Always remember to be true to your Self. If we live our lives trying to please others we will always be in a state of conflict. Only by being true to our own Inner Being can we really bring joy to the world.
When we are children we learn to seek the approval and validation of others and we follow the guidance of those who have gone before us. But on the spiritual path we must learn to seek the guidance that comes from within us and to surrender the need for external approval or validation.
The essence of this book is to help you to connect with the light and the source of guidance that is within you. It is not about trying to impose any belief system on you. If anything within this book resonates with you that is good but if something does not resonate with you simply let it go. We are all unique individuals and our journey is a personal one. Although our experiences will be similar to those of others who travel the spiritual path, they will not be the same and will not necessarily happen in the same way or in the same order.
Absolute spiritual truth can be hard to come by. Whereas truth in science is about the verification of facts, arriving at spiritual truth is more about getting to the heart of things and discovering the essence.
The light is within us all. The light itself IS truth. But we each express that light and that truth in a slightly different way which means that one person’s expression or description of truth may differ from someone else’s.
When we tune in to the essence of what someone is saying we can discern whether or not it has the ring of truth. If something does not ring true for us we can simply let it go and turn our attentions to something that does ring true.
If something does not resonate with us but also bothers us in some way this suggests that an aspect of our being which we have not yet integrated is being mirrored back to us, and therefore deserves further investigation.
Spiritual prostitution is the belief that you can’t be 100% true to your Self in the outer world. It is the belief that you have to compromise some of your values some of the time for whatever reason. Being true to your Self may lead to repercussions, but will it ultimately serve your development if you alter your behaviour out of fear of such repercussions?
Being true to one’s Self is not about always saying whatever we think, nor about doing whatever we want (in fact we need to be mindful of not confusing “not getting what we want” with disempowerment as very often the disempowerment in these situations comes from the attachment and desire, not from the “not getting”), but if we give away our power to someone else through fear of what might happen if we don’t, then we need to ask ourselves if we are prostituting ourselves spiritually. Ultimately the aim is to grow out of limiting beliefs and to make our lives an embodiment of our inner truth. If we feel disempowered by a situation or by someone it suggests that we are not being completely true to our inner truth.
Knowing when we are being true to our inner Self is not always straightforward. As a general rule being true to ourselves makes us feel energised and inspired, but if we have been hiding our truth and then begin to express it, this process can start to flush out some raw emotions of fear and anger – the fear of expressing our truth and the anger associated with having kept it bottled up for so long. Once we get past these emotions we find that living our truth is empowering and strengthening.
Many people believe they cannot be entirely true to themselves because they have responsibilities like needing to “earn a living” or support their family, but if we accept such limiting beliefs we are living life from a standpoint of weakness which means we will always be limited in how much we can achieve. Yet if we are true to our inner Self we will be living life from a standpoint of strength and our capabilities to create health and wealth are multiplied enormously.
Freedom of expression
When we are young we are impressionable – our minds are like soft clay. The thoughts, feelings, hopes, fears, aspirations, beliefs and judgements of those around us become imprinted into our minds. As we grow older the soft clay of our minds becomes hardened and those imprints become the programs which run our lives throughout adulthood and determine our choices and decisions, until we are able to recognise the programs and change them.
Most personal development training is geared towards removing these programs and replacing them with alternative ones.
One area in which imprints can play a defining role in a person’s development is freedom of expression, or the extent to which we feel we are free to express our innermost thoughts and feelings. When we are children, if we are not allowed to express ourselves freely, imprints can be created which serve to tell us that it is not safe to express ourselves. Whenever freedom of expression is stunted, it can give rise to anger, and when that anger surfaces, a program will be activated which says it is unsafe to express what we feel. This, in turn, will reinforce the belief that it is not OK to express our anger. This leads to anger being further suppressed which leads to even more anger. This leads to a situation where a person “bottles up” his anger and this anger feeds the creation of fear, especially in the area relating to expression. And so a vicious circle is created.
Invariably what happens when someone has experienced a stifling of expression is that anger builds within him until it explodes like a volcano. This is usually what is happening when someone appears to have gone berserk and goes on the rampage.
In many respects the formation of a child’s mind appears to be accidental. Although parents may have the best of intentions, children can end up taking on imprints which serve only to create fear. This can happen even if the parents are actively trying to encourage the child to be adventurous and fearless. Regardless of how our imprints came to exist and what we feel about our parents or guardians, ultimately we need to accept that our imprints are what they are and take responsibility for changing them so that they serve our development and happiness.
Although we need to allow ourselves the freedom to express the feelings that have been bottled up – and that includes any negative feelings towards other people – we need to be mindful that we do not end up in blame or judgement. Our parents may or may not have done their best for us, but once we become aware of our programming and of how imprints are formed, we alone have the power to change them and to move on with our lives. It is equally important that we do not blame ourselves for any perceived failings or any failure to deal with these imprints sooner.
By practising non-identification we can detach ourselves from our programs and begin to work on them. For example, when anger arises, instead of being the anger we can step back from it and observe it happening as though it were happening to someone else. When something happens and we get annoyed by it we can learn to observe ourselves getting annoyed. The annoyance still gets acted out but we can develop an awareness whereby we observe what is happening. In so doing we can learn how annoyance comes into existence and learn new responses and new modes of behaviour.
Living with integrity
Integrity basically means being true. It means acting in such a way that inner values are reflected in what we do and how we do it. It’s not about having principles (which are mental constructs) – it’s about living a life from the roots of the same tree on which principles grow.
We may learn from the behaviour of others that it is necessary to be bullish or arrogant in our outer actions in order to survive. Arrogance is great for being a “success” in the outer but it is still based on the idea that it is not possible to be successful and be true to one’s Inner Being. It is based on the idea that one has to fight for what one can get. This idea is based on the illusion that everything we need exists outside of us, that we need other people to meet those needs, and that we need to fight for what we can get. Furthermore, such displays of arrogance often involve shouting other people down and imposing one’s own will over the top of someone else’s, which in itself is not an act of integrity.
The challenge is to be true to ourselves without forcing that truth upon others. Instead of trying to persuade, convince or control other people, we need to learn to broadcast our truth non-violently, trusting that we will always have whatever we need.
Gurus and teachers
Some spiritual traditions emphasise the importance of having a teacher or guru who can not only point you in the right direction on the spiritual path but who can give you a direct experience of the Oneness which you seek. Ultimately the real teacher is within, but at times it can be useful to follow the guidance of a physical teacher. When so doing we need to be able to determine whether that teacher is supporting our growth or hindering it. If you attempt to learn surrender by devoting yourself to a guru you may end up swapping one form of disempowerment for another. Equally if you try too hard to go it alone you may never realise the Oneness which says that there really are no other people other than your Self. As with most aspects of Self-enquiry there is one quality which is invaluable and about which it is almost impossible to say anything of any value: discernment. Learn to discern and you will surely find your way through the maze of the spiritual journey and find your true centre.
When it comes to deciding whether or not to follow a teacher or to continue to follow one, we need to ask ourselves the question whether that teacher is enabling us or simply locking us in to a relationship of dependence. Is he helping us to become more empowered and to be able to do more for ourselves, or do we always feel that we need his help because he knows what to do and we don’t?
Ultimately the degree to which a teacher helps us to connect with our own inner source of wisdom will be the gauge for knowing whether he is supporting our growth or hindering it.
*** This chapter is taken from my book The Light Within ***