“I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.” –Bruce Lee
We are never truly free until we are fully authentic in our lives. Authentic in who we are and what we stand for indifferent to the judgement and opinions around us. Authentic in our thoughts and our actions. Too often our lives are spent trying to cater to the expectations of another. We make decisions and take action based on the thoughts and opinions of the people in our lives. We are imprisoned in the masks that we wear far away from our authentic self, the inner being within us, our source. Our inner being is free of judgment and fear. Our authentic self is not confined by our sex, status, or race. It is not confined by some defined role, or predestined life. It is not even confined by our body as our authentic self is our vibrating energy that cannot be created or destroyed. Once we get past the masks we wear, and the internal and external judgement, we strip away the layers to a space of nothing. It is here in this space of nothing that we find stillness, and in this stillness our inner being and divine light. It is here that we find our purpose and what we stand for in this lifetime. We cannot evolve on our spiritual path until we strip away our layers and are authentic in every phase of our lives.
I know this deeply as it took me forty years to understand this. I had built up a life of masks and lies. I couldn’t see it at the time but I was expending considerable energy trying to please my parents, my friends, my workmates, my children, and others in who I felt they wanted me to be. My energy was spent on going to school, finding a certain type of job, even getting married all to please what I thought others wanted to see from me. I was a slave to the judgement and opinion around me. I was a slave to my mind creating most of these thoughts, all generated out of fear in that I would not be lovable or good enough if I didn’t conform to what I thought others wanted to see and hear from me. Year after year I churned out this life and I was shackled to a life of lies. When I began to meditate, and awaken I realized how inauthentic I was in my life in every area. I would act a certain way to my workmates, a different way to a certain set of friends and another to others. I acted a certain way to my family, and to my parents. When I realized this I cried as I didn’t realize how pervasive my inauthenticity really was. My life of lies was incredibly heavy as I carried around all of these expectations from others. When I cut this baggage and removed my masks I became free. My spirit lit up and lived in the space that anything was possible in my life and I could be anything that I chose to be. I do not have words to express how light and alive I felt after choosing an authentic way of being. Choosing this path was not easy and I was worried I would fall back into an inauthentic way of being so I found a necklace of wood mala beads and wrapped this around my wrist as a constant reminder to never allow this to happen again. I have since added another necklace to the other wrist to balance this out, and nearly 10 years later I still wear this every day as a reminder to always think and act in an authentic way.
When I initially chose this way of being it was difficult at first. There were friends and family used to my way of being for many, many years. Often we mock what we don’t understand. I had college friends make fun of me for my beliefs in meditation and being a vegetarian. My mother to this day refuses to admit I wrote my first book as it has the word Buddha in the title. It took me many years to finally understand that I’m not responsible for other people’s happiness. I’m here to act with integrity, with authenticity and with love. You be you, and I’ll be me. The challenging thing about living an authentic life is that far too often it is the people closest to our lives, like our friends and family that challenge our beliefs and try to steer us onto a different path. It takes courage to live an authentic life, to live from our heart. There is no one that you have answer to on this planet other than the person you look at in the mirror. It is this person alone that you have to look at deeply, past those eyes staring back at you, deep into your soul. This is the person you have to answer for a life fully lived, for a life lived authentically and with love, for a life that pulls up humanity. On your last breath in this lifetime you want to be able to answer your inner voice in that you lived a life on the edge, authentically and from your heart. When you can live your life in this way, past your fear and with authenticity then you will truly be free.