Thursday, September 30, 2010

Gnothi Seauton

The title was an in scription on the door to the temple of an oracle at Delphi. It means, "Know Thyself".

Take it as you want, but I believe that it has nothing to do with narcissism but everything to do with facing yourself, for real.

I do not know why, but as I was lying on my bed and extremely comfortable mattress in my room just now, I felt compelled to write something about coming full circle. It's a bit too early, at 30, and perhaps a tad presumptuous to write about coming full circle, but somehow I am compelled to write this.

What? Well, I honestly don't know. Let's see what comes forth, shall we?

I was young, once. And foolish. I am still young, and sometimes do foolish things. But the insight I have gained throughout the years have been exdtremely rewarding.

I started my spiritual journey just interested in learning about myself. In my early 20s, I felt as if everything was one big weird de ja vu moment. As if I have gone through all these things before, and that I knew exactly what was going to happen, but had no power nor interest to change anything.

I was like Christian Walker from Brian Michael Bendis' comic book series Powers. Locked in my head. Conversations were useless, because I felt that I have had all conversations before. Everything was cliched. I was blase. Jaded. Bored.

And boredom, was my greatest enemy.

It would have been easy to stand at the precipice and just jump off, destroying my life, my existence and end up in a spiral of despair.

My very being was attuned to despair and desperation in people. I began sensing it in them, and manipulating it - playing with it - became a new game. I have an addictive personality - which is why I don't do drugs - and I was consumed by this.

I began to see people heading into the deepest, darkest, blackest pits of despair and I was waiting for them at the bottom.

The signs were very clear. To me. People who keep lying to themselves. Believing their own hype. People who run away and make excuses. Those who try to salve their injured egos with pathetic attempts.

I saw it. I took it in. All of it. And for a while, I was the Prince of their Darkness.

And for a while, it was good.

Then, something nagged me. This was not making me happy. Other people's misery simply added to my own.

So I went to Thailand, to seek The Truth. A lot of people expect me to post gaudy, lewd stories of Thai girls shooting ping pong balls from their vaginas. I'm sure you can find those in Thailand, but that was not the reason for my journey. Not the real one.

Thailand provided me space to breathe. To be. I was not stuck in the endless loop of anyone else's drama, or even my own.

I found solace simply eating at shoddy, roach-infested road-side stalls. I walked the streets at night, often alone, and was lost in thought.

I listened to the stories of the go go girls. I spoke to bartenders. I listened to the international community of expats.

The greatest thing was, still, the space to be alone. I began unraveling my own life tapestry. Analyzed it for a long while, over a period of several trips.

On one of those long walks, I saw myself. And is forever free.

Writer. Journalist. Editor. Scriptwriter. Motherfucker. Genius. Fool. Winner. Loser. Geek. Manager. Student. Teacher. Son. Destroyer of worlds. Lord of Destruction. All this, are labels.

They are aspects of me. Functions I perform. But ultimately, they are not me. Even the whole collection of labels do not make the contents.

So, what is I?

In Hindu scriptures, this is the very question asked. Dealing with identity and a sense of self.

"Ohmm. This word is the whole universe. It is explained that everything that is past, present and future, is Ohm. And whatever that is beyond these divisions of time, is also ohm. In the beginning, there was only the self like the person alone. Looking around, there was nothing save for itself. It first said, 'I am', and so came the name, 'I'. So now when it is asked, 'Who is there?', the answer is, 'It is I' and then gives whatever name he has. The self is afraid, as one who is alone is afraid. 'Since there is nothing beside myself, of what am I afraid?'"

The question was explored by Descartes, who said, 'cogito, ergo sum' - 'I think, therefore I am'. Sartre, many years later, upon reading Descartes, wrote, 'the self that thinks is not the one who says it is am'.

I shall not offend Muslims with my incomplete and inaccurate quotes from the Koran.

The thought lingered in my mind for years. Who is the observer, and whose perspective am I - and who is this I? - looking at the world?

It finally explained the sense of eternal de ja vu I had. I was not reincarnated into the same life. I was simply observing myself living life itself.

There is a self that is detached from common self. This, is the true self. The self that has labels applied on to it, is not true self. It is simply a projection of something more. Something else.

We are not our egos. We are not our thoughts. We are not our emotions. We are not that small.

"You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake! You are not your bank account! You are not the clothes you wear! You are not the contents of your wallet! You are not your grande latte! You are not your bowel cancer! You are not your fucking khakis!" said Tyler Durden in the movie Fight Club.

And he is right. These things are all just images. Illusory. Accumulated over time, and ephemereal.

In order to realise your self, you need to let go. Fighting them only makes them stronger.

You have to give up. You have to surrender. You need to accept it all. And transcend.

A sense of contentedness washes over me. Which me? The me that observes. The me that is aware. The me that is limitless, the me that is beyond definition. Beyond boundaries. The me that is free.

I don't know how this counts as coming full circle, but I no longer feel the compulsion to write this. I am going to do some work now. Cheers!