Whose life are you living?

Picture from Stock Xchng

I came across a blog entry today at The Kyrios Blog on being your own master. In it, the author, Mike McCain, talks about the importance of being true to who you really are. He suggests simplifying your life and getting rid of any garbage that is getting in the way of being you. I liked the fresh approach to addressing the idea of being yourself in a world where often we are challenged by others who prefer that we adapt our behaviour to suit their wants and needs. While earlier in his life Mike found himself in opposition to people around him in a way that he felt was not true to himself,  today he finds that his behaviour falls in with the needs of others. Yet, it’s worth examining what we need to do when our soul dictates that we walk a path that our friends and families don’t support.

How courageous do we need to be in order to live the life our inner being dictates? We can look to the great Zen masters who were ruthless in their pursuit of truth and often behaved in ways that ignored societal norms. In one popular koan, a great teacher would hold up one finger in answer to his students’ questions. When a young student of his decided to emulate the master’s answer, but without the understanding that went along with the action of raising one finger, the master promptly cut off the student’s finger, at which point the student became enlightened.

There are many such stories of stern and dramatic tactics used by the great masters to liberate their students from attachment to fixed ideas. So we can accept the challenge at least to step out of our comfort zones to explore those aspects of ourselves we’ve tucked away because they haven’t fit in with the norms we encounter. We do not need to resort to drastic measures, but we can ask ourselves often throughout the day if the things we do and the thoughts we have are our own.

The next step then is to recognize when we are emulating another without understanding – and take original action with awareness by tuning into what our soul is truly calling us to do. In that way, we won’t always need to encounter the pain of loss in order to discover who we really are.