So many self help books and gurus focus on how to fix yourself and turn you into the person you’ve always wanted to be. But this implies that you’re somehow broken. That the problems you struggle with were hardwired into you from the start. What if all this is hogwash? Then you could stop fixing yourself and start living your life.
I fell in love with a very slim book on philosophy called “Radically Condensed Instructions for Being Just as You Are” by J Matthew’s. I know…what a title! It sounds like it would give guidance on how to set up your new Wi-Fi router. But it’s chock full of advice on nonduality.
What is nonduality? I’m still walking down this path, so my definition is still a little clumsy. Basically, it posits that the world is not real — it all stems from an illusion created by our mind and senses.
Putting the heavy duty philosophy aside for a moment, how can this help us?
The Rabbit in the Magician’s Hat
Matthews spins a story of a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat — a trick that’s become synonymous with magic. So…how does the magician pull the rabbit out of the hat? Well, they put the rabbit in there beforehand.
Let that sink in a moment. The magician sets up the trick so that when it comes time to perform, they can wow the audience. Seems like a no-brainer.
Now, let’s extend that to ourselves. Why is it that we think our life is so full of problems? Well, could it be that we put the problems in there beforehand? We are the source of our own problems.
Holding on to Our Problems
Take your phone and hold it out at arm’s length. Now keep it there for as long as possible. At first, this is an easy task. But over time, your muscles fatigue, your arm shakes. Your whole body might suffer. How do we end this suffering…? Just put the phone down.
The allegory here is that we do the same thing with our problems. We hold onto them. They may seem small at first, but overtime they stress our bodies out. We are the ones that decided to hold onto this problem in the first place. Yet why is it so hard to put these problems down?
The Present Moment
The solution is something that is personally quite hard to accomplish — living totally in the present moment. Just because what’s happening right now is distasteful, we can’t abandon it for the nostalgic past or the promising future. The present moment is where we are actually living.
We can love the self we are right now, even if we aren’t exactly thrilled with what’s going on.
Those problems you think you have…they were most likely created by you. And then reinforced by others. If we can learn to love our present selves, then we can put those problems down.
You already are the best person possible.