My college psychology instructor was famous on campus for saying profound statements. Often his sayings were very simple and to the point. That point usually stung someplace sensitive in his students’ minds.
Once he said something like this: “You might use your summer break to go on a spiritual quest to the ocean, a peaceful national park, or backpack to the Himalayas to learn the secret of life. You will probably miss seeing the grandeur of your own inner truth.”
There’s a lot to unpack from the professor’s challenging words. First of all, we were students in the midst of becoming programmed for our future careers and lives. Secondly, we were young people who were still eager to go out and explore the world. Thirdly, many of us had no clue about what we really wanted to make of our lives. Fourth, since it is difficult to discover our own truth, we continued chasing after a category to put ourselves into that was socially acceptable.
Do we uncover an aspect of ourselves that is hidden in plain sight? Do we learn about ourselves through the business of living? If we ponder these questions too long, we run the danger of suffering paralysis by analysis. There must be some balance between stumbling through an unexamined life and being frozen in place because we look for meaning in every tiny detail about ourselves. Therefore, in my opinion, the answers to both questions is, “Yes we do.”
There is a lot of trial and error in life, so if we are not making any mistakes or we’re afraid of admitting mistakes, are we really living our truths?
The psychology instructor went on with the day’s lecture and summed it up by saying he could only offer the ancient, universal wisdom that many belief systems teach: “Don’t do the bad things. Do the good things. There is an instinct about which is which, never fail to follow it. That instinct will be what gives you a big clue about your inner truth.”
My old guru taught a similar lesson and he tempered it by having us ask ourselves how enslaved or free we are from our ego’s manipulative powers. Even after we have discovered our inner truths, that truth will evolve as we live life. There will always be some small tinge of regret. Remembering this will help us live more skillfully.
The take-away seems to be that living one’s own truth is not an attainment, but is another one of our processes. If we discover and clear up our delusions, our greed, and our hatred, we will be better able to recognize and live by our own truth.
The Blue Jay of Happiness ponders something from the scholar/politician S. I. Hayakawa. “It is the individual who knows how little they know about themselves who stands the most reasonable chance of finding out something about themselves before they die.”