This begins your life. Drop the personality and settle in the inner self.

As far as the purpose of life is concerned, it seems we have missed the plot. Seemingly significant concerns like which career to follow, which city to live in, how many children to have, is reduced to nothing in terms of our grand purpose, which is to find out, ‘who am I?’ says Indian guru, Osho. “To discover your ‘being’ is the beginning of life. Then each moment is a new discovery, each moment brings a new joy. Life should be a search, not an ambition to become this or that, to be the president, or to hanker after respectability or prestige.”

It’s much easier said than done. Most people have no idea as to their true nature or how to start finding out who they really are. Mostly we define ourselves through work, the clothes we wear or cars we drive. Once we have sifted through all the external material trappings, we then have to look at the many masks we hide behind or roles we take on. Numerous philosophies speak about overcoming the self or ego as the first step in attaining a higher level of understanding and awakening to the urgency of the search for the real self. This requires abandoning all things trivial, things that distract and dissipate our energies. Finding out who we are isn’t about total self-absorption and introspection but rather about being conscious, alert and aware. It is impossible to surpass the self if it is not first understood.

Eastern sages follow a process of elimination advising us to systematically work out who we are not. Pronouncing, “I am not this”, and “I am not that”, brings a certain understanding as to who we are. A further exercise is to strip off the many deposits of unreality and illusion to reach the core of reality. Going deeper and deeper into the self, unfolding the many layers, past all the external appearances, past our doing and into our being provides more idea of the authentic self. Quite a daunting exercise considering that some of us get nervous when imagining ourselves without a cell phone for five minutes. Essentially what we have to realize is that in this discovery everything that is of the world is not important, is merely a prop or a distraction. What is permanent is the true nature of the self, which is essentially characterized by a profound sense of peace. 

During this journey we should be mindful of the difference between relative truth (the way something appears) and ultimate truth (what actually is), says Buddhist monk, Tai Situ Rinoche. Take the story about the fish. The fish doesn’t know what the ocean is, where it is, how far it extends, the fish doesn’t even imagine that there is such a thing as an ocean. Only when removed and put on the sand does he see there is an ocean he is a part of. Sometimes we have to remove ourselves from our comfort zones or major identity to see more of ourselves. We should also bring awareness to all situations in life. Osho explains that enlightenment to our true nature is not something we try to achieve. Rather it means letting go of more and more, because each letting go frees us from a layer of projection and brings us closer to the underlying reality – the true nature of the mind.

Discovering the authentic self also requires that we kill all other interfering voices. Get rid of the mother, father, teacher voices that keep on reprimanding, undermining or pushing you off course. Osho advises we take life into our own hands. “It is your life. You are not here to fulfil anybody else’s expectations. Stop living other people’s lives and start living your own.” Everything you do should be expressive of you; it should have your unique signature on it.

Uncovering the self does require some truthful recognition of our behaviour, not only good behaviour but the bad parts as well. American psychiatrist, Joseph Dunn, explains how we tend to project our bad feelings onto others. He describes projection as an ability to disown an element of our badness and to dump it on to someone else. He says, “Many people cannot own their own anger but see anger in everything around them. They cannot own up to the fact they have annoyed everyone else and it is their own anger that they are perceiving, mirrored back to them.” Truthful and realistic assessment of our  behaviour goes a long way in cultivating self-responsibility.

Dunn cautions us to be aware of tactics the mind uses to defend or justify our behaviour, preventing us from having an objective view of ourselves. Intellectualising, where emotions or behaviour are discussed, philosophised and labelled is one. Creating a humorous situation out of something serious and in doing so minimising the effect of the behaviour is another. Denial, he says, is one of the most primitive defences of all. If there is a willingness to see all aspects of the self these tactics can usually be identified and so prevented.

All of us have been brought up as children and are very familiar with the child role. For years things were arranged and ordered for us allowing us to be dependent. Often this dependency continues into later life making us look for authorities or parent figures to tell us what to do. We never really come into maturity. We grow old but don’t ever grow up. Maturity incorporates having the understanding to decide for oneself, to be decisive on your own merit. In some way society dissuades this type of responsibility, as then people tend to live by their own rules.

Sometimes we use inauthenticity as armour to protect ourselves being scared of finding what might or might not be there. Osho recommends dropping the personality to bring out individuality. “Personality”, he says,  “is schizophrenic but individuality is a whole, is organic.” Everything that is false or artificial should be renounced. “Be the person you are. Never try to be another, and you will become mature”, he advises. We generally find that people who don’t have a clear sense of who they are, are trying to become somebody else. Maturity comes from accepting the responsibility of being oneself, and risking all to do that, whatsoever the cost.

Maturity can be seen to be synonymous with realization, where we realize our true potential. “Maturity has a fragrance. It gives a tremendous beauty to the individual and gives the sharpest possible intelligence”, says Osho.  Once settled in the inner self, we can expect a great maturity to arise in our actions and behaviour. When this has been achieved,  “You live poetry, your walking becomes dancing, and your silence becomes music.”