The path of self discovery is one that begins long before we are ever cognizant of it. Like peeling back layers of an onion, we slowly begin to realize our true nature as life gives us brief glimpses of what we are capable of. As innocent children, yet to be stained by the misguided framework of the world, we gaze out upon life with a playful curiosity that stems from a sense of interconnectedness, love. We are given the brief opportunity to see reality how it is, versus how the world believes it ought to be. Consequently, we are born into this world that works tirelessly to mold us, tame us, and domesticate us in the hopes of creating yet another well-fitted cog in the wheel of our socio-economic mediocrity. We are born into a world that subconsciously takes pride in crushing the ignorance of our youth, discounting their relevance in an attempt to rationalize the very beliefs that perpetuate the system. Could there be a point to such a system?
Mahatma Gandhi tell us to “be the change we wish to see in the world,” but how can we when the system we are born into doesn’t willingly cultivate or reward this behavior? How do we know where to begin? As children we receive a certain set of programing past down by our parents and environment. This programing is a derivative symptom of a much greater issue; the issue of a world living in fear. Now, this is not to say that our parents didn’t do the best they could with what they knew at the time. Author Don Miguel Ruiz refers to this programing as “Domestication.” Domestication being the idea that we are influenced and/or dictated by the world around us to the point of being kept from living and expressing ourselves authentically and without regard to fear. We learn to criticize, judge, act in accordance to others in search of approval and acceptance, build our self-esteem on the beliefs of others, but most tragically, we learn how not to love ourselves. In his book, The Four Agreements, Ruiz acknowledges this by saying, “The more self-love we have, the less we will experience self-abuse. Self-abuse comes from self-rejection, and self-rejection comes from having an image of what it means to be perfect and never measuring up to that ideal. Our image of perfection is the reason we reject ourselves; it is why we don’t except ourselves the way we are, and why we don’t except others the way they are.” To be “the change” we wish to see in the world fist requires an awareness that something needs to be changed, but before we can make that change, we must believe that we are capable. That requires courage, which requires confidence, which requires self-esteem, which all is the product of self-love.
Being “the change” is not the popular thing to do. It is the unpopular journey most of us are unwilling to embark on. In fact, it is often likened to that of the Hero’s journey; one of extreme adversity, troubling loneliness, and inevitable tragedy. However, it is rare that we view it as such until a major achievement or change has been attained. Thus the Hero must first become the Warrior before others will acknowledge the protagonist for his accomplished prestige and humble perseverance. The warrior embodies courage, by acknowledging and respecting fear, but forging ahead anyway with a full heart and unbeatable will to conquer. The warrior walks and lives the path of mastery; a path that always progresses yet sees no end. The way of the Warrior can be described in some ways by Machiavelli’s The Qualities of a Prince. The Warrior has a keen understanding of human nature, and already accepts that he will do whatever is necessary for the betterment and advancement of all; living by the mantra, “para el bien de todos:” for the good of all.
In order to succeed, we must learn to become warriors; warriors of love, warriors of justice, and warriors of humanity.This path is one that is not traveled often or to the degree at which we would hope. But every once in a while, someone comes along whom harbors the unwavering tenacity and perseverance necessary to make a difference and show us what life looks like on the other side. Someone comes along who challenges the status quo despite the perceived danger and unpopularity of doing so. Martin Luther King was one of these people. In some of his final words before being assassinated, King leaves us with “We got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop…I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land”
I believe we all wish to aspire to greater things. But how many people go their entire life, never living up to their full potential? The answer is far too many. This is because we have found it acceptable to live life from a place of fear as opposed to living from a place of love. Marianne Williamson says it best with,” Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
So, what is the point of a system that continually berates the intrinsic human nature of expressing love that comes so effortlessly for our youth? As children we do not consciously choose to see the world from a place of love, because it is an innate part of our being human. We simple get to just experience it. To the contrary, however, we also have little choice in the programing we receive by our parents, as a derivative of the greater misled system. So could it be necessary to experience both in order to reach a level of enlightenment, or a sort of remembering, that awards us the ability to decide that we are capable of living from a place of love; that we are capable of making a difference; and that we are capable of Greatness? I would say so.
Like the Warrior and Hero of our life, we must choose to forge ahead into the each moment, into the future of our lives with a full heart and a burning desire to conquer. And as we do, we will begin to realize that we are deep in the surf that is our life. We cannot see the shore but that doesn’t scare us. As we look down, we begin to rise, realizing that we are the creator of this wave we are riding. But we get to decide how high, how long, and where it is going to take us. All we have to do is decide.