A Woman’s Guide to Enlightenment

Before going ahead, this is not an article that takes a feminist point of view or argues about biological vs. moral constructs. This article is for those of us who accept and love our sexuality the way it is. Genders as we know them are different but equal. Equal does not mean same, and as men and women, we experience life differently, and those differences are what make the world beautiful. This article is one version of the truth and may not resonate with you. There are many truths out there – as always, I encourage everyone to find his/ her own truth and thereby inner peace.

Every woman has inside her a man, and every man has inside him a woman. These two parts play together to create externally what we call men and women. Meditation, self-realization and doing meaningful work are but a few ways to realize the truth of who we are. But there is no more deeply-felt experience than childbirth, which is realized differently by men and women. Parents, male and female, find meaning through their children, through an outpouring of love or by using their children to achieve their dreams, whether rightfully or wrongfully so.

Man and woman come together to find companionship, attracted by what they do not perceive within themselves. Men who have found the truth within their feminine (or anima) will cease to need women to fulfil their needs. Women who have found the truth within their masculine natures will cease to need men to fulfil their needs.

All of us are on different points of maturity in our life paths and cycles. Consequently, many men and women find attraction a natural route to finding meaning and fulfilment. As men and women come together, they make love. Man releases his sperm into Woman, where it is received by the egg and forms into a zygote.

Men who procreate thus, define themselves by their giving energy. They give away a part of themselves in the hope of creating something new. And yet, that very sperm is generated by the food he eats, which is produced by the soil, which is in turn fertilized by cattle manure, which in turn was produced by cattle eating plants that grew from the soil. Thus, man partakes of the world, to not produce something new, but to re-produce what was already existent in a new form (sperm).

Similarly, women create eggs through their food, which in turn came from the soil, which was fertilized through cattle manure, which in turn was produced by cattle eating plants that grew from the soil. Thus, woman partakes of the world to not produce something new, but re-produce, what was already existent, in a new form (egg).

Thus, sperm and egg are not part of Man or Woman, but actually the external world re-manifesting itself within Man and Woman. This external world then further interacts through sex, where the sperm fertilizes the egg and creates a zygote and thereafter a foetus. As can be seen, given that both sperm and egg do not belong to the parents, neither can the foetus. And thus, a separate manifestation of the universe is created within the womb.

Woman experiences this more personally, given her uterus is the crucible for this transformation. Her body is for a time inseparable from the foetus, and thus Woman can often mistake the foetus for being a part of herself. But while the foetus is bodily part of Woman, it eventually separates creating its own body and sustaining itself. When Woman sees this separation, she remembers only the earlier fusion of her body with the foetus, and this creates the illusion (Maya) that her child is a part of her, just as there was the illusion that her egg was part of her. When Woman’s body is created through ingesting food from the outside, and when her body’s cells die and regenerate many times across her life (including skin, bones, red cells, white cells), it follows that Woman’s body itself is also not her own, but is merely a different form of energies from the external world.

Thus, by meditating (this is not thinking, but by relaxed observation), Woman realizes her body is not hers, and never was. Her eggs were not hers and never were. And thus, her child is also not hers, and never will be. Then, one can ask, what DOES belong to Woman? In a nutshell, nothing. But then we have used the phrase, “her” body- which implies there is still an owner inside Woman- we call this the soul.

When Woman realizes thus that the only part of her existence that is stable is her soul, and that every part of her body is constantly being washed and refreshed anew, she realizes her body is merely a river (or channel) that is collecting “water” from the outside world in the form of food or sperm, which is being washed away into the “sea” in the form of skin cells, menstrual blood, and even children. Thus, Woman becomes a mere observer – she realizes stillness in the stability of her soul and quietly observes the attachment of matter to her soul (in the form of body, sperm, foetus) and detachment of matter from her soul (in the forms mentioned above).

Man, too goes through a similar process, but is more detached as he does not experience the bodily attachment and detachment of menses or children from the womb. Thus, there are a lot more articles out there advising solitude and meditation for Man, for he realizes himself through independence and detachment.

For Woman, detachment is harder to realize, given the bodily attachments created through the cycle of life. And thus, Woman realizes her truest deepest self through going deeper into her Attachments. Just as the world attaches itself to Woman, people too have historically placed expectations on Woman, in one form or the other. Women who receive easily, who wish to please and be peaceful, find it difficult to realize their true selves in the flood of such societal expectations.

But then, we see that just as the body, and children themselves are not the truest parts of Woman, external expectations and thoughts are also not part of Woman. Just as food attaches itself to Woman’s body to create matter and lets go of Woman as cells, menses and children; societal thoughts attach themselves to Woman’s mind and can easily be let go – all that Woman needs to do is to meditate and observe the external nature of these thoughts and expectations, and allow them to flow back (wash away) into the world in the form of a river.

By understanding the many parts of her outer self and its creation, Woman thus comes to realize that she is not responsible for whether she is beautiful or not (she has no control over the formation of her body- the world attributes beauty to her if it wants to). Woman comes to realize she is not responsible for whether she is competent or not (the world attaches expectations to her, whenever they want to). Woman comes to realize she is not her children (they attached themselves to her, and left her when the time was right).

The above Detachment does not remove compassion, but the realization of truth frees Woman to not take life’s events personally, and love her children for who they truly are as independent souls (and not out of biological obligation because they are part of her). Detachment frees Woman to adopt if she wishes to, for her body is no different from any child on the street (for both were created by the same Universe). If her body is no different from any child on the street, then Woman realizes that her body is no different from any child on the planet, irrespective of gender or race (for all were created by the same Universe).

Both male and female children are created within Woman’s womb, and thus male and female are both part of Woman. Thus, Woman realizes that gender is merely a form that the Universe has taken to make things easy for reproducing itself (Universe). Thus, Woman stops worrying about whether her gender is right or wrong, treated fairly or unfairly, or whether she should do something or not. Woman realizes she creates children whose potential is as yet undefined and needs to be discovered through play, exploration, teaching and compassion. Thus, she realizes her potential (due to her body linked to her children) is also undefined and is open to discovery and exploration.

Are there limits to what Woman can do? Yes. But those limits are not something that need to be defined by external factors, but are to be discovered by Woman herself. Some women may find their talents lie in education, while some other women may find learning difficult. Limits are not wrong; limits define the shape and boundaries of your body and mind. The important thing is to discover those limitations by exploring the most of yourself and trying out as many things as you can, rather than letting anyone else define them for you.

Woman realizes that however competent or incompetent she is in this world, that competence is just a form taken by the universe to attach itself to her soul. But her soul itself has neither capability nor limitation.

Thus, Woman by experiencing her deepest fears, pains, flaws, experiences and attachments, comes to realize her true self independent of her body, thoughts and mind. She comes to connect to the soul within. In realizing her soul, she comes to realize Truth and thereby Enlightenment (Moksha, Nirvana or Heaven).

How to choose what will make you happy?

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“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.

Understanding Peace

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Peace is one of the most difficult needs to explain to another, for people in general do not understand peace. People who do not understand peace, seek refuge in noise – the noise of crowds and relationships. Such people who do not understand others’ need for peace will never understand the concepts of privacy, space and calmness.

Why do unpeaceful people not understand peace? For their souls are filled with suffering and noise. The only way they can drown out their own noise is by clanging objects and people around them. One who has terrific noise within, can only achieve silence by creating a greater noise outside his mind to distract him or her. It is best to never form a relationship with such people, for their noise within will create noise within you as well.

Thus, you realize that the only way to be ‘happy’ is to have peace. Peace is the subtext of all happiness, sorrows, ups and downs of life. We do not desire happiness for that is merely a fleeting high. We do not desire freedom from sadness, for every time you try something, you will either get what you want or not- which will either make you happy or unhappy. This is natural.

Thus, we replace:

Achieving Happiness and Sadness, with

Wanting something, getting it or not getting it,

Accepting what we get, and accepting that we may not get everything,

This acceptance is peace.

Those who aim at happiness or only achievement live a half-life, and never truly accept both sides of the coin above. Their half-life results in deep un-peace. Their un-peace translates into our suffering. The question we need to ask such people is: “Why are you not at peace with the way I live my life?”

Their answer will most likely create more noise and suffering within themselves and within you.

When you try to explain peace, unpeaceful people cannot understand it, for peace cannot be explained, only experienced. Peace only has a negative definition, not a positive one – peace is the absence of noise.

Happiness, on the other hand, has a positive definition – it involves goals to achieve, things to do, places to see, people to meet. But peace underlies the success or failure of these events. If you succeed in finding what you want, you will be happy and at peace. If you fail in achieving what you desire, you will be sad, but very much again at peace.

Peace is the constant beneath it all. Peace is silence. Peace is nothingness. Nothingness can only ever be explained by the absence of ‘things’. The absence of sadness is peace, The absence of happiness is also peace.

Once you pursue peace as your overarching goal, every other aspect of your life falls into place and begins to make sense.

  • You need boundaries to achieve peace
  • You need to give up the concept of right and wrong to achieve peace
  • You need privacy to achieve peace
  • You need truth to achieve peace
  • You need silence to achieve peace
  • You need financial independence, but not necessarily riches, to achieve peace
  • You need contentment to achieve peace
  • You need a spiritual backbone to achieve peace
  • You need emotional intelligence to achieve peace
  • You need to die internally (ego, false self) to achieve peace
  • You need to accept bodily death to achieve living peace
  • You need to accept others’ lives and life paths to achieve peace
  • You need to respect others’ boundaries to achieve peace
  • You need to respect others’ privacy to achieve peace
  • You need to help others achieve peace, if required, to achieve your own peace
  • You need to make peace with the fact that others may never understand you
  • You need to make peace with the fact that others may never find peace
  • You need to make peace with the fact that you may be alone (but not lonely) in your peace
  • You need to make peace with the fact that some relationships may fall away as you seek peace
  • You need to be alert to relationships that can teach you more about peace

In the end, you will find yourself making peace with the last frontier, all forms of noise and un-peace.

Realizing your True Self- Understanding the Meaning of Surrender

One of the hardest or shall I say most difficult concepts to understand in spirituality is surrender.

Most people view surrender as just giving up their life’s duties and trusting it all to God or Life or Nature or the name they prefer for a higher power. Surrender is not abdication of your responsibilities. Which brings us to the next question- who are you responsible for? And equally importantly, who are you responsible to?

We are born with our bodies and minds. Some of us are born intelligent, some of us not so. I shall be straightforward here, but it takes intelligence to know you are intelligent, but a far greater intelligence to know you are not the most intelligent. Only an intelligent person can know how dumb he or she is, how little he/ she knows. It is therefore easy to get caught up in an appreciation of our intelligence, for who better can appreciate the vastness, diversity and uniqueness of our intelligence than ourselves? Some of us are given parents who constantly point out how intelligent we are, in school and college – this adds to our misconception that our intelligence is ours – that our intelligence belongs to us.

Let us go into this delusion further and see where it leads us.

Intelligence is not just about our minds but about our bodies too. A beautiful woman is born with a body that is ‘intelligent’ enough to realize the power of attractiveness. Her looks help open doors to jobs, relationships and networks that others may find more difficult to access. This is no less true for an intelligent man, but given the role of biology as it plays out, a man may likely create or pursue a persona of power, as compared to a persona of vulnerability and trust that a woman may pursue. Again, all of us are both male and female to varying extents and a woman can rely on her masculine side to obtain power as much as a man can rely on charm (his feminine side) to get ahead. So, we see that our bodies are intelligent too, not just our minds.

Our protagonists above are often ignorant of this fact and attribute this intelligence to themselves. They begin taking credit for all of their social and professional success and thanks to magazines that idolize success, social media that encourages likes and shares, this is not difficult. This goes on until they age. Death comes to us all, not just in bodily form (where we leave our bodies) but also to our minds (say we get Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s). Sometimes, our minds simply age, our memories begin to fade, our hands are not that steady any more, our skin begins to wrinkle. We rush to combat these through medication, Botox and any other boosters we can lay our hands on. But over time, skin that is Botoxed begins to harden into ugliness, minds that are ‘boosted’ through drugs begin to atrophy into rigidity.

Our creativity begins to decline, whether we fight death or not. The only difference is, when we do not fight death, our bodies and minds age gracefully – our bodies become softer and warmer to look at (our grandparents?), our minds become less ambitious and easier to live with once they are free of ambition. In short, surrender to death makes us beautiful, makes our journey worthwhile. Fighting death brings to the surface the ugliness that we so desperately seek to hide.

Does surrender to death make us less ugly, less unattractive? Hardly. Just as milk boils and releases cream, our bodies release beauty to balance our ugliness as we age. But putting a lid on boiling milk, we only cause spillage and a mess, and lose our appetite for the vey milk that we boil. Then we can ask, if we are boiling milk and see it as an analogy to aging and the fight against death, who is boiling us- our bodies and minds? We realize the presence of something outside us, or perhaps inside us that seems to have the master control over our lives. This realization is one part of surrender.

We can take this a step further – for if death is indeed releasing us from our bodies and minds by an act of God, surely the same God had attached us to our minds and bodies during birth. This takes us to the natural questions – what do we mean by ‘us’? What is this ‘us’ that our bodies and minds are being attached to at birth, and what is this ‘us’ that our bodies and minds are being detached from upon death? It is to be noted here that we see our minds as separate from ourselves, our we would never use phrases like ‘my mind is not working today’ or ‘my legs are troubling me lately’. Clearly, we subconsciously realize that is something else separate within us, beyond our bodies and minds, beyond our physical power and intellect. We can call this our soul, our deepest true self, our primal self.

Different religions make an attempt to describe this – Hinduism tries to help you realize the existence of your soul through renunciation – giving up possessions, wealth, eventually your food, air and the body itself. During this process, you come to realize that however much you give up, something inside you refuses to die – that is your soul. Christians are shown this path through Jesus dying on the cross – Jesus decided to show a path rather than giving too many steps like the Hindus – he has essentially said ‘Try out death for yourself, and you will see what doesn’t die’. Now, death here does not mean suicide, but the experiencing death in the form of loss of our families, relationships, jobs, careers, possessions and the like. Any loss feels like death – it pains us, rips our heart apart. As the Buddhists say, when something is dying, let it die. If your job is being taken away from you despite your best efforts, let go. If your marriage is failing despite all you are doing, let it go. Let things die around you.

When you let things die around you, you master death. For now, death instead of being a force acting against you becomes a tool that helps you wash away the old and ring in the new. Death is a shower; death is a bath with soap and shampoo after a day in the sewers. Death cleans you. You begin to make friends with Death, you embrace change.

You then realize, Death is not always available at your command. True- you can kill things on your own through divorce, a job resignation or a yard sale of unwanted property. But often, Death comes calling when you are not ready or have asked for it. Who has asked Death to come to you? Who decided you needed a shower for you were stinking from not having taken a bath for years? Just like you can’t control when it rains, you also can’t control when Death decides you need a cleansing shower. Death is God in disguise, cleansing you, closing doors you no longer need, opening doors you don’t have the courage or foresight to open on your own. Death is your best friend, and sometimes Birth (of the wrong relationships, jobs, families or friends) can be your worst enemy. You realize you trust Death. This is surrender.

We now reach the next level of questioning – how do I know what I should do, and what I should trust to God in the forms of Birth and Death? You will never know – think of God as your boss who never interferes in your work but allows you complete freedom to make a mess of things at the office. He/she steps in only when you are messing up in the wrong way. Messing things up is perfectly fine as we now understand, for if we are going off path, we experience corrections in our life by either getting things added to our life or removed from our life. So, if we need to allow God to be our boss, we need to allow things to be added or removed. Let us remember, Death is our best friend, not the friends we talk to everyday. If Death decides to remove our friends because you want to marry someone against their wishes, let it be. If Death decides to allow you to start your own company by sacking you from your job, let it be. Therefore, the only way Death can be our friend is through keeping our other relationships on earth ‘loose’. We call this detachment, best explained in Buddhism. Detachment is what helps us prioritize the main relationship in our life, with God, allowing him to do his work. God does his work anyway – the difference is whether you accept his (her) decisions with understanding or you accept his/ her decisions kicking and screaming. Accepting God’s decisions comes through understanding- this understanding reduces our suffering when Death comes knocking. This is surrender.

We now come to the final part of surrender. If we decide surrender is the only way to live, it becomes a religion and cult, rather than a philosophical guide. Our ultimate act should be surrendering surrender itself. Do not accept surrender as the true way, do not force others to surrender – instead surrender yourself to their lack of knowledge. Do not force yourself to accept or apply this article, you are free to surrender this article too.

Thus, as its final parting gift, surrender teaches you that the only person you can control, the only person you can make decisions for regarding surrender is yourself. No one else. By allowing you to surrender everything, including surrender itself, it leaves you with the greatest gift of all- complete, personal freedom of the soul.

Learning to Die Gracefully- Everyday

I have seen this occur to many people I know. You get a new job, and you fear leaving what you have. You get a chance to relocate, and you fear what lies ahead. Cliched I know, filled across the web with advice on stepping out into the unknown, bridging your fears….yawn, I know.

But if you are the first in your circle of friends or family doing something untried, be assured of resistance. Not from the outside, but first from within you. You might begin to feel like a part of you is dying. Your ego has become too attached to what you have. You know that feeling of being stuck- you ARE stuck, or more precisely, your ego is to something that is no longer you.

The beautiful thing is….yes, a part of you is dying. You just need to let it die.

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There can be no new life without death.

You feel scared primarily because you have defined yourself as only your past. When you realize you are also your present, and your future, you realize that you haven’t lost anything- you were only aware of one part of yourself.

Now, you might ask, why is the present and future part of me, when I have not lived it yet? To answer that, you need to understand things beginning with your birth. Before you were born, who were you? Did you have a past before you were born? If so, you are currently living the “future” of your past life — you think your life’s movie started only when you were born, but your birth was merely an intermission in a far longer life. Your birth was merely a gateway to what you are living right now. So, there is no more getting over a “past” because you are already living a “future” of sorts. If you don’t believe in reincarnation, I suggest you read “Many Lives, Many Masters” by Brian Weiss, and his experiments with regression therapy.

But, I shall also offer one more perspective. When do you fear “losing” something? Only when you have it in the first place. You didn’t have your past earlier- it has only now become your past. Tomorrow, this post on Quora will be part of your past and you may fear not finding it. So, fundamentally, you fear losing the past because you think it “belongs” to you.

Your experiences don’t belong to you, they are already part of you. Let me give you an analogy. Think of yourself as a meal/ curry — earlier you were the vegetables in your childhood, over time life has added a bit of oil, some butter, some spices and you have become a complete curry now. You are not the vegetables, you are now a curry. Letting go of the past is the only way for life to convert you into a curry, a meal, something nice and appreciated. Now, thinking you are no longer a vegetable is truth, but realizing that life has made you into a lot more is also truth.

Now the question arises, what is my true nature? I was a vegetable earlier, now I am a curry. Or a better analogy- you were a caterpillar earlier, then you were a pupa in a cocoon, and then you became a moth/ butterfly. Does the butterfly miss being a caterpillar? Maybe. But is it also the caterpillar? Yes. So, your true nature is the past, but it is also the present. And soon, your true nature will also be the future, for today’s present will become a part of you. Life ADDS to you, it doesn’t exchange your past and give you a new present- it BUILDS on your past and gives you a present, and then a future.

You become more complete as you move through life. But what you miss is the feeling of incompleteness, the hope that you would one day be complete (which you had in your childhood). And now that you are more complete (not fully, for that is an ongoing process), you wonder, now that I am complete, I have nothing more to look forward to. My advice, stop looking forward to anything and life will present you with something to excite you- a child never looks forward to growing up, and he/she is happy. You miss that feeling of incompleteness which you had as a child. But when you realize you are still incomplete, you have a lot to look forward to, you attain peace.

Fear is felt when you lose something, but you neither lose nor gain anything with time. You merely see different versions of yourself. And one day, when you move on from this world, your future of today will become an “intermission” of sorts before the next act begins. Your life movie was incomplete before you were born, it will remain incomplete tomorrow however much you try to “complete” everything in this life.

So I leave you with this…it is only once “you” as you know yourself die, that your real true self can come to life.

The Beginning- Listening to your Soul

Every one of us begins our childhood with a recognition of our needs. A recognition that our feelings matter. What we think matters. What we say matters.

Over time, we lose touch with this deeper self. Our family ‘teaches’ us to respond to them first, and ignore our feelings. These are done in subtle ways- guiding you as a baby to come to them, increasing your attachment to them which in turn is reciprocated.

However, attachment is not affection. A dog that you keep as a pet is dependent on you for food, and thus becomes attached to you. We perceive this as affection – but this is little more than dependence of the dog on you for sustenance. A baby is no different from a dog in its attachment- it is born cute to attract others to it, highlight its vulnerability and thereby survive. Endearment that results is of usually two levels – one at the attachment level that helps the baby survive; and the second at an affection level that respects the baby’s needs to eat or not eat, poop or not poop. A baby is thus protected and also respected.

As we grow older, we are encouraged to ignore our feelings of self-respect. Society beats us down. Our parents, friends, teachers, colleagues beat us down. They insist that your feelings are not as important as theirs, your goals (however subtle or unformed) are not as important as theirs. This results in a significant contradiction – it is only a person who can feel his or her feelings who can actually create or visualize what kind of life he or she wants. A person who is encouraged not to feel his/ her emotions can never move to the next step of visualizing his or her ideal life. All vision is born of emotions.

It is surprising that while vision is naturally born of our emotions, we are asked to be ambitious, have goals to travel to far-reaching places – but paradoxically we are asked to let go of any self-respect we have for our emotions. Family and friends urge us to aim high, but settle low. The soul can only ask, it is not capable of shouting. Our souls whisper to us through emotions – emotions are the language by which our souls talk to us one way. We cannot talk back to our souls – our soul was here first.

This leads to the next obstacle. The moment we abandon listening to our emotions and respecting them, the moment we stop listening to our soul, we have effectively begun using our body to accomplish the desires of another soul – one belonging to your peers or friends or family. I say that the ‘soul belongs to another’ but in reality our bodies were given to our souls. You were made your soul’s keeper, to listen to it and nourish it and respect it, to acknowledge it and help its deepest unspoken needs flower and flourish.

Our soul’s needs are simple and they rarely differ from one person to the other. Our souls simply ask for freedom and space to grow, and be unique. Our job as the gatekeeper of our soul is to use our body, our senses – our sight, touch, smell, taste and hearing, to honor our soul. You are the only one your soul can talk to – if you don’t listen to it, you are doing it a great disservice. This is your sole mission in life- to listen to your soul.

Mark our language earlier – we said our job is to be the gatekeeper of our soul. We are the listeners and executors, our soul is the speaker and expressor. Thus, we realize we are of two parts- we have a soul, we have a gatekeeper inside us, and we have a set of tools – our body as a container, our senses as receptors and our mind as a processor to help us achieve our soul’s asking.

This is where we have to take care and execute with wisdom. Freedom can be achieved by peaceful means – a live and let live philosophy; or freedom can be achieved through war and bloodshed. The second method makes you no better than our previous aggressors who asked us to abandon listening to our souls. By choosing war and bloodshed (this may be emotional or physical war, a domestic fight to coerce someone to do what you want or an inter-country peace process), we become the very enemy we are trying to escape. If you recall, we started listening to our souls because others were trying to make us listen to theirs. If you listen to your soul and try to achieve freedom and space by making others listen to your soul (instead of their own soul), we transform into the very people who were attacking us earlier and end up tyrannizing others.

Each of us has a soul – a separate soul and it behooves us to listen to no other soul than our own. It also behooves us to encourage others to listen to their own souls and no other. Thus, we realize the concept of boundaries – of separateness and individuality that is so essential for inner harmony (with our own souls) and outer harmony (coexistence and mutual respect of different souls side by side- what we call live and let live in the truest sense).

Thus, we begin our journey to peace, happiness and fulfillment by one simple act of listening – not to the noise outside us but to the silent voice within us that urges us to greatness. Does greatness mean becoming the President? Hardly. Greatness for the soul is just being true to what it asks. You are great if you are a carpenter, you are great if you clean the sewers, you are equally but no greater if you are the king. Our souls are equal – it is our execution that lends to our lives’ different shades and flavors. Some of us execute freedom in the material world, some within our families – nourishing children, some as travelers seemingly seeing all and achieving nothing in a material sense. All of these lives are equal for all of their souls are equal in value – it is only their external manifestations that differ.

Thus, listening to our souls provides us not just individuality and separateness, freedom and peace but also equality in its deepest sense. You rest in the idea that you are equal – no more superior or inferior to anyone else. And when you realize the inner equality you share with every human being and animal and plant on this planet, you cease to evaluate by external appearances. You cease judgment and embrace universal acceptance. When I say acceptance, it is not to make you feel ‘ high’ temporarily for that is merely your ego; but it is to help you realize acceptance in the truest sense of not expecting anything from others around you. Acceptance does not mean pitying others whom we consider have inferior manifestations/ lives or idolizing others whom we consider have superior manifestations/ lives (for that would go against our realization that all of us are equal).

Acceptance means simply knowing that we are all equal in our efforts to simply listen to our soul. Acceptance means respecting others’ needs to listen to their own soul and not yours, or vice versa. Acceptance means respecting your need to listen to your own soul and gently push away those who try to impinge on us. Acceptance means realizing we are all on our individual soul journeys, some of which appear bright on the outside and some of which appear dull on the outside. Dull is no less than bright – gold however beautiful cannot be used to construct your home, and iron however strong is rarely used in delicate jewelry. Each of us has our place in the world and this acceptance, respect and peace comes to us by one simple act – when we listen to our soul.

That one act constitutes the beginning.

We Are Too Afraid To Be Lazy

And too attached to being active

Photo by Zhang Kenny on Unsplash

We seem to be attached to energy levels. We judge others by it. We evaluate partners by the energy they show, our colleagues by how they use it and ourselves by the level we are at.

Active people are shamed when they are lazy

Tell someone you have low energy or you just don’t feel like doing something and you will generate several unfortunate reactions:

  • Parents and partners will immediately ask you if you are well. If you insist you are okay, they escalate their ‘concern’ by checking you all over for symptoms of unknown diseases.
  • Tell your colleagues you need a break and they understand. But sometimes, you might be judged if you actually tell them what you did on break. People may like you to have a personal life, but being too happy when others are loaded with work can create friction.

The definition of health and wellness has become doing what you do continuously every single day, without a break, without feeling bored, without feeling lazy. I propose, ladies and gentlemen, that we are not machines. Even machines break down and we are cool with it. But if humans break down, we overreact.

It is not possible for us to do the same thing every single day in the same way. If this had been so, we would never have gotten fed up of working. We would never have invented machines. We would never have written software programs. We would never have created teams or studied business hierarchies.

Boredom is good. Boredom leads to progress. Boredom shows you what you hate doing. Laziness leads to innovation.

When you become too active

At the other extreme, if we exceed our performance (at running, at work, at home) in any way, and do it consistently for a few days, that becomes our new benchmark. If you were doing 80% earlier, then with a sudden burst of energy you do a 120% for a few weeks, and then drop back to 80%, people start thinking you are sick.

Being too active makes people redefine what your laziness level should be. High energy is not sustainable- it always peaks. When it peaks in children, parents (the unwise ones) label it as hyperactive. When it peaks in adulthood, people feel you have entered the ‘prime’ of life (which doesn’t last anyway).

Returning to your normal level of activity after a peak downgrades others’ evaluation of you. Romantic partners ask why you no longer put in the effort to make them happy (can you ever make another person happy?). Employers feel you were a short lived star in their team. Friends start seeing you as ‘not so fun’ anymore.

A bit of psychology and statistics

It all comes down to the psychology of statistics. And also often ignored math knowledge. Statistics starts with collecting sample data, say blood pressure or heart rate. They then place this data on a spectrum (normal bell curve) and find the following:

  • The average heart beat is 72 beats/ minute for a healthy adult
  • It is around 120 beats/ min for babies
Source: Slideserve, ResearchGate

What it means is:

  • There are many adults with heartbeat above 72 and many with heartbeat less than 72. These adults are not unhealthy, they are different. But society says that since the average has shown up as 72, any deviation should be considered abnormal.
  • But wait, the sample that was taken initially was from healthy adults. So all the healthy adults who did not fall near the average have now been classified as unhealthy.
  • Research often starts with mathematical open-mindedness, and ends with labeling all (healthy) outliers as unhealthy…unless you are a super-intelligent, highly valued celebrity in which case, everything you do is considered beyond normal (and hence normal).

Everyone in the illustration above is considered normal before the analysis, they are classified into normal and not-so-normal after the analysis.

When people know you too well, they become attached to what you are. Any change is considered unhealthy (actually not for you, but for them) and is met with resistance. People expect you to stay lazy or stay active, stay good or stay bad. Being lazy is considered unhealthy (again not because it will make you happier and relaxed, but because it makes others uncomfortable with the change in your pace).

So when people observe you on a daily basis, they develop their own normal bell curves (ex: during initial days of dating, or when a child is 3 years old).

  • They accept kids trying out different things as ‘learning and experimentation’, as long as the child sleeps at the same time every day (even if it is from 5AM to 10 AM). When the child accidentally starts sleeping at night (normally), any deviation is labelled as abnormal and followed up with a phone call to the pediatrician.
  • They accept dating partners doing weird stuff as ‘lovable quirks’ that makes them refreshing. When the same adult tries something new (or stops doing some of those lovable quirks), society labels it as a mid-life crisis.

It is interesting that experimentation for a child is considered equivalent to a crisis for an adult.

It is time we accepted people for the outliers they are. It is time we stopped asking people to be average in the name of stability. We become new people every single minute. When we live in the present, we stop worrying about how much energy we had a week or month ago. We enjoy feeling down, sleepy, bored or sick. We welcome the break it provides.

When we live in the present, we allow ourselves and others to grow (positively and negatively). We experience fewer crises, and learn to experiment more. We stop trying to change ourselves or others and focus on enjoying the best of what we have.