We spend our lives trying to become something. The poor wish to become rich. The rich are, of course, never rich enough. And we all want to become more and more beautiful. But above all, we wish to stop suffering.
So, we look at ourselves. And we think that if we could change a few things about ourselves, we will stop suffering. We will be at peace. But will we?
Our mind has created an ideal of what it thinks we should be. We constantly compare ourselves to this ideal. We judge ourselves endlessly. We condemn ourselves whenever we fail to meet the illusory standards that we have set ourselves.
Can you appreciate the irony? In its quest for inner peace, the mind has tricked us into being in constant conflict with ourselves. It has imprisoned us in a web of duality.
How can there be peace while we walk the path of constant conflict?
It reminds me of the words of one of my favourite poets, Ghalib: “Jo na tha kuch to khuda tha. Jo na hota kuch to khuda hota. Duboya mujh ko hone ne. Jo mein na hota to kya hota.”
“When there was nothing, there was God. If there was nothing, there would still be God. The act of being has drowned me. If I wasn’t, what would I be?”
The path to peace does not involve becoming something. It starts with being aware. Here is a simple exercise to develop awareness.
Sit. Observe. Observe what’s going on around you. Observe what’s going on inside you. Observe your thoughts. Try not to interact with those thoughts. Try not to judge those thoughts. Find yourself judging, nonetheless? Smile. And try again!