Inside all of us is a strength that is uncovered typically through trial. When we are put through a physical or mental strain, it tempered our body, is steels our mind, and we become stronger for it. This strength is always there for us to call upon at any time we choose. But more than that, our true self is stronger than we can imagine. It holds all the answers we seek, and it can do see more than we can imagine. How can we uncover and harness this powerful energy we all hold inside? we simply need to become aware of it first. This is a great start to the personal journey of awareness, or becoming conscious. Some thought provoking questions around this are:
What is our core or spiritual goal in this life we lead?
To what end are we alive?
What do we want?
These are great questions to ponder, and there are many more that we can think of and that others have thought of that we can spend eternity striving to understand and contemplate on. One of the quotes that stand out for me about contemplation and the act as it relates to how we live our life is from the movie The Last Samurai, when the character Katsumoto is talking to Nathan Algren, played by Tom Cruise:
Katsumoto: The perfect blossom is a rare thing. You could spend your life looking for one, and it would not be a wasted life.
Here he explains that contemplation in Nature is a never ending quest, an always mystifying adventure where we continually learn and examine and question. There are times however when we need to surrender in order to learn. Surrender our idea of what is perfect, what is beautiful. In the Tao Te Ching (I like this particular translation), a text written by Laozi (also Lao Tzu, etc), a philosopher in ancient China, it is written (Chapter 2, first line) that if we label something as beautiful, it can also become ugly. Just the act of using words to explain what can not be explained is like trying to paint the Mona Lisa with a paint roller. Our language is barbaric compared to the innate understanding of the mind to just accept what is. Katsumoto understood this in his final moments of life when he spoke this words:
Katsumoto [With his dying breath]: Perfect… They are all… perfect…
My goal in life is for True Seeing. I want to see what is real in life, not what my mind perceives based on the millions of layers of perceptions I have created since I was a baby. I want to see with fresh eyes, listen with new ears, smell with a brand new tongue and l want to understand with no judgement, with no comparison, and simply settle with what is, in every moment.
In my journey, it is more about surrendering, more about cutting the strings that I tied so precisely, so fastidiously, to my self from the agreements or beliefs that I made along my life to this point. Every time I encounter a limiting belief, or an old tape that I play, is an opportunity to examine the validity of it. When I learn to think critically and ask the meaningful questions about any one of the myriad of beliefs I created in my mind, what I find is that in the end there is no basis for them; and they begin to dissipate and dissolve away.
I liken it to water over stone. Our beliefs and agreements we made since we were old enough to do so are so solid that they are represented by stone. Water, being soft and flexible, is the new understanding we create when we become aware of our mind, aware of our thoughts, aware of the fact we are not that voice in our head, but much, much more than that. If we keep pouring that water of awareness, of consciousness, of present moment on the rock solid agreements we made, the water will erode them. How fast this happens depends entirely on how much water we pour and how quickly it runs and what kind of rock our beliefs represent. Are your beliefs marble, or are they sandstone?
Some of the ‘stand out’ moments of my journey to awareness come in the form of entertainment and Nature. In 1999 I watched the movie The Matrix, where the leading character Neo, played by Keanu Reeves, is a computer programmer by day, computer hacker by night, that has a feeling there is more to life than is presented in front of him. He senses something called ‘the matrix’ and he spends much of his time trying to find it. The character Morpheus, played by Lawrence Fishburne, is the leader of the ‘awakened’ characters and he finds Neo, explains the existence of reality beyond the life Neo is experiencing in his day to day life, and welcomes him to see it. In this line, he expresses a sentiment that we all know if true for every one of our journeys:
Morpheus: I’m trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You’re the one that has to walk through it.
Like all of us, we each need to walk through the door of awareness to start our journey. When we can start to ‘see’ what is real, we can start to unlearn all that we have learned. When we look at life with a full cup, as the Zen Buddhist saying goes, we have no room for any new information, any new perspectives or thoughts. How can we appreciate anything that we may not understand if we label it with words, or compare it to other similar or different things? We might gather information ‘about’ it, but we will never know it. How can you know a tree? How can you know a chair? We can gather information about them, but we can not know anything but ourselves, and this is the biggest assignment of all: to know thyself.
My journey seems so large at times, so multifaceted, so huge, that it paralyses me into non-action. It’s like a messy house: where do you start? Then I tell myself: ‘You can actually start anywhere you like. It doesn’t matter.’ That’s when I just stand up and walk toward the closest thing, and clear a space. That’s one way of expressing how this journey of understanding, of enlightenment, makes my mind feel. It clears mental space in my head to allow me to take in new information, new ways of thinking, and even to create new paradigms, like what is truly important in life.
When I have used my mental scissors of awareness to cut all of the strings attached to my old beliefs and agreements, and I have thrown out all the tapes of past learned behaviours, my cup will be empty. In that emptiness, I think I might actually begin to see. I may be able to really smell, listen, and taste the world, for the first time, without any preconceived notions. That is my goal.
Naturally, as I create space, i am learning, so as the cup empties, I can fill it with new understanding. As this progress, I am starting to see a new world.
- I see a new value in relationships with people
- I have a greater understanding of my need to connect with Nature
- I see the importance of listening with an open mind
- I understand how all negative emotion is made in the mind
- I acknowledge that we can control our mind by freeing it
Words are sometimes too crude of a medium to relay our feelings and thoughts to one another, and sometimes, they can get in the way of our senses. I recall meeting a man in a social setting, and I immediate felt an overwhelming dark presence. I disliked him for absolutely no reason (that I knew of). As it turned out, he stole a vehicle of my friend and was a dark person. When we can reconnect with our own senses, start to believe in our own power, we can tap in to what I call the Hero within.
This Hero, and it really is a hero [gender neutral], is the person we really are. It is our true self. In our lifetimes, we take up so many beliefs, and many of them unwittingly, many of them simply by following others in our family, friends, or people we trust. These beliefs, however, can be limiting. They can limit our thoughts by suggesting we do not question authority. They can limit our physical ability, by telling us that the four minute mile is impossible to run. They can limit our sense of what is important in life by telling us that material wealth is the pursuit of happiness.
The Hero within, defies all of these teachings, and believe me, there are many preachers of this type of doctrine around: from television, to newspapers, to entertainment, stories, history books, and so on. The Hero within each and every one of us is there, waiting to be discovered. It doesn’t have any limiting beliefs, it knows everything we desire to understand, and it can do anything we want it to. It is truly a Hero of epic proportions!
When we start with awareness, we begin to see just where we are. We start to understand what we are thinking and what we believe in at the moment. A great way to move forward in our journey might be to simply ask our self questions.
How do I view relationships in my life: with my partner, with my children, with my boss, with my neighbour, with strangers, with foreigners, with Nature, with myself?
Is this where I want to be?
In my journey, I surround myself with many books from enlightened people, I have profound, deep, meaningful conversations with important people in my life, and I continue to ponder, think, ruminate, and meditate, on where I am, where I want to go, and what my next step is. Each time I step into old habits, or become unconscious while I run old tapes, or speak without thinking, it is an opportunity for examination, which usually leads to “Why the heck did I do that?” Sometimes it was a role I played in my family, or it was a belief I held since middle school, or it was because that was what I learned in university, or picked up from peers in business. In most, if not all cases, it turned out to be a belief that held me to a path that was not going where I wanted to go in life, and so I poured more water over it. Eventually the stony habits of old will be cut down and I will be exposed to the world at my very core.
I already feel it, the sensation of wave after wave washing the pebbles of my old beliefs down to nothing. How refreshing to know that every day I live, my old beliefs diminish while my new awareness grows. I don’t get disheartened when my growth seems slow either, like the Chinese Bamboo Tree, when there is no visible above ground growth for four years, only to grow 80 feet in six weeks in the fifth year. When the focus of growth is in our foundation, our self, we have amazing potential!
May you discover your own Hero inside.