You may have noticed that our world is something of a chaotic place lately. Loud. Noisy. Frantic. Angry. Violent. Fearful. Just watch the news. Actually, don’t. And by ‘world’, I mean the physical world we inhabit, not the self-created one inside our head. Although that can be a pretty awful place too. When we let it be.
A Personal Search
For me, a large part of the last decade has been something of a personal expedition beyond the world of logic, academia, business, conventional thinking, religion and even (the traditional approach to) personal development. While all of those things serve a purpose and have value (of course), I wanted to see what lives beyond them. After all, sometimes terms like ‘logic’ and ‘common sense’ are just euphemisms for fear and not-knowing-any-different. And, to be completely honest, sometimes success doesn’t feel very, er, successful.
If you know what I mean.
I arrived at a point in my life where I had an overwhelming sense that, despite my reasonable education, mildly successful career and alleged knowledge and intelligence, I was missing out on something that could be fundamental to my existence, my future and to my potential growth. I wanted to see what existed beyond my programming. Beyond my (then) ‘current world view’. My social conditioning. My default setting. My comfort zone. My formal education. My self-limiting beliefs. My expectations. My fears. And my prejudices.
I considered the notion that maybe my concept of how the world and all its intricacies ‘worked’ (life, death, people, relationships, spirituality, wealth, happiness, misery, success, failure, fear, destiny, etc.) was the very thing which held me back. I also considered the notion that perhaps my over-thinking mind was, ironically, my barrier to learning, understanding and enjoying a new way of being. I wanted to learn more about my non-cerebral self.
Could it be that in some ways, with some issues, I was missing the point? Could my mind possibly be a handicap (with some things)? Could it be that I’ve been taught things – perhaps many things – which simply aren’t true? Or maybe, not true for me. But surely if enough people believe the same thing, it must be true?
Much of the information (teaching) you and I receive (from about kindergarten onwards) tells us that success, and therefore happiness, is largely about what we can accumulate, do, achieve, control, own and look like. I decided to explore what success might look like working from the inside-out and not the other way around (the conventional model).
A Glimpse of What Might Be
Have you ever had an experience, perhaps a brief moment in time, when a door to a different world was opened for you? Perhaps a moment when you got a glimpse of something more than your current perception of reality? A time when you secretly (or maybe openly) questioned everything you’ve ever thought, believed and known? A time when you realised that maybe there is a different way to ‘do’ life? A different way to experience, think (or not think), feel and be?
For me, there came a stage when I realised that the way I saw the world was just that: the way I saw it. My version of reality. And that in itself can be a limitation. Doesn’t have to be, but can be. This realisation, this awakening, was the beginning of my journey towards consciousness. Or, should I say, a more conscious version of me. I committed to becoming more aware, more open and less ‘right’. Damn that need to be right.
I determined to stop thinking that I knew so much, to stop assuming and to stop finding comfort and safety in the familiar and the cerebral. And no, I didn’t have any plans to become some kind of soft-speaking, all-knowing, sandal-wearing mystical, magical, enlightened guru living in a cave and writing sacred texts on parchment (although, I don’t mind a good sandal and I do like a nice piece of parchment) but rather, just a simple and hopeful desire to become a more conscious, aware and humble person.
Imagine you’ve spent your entire life in a medium-sized town (probably not a stretch for some of you). And living in that medium-sized town, your parents have always warned you, no, they have ordered you, not to venture down certain streets or to go into certain areas. For your own good. You’re told not to go down those streets because it’s dangerous. Unsafe. You might get hurt. Bad things happen there. Since you were a kid, you were taught that all you ever needed for happiness and security existed in ‘your part’ of town.
Strangely, nobody in your part of town ever seemed to be particularly happy.
Then one day you’re an adult and you make a bold decision to talk to your parents about life beyond the safe-zone. You’ve been curious for a long time but nobody ever discusses it. Ever. You wonder why. You feel you’re now old enough to know exactly what lies beyond those safe and familiar (and let’s be honest, boring) streets. You want to know more. To have some insight into a world beyond the only one you’ve ever experienced.
You muster up the courage to ask your father exactly what it’s like down those forbidden streets. You want details. You tell him it’s time. You ask the question and he stares at you blankly. He says nothing. He looks a little guilty and sheepish; two looks you’ve never seen before. You ask again. More silence. Your stomach sinks a little as you begin to realise something. Something big. You look to your mother. She shrugs her shoulders and looks to the ground. Your stomach churns. You realise they’ve never been there. They have no answers for you. Only fear. Fear of the unknown.
They’ve trained you to be terrified of something they know nothing about. Just as they themselves were trained.
In desperation, you run to the phone and dial your grandfather: the wise old family patriarch. He will know. He knows everything. Two minutes later you put down the phone. Shattered and disillusioned, you walk slowly to the window. You feel physically ill. You stare out and wonder what lies beyond your familiar surroundings. All of a sudden, those streets you know so well have come to represent something else. In a heartbeat you make a decision to take a trip. You tell your concerned parents you’re going on a journey. They panic. They protest. Scared of the unknown.
They have built their own prison. And you decide you’ve been an inmate for too long.
You fill a backpack with some supplies and prepare yourself mentally. You’re not really sure what to pack because you don’t know where you’re going, what you’ll find or when you’ll return. Or even, if you’ll return. You walk out of the house and, as you do, you close the door on a lifetime of fear, control, pointless repetition, repression and self-limiting beliefs. You love your parents and they love you but, despite your respect for them and appreciation of them, you don’t want to become them.
As you begin your walk, your heart is filled with hope and possibilities. In a moment of clarity and insight, a small voice tells you that an important part of the journey ahead is really about what you’re leaving behind: insecurity, fear, self-doubt, self-limiting thinking, crazy rules and destructive beliefs.
As you reach the outer limits of the ‘safe-zone’ your irrational (but understandable) childhood fears have been replaced with curiosity and excitement. Before long, you have travelled further than ever before and to your surprise and delight, the new place is not terrifying at all. In fact, it’s beautiful. And magical. Even though you’ve never been there, you feel like you’ve come home. For the first time ever, you feel like you belong.
Knowledge Beyond Education
It’s my belief that in the process of life we often allow ourselves to become disconnected from our inner intelligence. From the ‘knowing’ we have beyond our experiences. Beyond our education. Beyond logic. Beyond what we’ve been told to believe and trained to do. I believe we’re all born with an intelligence and a consciousness that’s hard-wired into our DNA. There are things we ‘just know’ without ever having been taught them. In animals we call this instinct.
We humans have no problem believing in the ability of animals to just know certain things. However, when it comes to us very educated, intellectual and over-thinking humans, we often find ways to discount things such as inbuilt knowledge. Or human instinct. Some call it genetic intelligence. And sadly, for many of us, if we can’t see it, touch it, measure it, graph it or explain it, we won’t believe in it. Or even consider it.
Sometimes science is a limitation. As is knowledge.
Being a fundamentally flawed (but eternally curious) alpha-male, I’m still using my training wheels to explore the realms of consciousness and enlightenment. My ‘L’ plate is firmly fastened around my neck as I learn, grow and continue to ask questions. I know next-to-nothing but what I do know, excites me. The ideas of ‘tuning in to’ my genetic intelligence and becoming a more conscious being are things that simply feel right for me. Overdue even.
Choosing to live consciously in an unconscious world presents many challenges, opportunities and lessons. It also presents me with a chance to experience life beyond those old familiar streets of my own medium-sized town.