Oscar Wilde once said, “Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.” We are each unique and special and yet we know so little about ourselves. Have I become so accustomed to disguising myself to other people to cater to their needs that in the process I have become disguised to myself? What is my truth?
Do you ever look back on your life when you have a few minutes to reflect on how it’s been? I took a little trip down memory lane the other day and I realized that there have been so many people that came into my life at various points and had a significant influence on the course of my life, on the shaping of my personality.
Right from the moment we are born, the mother is the first influence. The child opens its eyes and sees the mother and he is not aware of who he is but just aware of what the mother thinks of him – if she smiles, if she appreciates the child, perhaps gives him a hug and a kiss, he feels good about himself. When the mother shows a stern eye, the child feels the opposite. We grow up, go to school and make friends – when they think I am pretty, I feel pretty, when they think I am cool, I feel cool. When my teacher thinks I am smart or that I am a well-disciplined child, I feel good. I carry that report card, if you will, with me mentally for a long time in my life. Then there is the religious head or the priest or rabbi who also has a say about what I should or shouldn’t do that makes me either a ‘good person’ or an ‘irreligious person’. And the criteria they use to arrive at that evaluation might not match those your teacher used or those your parent used but then that’s your problem, not theirs.
What about those magazines or those sports heroes that we wanted to be like. They dictated what was in and what was not! Then we grow up some more, there is the boyfriend, the husband and the kids. They are our little universe and we want to be and do according to what works well for them. I could keep going on….the list is quite long. The point is that right from the start, there are so many influences that shape our life. It starts with the mother who is our world in the beginning, and then that world grows bigger and bigger with more and more people having a say in it.
s one thing to be flexible and adaptable and loving, it is another to completely lose your truth, your very identity, in the process. In fact, is it possible to be separated from your truth and still be loving? Who is the real me? s opinions of how I should be? Am I simply reflecting what others think?
If that’s the case, then that is what we refer to as the ego. That is, it is not the real thing. An ego is a by-product of living with others. You get the idea of who you are from others. It is an indirect experience. And the biggest reality is that the ego is false and we know it is false because when society does not appreciate you (which is a matter of time), it shakes you up and you don’t know where you are or who you are anymore. We latch on to labels society sticks on us all the time. I might think my kids worship me as the best mother in the world, but then it looks like that’s not the case anymore! Or I thought he felt I was the best wife or the most beautiful girl in the world…and if I’m not that anymore, then what am I? I lost the label that I identified myself with, that I allowed to define me!
So now, if ego is the root cause of all problems and if that comes as a by-product of living with others, is the solution then that we move away from people? Should we send our children away to grow up on an island somewhere? No, because in order to know the real, we need to have recognized that which is false. So life as it plays out is absolutely accurate and each episode in our life is absolutely essential.
Society is designed to get us to conform to laws of convenience. In the process, it inadvertently does whatever it can to keep us from finding ourselves. So we end up spending a good part of our lives trying to be someone else, to please someone else. It’s almost as though society clears out a part of the soul, putting a fence around it, and we become used to living inside that enclosure. I need to realize that in living life through others, I have stopped thinking about what’s really right, what’s true anymore. Blindly doing what my husband or kids would prefer me to do, or accepting the teacher’s verdict as the truth about the kind of person I am, is never going to make me really happy. It might even be making me confused or even miserable. However, it’s what I’ve been doing…so I am used to it. It’s like the story of the little boy who was afraid to sleep at his grandmother’s place, complaining of the dark there. When she reminded him that it was dark in his room too, he responded: “Sure, it’s dark in my room too but it’s my darkness”. Just because something feels comfortable doesn’t mean it’s true…it simply means it’s a habit. Have I grown accustomed to accepting habits as my truth?
If I am ready to explore that other darkness, the part of the soul that has been left untouched by society, which lies outside that fence, then somewhere in there I will find my truth, my reality. And the way to explore that, to discover that truth, is meditation. This is also what we refer to as the spiritual journey, the search for the spirit. When you embark on this journey, things change, there is a transformation that takes place in our thoughts, words and actions, in what we consider to be right or true. The soul comes into its own, finds its inner power and stability where it remains unadulterated in the face of all the various labels thrown at us – good, bad or ugly. It remains centred in its truth of simply being a pure, peaceful and loving soul who is a child of God. In other words, it regains its most precious gift – its self-respect.
Based on my own experience, I have found that after years of conditioning, I was unable to take this journey on my own. I found that I need the help of a flashlight as I venture into the unknown darkness to rediscover that lost treasure. That flashlight is God and the light is the knowledge He gives us- the knowledge of the self and of Him. No one else can give us this knowledge except God because He is the only one who knows the truth. He is the only One who is constant, unchanging, not subject to the drama of life and death, always full with the knowledge. He is The Supreme Parent, The True Benefactor, who by His very nature brings benefit to all. So I take His companionship as I get on this journey of self-discovery because who better than The True Parent to remind us of who we truly are.
So the question I have to ask myself now is ‘am I ready to get on this journey to find my truth and transform my life?’ It’s an important question because while there is no bigger goal or a different way to bring oneself true happiness, there is no gain without pain, as they say. So along the path, there will be obstacles. There might be uneasiness about seeing ourselves in the mirror for the first time, and coming face to face with our weaknesses, our negativities. Friends or family may not understand initially, and question us about the changes they notice. But then it all comes down to one thing – am I ready to take that step of courage, trusting in myself and in my True Companion? Am I worth finding? Is it worth finding my truth?