Reflecting on what got me into exploring spirituality, one important aspect was not being able to take as a given, most ‘conventional wisdom’ doing the rounds. You know the witty poster quotations and the inspirational one-liners or often two-word-ers like ‘love yourself’, ‘be original’, yada, yada. Instead of readily accepting these exhortations, I wanted to know why? And moreover, I was a little annoyed at having to take advice from other people in the sense of, why don’t I know these things myself? This kind of questioning led me into a deeper understanding of human life and purpose.
Let’s take a look at one of the flighty aphorisms that many of us have grown up with and which, perhaps as in my case, makes you think straight-away of a sports-wear advertisement : ‘be original’. But instead of taking its casual, up-front meaning, I want to explore a more spiritual dimension.
The spiritual guru Mooji often says to ‘remove all that is not original to you’. Being original in this sense is being the true Self. Having a brutally honest go at trying to be original then means casting off all the ideas we have about ourselves that are a product of our conditioning, acquisitions and the results of our various decisions and actions in life. We are originally not our education, our career, our relationship status, our Pinterest saves, our Retweets, our Facebook likes, our Spotify playlists, our nationality, skin colour,….you get the idea. We are not even that idea.
Attaching ourselves to all kinds of things and ideas is the reason we suffer, as guru Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev constantly reminds us. We believe all kinds of things based on our conditioning and when those beliefs come under attack by say, things in the world happening counter to them, we suffer. The advice ‘be original’ in the sense of thinking up special ideals about ourselves, may be helpful in enabling us to achieve certain things in the world, but it is not Truth.
Explored in this way, ‘conventional wisdom’ often seems to have two levels of meaning – one worldly and the other, spiritual. ‘Being original’ in the world means having your own ideas while ‘being original’ in the spiritual sense means having none. Being original in the worldly sense means being different – like artwork, like a painting. But by being truly original, one might find that in fact no one really is special – we are just all the same stuff. We are not the painting. We are the canvas. In other words, ‘being original’ reminds you of how unoriginal you are.
What a relief. Now you don’t have to buy those expensive sports shoes.
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