What matters is who you are, not what you say
Right now is a time of mass suffering and grief, for many people, for many reasons. There are so many claims and arguments, demands and conciliations. So with all that’s going on, I think it’s important to ask ourselves the question: what really matters?
I’ve asked myself that question, and here’s the answer that I’ve been given.
What matters is who you are on the inside. Not what you say on the outside.
And what matters is not what you feel right now, in response to what’s going on in the world. What matters is who you are, who you’ve been, and who you’ll be, regardless of what’s going on in the world outside.
Because the way we treat others comes from the way we treat ourselves — it tells people more about us than about them. And so hate towards any person, reflects the ignorance of the one who holds the hate. Hate towards a group, similarly reflects ignorance, but not only that — hate towards a group reflects an deep inner suffering, which forces us to see others as a threat, when in reality they are not. By removing the inner suffering, we are able to change the way we see people external to ourselves.
All people are in need of connection. Rejecting the possibility to connect with other people, because of prejudice or hate, only deepens our inner suffering. But we cannot see this, because we are so entitled to our beliefs. We find ways to validate them, find others who believe the same.
But the goal in life is not to find people to believe in the same things as you. The goal is to expand your circle of tolerance to include as many beliefs as possible. People are defined by the way they treat others, not by what they believe. If a highly religious person does not force his beliefs on an atheist, they should be able to get along. But a person who believes all Christians are bad will not be able to connect with people, therefore that goes against the only real purpose each individual has in life, and represents a toxicity which comes from within — which is an expression of suffering.
Beliefs which are based on a certain negative perception of others then, are simply wrong, because they negatively affect our ability to act in an inclusive way with those people. Any belief which impedes our ability to connect with others is rooted in ego. Ego is the bouncer to the club of happiness. However, it is also very deceiving, because ego also offers us a great deal on confidence. Ego says to us: “I’ll give you all the confidence in the world, as long as you let me represent you to others”. So you say yes, because we all want to be confident. But the ego gives you a cheap knockoff form of confidence — it gives you a confidence to justify your hate, prevents you from being tolerant, from making connection. It keeps you in a state of suffering.
And this is where it gets tricky: The more suffering one is holding, the larger the ego. And the more difficult it will become to let go of the ego, because the larger the ego, the more confident you become, and the more confident you become, the more you identify with your ego. Only by separating your identity with your ego can you let go of the suffering and open yourself up to connection. But the choice to let go has to come from within. It cannot be taught by any person.
What’s the best way to shake yourself away from identification with the ego?
The answer is forcing yourself into new experiences. Travel. Get used to being in places where you are not immediately validated for being of the majority race. Get used to being a minority. Get used to being alone. First make a connection with your inner self, the part of you that is not defined by ego, and then build a relationship with that self. That self is the one you should be nurturing. Once you recognize that self, you start to be able to realize that it’s on your side. That you’ve been “feeding” the wrong self this whole time. That the confidence you’ve been building up was actually a complacency with suffering, and that ego is not your friend. You start to see yourself as part of a greater whole. You can now acknowledge the suffering, and the road to being free of suffering is clear. Feed the inner self. Starve the ego.
How do you feed the inner self?
With combination of rational thinking, and mindfulness.
Try to logically understanding your biases, your hateful emotions, and then realize that they are hurting, not helping you. Then, meditate regularly. Think nothing at all as much as you can. Try to feel the underlying connection you have with the universe. By doing these two things in combination, both will improve in efficacy. Suffering will lessen, hate will subside, the ego will starve. You will slowly become one with the universe. Tolerant of all beings, because to hate them is to hate yourself.