A Conversation with my Soul – On Rebellion, Truth and Freedom

A man was known in his community as a rebel. He was known to have always done things his way, and not followed societal norms. Since he wasn’t following the normal way of things, he was branded a rebel.

This made the man deeply introspective. He approached the greatest teacher he knew, his own soul. Speaking to his soul, he knew was the same as speaking to the world and accessing its wisdom.

Man (M): Why am I being called a rebel, just because I want to be happy? I am not preventing others from doing what they want. Is having a different opinion of what I want to do so wrong?

Soul (S): Your question asks if what you did was wrong. Who created right and wrong?

M: Did God create right and wrong? But if he did, I don’t want such a God to govern my life. If he has created happiness and sadness inside me, and then asks me to be perennially unhappy, then something is wrong with God. He is a sadist, and I do not want to have a relationship with him anymore.

S: Perhaps, but if God had created right and wrong, it would be the same all over the world. But what is right in the West is wrong in the East and vice versa. So, the very definition of right and wrong changes across the world.

M: So, who created right and wrong? It has to be man himself. Every generation has people who dominate and rule over others, and impose their values upon society. And those who follow them are forced to say they are ‘happy’ and those who oppose them are forced to say they are ‘unhappy’. Why, earning money or marriage is something you have to say makes you happy. If you say you are unhappy with these things, people start calling you mad.

S: Indeed. What do you think is happening here?

M: People want to not just control my behavior, but also decide what I should be happy about and what I should be sad about. This is a perversion of my individual right to my emotions. I am supposed to override my emotions now? I am supposed to say I am happy, just because others are happy, even if I am sad? I cannot stand this division of my soul anymore. Why can’t people just express their truth, which is the only truth?

S: Because telling the truth takes courage. People are afraid to speak the truth.

M: Why? Because they will be attacked like me? Sometimes, no, often I feel that it is better to be hurt on the outside than tolerate this pain that is caused by denying my inner truth. I can tolerate outer attack, however much it hurts, but I can’t tolerate my inner pain when I tell myself lies. Inner pain hurts so much more.

S: Why do you think inner pain hurts? Why not ignore it and wait for it to go away, like others do?

M: Because ignoring inner pain makes me lose touch with who I am, I begin to feel empty and dead inside. What is the use of being dead, an empty shell that acts happy? There is so much falseness in the world … internally dead people acting like they know what they want. No one seems to know what they want, because they have killed their inner pain by ignoring it. And when they don’t know, they rush to fill their inner emptiness with something outside, by listening to the strongest voice, by listening to churches, dictators, priests, corporate leaders, grand visions and promises. When you are no longer living inside your body, anyone else can easily make it their home. People have given up their souls and allowed others to take over. And these same false people now become agents for falseness- when people like me express my truth, because I am still connected to my soul, they attack me, trying their best to make me give up my soul. The world is insane, it is mad.

S: Indeed, it is. You have a choice to make then – your body will survive if you give up your soul, or your body may be attacked if you keep hanging on to your soul. Choose then.

M: I don’t know how I know this, but my soul is the actual part of who I am, my compass, my direction-giver, my happiness index. It is my soul that tells me if I am happy or not, that helps me act. If I give up my soul, I will end up following someone else’s definition of whether to be happy or not. I won’t even have emotions anymore; I will need to ask someone to decide whether to be happy or not. I will need to look at the calendar to decide if today is Christmas or Ramzan to be happy, or if today is a funeral to be sad. What is wrong if I get great news of a job offer on a funeral – don’t I have a right to be happy? What if I lose my money on a festival day? Don’t I have the right to be sad? I despise those who tell me what my emotions should be. My emotions are mine; they are inside me; they are private. No one can or should tell me what my emotions should be – I will decide.

S: Excellent. So, you prefer external attacks by society to dying inside?

M: Yes, I prefer to die externally (body) than die internally (lose touch with my soul). I am not saying I am suicidal, but if a mob attacks me, I prefer dying on my own terms, thank you. In fact, it is required for me to surrender the outer world, die on the outside (psychologically, not physically) to truly find my inner truth. Death is coming for me anyway, but I am going to use this body and this physical life to find and express my truth, even if I am murdered in 5 years for just being myself. And by murder, it could be just physical restrictions and not the true destruction of my body. But death is the absence of life, and I no longer care about external life and death. I only want a connection to who I am to exist and guide me, enlighten me.

S: So, you are a rebel now?

M: No, I am not a rebel because a person who is true to himself can never be a rebel. A rebel is someone who rejects others. I am not interested in rejecting others, I believe in live and let live. I just want to live my life by expressing my soul, and let others do the same. Everyone lives their own truth.

S: So, there is no universal truth?

M: Yes, there are many truths – everyone has their own individual truth, that is revealed when they listen to their soul. The moment you say there is only one truth, you create conflict, religion and division. People get branded as followers, atheists or rebels. Just be true to yourself.

S: Do you feel alive now?

M: Temporarily yes. Tomorrow, I may not feel this emotion this strongly, for my mind fluctuates. I have no control over my mind. I have no control over the outer world. I can only control my present – in space (who I am, inside my body) and in time (where I am now, without delving into the past or future).

S: So, are you not afraid that you will lose touch with your soul tomorrow, when you feel different emotions?

M: if this is my truth, it will always raise its head, knock on my inner door to tell me I am unhappy. I have to trust my soul; I have to trust my truth.

S: But how do you trust something that you can neither see, nor monitor or control. How do you trust something that you cannot check every few minutes?

M: If I don’t trust it, I will become paranoid, wondering if I will feel this way tomorrow just because I feel like this today. The moment I become paranoid, I will start living in the past or future, instead of in the present where my true power is – the power to take action. I can’t act on what my soul wants yesterday or tomorrow, but I can act now, in this moment. So, the moment I lose trust, I also lose the power to act, because I no longer live in the present.

S: So, the only way you can gain power to act on your truth, is by trusting your truth and giving up control over it?

M: Yes, I surrender to my truth, and I learn to trust my soul when I can’t know when it will talk to me again. I call this Faith.

S: So, truth is not rebellion, truth is giving up control, truth is dying on the outside to be alive inside, truth is surrender, truth requires faith.

M: Yes. It looks fancy if you put it that way. But all that is required is for you to listen, and choose to be alive inside than dead inside (while being a blind so-called alive follower on the outside). Don’t deny your soul.

S: Why are you so obsessed with your soul? Let it die.

M: I am not obsessed with my soul. I am afraid of the pain and later, meaninglessness that creeps in if you lose touch with your soul. I do not want inner pain. It is possible to face external torture if you are at peace inside, but it is impossible to enjoy outer beauty if you are suffering and dead inside. It is not outer things that make us happy or sad, but our inner soul that connects us to our happiness, makes us feel truly alive. At the end, it is a choice – do you want to act happy, or be really happy?

S: You mean, happiness, spirituality, freedom is a choice?

M: Indeed, freedom is not compulsory. You are free not to choose freedom, but you are also free to choose freedom. But if you are not internally free, someone else’s definition of happiness and freedom will be forced upon you.

S: So, what?

M: So, nothing. You are at complete freedom to be unhappy; you are at complete freedom to be sad, that is your right. You are at complete freedom to live a life of inner pain too, even if you act happy on the outside.

S: So, again, if you are free to be sad, if you are free to follow falseness, if you are free to choose an artificial life, why bother with this discussion?

M: Because I, I repeat, because I, want inner happiness even if it causes me external pain like societal rejection. This is my choice, and applies only to me. I cannot tell anyone else what to do. I cannot tell anyone else that they should follow spirituality, I cannot tell anyone else to follow my choices. If I start telling others spirituality is the only way to find happiness, I go against spirituality itself. I am alone in this world, alone in my philosophy, alone in my choices – I came into this world alone, and I will leave alone. My choices are only to affect me.

S: Ah, so to find the truth is to be alone? Is it lonely?

M: No, when there are no other people, I compare myself to, there is no loneliness. I am alone, which is a happy state. Loneliness is a false state (false to me), that occurs if I compare myself to another person’s truth.

S: So, if you are alone in your choices, what makes you make your choice?

M: I do not know, I am guided to pursue the truth, perhaps because I want to. Perhaps because I can.

S: So, choice and freedom create choice and freedom? It is a circle.

M: Yes, the world is a spiritual circle. Freedom and choice are part of a circle. Perhaps peace lies at the center.

S: So, if you are taking the decision to follow your truth as part of a deeper choice, how do you know you are right? How do you know if you are doing the right thing?

M: That’s the beauty of it – since there is no single truth, there is no right and wrong. I can follow my truth or not, that is my choice. Not because of it being right or wrong, but because I can. Choice creates choice. Freedom creates freedom. Peace creates peace.

S: Do you want to rest now?

M: Yes

Wanting, Choosing and Getting – The Freedom Conundrum

All of us want freedom. But when something happens to us- good or bad, we can feel out of control. When we think thoughts – good or bad, they are largely out of our control. Our desires come from seemingly nowhere – totally out of our control.

So, who are we then? At the center of us is a space, a silent space that simply watches observes and learns. Go into yourself and you can find this stillness deep inside you.

Now, we want this ‘still’ part of ourselves, the truest part of ourselves to direct our lives, for is that not true freedom? How dare life or circumstances control us? How dare God control us, or indeed tell us how to think, feel or act? We desire freedom.

But what is freedom?

Is freedom about getting whatever we want?

Perhaps we think, if we defeat all our enemies, rise above our humble family backgrounds, show our friends and peers how great we really are, then we are totally free. For only a free man / woman could ever conquer his / her circumstances.

But there are so many events we will never be able to conquer. We will never be able to become the President of Country XYZ (especially if you are born in another country from XYZ). But that barrier has been broken too, and say you become President of XYZ, then you will never be able to simultaneously lead the IMF or the Treasury or any number of institutions that control the President. It is only when you attain a position of power and leadership that you realize how helpless you actually are. You can’t force people to listen to you – you can’t fire everyone under you (for then, you won’t have any supporters left, and we have seen where that has led in the past in the case of certain leaders).

Say you accomplish all of this; you still can’t become President of the World. Even if you accomplish this, you can’t travel and be in 100 places at once – at most you will have to cool your heels in the HQ, issuing commands and doing paperwork, assuming that people live in awe of you. But you will NEVER know. Why? You can’t control people’s thoughts and the way they feel about you, even if you suppress their expression.

You can influence your circumstances, but there is always someone else above, below, or beside you with free will. You can guide the system from one position but not control every point of the system. So, you can’t conquer all your circumstances.

But then, are circumstances merely events? Not all of us are athletes or karate masters who can break down walls. Those are things you really can’t do much about. You can’t control your skin color or race or parents – those are circumstances too. How do you conquer your parents anyway? Replacing them? But if you replaced your parents, you (as you know yourself) would never have been born, and if you hadn’t been born, you would never have felt like deleting your parents and family. Circular logic.

Thus, we are barely capable of getting some of what we want. A lot of what we want goes unfulfilled. Even the richest person in the world has unfulfilled needs – he might want to just enjoy a stroll in the bazaar without getting mugged or kidnapped or photographed, which becomes impossible once people know he is rich and powerful. Getting what you want can destroy your freedom.

Is freedom wanting what you get?

Sometimes we get handed hard lessons – we are forced to go to school and study. We go to school crying and screaming, but ten years later, we are thankful for the experience. We learnt to want what we got. But does that mean if someone abuses us, beats us up, we should want it? Should we go and tell a gangster who is messing around with us to ‘give us more, for that is what I want’? Sure, if you are masochist, but in most cases, wanting what you get is good for some things, and not so good for many other things.

Is freedom following your emotions and choosing things?

Sometimes, we are frustrated and want to give up on learning something new or trying out a new way of life. Sometimes we get too caught up (obsessed) with an activity or person or thing to the exclusion of all else. A parent who is obsessed with a child can end up harming the child’s independence. A husband who is obsessed with his wife can end up driving her to madness and blocking all self-expression (and vice versa for an obsessed wife). A person who is obsessed with doing a job right gets over-attached to the extent he never grows beyond that narrow skillset. Perfection can harm spiritual growth. Choice is good when it helps us try new things, choice is good when it helps us give up things we have grown out of. But choice is not always enough – we do not know when to stop trying or indeed, when to start trying something new.

Triangulating the three forces – True freedom

Who created our choices based on our needs and emotions? Who created our circumstances? Who gets to decide what gifts we receive (talents, body, material possessions) and what we don’t?

Choice Focus: If we think that we only have control over choice, we will suffer by feeling frustrated with our limited gifts and circumstances.

Getting Focus: If we count on life giving us everything (getting), we will suffer because we will stop listening to our emotions and making any kind of choice. We will effectively die inside.

Wanting Focus: If we count on life giving us whatever we want, we may have choice and gifts but no contentment (the getting part). We keep wanting, but the joy of getting comes only when some of our wants are fulfilled. If all our wants are automatically fulfilled, we lose the focus and direction of life – we become too spread out. It is our limitations in getting what we want that give us direction, a compass and at a deeper level, fulfillment. Getting very little of what we want gives us a sense of identity, it helps us define ourselves. Our limitations both shape our lives and give us peace.

If neither wanting, getting or choosing is going to leave us fulfilled, how do we balance the three? The solution is realizing they are three sides of the same triangle:

Once you realize that your freedom has been created by you, through your choices (created by your emotions, which have also been created by you before being born), though your wants (based on your emotions, created by you before you were born) and your luck in getting things (decided before this life began), you achieve true peace. You see others and the world as part of yourself just as you see your emotions as part of yourself.

In this oneness of being, you celebrate your aloneness, for in aloneness, there is no comparison, no competition, no good or bad, just peace and contentment.

Handling my Writer’s Ego – A Deep Introspection to the Truth

Why am I writing this? Does this make me superior, because of my readers?

Are my readers therefore ‘inferior’ because they choose to read?

What gave me the power to write? My education.

What gave me good education? My parents and a supportive environment.

Does this mean I am ‘deserving’ of rewards such as education and a good family? Does this mean that others who are uneducated or don’t come from good families are undeserving, because of the very nature of their birth and early life?

If I start classifying people into ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ based on their education and fortune, do I not become a bigot of sorts? Being a bigot is hard, for it causes division of the soul.

The moment I become a bigot, I will feel happy only as long as my readers read what I write, only as long as I seek out friends who are less educated than I am. The moment I meet someone who is more educated, my ego will become extremely insecure and cause incredible pain. To hide my pain, if I am insecure and also immature, I may lash out at others and make others feel small to hide my own feeling of inferiority.

As long as I am a bigot, I am dependent on feeling superior to my inferiors; and causing pain to those I consider superior to me (to bring them down). Is this a true sign of my education?

Thus, the question should be- how do I not become a bigot? How do I not classify anyone in the world as lower or higher than me, be it on the basis of education, race, caste, creed, color? For being a bigot traps me in a pleasure – pain cycle and I don’t want to feel that pain.

How did I become a bigot? I classified people into categories.

Why did I classify? Because I asked questions about why I was educated, why I am able to write, why I am fortunate, why I have people reading what I write.

So, being happy leads to bigotry? Yes. But feeling sad with what you have also leads to bigotry? Yes – starting the other way round – from feeling inferior to trying to act superior.

So, feeling happy or feeling sad about your life and your position in society can cause suffering? Yes.

But how do I resolve this? Is it so wrong to have emotions? No – emotions are natural. It is okay to like or not like things.

If it is okay to like or not like things, how do I prevent my preferences from blooming into a bigotry and suffering? By coming out of the world itself- the world is a pool – as long as you are immersed, there will always be people floating on your left or right, above or below. Your immersion in the world causes you to know where you are. Because you know where you are, you can choose where to go – your direction. Because you choose a direction, you automatically classify people ahead of you as superior and behind you as inferior.

So, I classify because I want to move? Yes. As long as you want to move, you need to know where you are relative to others. And the moment you think about where you are, you experience emotions of liking or not liking your situation. Your emotions help you move, take action, make changes in your life.

So, if emotions are so necessary, if action is necessary (or I won’t educate myself, eat or have a job), then is bigotry / division/ pain impossible to eliminate? No, it’s not. You can eliminate it by asking a much larger question – why ARE you in the swimming pool of the world? Who put you there?

Who put me here? God? If you start thinking it is God, you will start fearing God, and start praying to him/ her for blessings and salvation. Prayer cannot be driven by fear, for fear itself is suffering.

So, if the truth is something that will not make me fear, what is the truth? You put yourself here. You created yourself, you created the world. You created the people around you. You chose your strengths; you also chose your weaknesses. You chose how rich you want to be, and how much a failure you are. After creating the world, you had to place yourself somewhere. The moment you placed yourself anywhere in the world, even if at the top, you created division and suffering.

So, do you mean I created suffering? Yes.

Am I mad to create my own suffering? Not really. You created suffering accidentally because after creating the world, you forgot that you yourself had created it. Realize this and you will neither fear nor over-idolize anyone. You will realize that everything in the world is equal. The thing that made things unequal is your own presence. By entering the world, you classified people based on the kind of life you manifested.

So, there are two things I created? Yes. The world and your life. The container and the contents.

Why would I choose to forget I created my own world? You can’t remember everything in the limited mind of the human form you have taken. The world can’t be contained in a single human mind, but you can be contained in the world. It is like going to sleep- you pull the blanket up and go to sleep and forget that you are sleeping, until you wake up and find a blanket on top of you.

Why would I do something this silly? Perhaps it is a game. Or as the Hindu scriptures call it, a Leela (game or play).

Why would I want to play such a game by putting myself into a world and forgetting that I created it, and on top of that creating unnecessary suffering for myself? Perhaps you were bored. Perhaps this was the only way you knew how to grow further. Perhaps you are sleeping and when you die, you will realize this entire life was just a dream.

If I am dreaming, where am I sleeping? I surely can’t be sleeping in this world- the real world always exists outside the dream. Yes. You will know the real world only when you wake up, or perhaps when you die.

So, if I commit suicide, will I end this dream? Maybe. Maybe not. If you created this world, you won’t wake up until you are ready. Trust your reasons for creating this world – you can’t remember why you created this world but trust you had a reason.

How can I trust myself when I don’t even know who I am? Well, trust is a bad word I guess, a better word would be faith. Have faith in the reasons behind you creating this world, behind you creating your parents, behind you creating your wife/ husband, behind you creating your friends, behind you creating your college, behind you creating your enemies – yes, you created them all.

So, I should have faith in myself? Yes, faith is trusting in the absence of evidence.

This is blind and stupid – I want evidence before I have faith! That is of course your choice. You see, faith is not a mandate by some fancy religion (by the way you created all of the religions of the world – you created Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism etc.). Faith is a choice – you can choose to have faith or you are perfectly at liberty not to have faith.

What will happen if I do not have faith? Absolutely nothing. You will simply continue suffering because you refuse to see the truth. But apart from that, there is no great damage that is going to happen. Rebel all you want – the world you created is free, you see, you created the concept of freedom too. You created enslavement, you created evil and you also created ethics and morality. You are free to pursue any path and of course face the consequences.

You mean, I am free to rob someone? Sure, if you are okay going to jail – you yourself created the rules of this world before you entered it.

How do you know I created this world? Because the only part of the world you can experience is what you see, hear, smell, feel and touch, not to forget what you experience through your sixth sense/ gut feel. You can only see the world when you are awake, conscious, not sleeping. This blog is being created because you can type, which in turn is because you can see. Close your eyes and the blog will cease to exist, except in your memory.

So, everything exists only when I am seeing, or hearing it? Essentially yes, they exist in your present. But they move into your past the moment you close your eyes. Close your eyes and this blog will become your past, by a few minutes. But the words you are typing now are your present and your present exists.

So, being in the present is proof of me creating the world? In a very twisted way yes.

Will I continue to suffer? If you want to, yes. Suffering is not bad, you know – classifying suffering as bad is also a form of discrimination. Classifying suffering as suffering only creates suffering again due to you dividing/ classifying things again.

So how do I find peace? By remembering you are the creator, whenever you want to.

Why alcohol and drugs hold back spiritual growth?

We have heard of one or more faiths or religions banning alcohol or drugs or smoking in one way or the other. Of course, there are many of us who contravene these guidelines, as we do not adhere rigidly to any specific rules that are thrust upon us. That is perfectly normal – spirituality without ‘modern thinking’ cannot be true spirituality.

And there we arrive at the crux – do we drink and do drugs because they are modern pleasures? Sure. Do they actually help solve our problems in any way? Not really.

Drugs (alcohol, nicotine, heroin, cocaine, etc.) are merely the carpet under which you sweep your dirt. True spirituality is about cleaning your ‘room’ so that you live a clean life inside. By clean, I do not mean blessing every animal and creature on the street- cleanliness simply means being honest with yourself and living your truest purpose.

To realize your truest feelings, to analyze your deepest self, you need to introspect. You need to fight your egoistic impulses – I say ‘fight’, but what actually happens is that you realize you have egoistic impulses and CHOOSE not to follow them. Choosing NOT to listen to your mind’s endless attachments, that destroy your freedom, requires energy.

Why do you require energy to fight your mind’s impulses? Let me give you a simple example – imagine you are driving when you are drunk or ‘high’. You are driving at high, or even a moderate speed. A car comes suddenly towards you in the middle of the road. Had you not been drunk; your instincts would have taken over and slammed on the brakes. But, being high (or down based on your choice of drugs), you react either way too fast or way too slow. Now, let’s zoom into that scene –

  • You see the car coming towards you
  • Your body doesn’t react, your mind seems sluggish or over excited
  • Another part of you takes over trying to either speed you up (if you are feeling down), or calm you down (if you are feeling too high)
  • This ‘other part’ literally struggles to get you to act at the right speed, at the right time. This new part of you uses extensive amounts of energy trying to overcome your drugged state and take charge.
  • You finally manage the situation (with blood pounding in your ears with adrenalin), but find yourself sinking back into your previous ‘dissociated’ state

So, now we have two parts of ourselves – one part, the ‘egoistic pleasure-seeking side’ that likes to drink or do drugs. Another part that actually takes the decisions in times of crisis, which is independent of your drugs. Drugs prevent your ‘decision making’ side from acting properly which makes your ‘decision making’ side to use extensive amounts of physical energy (adrenalin) to gain control, leaving you exhausted.

Now, a spiritual path requires you to analyze your ego and confront your deepest fears, your darkest insecurities and accept all of them as part of yourself. You are seeking long-term lasting happiness as compared to a temporary high – that is the essence of spirituality. Before starting your spiritual journey, you are essentially divided, seeing the world and your fears as separate. This is the reason people do drugs, to keep out the darkest parts of themselves because they are afraid of them.

Spirituality is about integrating all of your different parts into a single whole – the good, bad and ugly and accepting them all as part of your soul’s or God’s creation. Integrating your darkest parts doesn’t mean you will become a murderer overnight – it means you realize you CAN be a murderer, but you DON’T want to. All of us are capable of lashing out in fear or anger, and hurting others – and sometimes, we do it because we lose control. Spirituality is about integrating your anger into yourself, so that you can CHOOSE whether to be angry or not. Spiritual consciousness gives you an internal choice, unconsciousness leaves you at the mercy of random external events. Thus, spirituality is true freedom, and with true freedom to ‘not choose’ anger, you achieve compassion. And thus, spirituality, freedom and compassion go together.

Do you become a saint? Not really, you merely become a very ordinary practical man/ woman in control of your senses, body and mind. Spirituality is about discovering extraordinary things about yourself so that you can live a completely free and possibly, very ordinary life, but based on your values, not others’. Spirituality is the extreme version of ‘live and let live’.

All of this takes mental energy, as your soul goes against your mind’s natural ego (which likes to divide things into good and bad, superior and inferior). This ‘spiritual integration’ energy has to come from somewhere, and your soul draws this energy from your body (hormones, adrenaline etc.), making your spiritual journey physically exhausting.

When you are already using up all this energy, and you start drinking or doing drugs, it blocks your soul’s access to your mind. Your soul tries to see into your mind, and apply the accelerator or brakes on your mind, and realizes all the brake (and hydraulic) fluid has been replaced with crap- the accelerator and brake signals simply stop going to your mind.

If you haven’t realized already, the car is your body (with engine and wheels), your soul is the driver, and hydraulics and transmission are your mind. Drinking is effectively equivalent to you freezing your brake and accelerator hydraulic fluids and wondering why your car is not going in the right direction. You may even feel yourself pressing the pedals, the pedals no longer seem to be flexible- they seem clogged.

Is the car still moving? Sure. It has fuel and hydraulic fluids, and the engine is running. But what you don’t realize is that the fuel is being used by the car to plan its own random route (straight into an accident), not by you as the driver to control the route.

So, we have to decide. What kind of fuel and fluids do you want to intake (aka food)? How does the food make you feel? Does your food make you feel intoxicated and detached from your thoughts, or more in control, in touch with your thoughts? The thing is, the more you ingest food and drink that intoxicates, your body becomes addicted and weaker. When you need energy for a new stage of spiritual transformation, you will find yourself too exhausted to continue. Your body is not the same as your soul, but it is an essential physical vehicle that we all need in our pursuit of the truth.

In trying to become a better driver, don’t damage or destroy your vehicle – you don’t get a replacement, at least not in this life. Eat well, in moderation, not so you can achieve a supreme goal, but so you can go as far as you can in your journey with the body you have been given, before your body inevitably breaks down in old age. Your body has a limited time before old age overtakes it (with problems of poor functioning and low energy). Use it well when you are young, in the right ways, for the right reasons. That way, when you are older and have lower energy, you will no longer need your body’s energy that much – you will have completed the most difficult parts of your spiritual journey, and will be ready to move on to the next phase post physical death.

Suffering vs. Consciousness – Which came first?

Imagine the following:

Scenario 1: You are starting out on a road. It is a straight road and there are no obstacles ahead of you. You go straight ahead and reach your goal, or destination. There are no twists or turns in the road, in fact, you can’t see anything except mountains on either side. This road is a straight path between you and your destination. You travel this road at top speed.

Scenario 2: Now, imagine you are in a desert. You are a nomad walking the sands. You need to reach your destination and you plot a path through the desert. Sometimes, you find large sand dunes blocking your path, and you walk around them. Sometimes, you find hills and oases blocking your way- you walk around them. You are following a new road, that you yourself have made in the desert. The desert has no path by itself, and yet you carved a path for yourself to make your journey convenient. Your path is not a straight one, but takes you to your destination.

Scenario 3: You are walking in a long corridor that twists and turns (like in a videogame). The only rule is that you need to walk through all the open doors in front of you. Only one door is open at the end of each turn of the corridor and you walk through those open doors. You pass by many closed doors, and as instructed you ignore them, choosing only the open ones ahead of you. You reach your destination.

Scenario 4: You walk the same corridor through the building and this time, you have been given a list of doors that you need to open. The doors are not automatically open this time, but need to be opened. You are okay, because there is only one door at the end of each corridor and it is easy for you to just walk a few feet and open doors one after the other. You reach your destination.

Scenario 5: You walk the same corridor through the building, from your starting point. This time too, you have been given a list of doors you need to open, but with a difference. Your map has door numbers on it and clearly outlines which door numbers you need to open. You are fine with this – you walk down corridor 1, and there is only one door marked Door 22 (door numbers are random for some reason); then you walk down corridor 2 and there is only one door marked Door 56, and you open that; and so on and so forth. You follow all the doors blindly (there is only one route available), not bothering to check if the map door numbers match your doors (they do), and you reach your destination.

Scenario 6: You walk the same corridor through the building, from your starting point. This time too, you have been given a list of doors you need to open, with a map comprising door numbers on it. There is one small difference – as you walk down each corridor, you find new doors that have been added. You know as per your map (as in Scenario 5) you need to open Door 22 (which was the only door last time), but this time you find your path down corridor 1 having 21 extra doors from Door 1 to Door 21. You open Door 22 as per the map and exit to corridor 2, where you find Door numbers 51-59. But your map says open Door 56 (just like last time) and you do that, and you reach your destination.

Scenario 7: You walk the same corridor through the building, from your starting point. The map is exactly the same, the corridor is exactly the same as in Scenario 6 and all you need to do is open Door 22 and Door 56. But this time, you wonder what is behind all the other doors. Do they lead to an easier path? A better life? What if your map is wrong?

Scenario 8: You walk the same corridor through the building, from your starting point. You are filled with worries from Scenario 7 about all the other doors you are missing to open. You try opening a door and you find another corridor and more doors, making you even more confused – maybe this IS a great path that you are missing out on? You stop looking at your map and you try to ‘decide’ which door to follow – your previous Door 22 + 56 or New Door 15.

Scenario 9: You walk the same corridor through the building, from your starting point. You are filled with worries from Scenario 8 about ‘making a decision’ about which doors to open. The map has been long forgotten, but is safe deep in your pocket. You walk straight ahead and open Door 15 this time, then you walk straight ahead and find a dead end, you walk back and try Door 17, and this leads you to Door 25 which leads you to another Door 43 which leads you to another Door 62 which leads you to your destination. You started out by taking a straight path, but ended up on an unnecessarily long journey.

You begin wondering, “Why does the map keep advising Door 22 + 56 as the shortest route? How does the map know? More importantly, why do I even need a map? Why are there so many doors if they are not supposed to be used? Why are there so many corridors if they are not supposed to be used? Why does the map exist? Who drew this map?” This is consciousness.

And then you wonder further…” Why can’t I just follow any door and follow any path as long as I reach my destination anyway? Why should I be subservient to a silly map, even if it gives me the answer? When I am clearly able to think about what doors to choose, why should I not choose which door to follow?” This is the beginning of our need for ‘freedom’.

And then you wonder, “I hate this silly map, which tells me there is only one way to do things. I will decide for myself which doors to follow. In fact, the door that I follow is bound to be the right one. I have seen other people walking past me, following the map. Many others have walked past me, and opened doors different from mine (not following the map). It is clear that my way of opening doors works and all others are just wasting their time, irrespective of whether they are following the map or not”. This is the birth of our Ego.

And then you wonder, after going through many, many doors and finally reaching your destination tired and hungry – “Why do I have to make all these decisions? Why am I forced to choose doors? Why am I forced to face dead ends and walls that block my every path? Surely there has to be an easier way?” This is called the loss of consciousness and the beginning of suffering.

And then you wonder, “I need to find an easier way to manage these corridors (somehow I find myself at the starting point after reaching my destination each time). I need to stop for a bit and just…stop randomly opening doors. Perhaps there is a way for me to decide what is the best door to open.” And suddenly, something comes back to you – a distant memory asking you to go through Door 22. You ignore this, and go through a complicated path again to reach your destination. To help you mute this ‘voice’ asking you to open Door 22, you turn to drugs and alcohol. You get lost part of the way, but stumble with difficulty to your destination.

You are back at the starting point. This time, your mental and spiritual agony is too much to bear. You are fed up of exploring doors and you just want to get it over with. You kill yourself at the starting point, but you end up reborn exactly where you were, at the starting point. Death doesn’t seem to be a solution.

You find yourself back at the starting point. This time, you choose to listen to your inner ‘voice’ that guides you through ancient memories to Door 22. As you pass through each of the other doors…Doors 1, 2, 3, 4, 5…, you feel regret, sadness, and fear. You fear following a strange voice that keeps guiding you away from all these doors when so many others are going through them. You feel isolated and alone, for no one else seems to understand why you are ignoring all these other doors, without any ‘reason’. You are unable to explain, except by saying you are following your own path. This voice is called the voice of the soul, or sometimes ‘the call of God’. You follow this voice and you question it all the way, “Why are you asking me to open Door 22? Why do you want me to open Door 56? Why are these doors working? This doesn’t make sense at all.” This is called questioning and getting angry with God.

You find yourself back at the starting line. Your frustration has reached new peaks. You just want to get the journey done with. You blindly follow the voice, even when others laugh at you, and sometimes attack you. This is called “spiritual surrender”.

That ends the story. To summarize it all in another way:

  • All of us start out by following a map (pure and innocent)
  • At some point, we decide to ignore the map (known as losing our innocence, spiritual teenage, falling into Sin, eating the apple, birth of the ego etc.)
  • We keep go through a period of questioning everything – the map, our path, our purpose (birth of consciousness, need for freedom)
  • We reach a state of extreme tiredness and frustration, and want our repeating journey to be simple (we call this reincarnation and associated suffering. The learning from one journey transfers to the beginning of the next journey – we call this Karma)
  • We exhaust all our physical energy and decide to follow our soul’s guidance, our deepest instincts (we call this surrendering to God)
  • Our path ceases to restart after our ‘surrendered’ journey (we call this freedom from the cycle of birth and death)
  • We finally find peace (we call this Enlightenment, Mukti, Nirvana or Heaven)

Resolving Inferiority Complex using your Inner Truth

I was playing a video game (a first-person shooter for the interested) and I was unable to crack the current level. I kept dying and kept repeating the level, again and again and again. My frustration kept mounting over weeks (yup, that is how long I kept trying that particular level, attempting on weekends). And I suddenly felt a sense of inferiority – I had done well at school, had reasonable physical health and yet, a silly game was stumping me. Was I inferior or incomplete after all? Why did I keep attempting the game anyway?

Another situation – we apply to colleges and get rejected from many, selected in a few. Does it mean you are not intelligent? Does it mean that those who go to an Ivy League are more intelligent? If so, would you feel ‘inferior’ if they get paid more than you do?

You are a poor person who makes friends with a rich boy or girl. As they grow up, they are able to afford better education, able to get better jobs and live a ‘higher’ society life than you do. You feel unable to relate to them now, despite the fact that the two of you were the best of friends in childhood.

The common theme connecting the above is an inferiority complex – either caused by comparing yourself to yourself (poor videogame skills to say, great math skills) or by comparing yourself to another person out there (friends, colleagues, societal ‘elite’, businessmen, politicians, you name it). The end result of all such situations is not that you collapse, but that you are left with a feeling that you are ‘less’ or ‘incomplete’. In extreme situations, you might feel inferior to others (or to your self-concept of who you think you should be), but in most cases, this inferiority manifests as a vague unease that you are unable to put your finger on.

You choose to explore spirituality, out of desperation or to escape pain of some kind (physical, mental or emotional). Our pain is very specific to us. What pains us might hardly bother another person. And yet, you might end up asking, “Have I chosen the right path? If I continue to feel so inferior, and when other ‘non-spiritual’ folks continue to be happy and care-free, does it not mean that I am wrong?”

Inferiority manifests sometimes as a feeling of wrongness, in how we judge our lives, and our selves. Inferiority manifests as a feeling of incompleteness in how we view our life (so many goals not achieved and might never be achieved). Inferiority manifests in how we evaluate ourselves (in how inadequate our skills are, in how poor our knowledge is in so many areas, in how stupid we feel compared to others). Inferiority makes us feel stupid.

So, we need to ask – are we really stupid? Are we really incomplete? Are we really so ‘wrong’ inside? And when we have so much missing inside us, do we have the right to be happy?

  • When we are so stupid and incomplete, do we have the right to parent and admonish our child who is misbehaving?
  • When we are so stupid and incomplete and wrong, do we have the right to stand up to anything – against societal evils, or against those who tyrannize us? Do stupid incomplete people have the right to stand up to themselves?
  • When we are so stupid and incomplete, do we even deserve to be given a job (impostor syndrome)? Do we even deserve the paycheck we receive? Should we receive our paycheck with our head held up in dignity (not arrogance) or should we bow our heads in gratitude for what we receive? (Gratitude when used to hide inferiority is not true gratitude – only two equal persons can thank each other)

So many questions…and yet we struggle, wondering when we will feel better about ourselves. We read books on improving confidence, but those often seem artificial – talking loudly or confidently cannot hide the truth that you know within you – the truth that you don’t know all the answers.

When confidence boosting band-aids and pep talks no longer work for you, it is time to discard them for the artificiality they propagate. It is time to go to the root cause of the problem – you.

  • You feel inferior because you know the truth about yourself.
  • You feel inferior because you assume others know this truth about you.
  • You feel inferior because others seem to know more, even as you wonder where they learnt it all.
  • You feel inferior because others seem happy with false confidence, and you wonder why you can’t accept falseness too.
  • You start wondering if being honest with yourself is wrong. Maybe telling yourself the truth is not such a great thing. And yet…when you lie to yourself, it hurts – if you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust?

And therefore, you make a simple decision – it is okay to tell yourself the truth and be unhappy and inferior, rather than tell yourself lies and fake happiness. It is not just okay to tell yourself the truth, you can think of no other way to be ‘clean’ inside. Filling your mind with self-lies makes you feel dirty. You feel okay telling a few white lies to manage people around you (diplomatic, political reasons), but you are comfortable with nothing less than the cold truth when talking to yourself.

It is okay if your spectacles are dirty, but your mirror should always be clean. It is okay if your house has a dirty garden, as long as your interiors are clean. You realize you do not wish to be a golden boy or girl, but you want to be a clean one (on the inside, when you are talking to yourself).

  • You realize you are okay being incomplete, as long as you don’t lie to yourself about it.
  • You are okay being stupid, as long as you don’t lie to yourself about it.

And thus, you realize that the only thing that makes you feel inferior is not others’ judgment, but your own. You judge yourself as inferior still, but you are at peace with it.

And then you make a decision – it is okay to be stupid, as long as you are happy. It is okay to be incomplete as long as you are happy doing what you do.

And then you realize the next insight- your interests matter more than your expertise. It is okay to suck at a job, at a school subject or at a videogame, as long as you are interested in it.

You realize what makes you happy is not how good you are at something (how good a spouse, worker or parent you are). What makes you happy is the fact that you are doing what interests you, however badly you are doing it. You realize this is how children play – they don’t play games to win, they play games to …just have a good time.

Your interests have to come first, your expertise in your interest area second. You realize that it is important to ‘conquer’ the world, but it is possible to see what little you can in the life you have. And thus, you realize, the direction(s) in which you grow your life (equivalent to interests – plural) is more important than how far you go in life. It is okay to crawl two steps in the right direction than 100 steps in the wrong direction.

You change the way you evaluate your life. You realize that your interests and direction(s) of growth are what make you happy, not how good you are at something (as represented by your societal status or money you earn). It is okay to an average happy engineer than an unhappy excellent doctor.

All of us have talents, but our talents don’t often match our interests. Choose interests first, then use what limited talents you have to explore your interests. Our interests are individual (as is our life direction) unlike the distance we travel. When we no longer bother about going far, our ego disappears along with our inferiority complex. Our ego can only survive on comparison. Since our life direction / interests are binary (like/ don’t like), our ego has no chance to assert itself and declare you as superior or inferior to anyone on this planet or universe.

And thus, you reach three truths:

  • You choose nothing less than telling yourself the truth, for you can be happy no other way. Truth is what adds meaning to your life.
  • You embrace your truth, your incompetence and incompleteness, and realize you can never control how ‘complete’ you become in this life, or how far you travel or succeed.
  • You realize that what made your heart truly sing all along were your interests, which gave meaning and direction to your life.

By choosing direction over distance travelled, you attain inner peace. You no longer feel the need to be inferior or superior, you no longer feel the need to succeed. You rest.

Note:

Hinduism touches upon this indirectly through Karma Yoga – working for enjoyment, and not the fruit (or how many fruits you get). Money is important, but focusing on the fruits creates obsession (with money or success), superiority/ inferiority issues, egoistic judgments and suffering; but focusing on enjoying work will give you joy irrespective of whether you are successful or not.

Buddhism covers this through a general concept of detachment. Other religions such as Christianity and Islam approach it indirectly as well, but the above analysis comes out in them through scriptural interpretations by scholars rather than through explicit mainstream concepts. As always, all views expressed are personal interpretations, and are intended to show that whether we choose a non-religious path of spiritual consciousness or a faith-based religious one, all roads lead to the same goal – finding happiness, peace and joy within ourselves and the world.

Handling “What If” Existential Questions / Traversing Spiritual Confusion

Some of us wonder ‘what if’ our life had been different, would we have been happier? But I know some (myself included) have wondered, ‘what if’ our life had been different, would our life have been sadder?

Being cursed causes longing for a better life, and makes you miserable in the present. But feeling blessed (too much of it) can cause an overdose of gratitude, and guilt.

An overdose of sadness creates unhappiness, resentment and frustration. An overdose of happiness creates guilt, shame at being happy when others are not, and fear of your (happy) life being taken away by circumstances outside your control.

Therefore, while it is good to be grateful to everyone and the world for what you have, it is also good to recognize that you don’t have everything. If you are too ‘complete’, you suffer from ‘happiness pain’ – in the form of (1) guilt for having what you have and (2) fear of losing what you have.

If you are too undernourished by life (incomplete), you suffer from ‘sadness pain’, in the form of (1) frustration at what you have, and (2) anger and resentment at what you don’t have.

True bliss is not just elimination of sadness, it also requires us to give up happiness. This is true surrender – you need to surrender your sadness to God (or the universe), and you need to surrender your happiness too.

Then, if you surrender both happiness and sadness, what DO you have left? Just awareness of your thoughts, without judgment. All emotions arise because we judge our actions as good (‘happiness pain’) or bad (‘sadness pain’). When you are in pain, you will never be in a position to understand the pain of another human being or creature, and help them when required. When we break our leg, our own pain consumes us, leaving us blind and deaf to both, the beauty of the world and the pain of others.

The only way to be able to appreciate the beauty and understand the suffering of the universe is to first free yourself of all suffering and pain. Therefore, as they say in the scriptures, you tread a ‘golden mean’, you walk the ‘razor’s edge’ between hope and fear, between happiness and sadness. Only when you are walking on a bridge can you see both sides of a river.

People who don’t handle the ‘what if’ question well get misdiagnosed as having anxiety issues due to crippling fear or shame. Half of our psychological issues today are spiritual conundrums. It takes courage to walk through the mists of our confusion and come out clean and enlightened on the other side. Confusion is good – it indicates you have begun solving a problem. There are only two kinds of people who don’t ask questions – those who don’t care or are not aware enough to question, and those who have already asked the question and found answers on the other side.

Ignorance and enlightenment are two sides of a river, but the river in the middle is raging and flooded, with strong currents, and can easily sweep you away if you are not careful. As we swim through the river, we should make sure we are moving in the right direction. If you get too caught up in the river, you can be swept away into ‘insanity’ due to over-analysis. Some of us swim back to the original shore out of fear, preferring to live in ignorance and fear, rather than cross the river of wisdom.

The river of wisdom asks us to trust it, not worry about the way it is flowing but to merely cross it. Walk on the water, but don’t bathe in it. Swim, but don’t look back. If you do look back, focus on what you are gaining on the other side, than what you are losing on this side. If you must fear something, fear ignorance. But in the end, give up that fear too. An enlightened person comes to realize, understand and accept his/ her own ignorance, and therefore no longer fears it.

In the end, you realize that if you had been ignorant, you would never have asked ‘what if’. And when you are enlightened, you no longer ask ‘what if’. Because the answer to the question is simple – you can’t do everything, you can’t be everything. As long as you live, you have to make choices. As long as you make choices to do or be something, you are also simultaneously choosing NOT to do something else. Consequently, your life will always be incomplete.

When we cannot accept this incompleteness, we ask ‘what if’. When we accept this incompleteness, we no longer need to ask the question. We achieve contentment and peace.

What is Prayer? A Practical ‘Non-religious’ Guide

Ever made a decision? It could be about going to college, whether to take up a new job or stay at home vs going abroad. Sometimes, it becomes extremely confusing regarding which direction we should take in our lives.

In such situations, we run from pillar to post asking people for advice. The end result is that we get multiple pieces of advice from people who know a lot about the subject. And yet, you may feel discontented …a sense of malaise. None of their suggestions seem to work. People seem to know a lot about what to do in a situation, but somehow nothing strikes you as ‘right’ or ‘true’.

The missing link is you – you have asked everyone but yourself. We need to consider everyone’s inputs as just that…inputs. But the only person, I repeat, the only person, who needs to live with your decision is yourself. And therefore, you need to ask yourself what you want.

But how do you ask yourself? Can you truly see yourself? If you go to a mirror, you can see your reflection – but that is merely your body. You can’t see your mind to split apart the tangle of thoughts that trouble you. More importantly you can’t see your soul to talk to, not in the mirror anyway.

Different people have found different ways to address this. Some realize that inside us exist different energies – the energy of time exists inside us (the Hindus call this Shiva) – this same time energy produces new life through sex (again Shiva). Some see other energies inside themselves – the energy of fertility (we have another god for that), the energy of sustenance (another god) and so on and so forth. For every aspect that troubles us, we can find a god – this was the approach taken by Hinduism and even the Greeks (Zeus, Athena, Dionysus – God of wine etc.). And thus, to help us analyze different aspects of a problem, we try to find the ‘energy’ within us that is causing the problem. But it is often difficult to separate these energies for one who is struggling with self-awareness. Finding and asking this energy is easier if we can have an external representation of this energy.

But how do we create an external representation? The easiest way was to write a story about how this energy had its own ‘personality’, about how this energy was born and grew within us. We find these as stories of how gods were born or created, and how they used their powers to solve problems. The stories of gods are nothing but stories of how the equivalent energies were created within us. Once we have a story to help us understand the energy better, it is important to keep a bookmark of sorts, to quickly refer to the energy – we may even give this energy a name – Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma and the like. And we create a physical bookmark to help us remember the various energies within us – we call these idols.

And so, when we pray to an idol for help or advice, we are essentially asking ourselves for advice. We are talking to our souls.

However, having idols was not sufficient, people needed to relate to their soul in a more ‘human way’. Many of us struggle with the concept of the soul, especially if we are not very abstract-minded. And so, several religions created a ‘human’ manifestation of our soul. Hinduism refers to them as gurus, Christianity calls this person Jesus, Muslims may reach out to a Mullah, and the Jews to a Rabbi. These are human teachers who have been able to talk to their own souls. These teachers can’t talk to your soul – they cannot give you answers and it is dangerous to ever ask them ‘what to do’. Always approach a Guru, or Jesus, Mullah or Rabbi to ask them how YOU can find the answers BY YOURSELF. Seek guidance, not answers.

Realizing this, the Buddhists took it a step further. They eliminated God as a concept altogether, and directly talked to their soul through meditation. Many of us live in a noisy environment where everyone has an opinion on what we should do with our life. Sometimes, the only way to get away was go outside a city where no one knew you and where no one would interfere with your thought process. Today, we travel and take vacations to ‘get away for a bit’. In ancient days, people didn’t have that luxury- all around the city were forests and that is exactly where they went. They left their home and went away to a forest and meditated. What do I mean when I say meditated? It simply means roaming freely outside and inside your mind allowing your thoughts to flow freely, till you find the path that works for you. That is the crux of meditation, not sitting cross-legged and repeating words or chants. Meditation that can’t help you be happy or make a decision produces few results, unless you like chanting as a hobby. Chanting can give you peace, only because you have blocked everything else out. But blocking out the world can never solve your problems; it only exacerbates them further.

Christians created a two-step process – a God that represented our soul, and a teacher – Jesus who died like any other human on the cross. The life of Jesus was only to show that we are all Jesus too – if a carpenter was able to see his soul and be happy, so could you. Muslims looked to their Prophet for guidance in finding God (soul). But the Prophet couldn’t be everywhere and so they created Mullahs, not very different from priests in their function.

The end goal of this system was to help people be happy, not create a ‘religion membership club’ of Hindus, Muslims or Christians. The aim of every one of the original teachers in each of our religions, however small or large, was to help people find peace WITHIN themselves. Many religions realized that they could not accurately describe such abstract concepts in a boring manner. No one would have read a blog on religion or faith, if written like a philosophy thesis. So, they used stories and examples. A collection of these stories and examples became the Bhagwad Gita, Bible, Koran, Buddha Charita and the Guru Granth Sahib. All of these writings refer to the same entity- our soul.

Following one religion over another is merely a choice of PATH. In reaching a destination, some may prefer to take a train and enjoy the view. Some of us may be disabled and may prefer flying. Some may prefer to sneak into a cargo ship and hide till the ship reaches the port and then escape to our destination when the captain isn’t looking. These different methods are effectively the various religions today. Sometimes, it is not possible to reach a place purely by flying. You may have to get down at an airport and then take a cab, for instance. Similarly, Hinduism or Christianity may not answer all your questions, you may have to refer to Buddhism or Islam for part of your journey. And then perhaps transfer to Zen for the last mile- and vice versa. We need all our teachers; we need all our religions, to complete our journey. One teacher alone cannot provide all of our answers, just like one single friend or just your spouse can’t fulfill all your emotional needs. We need many friends, we need many teachers, we need many religions to find our path to our soul.

With the help of these teachers, we can talk to our souls. We need silent spaces where no one will disturb us – we call these temples, churches, mosques and well, even ‘sitting under a tree’. Sometimes, our homes can be the most silent place we know – then our home becomes our church or mosque or temple or gurudwara. Every place on Earth (and even the universe or Milky Way) is a religious place of worship. And when I say worship, it does not mean putting your soul on a pedestal because it is superior, it simply means listening. You can’t talk to your soul; you can only listen. Hence, we call this worship – we listen and understand and follow our soul’s path.

And thus, when we worship, we pray. When we say prayer, it simply means listening. When we say listening, it simply means we seek guidance, not to fulfill some higher magic purpose of a revengeful god, but for the simple down-to-earth reason of being happy and at peace. Only our souls know what can make us happy, at work or at home. All we need to do is learn to listen to our souls, hence we look towards teachers or scriptures. But often, we pray.

How to choose what will make you happy?

Photo by Gabriela Palai on Pexels.com

“Try it! Unless you try it, you will never know the pleasures it will give you!” I hear this repeated regarding a number of decisions we are forced to make by an unconscious society – they force us to ‘try’ educational choices, ‘try’ career options, ‘try’ marriage, ‘try’ drugs, ‘try’ unhappiness.

Indeed, how do we know what makes us happy, before we even commit to an action? How do we know if something will drive us crazy before we commit to it?

Some people jump off a cliff and enjoy bungee jumping. Some step back in aversion (I say aversion, not fear).

People who force you to do things usually judge your happiness by their own. They judge your sadness by their own. They find it difficult to accept and understand that you may be different, that you may have a different life purpose, a different calling in life.

They fail to realize that certain decisions like marriage, drugs or alcohol are life changing, one-way paths to a prison for your soul. They fail to realize that you can have different thoughts from they. They fail to accept you as an individual, for they do not realize themselves as individuals. People who have never completed their own process of individuation and separateness can never see the same in others.

It is not commonalities that bind us to others, but our isolation. The more isolated we feel from our friends, family, peers and society, the more we learn to accept and appreciate our unique differences.

And we come back to our original question: how do we know? Who is telling us we will be unhappy?

We can either learn from our own mistakes or the mistakes of others. Those who listen to external voices and pressures seldom experience bliss. Such foolish people ask questions such as if five people jump off a cliff and die, how do you know you will die too? They encourage you to jump off the cliff too. They encourage you to look at one side of the equation- the joy of jumping and ignore the death imminent below.

Such people lead unconscious, shallow, artificial lives and fail to see the truth in others. They fail to understand that what make our lives are not situations, but how we respond to them. Since they live lives running from the truth, they close their own eyes and encourage you to close your eyes as well.

They see freedom as doing what everyone else is doing, not in trying something new. They see happiness as following others’ paths even if they lead nowhere, for they know no other path.

Thus, we arrive at a few critical questions:

  • If a path is right for everyone, why is everyone not equally happy on that path? (Education choices, marriage, drugs, alcohol, food, living situation)
  • If that path is not right for everyone, why should you not choose another path?
  • Will a new path guarantee that you will be happy? Not really.
  • If so, why choose a different path, when there is no more guarantee of you being happy, compared to the standard path that others have taken?
  • What is different in the sadness you experience on your own path, as compared to the sadness you experience on another’s path (that you were forced into)?
  • The only difference is that on your own path – you have the ability to accept what comes your way.
  • Experiencing sadness on another’s path leads to blame, regret and suffering. Experiencing happiness on another’s path leads to you manipulating others and forcing others to follow that path, just like you were forced earlier. Suffering inside you creates more suffering in others – passing it on from generation to generation.
  • The only way to cease suffering, sorrow and unhappiness is to break free of forcing others to follow the path you choose. The only way to stop forcing others is by choosing your own path. The only way to choose your own path is by finding yourself.

Thus, you transform your consciousness to a higher state:

  • You break your family and peers’ cycle of suffering and choose your own path, consciously.
  • You accept the choices you made and own both, the happiness you receive and the sadness you receive.
  • The peace you achieve by accepting the path you have chosen through separateness will help you encourage others to find their own path, and not create any further ‘first-hand’ suffering.

True peace does not come from the ability to choose our life path, but from the ability to accept the rewards and consequences of our life path. When you blame no one for your choices, you achieve peace. Peace is responsibility, responsibility is freedom, freedom is choice, choice is listening to your inner voice- your soul.

Why do we become Conscious?

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I sat asking this question to myself, for even if you awaken spiritually, and become fully conscious, it is not sufficient to satisfy our mind. It wants to know why we are conscious too.

Given that my mind is the instrument I use to talk to my soul, it is a circular question – effectively becoming equivalent to my mind asking why it has done something. It is similar to you picking up a cup absent-mindedly and wondering, why you picked it up.

Upon pondering this further, we come to the realization that if we have ‘woken up’, we must have been asleep. And if we had been asleep, our minds must have been working in the background, and thus we must have lived a dream until now. Therefore, our entire life until now was a dream. And we merely awoke.

What woke us? Was it an alarm of sorts? Yes – but the alarm was inside you – the voice of your soul. Your soul is the alarm that keeps ringing for 2 hours, while you keep pressing the snooze button trying to go back to sleep. Ah, isn’t sleep wonderful? Society’s job is to keep you asleep. Society is your personal sandman, built by you to keep you asleep.

Then what woke you up now, and not earlier? Well, for some of us, it takes time to listen to our soul alarm, some of us are deeper sleepers. Some of us are too tired to hear the alarm, and prefer to ignore it and remain asleep. Some of us are in pain, similar to being caught in a fire and suffocating to death, but have no energy to get up and get out of the fire – in short to wake up. So, we have remained asleep until now, remained unconscious so to speak.

Why did we fall asleep then? Perhaps we arrived from a long journey, from another plane. Time is relative – on this plane, we may sleep for hours at night; but from an existential perspective, we have slept for lifetimes. Circumstances have changed around us, civilizations may have risen and fallen and yet we slept through it all. Such was our exhaustion, lethargy and the compelling nature of our circumstances. Perhaps our mind, body and soul were too injured in our journey to this plane and needed to recover. Unconsciousness was the only way it could gain rest. And rested it has, for eons.

Waking for us, becoming spiritually conscious, has thus been a struggle similar to waking up from sleep. We resist it at first, happy in our dreams. Until we begin to feel our body tossing about on our bed. But we roll over and go back to sleep. We prefer our dreams to the reality that awaits upon awakening. But soon, our dreams turn into nightmares, we suffer. There is no escape from this suffering, the nightmare seems to have no end.

That is when we realize there is no way to end this suffering, this nightmare, except by waking up. Sleep seems to be a poor choice to the light streaming through our windows from the sunlight of our soul. Our soul urges us to wake up and we finally listen to our alarm, gratefully this time and wake up.

Once fully awake, we wonder- how anyone could ever have fallen asleep when a beautiful morning is beckoning us from outside. We wonder how we never heard the birds chirping before, caught up in the mists of our unconscious state. We look around us and see our world still asleep – we try to wake our peers but realize only a few stir.

We write blogs, give sermons, conduct seminars on awakening, yet no one seems to want to awaken. Everyone is able to hear your words, but they seem to be present physically and mentally and absent spiritually. All you are able to do is hope that something of what you said has penetrated their dreams.

Why? The only thing you can hope for… as an awake, conscious person is to help others realize they are sleeping when their nightmares begin. For all of us have uncomfortable dreams, even the best of us. Those who don’t realize it is a dream suffer, those who do quickly jump up on the bed and glance around wide-eyed. We realize we cannot make others conscious, only help them know they are dreaming when ‘they’ decide it is time for them to wake up.

We realize consciousness was our solitary journey – everyone wakes up at different times. Our waking is not in our control, our sleeping was not in our control either. We can only wait for others to join us, as we plod to our spiritual kitchen and get ourselves a cup of coffee.

Will we fall asleep again? Very possibly, for we may get tired being awake forever. Thus, we realize consciousness is not a goal, but an interval for us to enjoy before we gratefully embrace sleep again at the start of the next leg of our spiritual journey to the nothingness we came from.