Around 567 years BCE, Siddhartha Gautama, later to be given the appellation Buddha, was raised sheltered by his father in a palace at the foothills of the Himalayas. One day, while outside the walls of the palace, Siddhartha encountered old age, sickness, and death in the streets of the city over which his family ruled. Confronted by the reality of such an experience, he devoted his life to finding a way to eradicate suffering. Later, as the story goes, while meditating under a bodhi tree he became enlightened.
I encourage you to go read more of the interim years between the Siddhartha’s fated experience outside the walls of his father’s house, and his later enlightenment in which he become a Buddha. There are many universal lessons and truths hidden within our myths and legends.
Not unlike Siddhartha, the reality we think we are living in is separate and disconnected from true reality. Only there’s isn’t some universal monarch sheltering us from this truth. We have been conditioned to ignore the pervasive experience of truth sitting right outside the door of our everyday life (if we’re lucky enough to have a door behind which to hide).
But some of us are waking up to that conditioning. We realize that the story we’ve been fed from birth is, for lack of a better word, bullshit.
How to get ahead
We’ve been fed inconsistent and contradictory ideas for so long, they are starting to make sense to us. For example, we’ve been taught to be wary of religious doctrine, yet be uncompromising and dogmatic in our beliefs. When was the last time you agreed to disagree?
We’ve been taught to make our own way, to be self-sufficient and not rely on others to make our own way, but then to take loans out to fund the biggest expenditures of our life: education and home ownership (don’t worry, you’ll have real freedom someday AFTER you qualify to buy a house by giving up all your authority and initiative to a corporation that deems to keep you around for at least two years). How many of you are still pursuing that dream?
We’ve been conditioned to value free time and a carefree attitude over connection and deep reverence. Wealth is being able to afford not to care, whether it’s the price of whole, organic foods or the fact that people are living on our streets without safety or warmth. Is getting ahead really worth it?
Think back to the last time you took an action not because it improved your individual life, but because it was the right thing for the greater community in which you live. Taking these small but impactful actions are the moments that connect us to the greater whole.
How to get enough
So I ask you to commit to taking one action a day that you wouldn’t have normally, in pursuit of your truth: whether it be changing your opinion based on new information, reconciling with a lost lover or familial relationship, picking up the garbage on your street, or telling someone when you think they’re beautiful. SHARE YOURSELF! Share what you see with others, be in relationship, show up to your community.
In doing so, I promise you will find what it means to be YOU—a unique being inhabiting this Earth at this time with us. We’re looking for you. We (will) see you.
Matthew Koren founded Spirit in Transition in 2015, a business consulting firm specializing in building high-performance learning organizations, teams and individuals.