Self-transformation: Believe in your Self
I want to live my life
With the ease and perfection and power
Of a wave travelling along itself
As it breaks into foam.
The weakening habit of doubting ourselves can take many forms. It might be a constant feeling that somehow we have failed, even in the middle of success, and we can feel unloved and useless even when admired and cared for. We can ache with the yearning to rise above this affliction, for a self-transformation to take us over so we can soar to our heights.
Lack of faith in ourselves usually goes hand-in-hand with low self esteem , often not liking ourselves at all. We might try to hide it from the world but too often the closeted feeling of self-doubt is revealed to others by our over-sensitivity to criticism, showing resentment or being too quick to judge and blame.
If any of this applies to you it might help to know that a liberating self-transformation is possible, that even a heroic figure like Mahatma Gandhi once doubted himself. He began life as a shy little boy hiding away from others at school, fearful of ghosts and the dark. Each passing year was an embarrassment for him as he evolved into an awkward, lonely adolescent, and later into a fumbling, tongue-tied newly-graduated lawyer who failed in his first court appearance, unable to utter a word.
So how did Gandhi bring about his remarkable self-transformation? How did he rise above his infirmity to become revered throughout the world as the foremost example of non-violence (Ahimsa), fearlessly leading India towards independence? Knowledge was granted to him, first as a trickle, then a flood. Through kind fate or benevolent grace he came to see that every weakness holds within it a very great strength, that every shadow is but the blocking of a joy-filled light, that every self-doubt is but a reminder of a hidden powerful Truth.
What is this special knowledge that Mahatma Gandhi came by? What form of self-transformation allowed him to leave behind the beliefs and concepts that were hiding him from his true destiny and greatness?
First and foremost he learned that he was neither the person other people thought he was, nor was he the stumbling human being that he thought he was. Rather, he came to recognise that within him was this magnificent Being – his true Self – that was ever-content, ever-present, and always loving, courageous and wise. This higher Self, whom he increasingly knew himself to be, became his only teacher and guide, the One who knew the way.
No longer identifying himself with his little self-doubting persona, Gandhi became absolutely fearless, living every moment with the question, “Am I being true to my Self, to my Soul’s Compass?” Supremely confident, loving everyone the same, and no longer caring if people thought he was a fool this extraordinary human being became known throughout India as Mahatma, which means ‘Great Soul’.
Mahatma Gandhi’s self-transformation is an example for us all. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote: ‘If we can recognise and admire greatness within another, it is because we are looking in a mirror, ready to recognise and engage with our own innate magnificence”. But how are we to take those first few steps towards celebrating the treasure within?
As I see it the mind is the key, for what we are thinking determines the course of our lives. We know that one burning match can set a whole forest ablaze. In the same way, a few wise words said again and again will burn off the dead wood of limiting thoughts and with the light of the fire we can find our true way.
One of my favourite lines is from the I-Ching, that ancient Chinese book of wisdom known to many who tread the path of rediscovering the true Self. It says:
Spontaneously I am becoming
What I am rightly meant to be
For I have an Inner Light
Which I involuntarily obey.
I must have said these words out loud or to myself over ten thousand times when I was learning to be True. There is no resignation in these words of self-transformation; rather, a declaration of faith, an allegiance to a higher principle guiding our lives. There is integrity and courage combined with receptivity and trust. We see these qualities in Nature all around us: guided by an inner blueprint, a rose becomes a rose, an eagle becomes an eagle, each one totally and fearlessly unique.
If the rest of Nature has a guiding blueprint, so do we, people like you and I. We can be receptive to this deep and wise part of ourselves by listening to our Soul’s Compass, our intuitive sense about what feels right. Some call it an inner voice. Others say it is being true to one’s Self.
We can be moulded and shaped by this hidden design to the extent that we acknowledge its presence, and accept it as our guide into the unknown. In so doing, we are released from the struggle to become who we think we ought to be. We are then free to evolve into what we are destined to be. This is a journey of self-transformation.
May every wave
In every sea
Wash away the man
That hides me
Until all that is left
Is the sea within,
With the heavenly sound
Of eternal change.