“Once you know there is an inner chamber of your being – one uncontaminated by education, society, culture; free from the pollution of modern ideals – once you’ve contacted that source of your being, your life is lived on a different plane.” – OSHO
I’m by no means a self-help guru nor do I believe I have all the answers to leading a purposeful life, but I do invest a lot of time and energy into learning how to live a life with meaning and can only hope that my surface-level insight serves as a positive encouragement for others. May this be the missing piece to your own puzzle you needed to read.
I recently read OSHO’s Emotional Wellness and it turned out to connect many of the open-ended dots in my life that made up the funk I’d been in. Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, who goes by the pseudonym OSHO, was an Indian spiritual teacher and leader of the Rajneesh movement – a controversial movement opposing Ghandi’s socialism and Hindu religious orthodoxy. He advocated for an alternative way of thinking, one with more openness and fluidity to one’s being. “Never Born – Never Died – Only visited this planet Earth between December 11, 1931 and January 19, 1990,” is the type of description of him you’ll find. Regardless of who he was or wasn’t, it’s what he said that continues to resonate with many.
About 5 years ago or so, I stumbled upon the concepts of mindfulness and law of attraction. From there, I began building a strong relationship with the universe by understanding the power of thought – the idea that your current state is a direct reflection of what you’ve manifested in your mind. Throughout this “spiritual” (for lack of a better word) journey of mine, I’ve often felt boxed into an environment that wouldn’t quite let me push beyond the boundaries I envision. I thought to myself… I know what I need to do to live fully and authentically so why do I feel like I can’t? What is constraining me? If you’ve ever read Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild or have seen the movie, you’d be able to pinpoint to the exact thing that Chris McCandless fought so hard to escape. Society. The epitome of my funk.
The system our society is built upon is designed to distract you from your authentic self by luring you into the dark pit of societal standards, norms, expectations and exacerbated ideals on how you should live your life. All of this is further perpetuated by our reliance on technology, the use of social media and our constant need to always chase something bigger.
“I want to invent an iPad game so I can be rich and famous because without money you die” is an actual answer my fifth-grade French Immersion ‘tutoree’ gave me when asked what they would like to do in life if the choice was limitless. I was shooketh to the core to say the least. Whatever happened to wanting to be an astronaut, an architect or anything slightly more meaningful? You’re likely to get a similar answer from a soon-to-be university graduate. Rarely nowadays do you meet an individual in search of meaning and purpose rather than overt success and status. In an environment as such, it naturally becomes difficult to practice a mindful mantra.
Despite my seemingly negative and dooms-day like perception of society, I don’t take our medical, social, political or cultural advances for granted whatsoever. I’m very aware that as millennials growing up in a highly progressive western society, we are some of the most privileged and opportunity-rich individuals in the world. We live in one of the most socially progressive and equity-driven countries and I’m beyond grateful for the life I get to live. My distaste comes from the fact that despite all of the resources available to us, we operate in a system that is stripping away our compassion, authenticity and perpetually drills in our heads ideas of systematic success, subjective idealism and the need for monetary and materialistic security.
I always knew that I didn’t want to become an inescapable prisoner to this type of fast-paced, cookie-cutter society to which you slave away your entire life in hopes that you can make great money to buy yourself the freedom to do what you want later. I genuinely thought the only way to escape this and experience life authentically was to live elsewhere. Certainly not to the extent of McCandless’ escape into the literal wild in complete solitude, but I envision living in a place that values life for more than how fast you can get to the “top”. While the plan depicted in my self-made reminder pinned to my desk wall is still very relevant, I also fully acknowledge that maintaining a certain quality of life is necessary. You need decent money to cover the costs that come with living a healthy and purposeful life. But it’s the lack of selflessness that leads us to use our resources in the wrong ways. How can we change this if our society thrives on emotionless information-processing minds? OSHO’s Emotional Wellness provided the fresh perspective I needed to mend the pieces together. There is a way to lead a meaningful and purposeful life without fleeing or chasing glorified freedom elsewhere (duh Nat). It starts within ourselves. That is, by living truthfully wherever we are in this moment.
So what exactly does that mean? OSHO breaks it down into several pillars:
- Unconditional acceptance of yourself:
- Accepting yourself wholeheartedly and unconditionally, for what you are and exactly how you are in this moment.
- Being honest and realistic with yourself about both your strengths and weaknesses and welcoming growth.
- Embracing your emotions and allowing yourself to feel and react the way you do. As OSHO points out, “Emotions depict movement. They come and go.“
- Stripping yourself from all ideals, standards or expectations. – “If you have a certain idea of how you ‘ought’ to be then you cannot accept the experiential truth of your being.”
- Acting on your heart and being more often, as opposed to the perceived logic of your head.
- Accepting and loving others without judgment. OSHO says that, “At the point of being, you simply have a fragrance of lovingness. You will be able to love without being attached. You will be able to love many people, because to love one person is to keep yourself poor. That one person can give you an experience of a certain love…but to love many people…you will be amazed that every person gives you a new feeling, a new song, a new ecstasy.”
- Defining your own truth:
- Becoming aware of your surroundings (both immediate and global) through continuous awareness, curiosity and collaboration. In other words, staying woke.
- Defining your purpose in life. Setting meaningful goals and manifesting them through positive thought.
- OSHO also explains that you’ve defined your truth when you feel fulfilled, balanced and confident in your own life without the need to seek validation or acceptance of others.
- Feeling free and content in your NOW – “Freedom is not an ideal, it is a by-product of accepting whosoever you are.”
Here’s how I view society wanting our minds to operate versus how they do when we choose not to listen:
When we shed all the meaningless concepts society drills into our heads, we naturally practice more selflessness and make room for more important parts of life. We begin to view the world as an entity we should be serving, not one that should serve us. The focus shifts from you to something much greater – a life that’s lived from an authentic and compassionate place. We take less and give more. Life becomes limitless in the right ways.
A few months ago I watched Emma Marris’ TED talk on how we define nature. She talked about our growing disconnection with the environment and our inability to protect it because of the fact that we perpetually glorify nature and think of it as some “distant” concept we have to vacation to. The same way we do with freedom and the idea that it’s some distant concept we (hopefully) achieve someday. Marris suggests that in order to connect to environmental issues, we have to recognize that nature is all around and within us – in the air we breathe, in the tree on our own driveway, and in that which sustains our life in the first place. She encourages us to connect to nature through our moment-to-moment awareness of it. In the same way OSHO suggests we live in constant awareness and recognize that our truth stems from within once we free ourselves from societal barriers that constrain us.
One can argue that this “idea” of living truthfully still depicts some type of ideal way of living but I view it as a connecting piece that guides one’s journey, rather than a means to an end of a desired “goal”. Personally, it encourages me to step back from situations and understand them from a point of truth. I accept myself, my thoughts and feelings (good and bad) as they come and understand that they are fluid. I remind myself to be confident enough in who I am to understand that seeking overt success and validation from others is nothing but a social construct that constrains rather than propels me forward. I work to wire my thinking in a way that serves a larger purpose, not just a self-referential one. And I sure as heck intend to exert the same kind of mantra to the little munchkins I tutor. Do I always “walk the talk”? Definitely not, but I strive to free myself from expectations and follow my truth. There is something insanely liberating about that.
I can lament social conditioning all I want, but only when we personally decide to change the way we operate will we see the positive effects come into fruition. I encourage you to define your truth, your values, your drive to a purposeful life and embrace it at full speed.
Positive energies always.