People talk about living a happy life, a successful life, a meaningful life. But an authentic life? What is that? It’s a good question, and one I would like you to think about.
Just as “a successful life” can be defined in many ways, so too can an authentic life. For example, some people will define a successful life as one where one has earned a great deal of money and become financially affluent. For others it will be measured by their accomplishments. For still others it will be in the service they performed for humanity. Others again in the amount of happiness and peace of mind they have enjoyed. I have long taught that each of us defines success in our own way, and according to that definition, we set our goals and priorities on the way to achieving this success. So too with living an authentic life. Each of us must define what this means to us. For me, being authentic means being true to yourself, and living the truths and vision you find within.
All truths must be lived not just believed. That is why we are here in a body in time and space. This is what life is truly about. We each have an opportunity to practice what we believe. To act out our deepest visions. To have a life that is deep and rich and filled with meaning and purpose.
Last month I wrote about knowing and understanding yourself as a prerequisite to self-actualization. It is also a prerequisite to living an authentic life. For how can you be authentic if you don’t know and understand yourself?
Being authentic means knowing and trusting yourself, honouring the conscious and subconscious minds. Being authentic means listening within to hear the truths that lay awaiting our discovery beyond the inner chatter of day-to-day living. Then once these truths are discovered, to bring them to life by living them through conscious action. It is through action not thought that one becomes authentic.
For example, you may through contemplation, Mind Power, meditation, prayer, or whatever method you use to go within for guidance, discover that you feel an overwhelming oneness with humanity. You feel this as more than just a concept. Something deep within you resonates this as truth. In this case, to live an authentic life means to act upon that belief. It might mean donating ten percent of your income to charitable causes, or perhaps giving up a year or two of your life to work in the Third World for those who live in poverty.
It could take many forms and all of them would be a reflection of living an authentic life. Being inauthentic would be to believe it but not act upon it. Maybe you don’t act upon it because you’re afraid or lazy or too busy, putting it off till a more convenient time. And here is a lesson: it is never convenient to be authentic. Being authentic means trusting deep inner wisdom and acting upon it whether it is pleasant or not, whether it’s convenient or not. You do it because you know it’s right, and because you know that being authentic is a step to self-actualization.
Each of us is challenged in our life to find a code of conduct that represents our deepest beliefs, and then to act upon it. True spirituality is not to be found in beliefs or dogmas but in action. If you belong to a religious group, then you may choose to adopt those beliefs as your code of conduct. The Buddhist may choose to devote himself to loving kindness and compassion. The Christian to loving his neighbour as himself. The Muslim to doing the will of Allah. Being authentic means being true to yourself and the truths you have discovered within. If you belong to no religious group, then you must form your own code of conduct that represents your truth.
But once again a code of conduct and beliefs must be lived and acted upon. It must bear fruit in time and space. Otherwise it is a deception that keeps you trapped in your own delusion.
We live in a society that is generally preoccupied with happiness, material success, self-gratification; these messages are in our face all the time, on the TV, the Internet, in magazines. There are winners and losers in life, we are taught, and you want to be a winner at all costs. This is the culture we presently find ourselves living in. It is important to know and acknowledge this.
However, being authentic means looking beyond the superficiality of life and finding meaning and purpose in a way that resonates as truth with our soul and heart, as well as just our mind.
Being authentic means living your truth day by day. And if your truth changes? Then let your actions change. And if you find you’ve been living a wrong truth? Then make amends and begin living your new truth.
Being authentic does not mean living the ultimate truth, whatever that may be. It means living the truth you know and feel within, today. Acting today in a way that reflects this truth. Being true to yourself.
And what happens when you do that? Two things happen. Firstly you deepen yourself immeasurably and find that joy, happiness and inner peace are your companions. Secondly, you help change the vibration of the whole human species. It is not just the acts you perform that change the world, though these have their place and are needed. Far beyond the acts themselves, it is the change in you that changes the world. For every person who lives an authentic life, whatever that may look like, thousands if not millions will be affected without ever meeting or knowing that person. What awesome possibilities this presents to each of us. Life is forever calling to us to be authentic and giving us experiences to live an authentic life through our actions. This is the real calling and opportunity that life gives us.
So, in review, these are the two steps to self-actualization:
- Know and understand yourself at a deep level.
- Live at being authentic.