I wrote earlier about authentic living (see my earlier post ‘Authentic Living’). And, as presumptuous as it may seem, I am going to quote something from my own post, not because I think it contains pearls of wisdom (I am sure it does not), but because I feel that I need to go deeper into some parts of the post, for my own sake. I think there is a message in there that I need to learn and to give to myself again and again in a deeper, stronger way. Here is the relevant portion from the earlier post:
Life cannot be compromised even for a single day. Otherwise, there will be conflict and that conflict will create hell. Life has to be authentic today. No compromises.
What was I trying to say? Allow me to zoom in on this:
Firstly, at some point in our lives, we realize certain things so clearly that it becomes a part of our belief system. It becomes a part of our ‘truth’. We know in our heart that there is something there which is beyond the ordinary, that we have accidentally caught on to something extraordinary which applies to all of us. (If there is a god, then such realizations probably come from god. But that depends on how you define god.)
Anyways, this realization could be that we do not want or need to be dishonest or to be a liar. Or, if someone is a smoker, it could be a realization that he or she does not need to smoke. Or it could be the realization that true love does not pertain to a particular individual or set of individuals. Or it could be a realization that human greed, possessiveness and attachments have created a very messy world. Or it could be the realization that religions are being used to divide and rule the masses. Or it could be a realization that it is OK to be ordinary. Or it could be a realization that I need to be Buddha not a buddhist, a Christ not a Christian, a Mohammad not a Muslim, a Lao Tzu not a Taoist. Or it could be a realization that this life is just one of the short journeys I will be taking and that this journey is about to end.
And so on and so forth.
Such realizations happen deep inside us and becomes a part of our core values. And, once that happens, then that realization has to be actualized in the real world, in the outside world. If it is not so actualized, there is or will be a problem. There will be an unease in our sub-conscious which will keep gnawing away at our minds and keep telling us that we are missing something, that we are not doing something we need to be doing. And no matter what we do, we will remain uneasy as long as that conflict exists. No matter how much alcohol we drink, no matter how much weed we smoke, no matter how much TV we watch, no matter how many vacations we take, no matter how much shopping we do, no matter how many new restaurants and fantastic foods we discover, we will remain conflicted, agitated and uneasy. And many times, for the sake of sheer convenience (we hate doing serious work to change our lives) or to avoid giving up our attachments, we will try to convince ourselves one way or the other that we don’t need to take any action and that that realization can be pushed under the carpet and made ineffective. But, sometimes it will happen that after ignoring it for years, we will find out that it is still disturbing us.
Once something becomes part of our ‘truth’, our belief system, then it cannot be shunted out. It cannot be hidden. It is not like a candle or a light bulb which can be snuffed out or switched off. No, that light inside, once lit, cannot be switched off. We can refuse to act in that light. We can try to cover it up with excuses and other ideas and fake beliefs, but it cannot be switched off.
Secondly, why does there have to be a conflict?
The kind of realizations we are talking about are ones that go to our core being. They cannot be avoided. They can either be fulfilled or implemented in our lives or they can be put aside. But they cannot be done way with. And till such time that we are able to fulfil or implement them and to make them active parts of our personality, rather than hidden / inoperative parts, they will keep gnawing at us. And till such time that we take action to implement them or fulfil them, we are living fake, unauthentic lives. And conflict will be unavoidable. The conflict is between a fake reality and the actual reality, between the ego and the universe itself, between the creation and the creator, between the temporary self and the eternal self, between the world of images and attachments, on the one hand, and the world beyond all images and attachments, between the world of man and the world of God, between the world of money, possessions and property, on the one hand, and the world of love and oneness, on the other hand.
It is the eternal conflict raging within men. And man, the human race, is the only specie afflicted with this conflict. And that is because the human race is the only known race (and here I am not going to talk about other intelligent species – aka aliens, etc; for the purposes of this post, we’ll just assume that there are none) which has developed an ego.
The ego is a fake ‘personality’, an entity that goes beyond what is and exists in imagination, in thought, in theories and ideas and images. When this fake entity comes across what is, i.e., the actual reality, obviously there is going to be a conflict. The two are mutually incompatible. Imagine that you are a stage actor and you are playing a fictional part in a theatrical play, but when the play is over, you refuse to take off the costume and the make-up and go out into the real world pretending to be the same fictional character that you were playing on stage. What is going to happen? Well, obviously, a conflict, to whatever extent, between your life outside of the theatre, i.e., your so-called ‘real’ life (which also btw is not so real) and the life of the character you were playing on stage. That conflict is inevitable.
The same thing happens when you come across core realizations. You have this ego-based life that you think is real and then you come across something that goes beyond this ego-based life and immediately the conflict starts. And if and when this happens, you might insist that there is no conflict and that everything is under control. But, with time, you will see your life or certain aspect(s) of it coming apart. Things will stop making sense. All of your efforts to regain control of the situation and to calm your mind will be futile. You will go to a guru or a coach or a psychologist or you will read a spiritual or self-help book that will tell you to ’empty your mind’ or ‘focus on the positive’ or some such thing and you will try to do that and find that to be impossible.
It is a clash of two incompatible worlds. One is the world of silence, stillness, love, bliss and oneness. The other is the world of the ego, with its divisions, separateness, individuality, hatred, competition, greed and possessiveness.
Thirdly, why are most of us unable to resolve these conflicts within ourselves? Because of the force of habit and because of the strength of the ego. We have been living the ego-based lives for years and years and there is a momentum which keeps us going in the same direction. And unless another greater force acts upon us, we are going to continue moving in the same direction (akin to Newton’s First Law of Motion). And then there is the hold of the ego on our daily thinking. No wonder then that over the millennia, only a few individuals have been able to see and go beyond the conflict.
Finally, what then is the hope for an authentic way of life? How could that come about?
- Confront yourself everyday. Make regular and adequate alone time for yourself, when you can just sit and be with yourself and slowly the ambient noise and images of the world around you will subside and you will see and hear your core self. And you will realize the conflict between your core self and your everyday self. And you will know clearly what needs to be done.
- Adopt a zero tolerance policy for laziness and waiting. Do it there and then. Make plans and implement them. Don’t let your life be in a limbo anymore. Nothing is going to come out of this limbo.
- Be honest in looking at the excuses that have kept you from your core self. Banish these excuses. It is a crime against yourself (not a legal crime, but a spiritual crime, a personal crime) to not live out your core beliefs, your core learning. The only ‘sin’ in life is not to live it authentically and to live it as others want you or need you to live it.
- Start implementing one by one in the personal / professional / emotional / financial or any other aspect of your life. Yes, there might be a few things you need to do in order to get there, but if you have decided to live authentically, then I can promise today that there will be no insurmountable hurdles in your way.
- It will not be easy initially, but nothing meaningful in life is ever going to be easy at first. However, with time, when you have practiced it long enough, living authentically (living from your core) will not be a choice but the easiest and the only way for you to live.
- Start now. Start today. Zoom into yourself and find one core lesson that you have already learnt in life (may be you learnt it many years ago) but have not implemented yet. Implement it today, right now. Make it an active part of your life today. Make a plan to live according to it.
And you are on your way to authentic living!