Who am I? It is one of the commonest questions for anyone on their initial stages of any sort of a spiritual quest. Know yourself, say most gurus.
My nani spent a relatively happy life without any iota of knowledge of anything except what she needed to know about her home, how to manage it, her husband, her kids, her immediate environment; as did/do many of us, who find a content role to play and we play it with full conviction till it’s time to shed this skin and go on to yet another adventure. For some of us, knowing ourselves, or anything else much isn’t really important, as long as we have enough to go by, we make do. That is a good thing, I feel. Giving in to desires, dreams, aspirations, that keep changing with the ever-changing seasons rarely does anyone any good. Sometimes, like the sweet Buddha, it is good to, not give in; controlling one’s desires in one way to live a fairly simple, uncomplicated life. Either the blissfully ignorant, or the enlightened walk this path of contentment. Irrespective of whether you know anything about your self, your purpose, this life…you just go on, and on, taking each day as it comes, welcoming it with open arms and a warm smile. The rest…we struggle. We strive, we plan, we create agendas, goals, aspirations, we do sadhnas, or work hard/smart and succeed, or not; some just…chill.
Why do you want to change?
It started with this discussion with a dear friend, about why it is important to let things be sometimes, just as they are. The importance of going with the flow. The discussion started with the question, or issue, of changing oneself, one’s repetitive patterns, which one may find annoying about themselves, or harmful, or downright destructive. The friend has been trying to modify certain behavioral patterns for sometime but seems to reach nowhere. I suggested that if she has tried and tried, then maybe it’s a good idea to stop trying and let it be. To not force anything upon anything that maybe your natural design, which you may see as a flaw. Forcing a change on to who you are fundamentally could prove to be bad; unless the change happens on its own, with time, or through certain significant events. So if there is something that you may not appreciate about yourself, and you have tried changing it, but nothing happens, then just accept it. Take a deep breath and work with that; see where that takes you.
This little write-up is for the argument; why it is good to know yourself. I am not going too deep here; no existential questions answered here. Like, am I a soul, what about other dimensions, what about…ahem…God. It’s more shallow, much like myself, related to this world, this physical domain, very material Earth. Knowing ourselves, as we are, in the current life’s form, this human body. Like, in this life, I am Jagdeep Kaur, and I know my parents (it’s ok if you do not, just an example), I have this home, I had a fairly ok childhood, no major traumas, an ok enough life. Yes, this life, this person, this personality I got born into, this specific small life. Small happinesses count, very much, so start with what you have. What you have, is this body, this life, your life, your immediate environment. Start small. If you are just starting out and wondering where to go.
Do you really know yourself?
And now the priceless question. Do you know yourself? At least your physical, Earth dimension existing self? You may feel you do, but a lot of times we prove ourselves very wrong, time and again, in this area. We are too full of ourselves; this idea of what we wish to be, and think that we are it, but in reality we may not be it. Like someone might think that they are a nice and kind person, but they have never observed their own behavior when it comes to paying the rickshaw guy, squabbling over 5 rupees. Some think that they are an out-and-out people’s person, great conversationalists, but rarely say hello to their kaamwali or ask how she is, or even know what their kids do in their spare time. Yes, I am talking about accepting truths about our own self. And sometimes, well, most times, observing those around us, how they react to us, what they say about us, is the best way to know, judge ourselves. Instead of saying, well, I am a nice person, ask those around you, what they think. Or if you are intuitive enough, you will be able to gauge what they exactly feel about you. Well, if you are intuitive enough, you would be closer to the truth. Or, big Or, start observing yourself, be aware, analyse your actions; like, if you are all nice and polite in front of your mom-in-law, are you that way in front of the maid too? If not, then overall maybe you are not a nice and polite person. If you are aggressive and speak-your-mind types with your colleagues, but not so much in front of your boss, then maybe overall you are not the aggressive and speak-your-mind types. You may think that you have a large-ish paraphernalia, but have you seen other people’s junk? Where do you stand compared to that? (Asking for feedback here may not get you correct answers because most times people are polite when asked direct questions of such nature. So, observe and analyse.)
Accept yourself, all your weird quirks, just as you are.
And when you do see a certain type of a truth emerging about yourself, are you comfortable with it? Or does that disturb your balance, your mental peace? And if you are not comfortable with it, then what is it that makes you uncomfortable? Maybe you wish to conform to a certain societal standard, maybe a stereotype, and you do not wish to fall short.
If you are just beginning, to try and understand yourself, first up, let go of all your revered standards, of you how you “should” be. Be comfortable with just what you, or how, you are, irrespective of whether someone else may appreciate that about you. You appreciate it about yourself; ACKNOWLEDGE and ACCEPT. It helps, a lot, if you have around you people who accept you just as you are. If there is someone, in your immediate vicinity, who snaps, or snarls, or even looks in a certain seemingly negative way, or tone, when you are just being yourself–how much ever silly, or clumsy, or downright stupid, which happens with me a lot cos of my very short attention span and very limited knowledge base–it may be harming your ability to accept yourself, just the way you are, very much so. Surround yourself with people, or friends, that are fine with you being your silly, weird self. If there aren’t any, then just be with yourself, and love yourself, and be nice to yourself.
Start with that, and spend some time, some months in that nice knowledge of how ok you are, just fine, and then see where that takes you. Then we will talk about next steps. Good luck!!
~As originally published on http://www.teerathyatra.com/