“There is neither creation nor destruction,
neither destiny nor free will, neither
path nor achievement.
This is the final truth.” ― Ramana Maharshi
Isn’t it amazing?
But, we take it for granted until something death-dealing happens. And then we’re confronted with a few homes truths, not least the fact that we’re mortal.
The trouble is, as a species, now largely conditioned by our circumstances, we take everything for granted, even the fact that we’re alive by dint of this amazing, dynamic, self-repairing machine.
If you’ve read any of my material, it might appear metaphysical (and I’d accept that) but that’s not where I’m at. If my work means anything, it’s “to become what we truly are” (Nietzsche). In praying in aid those few words, I don’t mean to suggest a deluded version of yourself but true self, i.e. one devoid of egoic identity.
You might think that I’m setting up a scenario where to become the ‘being’ in human being you have to set goals, strive constantly and make each day another uncompromising mountain to climb. If that’s your take on things, then you’ve missed the point. No, to become what we truly are doesn’t mean we have to do anything or become anything, particularly something bearing the rubric ‘success’. As Tony Parsons says in The Open Secret:
“When there is no longer that which seems to stand apart then life is nakedly, passionately all there is. This is freefall, life full on, not my life, not anyone’s life, but simply life.”
I accept that making the distinction between true self and false self is difficult, but unless we examine life from the inside out, we’ll never make sense of things.
Let me try to put this in less prosaic terms. When I’m working with a coaching client, one of the first things I’ll ask them to do is write down what’s going on in their life. Specifically, to write down those thoughts that routinely appear. The bit that comes next, which I’ve termed self-inquiry, is no more than a reflection back of those thoughts and to invite a number of questions which (a) test the veracity of the thoughts and (b) invite who or what might be witnessing those thoughts. For me, this is the essence of Socratic dialogue: we’ve got to get under the skin of the thinker. I accept it’s not for everyone but all I know, from many years of chasing the next (personal) dream, is that we won’t get to the root of the issue(s) by allowing our egoic mind to go to work on another faux objective or to change the external world to make us happy.
Think of it this way, we’ve been conditioned to believe that if we strive to become something, get something or avoid something, we’ll be happy. But it never works. Oh, it does for a short while, but we soon get bored and return to the field of consumerist play.
(I’m not sure who it was who said I’m here to shatter all illusions but you can see why, for many people, to be told they’ve set their success sail in the wrong direction can be very disturbing.)
Of course, some people never get to the point of questioning their thoughts — the conditioning is too strong — and that’s fine, but once you recognise that ‘happiness’ exists independently of any-thing or better still no-thing, life becomes much easier. Think of it this way, if you’ve ever found yourself in a state of flow or a place of quiet mind — nature usually takes us way out of our thinking mind — things feel a lot easier. (In that bliss-consciousness state we’re apt to have some of best ideas but that’s only because we’ve less on our mind.)
In the final analysis, I can’t predict or control those people that will eventually step out of their egoic identity but I do have this sense that we’re on the cusp of change as more and more people start to question the material world they’ve created or inherited that takes them out of and away from true self. In concrete terms, people would much prefer to live a simple life than to constantly chase the next fix.
What about you?
Which side of the true/false self divide do you stand?