Another book I have encountered lately that has had a huge influence on my life is “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind” by Shunryu Suzuki. This book has completely changed my life and has put me on a completely different path for my life. It came to me right at the exact moment I was ready for it. My life had kind of been going in that direction naturally or at least so it seemed. Though I should state I have no desire to identify as Buddhist per se. I am just apt to borrow from any philosophies, religions, writings and even fiction to add to my life philosophy. As to where the book came from that’s a story for another day. It was one of the greatest gifts and influences on my life thus far.
One of the hugest lessons I have learned from this book is to ensure you are just being yourself at every moment. If you can do this you will be your best, although there is always room for improvement.
“Each of you is perfect the way you are … and you can use a little improvement.”
― Shunryu Suzuki
So you work on those things that you need to, your weaknesses so to say. Though to even get close to those discoveries about yourself you first have to get to know yourself. You can’t be the person others expect you to be, just as they won’t ever be exactly the person you expect them to be. You love them for who they are, or you don’t. I’m not implying we won’t make sacrifices for each other, for generally we will as that’s how humans usually behave. Though if you can’t accept someone the way they are you have to reflect upon yourself and figure out what is making you reluctant. It may be something you can’t overlook or compromise and that is fine, you don’t have to be friends with everyone you meet. You should respect them though, even if you don’t agree with them. Yes I have to work on that one too. Ha Ha. Start working on this as early as you can, spend more of your time as yourself and your life will be truly free.
It is also not just enough to find yourself. You have to be realistic about who that person is, and recognize your strengths and positives. Show these to the outside world, but in a humble way. In addition it is your duty to explore those strengths and positives further, to learn everything about them and where they lead. Once you can do this you can learn to love yourself. For that is a very important aspect of being who you are. Others cannot accept you or love you fully if you cannot do the same for yourself. Hey I’m not saying it is easy, though some people have a natural bent for it. For most though it is something to work on, yet something we have no real idea how to go about. All trial and error. We will make some bad and wrong decisions but we move on. We do have to reinforce and recognize all the great decisions we make as well.
This is one aspect I had a tough time with. I have been working on this for a couple of decades at least now. Funny thing is I can remember telling a teacher in Grade 8 that I realized what really mattered is what I knew about myself, the opinions of others shouldn’t really matter. That is because people will either accept you for who you are, or they won’t. If they don’t accept you for who you are why would you want them in your life. I could never quite put this one into practice. I spent many years lost looking for myself. I didn’t really completely like who I was, but I had no idea how to change that. The other thing is that if you don’t know yourself it is impossible to have any confidence in yourself, except for false bravado. That doesn’t do anything for you in the long run anyway, you are always found out eventually. There is absolutely nothing wrong with putting time towards yourself. It is absolutely necessary for your own fulfillment of life and your own sanity.
People might also be worried about a lack of compassion if we all went on this path. They still view individuality as selfishness. They can seem like the same thing, but they are entirely different things altogether. By finding yourself you are going to be the best you that you can be. Most people are compassionate by nature. If most people are also just being themselves there will be no lack of compassion and respect in this world. We have to start destroying the negative individualistic message that is being pushed upon us by propagandists and marketers. We are good citizens if we help and look out for each other not if we are just good consumers. There are a lot of people out there who could use a hand. If you have time give it to someone who would cherish your company. Check into volunteering, the smallest thing can make the biggest difference.
I will leave this one from here and pick up on it tomorrow.