It is my opinion, corroborated by some experience in having lived a rather adventurous life so far and having walked many roads too, that our biggest challenge in life is in finding ourselves, and then staying true to who we are.
What does that mean?
We live in a culture which is anchored to the fundamental concept of survival, which translates to making money.
When you start formal schooling, no one hands you a manual which says “This is who you are, explore yourself.’ No, they start teaching you how to fit into the system, how to conform, how to be become a part of the cultural machinery.
Oddly, when you have made money and are sitting there with the house, two cars and all the perks it brings, you may still, very likely in fact, be asking yourself the question, who am I and what do I stand for?
This could be taken as a spiritual question, but let’s keep religion and spirituality out of this, because those are arbitrary labels affixed to something which is as natural as saying that you have two legs and two arms.
Who we are, is essentially more fundamental than the components of our body – and yet, most of our lifetime is spent feeding, protecting and servicing our body. In the end, we are of course, safe, secure, healthy and happy on one level – but I assure you that it is not all there is to life.
If that were the case, the wealthy on earth would be the happiest people in the world, and they are not – in fact, many of them don’t have a clue. They have anchored themselves to possessions, identified themselves with material wealth – and no matter how many cars and homes they possess, they don’t have peace of mind.
There is a balance – and it is important to find that balance between material wealth and true knowledge of oneself.
Darwin introduced the idea of “survival of the fittest” and the “theory of evolution” – reducing us to something which slithered its way up some evolutionary chain from amoebic muck, to monkeys and then magically, US, a higher intelligence which is fundamentally engaged in the rat-race of survival. His theories, which were scooped up and avidly used by certain schools of thought, have promoted the idea that our basic impulses are limited to bestial inner forces which drive us to eat, copulate and survive. It supports the cultural mindset quite well, but it is not true. Laughably, although taught in schools to our children, these concepts have holes in them the size of the Grand Canyon, but this is not a thesis about the mis-concepts of Darwinism – but rather it is a talk about the grander aspects of humanity, that essence which makes us truly great.
Beauty, tolerance and love are qualities which are consciously exhibited, manifested and attained to by people. If one forgets these qualities as the highest manifestation of who we are, then one sinks into lower motivations, fixing oneself to material possession, seeking happiness through things outside of us, instead of from within us.
I am not advocating any single approach to this matter of knowing oneself – but I am certainly advocating that one must look inside for true happiness. Whether one does it through religious or spiritual study, reading, or just soul-searching, it is a vital part of the process of reaching our true potential.
The culture around you will not tell you to do that, because of course, the general commerce, buying and selling of goods, the movement of money hand to hand, requires that people be constantly induced to buy more, to make more money and to buy even more – as if, in the end, that is the road to true happiness. People spend most of their lives working and sleeping – with very little time devoted to exploring themselves – and there is an entire universe of YOU which is there to tap into.
As I said, there has to be a balance. We all love our iPads, the luxury of our homes, the comfort of a good meal and family – none of this is discounted here. I am also not decrying capitalism or money – these are infrastructures for our society, but they are merely building blocks leading to a higher level. Thankfully, and in spite of what gets pounded into our heads daily from the moment we are born, money is not the road to happiness – YOU are.