the process of individuality
We are directed to “listen to our intuition;”
a skill we can cultivate through meditation, a state that quells “the monkey mind.”
But, for as much as I’ve walked through the spiritual forest, pushing my way through coverage thick with insta-quotes & astrological conjunctions, my process into this awakened space—where my intuition reigns—has evolved without explicit human counsel.
Some of you might find this upsetting. Because, as humans, we want answers.
However, we have been conditioned to believe that;
that answers are not only universal, but that they are also easily attainable.
That a concrete formula to attaining growth, spiritual or otherwise, must exist since other people claim to have accomplished such a feat.
I suggest otherwise.
After my yoga meditation this morning, I noticed a book that I’ve never read by The Dalia Lama poking out upon the shelf. I picked it up, browsing through the pages, coming across the section, “Happiness.”
Among many bullet points, he states:
“Foolish selfish people are always thinking of themselves, and the result is always negative.
Wise persons think of others, helping them as much as they can, and the result is happiness.”
I moved on, flipping to the next section: “Karma.”
“[…] We can be liberated from the incessant cycle of birth, suffering, death, and rebirth only when our entire negative karma has been extinguished.
In other words, only when we have freed ourselves from all worldly desires can we achieve Buddhahood.”
I wanted to bask in that moment, lay in the stillness, voluntarily gazing upon the captivating crimson leaves above my head, the sun’s rays soundly sleeping upon a nest of clouds.
He tells us, just like many other spiritual figures, to release ourselves from worldly desires.
But, then, the “how” is omitted.
I sat down at my desk, dawdling for an hour--posting a picture of my dog on Instagram, texting my mom, distractedly journaling--when I noticed a note I had written to myself a few days ago:
“writing for myself.”
Although I don’t remember doing it, I knew where it came from.
I had recently edited a blog post about three book recommendations for creative people. One of them was Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.
This blogger was viscerally empowered by Gilbert’s revelatory advice—to make art because you fucking want to—and I wanted it to rub off on me. I wanted to assume conviction for another’s words.
“Oh, and here’s another thing:
you are not required to save the world with your creativity
[…] I would so much rather that you wrote a book in order to entertain yourself than to help me.”
In one way, Gilbert had justified the year of silence I received from agents regarding my memoir query.
But, her book did not, by any means, save me.
I had actually picked it up about two years ago—before arriving at this place in my literary future, sans agent—only to endure the first 99 pages.
I couldn’t understand why she suggested that creatives only write for themselves; there’s no satisfaction gained from writing a book for yourself.
And, after eight months of trying to prove her wrong, I let go of whatever I had assumed my book was supposed to become. I took a hiatus from everything that required doing unless it was fueled by my intuition.
During that brief wake of nothing my affirmation was “to be.”
The goal of my existence at that point was to exist.
Not to prove. Not to try. Not to show.
I had more energy to give to my thoughts; thus, I was able to filter egoic propaganda into the ether, rewiring the habitual patterns of my mind, sans judgement or haste.
I was beginning to understand time.
That nothing happens without a routine that incorporates humility.
That time is a function of growth and understanding.
It is not the enemy.
It is not there to induce pain; rather, it is there to facilitate our appreciation of the moment
(another aspect of life we would all like to gain a grip on).
But, that’s just it.
There isn’t a solitary method to arrive at a comprehensive understanding of both the self, the world, and its reciprocal interaction.
There isn’t “accomplishment” attached to existence;
that word is a cultural construction,
to motivate us to strive for more,
to contribute to society,
so as not to get bogged down by the paradoxes of the nature of reality.
There is only “freedom from worldly desires.”
There is only detachment without judgement or expectation.
There is only being.
It’s much easier for us to listen to Liz, repeating what she preaches because she has gained a level of cultural success that reinforces her authority. She puts a band aid on the agonizing question of “how,” by saying it doesn’t matter.
Just worry about you.
Whereas, The Dalai Lama advises us to consider others as a source of happiness.
So, which one do we listen to?
Furthermore, how do we accept either of these mindsets as our own?
We try each of them on to see which sticks.
Proven human approach to gaining new information has been trial and error.
It’s effective because it’s experiential.
We can only integrate the lessons provided to us by going through the sensations of that experience within our own bodies.
Thus, only by rejecting Liz Gilbert’s rationalization of art, could I experience blind devotion to publishing my book. Only by experiencing selfish foolishness, could I feel the amount of dissonance it created in my body. Only by feeling dissonance, could I strive for peace by taking stock of which pieces contributed to the loop of negative feedback, separating my soul from my head. Only once I separated my soul from my head on a consistent basis, could I see that writing is an expression of my soul; that is it. And, that my life is dedicated to expressing my soul. Thus, “achievement” is nothing but a worldly desire, a cultural weight, that prevents us from self-actualizing into our natural state of freedom.