Nothing is lacking in any of us; our positive integral self is always there, always available. You can rediscover and consistently live from your own wondrous perfection, lovability, dignity and authenticity. Genuine satisfaction and unconditional love are not only possible; they are your inalienable rights.
- Bob Hoffman
Different. Alone. Weird.
Not good enough. Something is really wrong with me. These were the words pounding like a hammer in my head while I stood and watched the other kids play.
I was three years old and had just started daycare. This is my first memory and a defining moment of my life since that was, as far as I know, where I consciously started to play roles to fit in so people would like me, given that I had realized I wasn’t good enough as I was. I thought I needed to change and that I had to be a happy, good girl and hide my “bad sides” from the outside world. The bad sides, as I judged them, being the selfish acts and thoughts I had, the anger, jealousy, neediness, grumpiness, and so on. But also, my inner rebel who didn’t want to do what I was told. The one who could say nasty words about my family behind their back. My inner evil side. That was the side I identified with. I really thought I was bad and just playing the role of the “good girl.”
My mom wanted me to go to daycare so I could play with some other kids. But the kids were mean to me. They pulled my braids and pushed me away when I tried to join in. I didn’t fight my way into the group. I was more of a victim. I observed and backed off. I felt sorry for myself and kept all my emotions inside.
One day, I was standing in the daycare entrance which was dark, moldy, and seventies looking. When my mom was about to leave, she opened the door and the light came flooding in. She looked like an angel about to walk into the light while leaving me there in the dark. I really tried to control myself. My knuckles turned white at my desperate attempt to control my emotions. I wanted to stay strong. I wanted to be a “good girl.” But the sight of my mom was just too much. I started to sob desperately. My mom was devastated and in shock since I had never once told her that I hated being at daycare. I never had to go back but I still remember how much shame and blame I felt for being real about my feelings. And how embarrassed I was because I cried in front of those other kids. I was such a bad girl.
The worst part is that this pattern of playing roles to make people like me and keeping my happy face on while crying within and not feeling good enough kept on going for over thirty years. It still comes up some days to this day!
I wanted to know more. I wanted to understand it all: How the world works, who we are, and why we are the way we are. Who was the God that everyone talked about? It could not be the guy in the Bible, because that guy only sees us as sinful and really bad people. That guy has only conditional love for us. He punishes us when we don’t do what he thinks is right. Who were those enlightened people? How did they become enlightened? I started to read books in personal and spiritual development. I went to seminars, courses, and received personal guidance from tons of different experts, healers, and spiritual teachers. I kept searching and searching for the answer. I became a spiritual seeker on one hand and tried to fit in with the cool kids in my hometown on the other. I had one foot in each “world,” but I kept feeling lost and didn’t really fit in anywhere.
I felt so confused. I felt different, but didn’t know who I was. I didn’t know why I felt I was wrong, I just did. I didn’t feel as “alternative and spiritual” as some people. I didn’t walk around with long white or multicolored dresses nor did I have long, big hair, which was my stereotypical and prejudiced view of “new age people.” I dressed like a “normal” teenager just like the rest of my friends. I had modern hairstyles and makeup. I had a lot of friends, but I always felt that if they really knew me, they wouldn’t like me. So I kept playing different roles suitable for the groups I belonged to. I was a chameleon changing colors, clothes, and even accents, depending on who I was with. I felt like a fake for my whole childhood and youth. I always hoped that someone would be able to give me a miraculous cure for my suffering and pain. No one ever could.
Since I didn’t understand who I was, why we are here, and what my inner voices were, I went on a mission to find out. Many psychics and mediums told me that I had thousands of guides around me—a whole entourage—who were here to guide and assist me. They told me I was a huge gift for the planet. I thought, Bullshit. Who am I to believe I am more than others?
Because in my limited awareness of things being black or white, I believed I had to be better or worse than others—never equally as good. Mediums and psychics were in awe when they tuned into my energy field. Many of them said they had never seen such light or such an old soul before. I was so special and meant for something big on the planet. But I couldn’t believe it. Me? I was a nobody. I was a fake. If it were true, why did I suffer so much? Why didn’t I feel it? However, there was a still, small voice within saying it was true. I saw things. I had visions. I could see past and future events. I thought it was my imagination; that I had made things up. Many adults and peers had told me I had a big imagination. So I believed I did. This made me feel even worse about myself. Sometimes I felt like I lived in two worlds. The world where I could feel the power that psychics said I had and the three-dimensional world I always came back to. It was two different realities. But the one where I felt good and powerful never lasted long. Most of the time, I suffered in this three-dimensional world. But I kept searching for the solution—the one thing that would change my life.
When I was doing my research to find out the meaning of my life, who I am, and how I could get enlightened, I felt so frustrated. It just seem to be so simple for “enlightened people” to tell their story in a before and after version. Especially how bloody simple it was for them. Their stories of enlightenment always sounded so instantaneous and free from continuous struggle. The:
- “I reached my rock bottom, my life changed, and I was happy ever after” kind of story. Or,
- “I had a near-death experience and came back where my life changed in an instant.” Or,
- “You just have to love yourself.” Or,
- “Just look inside, quiet your mind, and you will find peace.” Or,
- “You are already enlightened, just be still and be in the Now.” And my all-time favorite:
- “You can just choose to be happy.”
But how the heck do you do that? Don’t they think I have tried? Why could they do it and I couldn’t? What was wrong with me? Did I really have to almost die or become an addict and reach my rock bottom to achieve enlightenment? To find who I am? To have peace of mind and be happy? For crying out loud! I wanted to scream out of frustration. Why does it have to be so bloody difficult? Sometimes I almost hated these “gurus.” I was jealous and envied what they had. They were just confirming how stupid I was, that I didn’t get it, and they were telling me how simple it is! How dare they? Who were they to be so ignorant? I also thought that they had huge spiritual egos, that they just wanted us to worship the ground they walked on, and get power over us. There were, in other words, a lot of frustrations, rage, and projections in me.
I came to realize that I believed I had to reach something external to become enlightened. That I had to change who I was to reach it. I had to gain a higher consciousness; I had to do this and that. I had to again become someone else—as in adopt another role to play. As long as I was searching outside of myself, I would never find who I really was. I would never feel that I was there, where I wanted to be, where those “enlightened people” were.
Eckhart Tolle defines enlightenment as:
The word enlightenment conjures up the idea of some superhuman accomplishment, and the ego likes to keep it that way, but it is simply your natural state of felt oneness with Being.
It is a state of connectedness with something immeasurable and indestructible, something that, almost paradoxically, is essentially you and yet is much greater than you.
It is finding your true nature beyond name and form.
The inability to feel this connectedness gives rise to the illusion of separation, from yourself and from the world around us. (2005, p. 10)
Buddha’s simple definition is said to be:
The end of suffering.
I wanted that. I wanted enlightenment. I was longing for no more suffering, just love and inner peace. I wanted to fight my way to inner peace. I did the hard work—what a paradox. How ironic. I was trying to do instead of be. I was trying to control the uncontrollable. Every time I thought I got it, I lost it. Because as I can see today, I didn’t look within as I was told. I looked in my head. Yeah, that is within, I know, but I was trying to get it intellectually. That was one of my biggest lessons: I wasn’t connected to my heart.
The point here is that I distanced myself from who I was by searching on the outside. I thought a modality, a teacher, guru, or book could give me the key. Many claim they can. We listen to experts instead of ourselves. I believe we can shorten our search for ourselves by looking within, in our hearts and body. By listening to the peaceful, soft, and bright voice within ourselves. The voice that makes us feel good about ourselves. That is who we are. We are already enlightened. I am enlightened. We are all enlightened. The trick is to identify with the “right” voice, remember who we really are, and that within us we have our answers. We cannot become something we already are. Somehow we are “tricked” into believing we are not enlightened and that we have to reach that high level of consciousness where we live in oneness and inner peace. Ironically, we distance ourselves from ourselves to reach something above ourselves that is actually within.
Life is a natural evolution of consciousness. It will all unfold in divine timing. But since our minds are limited, we are not in harmony with life. We get stuck in our minds, which disconnects us from who we are. We can’t rest in the present moment. We keep on moving into the past and the future, creating new moments of suffering based on our past experiences or fear of the future. We get caught in our limited minds and create even more suffering and discord, even though part of us knows there is more to life. We swirl round and round in the carousel of life, unable to break free. We compromise life. We might even accept that suffering is a natural part of life. And yet, part of us knows there is more to it.
Sri Aurobindo wrote in The Life Divine:
All problems of existence are essentially problems of harmony. They arise from the perception of an unsolved discord and the instinct of an undiscovered agreement or unity. To rest content with an unsolved discord is possible for the practical and more animal part of man, but impossible for his fully awakened mind, and usually even his practical parts only escape from the general necessity either by shutting out the problem or by accepting a rough, utilitarian and unillumined compromise. (2017, p. 4)
As a teen I knew there was more to life than suffering and struggle. I also had another secret “mission,” or more of a daydream, that I was going to be part of the big mission to make the world a better place. It may sound naïve and ridiculous, but today those feelings are even stronger, so I am sure of it. A wise man or woman once said:
“When I was young I thought I could change the world.
Now when I’m older, I know I can.”
I truly believe that to make a change in the world, we have to start with ourselves. And we don’t even have to change ourselves per se—just our perspective of things. But the change doesn’t just happen overnight, even if that would be the ideal scenario. It is a journey, albeit a very long one for me, but every day of the trip has been worth it because it has a higher purpose. The journey never ends—there is always further. In an infinite existence, how could it be otherwise? Life is not about the goal of enlightenment. It is about the journey and to enjoy the ride. Maybe that is the ultimate journey of life, to remember more and more of who we really are? On that journey we experience the opposites. To know what white is, everything cannot be white; you have to see the contrast and experience the black. If you only experience “positive,” it would fall flat if you cannot compare it with the “negative.” With that said, I don’t think things are “positive” or “negative”—things just are, and we as humans put our subjective values on them to make them appear good or bad in three-dimensional reality. For the universe—which is everything, us included—to experience itself, it has to experience separation and polarity through us to then experience the higher realms. The natural evolution of man is to re-experience the higher realms via the journey through separation.
When I look back on my journey, I can see how the bits and pieces that didn’t make sense when I was younger just come together as this perfect puzzle. Without the different pieces, I probably wouldn’t have appreciated or felt this enormous gratitude for my life today. And I wouldn’t have had all the experiences that have given me the gift of gratitude either. All the hassles, all the struggling, and the fights—it’s all worth it, today. Those were gifts as well. I just never saw, or appreciated them. Today, it all makes sense. Today, I’m glad that my life was tough from time to time. The more heartache I experienced, the more expanded I became and the more I remembered the “true” me. With every heartbreak my heart opened more, the walls fell down, and I started to live more fully from my heart. That is what brought me here, where I’ve always wanted to be. Being me, just as I am…
Today, that three-year-old-girl is happy. She is dancing, she is shining, and she feels both part of a group and loves being alone as well. She doesn’t want to change anymore. She loves life and herself unconditionally. She feels compassion and she faces her fears until they melt into the light that she is. She loves every single shade of herself. She is an Earth Goddess, she is the universe, she is Mother Earth, she is abundance, peace, and harmony. She is also anger, hatred, judgment, and sadness—and she loves it all. Even when the days seem dark and heavy, she knows all is well. She trusts. And that is pretty big!
I’m THERE where I wanted to get someday. I didn’t actually get there, I was there already. I still haven’t found enlightenment, but I have found myself as I was never lost. I just thought I was. Who knew that all this time I was looking in the wrong place? I looked in the external filing cabinet instead of the internal. I never actually had to do anything as I was perfect all along. How ironic. All I needed to do was to remember and embrace who I was, which most of us have forgotten. We are superheroes in disguise. As my dear friend Liz Ivory says:
“We are all Superman, living the life of Clark Kent.
So you are a Superhero, pretending to be an ordinary person.”
I want you to ask yourself:
- What will make you feel better about yourself: To believe that you are ordinary or to believe you are a superhero with an extraordinary life?
- What will make you feel happier: To believe you are amazing or someone who needs fixing?
I choose to feel I am a superhero and amazing. It just seems to make me happier…