Becoming yourself; why is it so difficult? Live from within yourself; radiate from within yourself; be yourself – how do you do that?
To start with: you grow up in this world with an image of how people are. And that image is presented to you by things like tradition, your parents, literature and religion, etc. Those ideas hang in the air around you and you internalize them.
What is that image? That you are not really good or beautiful as a person. It is sometimes called the varnish theory: what we call civilization is an outer layer. All the rules of our society, all the laws, spiritual precepts and so on, are necessary for a person to behave somewhat decently. Without those rules, the idea is, man is a selfish animal that only thinks of itself. “Homo homini lupus” is a well-known Latin proverb: “Man is a wolf to his fellow man.”
Many have internalized this image. However, strict adherence to rules leads to the suppression of all kinds of feelings and inclinations, which therefore acquire a distorted character. Not being able or allowed to express yourself leads to anger, resentment, and frustration in all kinds of areas. As a result, people do indeed start to believe they are bad, which is how the system maintains itself. So the image of ourselves that we have come to internalize is: by following the rules you may appear good, but you are essentially not good.
When you have that image of yourself, what are you going to do? You then think: “I shouldn’t show myself, because my true nature is bad. I have to adapt. I have to suppress my own nature.” The idea that you are not allowed to be yourself, that you have to suppress yourself because you are actually not good, is very deep. The whole process of growing up, educating, and becoming an adult is actually aimed at that: to suppress your nature, the child inside you, because that nature is selfish and out of control and has to be suppressed, has to be shaped. And adapting and learning to conform to the existing rules, to the existing world, is good. If you eventually do that, you will be a successful adult.
This idea is at odds with everything spirituality teaches us. Spirituality is attention to what is inside a person. It is what is inside that matters. In that interior is something very beautiful, something that is pure and good, which can be seen, which can be accepted, especially by yourself. Because of the training you have undergone, it usually takes a lot of time to accept that.
Consider the following. You see something beautiful: a flower, the stars, a lovely landscape. Or you hear beautiful music. You look or listen and think: how beautiful this is. Realize this: the beauty you experience when you look at a flower is within you. If that beauty was not within you, you would not be able to enjoy that beauty outside you. An animal that looks at a flower, for example a dog, does not experience beauty. The dog just sees something and thinks: can I eat it, yes, no; what does it smell like? And that is it. The experience of beauty is only possible because that beauty is already within you: you are that beauty. And from that experience of beauty, a deep interaction occurs. The moment you experience that the Earth, the sea, nature, is beautiful, or you enjoy the presence of an animal, you give something. The flower feels seen, becomes aware of its own beauty.
To see and experience beauty is to share your own beauty. To perceive beauty, and to radiate its awareness, is an act of creation. The moment you are touched by something beautiful, you create. So all the beauty you see is already inside you. What does this mean? It simply means that you are beautiful inside. Every human being is born with a sense of beauty, a sense of truth, a sense of goodness. It all comes from what I call the soul: the soul of a person.
But if you think you are bad inside, that you have to suppress yourself, that you have to adapt to the rules of this society, that you can not stand out, what do you do? You suppress your soul. The very idea that man is evil inside leads to the soul being suppressed and unable to manifest itself in this world. What is the consequence of that? That humanity does not blossom, that humanity does not live from the soul, but from fear. And what do you do when you are afraid: you want to control life, control people and situations, you want to play the boss. That is what is happening to the world. Humanity is the boss. We live in a time called “the Anthropocene”: the time when humans occupy a disproportionate share of this world, and animals and plants are increasingly displaced. This puts everything under pressure.
Despite everything a man owns, all his big cities, industries, and technologies, man is not happy. Why not? Because he thinks he is bad. Inside he does not believe in himself. He races on, continues to build, conquers the world. He oppresses and disrupts nature and this planet. That is why it is so important that people turn inwards, say “yes” to themselves and stop judging themselves. By saying “yes” to yourself, accepting yourself completely, you let go of fear and love starts to flow. You experience your own beauty again, your sense of truth, which is expressed in your intuition and knowing what is right. You will live and act from your heart.
Let go of the fear that you are not good, let yourself go completely.
Stop oppressing yourself, be yourself. Become yourself.
That starts with turning inward because there is where you are. You are not in the world around you.
You are not your car, your home, your relationship or your work.
– You are yourself.
Translation from Dutch by Gerrit Gielen and Frank Tehan