At some point in life, we have all been told to be ourselves. But that’s a misleading advice. Mostly, we confuse it with being selfish. There is a fine line differentiating them, and it is easy to mistake one for the other. It’s like two similar-looking buttons placed together on the mental switchboard. By choosing one over the other, we set ourselves in two totally different states of mind.
In fact, we often take the advice of being ourselves as a freedom to let our ego play. We try to ‘be ourselves’ by speaking up whatever our egotistic mind tells us to say, and do whatever it tells us to do. We speak things even if it hurts others, and do things even if it harms others. Only our thoughts, feelings and emotions matter. Everyone should comply with what we think is right.
We put ourselves at the center of the universe and magnify our selfish selves out of proportion. Not others, but ‘I’ need to feel good, be happy, grow rich, have fun. In most of our engagements with the world, this thought become central. And that creates problems—a whole lot of them. There are over seven and half billion people in the world. As everybody is prone to think that way, there are about seven and half billion centers of universe in this planet alone. No surprise that we have so much conflict.
In true sense, to be ourselves is not to be at all. When we try ‘to be’, our habitual tendencies compel us to do selfish things. Being fearless becomes being arrogant, speaking up your mind becomes being rude, being goal-oriented becomes being self-obsessed, and being ambitious becomes being inconsiderate. Even being humble becomes a means of gratifying our sense of greatness and bragging about our own humility. ‘I’ am better than ‘others’.
When we are ourselves, the self shouldn’t be there, or it will be selfish. It entails letting one’s ‘self’ dissolve into just ‘being’. It means being in harmony with others, the nature, entire humanity, entire existence. Let’s not forget that others are pretty much part of the existence as we are. So any separation of ‘I’ from ‘others’ will be a separation from the existence. When we think in terms of I—my life, my likes, my choice, my freedom—we are in disharmony. We are colliding with billions of centers of the universe. That is not very helpful.
So how do we identify the right button and be in the right frame of mind? Maybe we can give it a thought during the coronavirus lockdown.