mettā letter 5
Monday, January 2, 2017
Dear fellow soul,
Happy New Years!
This is the time of the year when people make resolutions to change the way they live their lives. Or perhaps they want to change themselves. Certainly there is a general marketing message out there that encourages just that. One version goes, “New Year, New You.” Perhaps the intention of this message is pure, but I disagree with a premise of this message that there are different versions of you. Without a strong foundation to build on, this message will only perpetuate the suffering which springs from the belief that there are versions of you (and therefore you can be continually be improved.) So let’s inspect the faults of this foundation and build one that will serve you.
What is a “new you”? Someone who looks different? Someone who acts differently? Someone who thinks differently? If you say “yes,” would you then agree that who you are is dependent on your looks? Is who you are dependent on your actions? Is who you are dependent your thoughts? Is it possible that who you are goes deeper than this?
Imagine in a single day you made three changes. The day before you had long hair, but then cut it short. Imagine you also begin to play the drums. Imagine you used to think Diet Coke was healthy but now you think it is unhealthy. When you see your friend after these changes, will they not recognize you? When you tell them who you are, will they say “No, you are not. You are someone else.”? What if something more extreme changed, like you lost a limb and replaced it with a prosthesis, or started breaking the law, or began suffering from amnesia. Would that qualify as a “new you”?
I don’t think so. I don’t think you are your looks, your actions, or your thoughts. Superficially you may identify with your looks, your actions, and your thoughts, but there is something to you deep down that exists and can never change. I think there is a universal life force to you that is with you, is you, regardless of all else. There is only one version of this life force, which does not change, even as things superficial to it like looks, actions, and thoughts change. This is what separates you from an inanimate object like a cell phone for example. A cell phone may change the material it is made of, change the operations it is capable of performing, and change its hardware to perform more calculations in less time. There is no life force of the cell phone across the changes. After the changes this would be a new version of the cell phone. But it is different with a person.
Another name for the life force is spirit. At some point society has divorced people from their spirit, and we have accepted this change into an object without a spirit like a cell phone. I don’t know when this division of people from their spirit happened, but it’s been over centuries. I learned that the idea wage labor in society, or trading one’s time and labour for money, was actually regarded as a selling of one’s soul, or spirit. In 1791 Wilhelm von Humboldt wrote in his book On the Limits of State Action:
whatever does not spring from a man’s free choice, or is only the result of instruction and guidance, does not enter into his very nature; he does not perform it with truly human energies, but merely with mechanical exactness and so when the labourer works under external control, we may admire what he does, but we despise what he is.
How many people today question trading their time and labor for money? I imagine it is currently the most socially acceptable means of spending one’s life. On the flip side, how many people are artisans, craftsmen, or simply incredibly skilled at what they do, that it is practically a labor of love which they happen to be paid for? Which person is acting in alignment with their spirit, the wage laborer or the artisan?
I say it’s time to reconnect with our spirit. There is no better (or worse) version of you. There is only you — the beautiful, timeless, eternal, life force living out this human experience on Earth.
Don’t buy into the message that you need to improve yourself. You are already perfect. However, some of your thoughts, words, and actions may not be in alignment with your spirit, or your higher self. In which case I’d tell you “New Year, New Alignment.”
How do you begin getting into alignment? Well, if you feel there is something that needs to change, simply ask yourself this question: “Does this serve me (my spirit, my higher self)?” If the answer is “no,” then ask yourself, “What change will serve me (my spirit, my higher self)?” Then do your best to begin making that change into alignment with your spirit.
Best of luck with your “New Year. New Alignment.”
Thank you for visiting. Your attention is a gift to me. My writing is a gift to you. I invite you to share this gift with another.