with our natural instincts can we achieve happiness.
To do so, we must dare to be ourselves and do the things that bring us joy.
Yet it's all too simple to lose touch with our true essence. We're taught and conditioned to be someone other than ourselves nearly from the minute we learn to speak with words.
We learn from a young age that we aren't quite good enough the way we are. We must act in specific ways in order to be loved and appreciated.
That is a big part of why we can't seem to figure out who we are.
Yet it's all too simple to lose touch with our true selves. We're groomed and conditioned to be someone other than ourselves almost from the minute we learn to speak with words.
We learn at a young age that we aren't quite good enough the way we are. To be loved and accepted, we must act in specific ways.
That is a big part of why we can't seem to find our own identity.
We live in a world that simultaneously values autonomy while also demanding conformity.
You're given a modest selection of characters from which to choose, a database of caricature-like personas.
This has the potential to become a serious snare. You end up identifying with these roles and stereotypes that you've created for yourself. You forget they're simply masks or personas.
Furthermore, adopting a persona that isn't true to your nature can leave you feeling irritated and unfulfilled. Something inside you gnaws at you because you know you're not being true to yourself.
When you live inauthentically, happiness is unattainable. Between who you are and who you choose to be in everyday life, a great chasm arises. The psyche is proportional to the size of the chasm.
You will also grow disappointed and unfulfilled if you adopt a persona that is not in line with your personality. Something inside you gnaws at you because you know you're not being true to yourself on some level.
This strong piece of advise, or warning, has stayed with me throughout my life:
Don't reach the end of your life just to discover that you've been living the incorrect life.
It takes bravery to live truly, to be yourself, and to follow your own dharma. That is without a doubt the case. There will always be those who want to bring you down. Individualism is lauded by the system (i.e., our civilization).
Take any street for a walk. Take note of how people prefer to dress similarly, act similarly, and even think similarly.
How much of our behavior is genuine, and how much is a result of conditioning?
It's all too simple to sleepwalk through life.
But it will slowly eat away at you until you are left with nothing.
You've devolved into a void.
Your joy had long since faded from your heart.
So, how do we go about being ourselves?
Of course, we are already ourselves. We simply need to consider whether our lives, actions, and words accurately reflect who we are.
To live honestly means to live from the heart – to know what matters to us, what we love, and what brings us joy, and to express it in every manner possible.
This may necessitate a resounding “fuck it!” to the rest of the world.
We all have a preconceived notion of who and what we SHOULD be, according to others and the rest of the world. However, one cannot live a life based on secondhand opinions, thoughts, or values.
If we want to be free, we must live in a way that is real, immediate, new, and dynamic. It has to come from the bottom of your heart.
And sometimes, in order to be real, we must question society's and others' preconceptions.
This isn't a pass to act irresponsibly or without consideration for others, I hasten to stress.
If you find yourself inadvertently injuring others with your words or actions (“I'm just being honest and telling it like it is!”) you are not being genuine to yourself... You're acting like a jerk.
This isn't to say you won't have to stand up for yourself and confront individuals on occasion. But it can be done in a gentle and non-harmful way.
Peeling back the layers of societal conditioning that may have kept you zombified for a large part of your life takes patience.
Trying to recapture the intrinsic freshness, enthusiasm for life, and self-expression you had as a child before society taught you to disconnect from your nature in order to mold you into a nice little worker/consumer, can be difficult.
However, if you want to be free, you must embark on this adventure. This is how you'll find the happiness and fullness you've been looking for in all the wrong places (namely in anything outside of you).
It helps you reconnect with who you really are and what you really care about.
And this usually manifests as something that benefits the group as a whole.
We are not organisms that exist in isolation from the rest of the world. It's something we're a part of. We are all cells in the larger organism that is the globe, just as your cells all work together to make up your body.
Cells aren't in it for the sake of being in it. If they are, they become malignant and pose a threat to the larger community. They work for the greater good.
In what ways did you come to this planet to provide delight to others? Are you a storyteller, a healer, a philosopher, or a statesman/woman by birth?
Were you born to paint rainbows, cook delicious cuisine, or give some other apparently minor gift? That is a question only you can answer. Nobody else, least of all "the system," can.
Don't let the system swallow you.
It has no idea who you are or who you should be, so don't let it tell you!
Other individuals, no matter how well-intentioned, do not.
You are the only one who knows who you are and what song you were born to sing. Scraping away the extrinsic conditioning and reconnecting with your heart may take some time. But it's the road to freedom, and it's a road you've always wanted to walk.
Then you must have the courage to live your life accordingly.
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