Instead of "I'm going to _______ (Europe, the Himalayas, the woods, my garden shed) to find myself," you have all you need in the people around you.
At some point along the way, many of us feel like we don't know who we are.
We get a vague sense that there's something missing: some awareness, some understanding about life and ourselves that is possible but which eludes us.
The common story goes that if we want to 'find ourselves' we need to go off on our own in search of ourselves. Backpacking through Europe was the common destination when I was in my late teens, early twenties. And then it was India and Southeast Asia.
Some people would mock it, but many of us were like, "I get it." We feel like somewhere along the way, we may have lost ourselves and have to go back in search of that lost one.
I've had some very sacred times on my own, no doubt about it. Spending time in nature, especially. It's a special type of communing and of contemplating, away from our typical people interactions. But also traveling alone to other countries where the cultural differences challenge my sense of self and beliefs.
They've been powerful, eye-opening, inspiring learning experiences.
But there's nothing inherent in them that lets me learn about myself. For that, I turn to my relationships.
Krishnamurti said, "All life is relationship" and often referred to "the mirror of relationship." He also spoke about how no two people have ever met: what meets are concepts. My concepts about who I am and who you are meet your concepts about who I am and who you are. So, four apparent people are meeting here. Eckhart Tolle speaks about this too.
Will the real ________ [insert your name] please stand up?
Byron Katie says, "I am who you believe me to be." What she's pointing to here is the same thing: that we are interacting with our concepts about Katie -- who we think she is -- when we think about her or interact with her. What else is possible?
So where does that leave us and what does it mean for helping us to find out who we are? And do we even need to? I mean, what does that actually do for us?
Well, first of all ... we need not ever do anything. I love this about The Work. It's never about 'shoulds' or 'needs' or 'have tos.' It's just about noticing cause and effect, noticing how reality actually is, about noticing the difference between what hurts us and what doesn't.
And believing certain things onto the people we are in relationship with -- whether familial (mother, father, sister, brother, daughter, son) or work colleagues or romantic partners -- will always hurt.
Not because we shouldn't believe certain things, but because Life is always trying to support us to wake up to the actual nature of reality.
It does this by signalling when we're not aware of what's true in any given moment. We often notice the signal as "stress" but it is any type of suffering. Katie calls it "the temple bell:" "Wake up, you're in the dream!"
This is the origin of the Judge Your Neighbour Worksheet (or, JYN, for short) that Katie created when she noticed that these are the beliefs the mind repeats over and over: I want them to _____, They should/shouldn't ______, I need them to _____
It's a fantastic tool for catching all of the judgments we have about a particular person so that we can notice what's going on in this mind of ours. It's a way to sloooow it down so we can question what we've been believing our whole lives that might not be true.
(And, again, it's not that you shouldn't think those things ... there is no moral code in this work, it's about noticing what happens when we 100% believe something that deep down we know isn't true ... It's stressful. And it creates your whole world. For those of you who have heard about the Law of Attraction and the premise that "we create our own reality" ... this is what that means.)
And by the way, for those of you who have trouble accepting you have judgments about others, it's not personal. What you think of as your mind is actually the mind. In other words, we all have the same mind. It's not personal to you. Phew.
Oh, and here's some more proof: did you decide to think those judging thoughts or did they just sort of appear? We believe we're the thinker but if you notice, there's no "on" switch for thinking. And no off. (We'd love it if there were, right?!) As Katies says, We're being thought.
So, judge away! This ... this ... is the sacred path to self-knowledge.
How is looking at our judgments about others a path to learn the truth about ourselves?? Because our beliefs are allll about us. They're not about them. It's obvious when you stop and think about it for a sec, right?
Katie calls this path The Work because it takes a willingness to sit and to look.
I like thinking of it as MAKING NOISE ... because from a young age we were all taught to be quiet, behave, be nice and on and on. We grew afraid to step out of line. We're all trying to just understand and then follow the rules.
But if you feel at all stressed in your life, at all confused or lost, or have less than loving relationships, then it's time to let yourself let in all of those noisy judgments -- like opening the floodgates -- and question them as a way to see yourself.
SIT in SILENT STILLNESS
... and find your way back to your beautiful Self.