Life for me was a constant battle with myself; a constant rumination of beliefs; a perpetual accumulation of conflicting truths. I was always feeling as if I have to prove something to the world to make this life meaningful. I was led to believe that being in line with society and all the things that it gives importance to was the ultimate goal, and to feel fulfilled or give value to my existence, I had to gain approval from the world . I had to be the best in my field; I had to create something big for myself and my family; I had to control everything including my children’s choices and future. I had this notion that it is my responsibility to always see to it that people around me are not making wrong decisions in their own lives. I had this feeling of superiority; I had to be right all the time; there’s no other way but my way because I am good at planning and no detail, even the smallest ones could ever be missed by my analytical mind. But I feel in my gut that something was amiss.
There were days when I felt empty and what comes after is an indifference so severe, that I would sometimes think I am hopelessly depressed. One day, I would feel that nothing is impossible and that I can do anything; I am unstoppable. But there were also days when I don’t feel anything at all, not even lonely or sad. I have managed and accepted this rollercoaster of my mind’s state and concluded that my episodes would not last. I have recorded my patterns and learned that a certain percentage in my life would be spent having these “episodes” and that I couldn’t do anything about it; I just have to accept it. I have analyzed and avoided triggers, and though these have helped, still, the episodes couldn’t be avoided altogether. I would just count the days and anticipate when I would be my normal self again. I thought it was ok, those days didn’t really last long. The longest in my recent records was three days and sometimes it wouldn’t even come for at least six months, especially when I have started to practice self-awareness. The statistics wasn’t that bad and is continuously improving.
During these times that I am feeling low and think that there’s no meaning to human existence, I would read for hours on end. This is the one thing that I couldn’t avoid doing even during my worst episodes. My mind is always seeking for answers, as if there’s this ultimate knowledge that I have to find. I always think that maybe one day, I’d be able to understand it all. Perhaps, there will come a time that I’d be able to feel completely at ease and content with my life knowing that my questions have been answered.
In my journey of finding the answers, I have known that for me to be able to know the real value of my existence, first and foremost, I have to control my ego. I have read articles and books, and though I’ve gotten some ideas to work on, none of them have really given me absolute answers, and so I thought I had to find out for myself. This journey has actually started ten years ago but I would say, it is only now that I have come to realize what it really meant. Finding one’s self and learning to recognize one’s inner truth couldn’t be done logically. It is relative and conceptual. Finding meaning to something as vast and as general and yet contradictory, as personal, as god, self, universe and mind couldn’t be taught to someone; one has to feel it. Inner wisdom couldn’t be learned by studying it. One has to empty his mind and listen to the inner voice of his own soul.
In the process of becoming aware, I have concluded that almost all of our motivations in life are controlled by our ego. The courses that we took; the decisions that we made; the beliefs that we have accepted for ourselves; the façade that we show to the world, all of them were influenced by the ego. When we were young, we were taught to act a certain way. Our parents saw to it that we acted normal and acceptable to society. We have been bounded by societal expectations and we have followed happily in the landscapes that were set for us by our parents, the government, the educational system, religion and society in general. We were inclined to follow “the norms”. And if we would not, society would condemn us; our parents would be disappointed in us; we wouldn’t gain any friends; other people would laugh at us or bully us; and worst, religion have made us believe that there is heaven and hell, and that by not abiding by its rules, we would be bound to go to hell and be burned for the rest of our existence. All these have made us believe that there is no other way in this life but the ways that society has carefully laid out for us, that we couldn’t make our own unique way in our very own lives, but nothing can be farther from the truth. In my journey of finding my own, unique way, I have found the real essence of my being and it is unexplainably beautiful. My inner world is very rich and complete, and I realized that I won’t need to look any further.
Society has taught us that owning material things could give us happiness; it had made us believe that status quo is very important; that being the best could make us feel fulfilled; that following the norms would give us serenity; that we have to be liked to feel important. Though these things could give us positive feelings, I would say that they only benefit our ego and those feelings won’t really last. Being liked would perhaps make us feel important, but the question is, is it really needed? Do we really need to feel important?
I would define ego as the identity we have associated to ourselves. Though, it isn’t entirely bad, being controlled by it will certainly cause us pain and suffering in this life. The thing that makes us work very hard to gain acknowledgement from society; the voice that tells us that we have to be better than our neighbors and show them that we are superior; the force that keeps us awake at night because we weren’t able to gain the approval of our loved ones, these are all the doings of our ego. All these things that our ego does to us, we aren’t entirely aware of. We have associated ourselves to the ego for too long that we don’t really know if we are just acting out of obedience to it.
To separate ego from self, one has to take the long, painful and bittersweet journey of knowing and eventually accepting the real self. There is no more joyous and liberating realization than knowing the authentic self and accepting the self for what it is; for its strength and weaknesses, the good and the bad, the eccentricities, the uniqueness; and especially for its own inner truth. The real self doesn’t seek society’s approval but will move out of its own core values and conscience. It is not bounded but is liberated and always open to learning. It appreciates everything and respects diversity. It wouldn’t impose anything to anyone and would be quiet with its own complete and unique existence. It has a quiet confidence that is so strong, no one or nothing can separate it from its truth. The real self is here just to exist and to experience the wonders of this life. It is not attached to anything and does not force anyone to be attached to it. It moves freely and finds wonder in everything.
There is no exact goal for anyone in this life. Our essence is merely a product of our own understanding of it. What could be true to someone may not be true to everyone and vice versa. Our level of awareness dictates how we perceive life thus, this perception would only affect our goals and existence relatively. The ignorant is fortunate, for he would go on with this life absent from worries that he may have been missing something. He wouldn’t lose the confidence in life and in himself and he would just continue on living as he’s been doing so, assured that he is doing it all right. With this, nothing would be lost. What is there to lose when you are unaware of what you may lose? Despite this observation, I am glad and I would celebrate everyday for the kind of awareness that I’ve known. Life isn’t perfect and we are not here for our own joy. We are here to simply exist, be in one with ourselves and observe the wonderful world we live in, and in the process live the good life according to our own understanding of it.
Life is beautiful and full of surprises. Emotions that only humans are capable of feeling are a gift. We are not here to simply be joyous. We exist to feel and be amazed on everything life has to offer; be it joy, sadness, awe, anger, pain, suffering, winning, losing, disappointments, love, disgust. We are here to experience this wonderful gift that has been given to us; to marvel at the wonders of this earth, to observe and witness life as it unfolds, to be in one with all creation and be in harmony with ourselves, to learn new things everyday. There is no secret really, as there is no definite reason for existence. We have different reasons according to our own concepts and consciousness. Nothing and everything is true and correct. No two individuals have the same perception and meaning. Imposing one’s viewpoint to someone will only hinder him from his own discovery of personal truth. The journey in which we are finding meaning to our own existence is a personal gift and not something that can be shared, yet life, with all its glory and suffering, is meaningless if not shared. By accepting life as it is and being in love with what fate has given or is about to give us, while doing what we know is right according to our own core values, by losing the ego and by satisfying our hunger for knowledge while gaining inner wisdom, could we know the secret chambers of our hearts, and eventually find the real meaning of our personal existence.