To be able to be original and authentically creative, I feel one has to be his own real self. It is of prime importance to really discover one's real self, and relate to the outer world from being one's own self. It is the most important task in one’s life is to realize one’s own self, develop it, and keep growing gradually to be a person what one has found out to be ideal – for himself. Life is an ongoing journey to carve out the best in oneself; the best that one feels is his own best, for which he is proud of, and being who, enables him to use and realize his own potential.
This has been beautifully expressed by Plotinus[204-270 AD] - a neo Platonic philosopher, as follows, in his book Enneads –
“Withdraw into yourself and look. And if you do not find yourself beautiful yet, act as does the creator of a statue that is to be made beautiful: he cuts away here, he smoothes there, he makes this line lighter, this other dark, until a lovely face has grown out of his work.
So do you also: Cut away all that is excessive, straighten all that is overcast, labor to make all one glow in beauty and never cease chiseling your statue, until there shall shine out on you from it the God like splendor of virtue, until you see the perfect goodness strongly established in the stainless shrine.”
I have tried to symbolically express that process of chiseling one’s perfect self through the series of my poems - http://criativ-mind.blogspot.in/search/label/SIMONI%20SERIES
This series constitutes of 15 poems on a fictitious renaissance sculptor Michel Simoni. He goes on carving out a statue in marble, most of his life. Eventually in his spontaneous activity of perfecting the statue he falls in love with it. The statue symbolizes Simoni’s real self. With all wisdom, scholastic pursuits, life’s experiences, contemplation, and actions, Simoni tries to discover his real self, and then goes on perfecting that real self – in this case the statue – which he names – “The lady with the most beautiful eyes.” As the statue comes to completion, he has almost lived his entire life, and dies out. But before dying he sees to it that he has perfected his real self (the statue) to such a high level of beauty, that the Gods even fall in love with his statue – symbolizing attainment of godliness. There are times when Apollo himself descends from the Mount Olympus, being lovelorn with the statue (the real self of Simoni).
As it is important to discover, sustain and grow one’s own real self, it is also important to save it from harm. As the immune system of the body is needed to save it from the onslaught of the infections from countless pathogens all around, the self has also to be actively saved from harm. The pathogens that kill the self are life circumstances, people, activities, attitudes, etc which goes to diminish one’s own self. Having said that I do not mean that such entities in life are bad, and one’s own self is good. I just want to express that those entities are different, and contributes in diminishing one’s own self. And the self has to be actively guarded from those.
There is this beautiful story told about Buddha. When he was spending years in meditation and contemplation, in forest, there used to pass a rich trader by him, daily. He was a wealthy and very successful man. He used to blame Buddha saying that he is totally un-productive, and is wasting his life sitting idly under the tree, without doing anything productive. Going by today’s standards too, that seems logical. Buddha continued to meditate and did not get perturbed. This trader continued to do so for a very long time. Each day he used to come, and rebuke Buddha. But Buddha did not change. Years passed by. As the trader started growing old, it was one day, when something happened to him, and this day, instead of seeing Buddha in the eyes of hatred and shouting at him with contempt, he fell down on this feet. He pleaded Buddha to forgive him, because he realized that he had hurt Buddha throughout his life. Buddha opened his eyes, and with a smile said, “You did not hurt me. Whatever you had to give, I never took.”
I feel that is the key! People give what they have. If a person is grounded in hatred, narrowness, selfishness, and in the spree just to take, he will be able to give only that. There is nothing else he can give, as he has nothing more than that. If one takes these poisons, he will be killing his own self. It is important not to take these, and actively save oneself from the company of such entities. The idea is not only about saving oneself from such people. But also saving oneself from such ideas, thoughts, events, actions, and attitudes. Having said that I do not mean that one should not take constructive feedback to improve oneself. One has to do so, through contemplation, active listening, reading, experimenting, trying out stuffs, and living life fully. But one has to exercise discrimination on what he is taking in. It is same as food. If I taken in a poisonous food, I harm my body. Similarly, if I take in a harmful thought, remark, opinion, I harm my real self. One has to develop his strength and finesse in hearing such remarks, being in such circumstances, interacting with such people, but at the same time, not taking what diminishes his real self. To repeat, this does not mean such entities are bad. It only means they are foreign to one’s real self, and they help in no way to chisel one’s own sculpture to the awesome beauty, so that even Apollo can fall in love for.
This exercise is not easy. One has to understand what I am prescribing is not entering into a cocoon, and increasing one’s separateness from others. Rather it is contrary to that. One has to actively understand and relate to others with supreme concern, responsibility, care, objectivity, faith, respect and love. One has to be productively oriented being able to discern aspects which are ostensibly and apparently not visible. One should at the same time, give space for affirmation of the self of others too. What is considered poison for my self, might be what nourishes the other self, and that is perfectly valid. That is the beauty of this life – people are different. It would be so boring if I would see images of my self, all over!! Certainly I would hate to be in such a monotonous world. So, it is not about hating the entities who are not like me. Rather it is loving them, and giving them their nourishment to survive and flourish. But at the same time, one has to actively save one’s own self. Remember, Buddha did not go and kill that trader. He gave that trader his space and freedom to behave the way he pleased – sometimes rebuking him, sometimes pleading for forgiveness. It is irrelevant what was the action the trader chose. But whatever he chose, he was free to do. A proper space and respect was given to him to behave and react the way what he found correct and in-line to his own real self.
So, part of realizing one’s real self, is affirming other’s self at the same time. It is very important. Human solidarity is the necessary condition for the unfolding of any one individual.