"The unexamined life is not worth living."
We have been exploring everything around us from the inception of mankind, individually and collectively. We explore the surrounding nature, cities, countries, continents, the globe, and now the universe, collectively. We share such knowledge among us, wishing goodness for mankind. Those explorations and discoveries are used for our benefit or detriment. Individually we explore things and activities around us and make our own world with a myriad of thoughts, perceptions, interpretations, and beliefs. With such perceptions we create our own self – self-image. We are slaves of our self-image created by our mind. We rarely examine inwardly and explore within to recognize our true nature.
As an explorer, you may have climbed mountains, traveled to many countries, and studied the globe and universe with much thrill and enthusiasm. This is because we are born with curiosity and our rudimentary quest for knowing more about things interesting to us. We extend our attention to external stimuli to make our world. However, exploring within and discovering our essence is hardly done, or even attempted. Here you are embarking on such a journey. The emotions, desires, and fears are the valleys and mountains in our self-landscape. This exploration is to discover them within and to understand the purpose of life.
As children, we repeatedly ask “Why?” following every answer we receive from our parents until they give up answering. We continue that quest even as adults, looking for answers externally without exploring our inner landscape. As adults, our questioning fades away only when we recognize the entire world is within us. When we realize that seeking satisfaction from outside is an endless exercise, we turn to exploring within. When we continue the journey of exploring within, we can experience inner peace. Then we see the world differently. We recognize that the world we knew was just our reactions to external stimuli. What I realized is, instead of reacting, we can respond to all stimuli, external or internal, and live a peaceful life. The purpose of our life is to recognize this reality to live blissfully.
Many people have examined their self-landscape with much enthusiasm and realized the true nature of life. They did it with great enthusiasm and an open mind. Only a few of them have shared that experience with others. You too can examine yourself with such enthusiasm and excitement to discover your inner peace and to share such experience with others. It will benefit you and the people around you too.
This journey is not a pursuit but an instant experience of inner peace – true happiness. Your pursuit of happiness will never
end since your perception of happiness is changing. Perception and mind-based pursuit is a never-ending process. When you get there, your perception will change, and you will pursue more satisfaction or happiness. Does this sound familiar? Once you deeply realize this, you will turn to explore within. That makes you to pick this book to read.
Instead of exploring within, many people seek happiness from outside. In the pursuit of happiness, most of us look for satisfaction from accumulating material things and opinions of others. This is a fundamental mistake in your pursuit of happiness. If you believe satisfaction is happiness that is a never-ending exercise. Satisfaction depends on our perceptions. Since our perceptions change from one experience to another, we are never completely satisfied with any situation. The truth is individually we create our own world with many thoughts, memories, perceptions, interpretations, judgments, and beliefs. They are all accumulated from external sources. Hence, we live in misery and chaos with a self-image created by others’ command and never be satisfied. In other words, we are slaves of others since we act upon others’ opinions which speculated by our mind. We are in the chaos created by the enslaved mind which trying to make us someone who we are not - our self-image.
For example, consider your response to what you do for a living. You may either have a passion for your job or you may hate it. Your heart impels you to reflect on an issue, feel deeply about it, and eventually guide to act on it. However, while your heart offers such guides, it’s your mind that pores over the implications of external events and reacts based on perception, belief, and fear. Many of us dwell on the mind rather than in the heart, which always guides us to be in peace. The mind blocks and obscures your heartfelt intention with myriad of thoughts, perceptions, beliefs, and fear of others’ opinion on you. Since we distrust our intuition and the noble nature of our heart, we live in distress, agony, and fear. We unintentionally distract our need for well-being with our confusing thoughts and perceptions that are created by our enslaved mind. You may think you need to work and you have no choice. Your mind can not see any other option but to stick with your job while hating it. This is your enslaved mind talking and directing you through this situation.
In contrast, the more you begin to understand the way your heart responds to life’s situations, the more you will be inclined to trust it. You may not have the choice or option to change your job. Yet you have the choice or option to respond to this situation differently, without being a slave of the mind. You can explore within to see what make you hate your job and correct the cause. You may not like your boss’s attitude – friction – or you may think others are doing a better job by fixating to that idea – clinging. When you eliminate such friction and clinging you will be free from enslaved mind and you will start to love your job. You will learn a few techniques to manage your friction and clinging in the coming chapters. This will give you the confidence needed to draw on your inner peace and be happy. What I find immensely interesting is that the greater your understanding of the heart’s nobility—its all-encompassing compassion and generosity—the better off you will be in all aspects. You will find yourself infinitely enriched in terms of your health, wealth, stability, and inner peace, which will influence your attitude toward the world at large. If you do not examine the depths of your heart, you cannot draw on inner peace. When you cannot draw on inner peace, you are bound to suffer from stress, problems, confusions, and disarrays.
While human beings have sought different ways of examining and understanding the heart’s inherent nobility, many fall into mind-created traps. We need to identify those mind-created obstructions to our happiness. There are many methods used for this purpose from ancient times to this day. Such methods are taught in our spiritual doctrines, social ethics, and other peace-loving teachings.
Such variety is necessary to cater to people with different temperaments. That is why we see that different religions and teachings are accepted by a discrete group of people. However, I find that although the underlying temperament differs from person to person, the overarching approach to our life depends on the philosopher or sage in us. So, I see only two groups of people on this planet—some prominent with the philosophical approach and others with the insightful approach.
Those adopting the philosophical approach can be identified as philosophers, and the rest are sages. Whether you are one or the other depends on the degree of your receptivity to the heart’s nobility and the extent to which you fathom its depths.
This book is merely an attempt to help you understand whether you are a philosopher or a sage and enable you to open your noble heart and unlock the peace within to enjoy true happiness. In other words, promote your well-being. This will allow you to reap the rewards of quality life that you so justly deserve, regardless of where you live or the circumstances of your life.
If you are a philosopher, you question most situations you encounter, searching for the best comprehensible answers to them based on your intellect. This approach ensures that the answer is equally compatible with the stirrings of your mind rather than your heart. If you are a sage, you first infer and experience the peace within and then relate to external conditions to reflect on their significance. I find many of us have qualities of both the philosopher and the sage in varying degrees.
According to the historians, the ancient Greeks always viewed a philosopher as an eternal seeker of wisdom: someone who always searches the truth, comes close to it, but ultimately cannot attain perfect wisdom. As opposed to a philosopher, the sage in ancient Greece was considered the bearer of wisdom—one who already possesses wisdom and only needs to self-actualize oneself. Whether you are a philosopher or a sage depends on the degree of your wisdom—which I would call inner peace. The wisdom or inner peace you bear is always with you no matter who you are. I find that irrespective of your approach as a sage or a philosopher, you can become a bearer of wisdom or, in other words, dwell in inner peace. Once you recognize the nobility of your heart, your wisdom flourishes. You will recognize the reality of things happening inside and outside with clarity and become a bearer of wisdom. At this stage, you may not see yourself as a philosopher or a sage; you could be one in-between them, with one prominent over the other.
Every human being has a longing for well-being. We take a different approach to seek this either as a philosopher or as a sage. You may not have labeled yourself as either of them, but as a human being, there is a philosopher and a sage in you. Most of us have both qualities; however, one is more prominent than the other. Depending on the style of approach and qualities in you, you become a philosopher or a sage. Understanding your approach to life helps you to draw on your inner peace to be happy. In other words, your well-being depends on the philosopher or sage in you. Once you recognize who you are, you can find your pathway to explore your inner peace. Those who have fathomed the potential that lies deep in their heart and explored the path that leads to the nobility of the heart have consequently achieved a peaceful and fulfilling life. Whether you are a philosopher or a sage, you could become a better one, depending on how thorough your understanding is of your heart’s inherent nobility. As you become more intuitive about your heart’s character, the peace that lies dormant within you will expand exponentially. This will help you, philosopher or sage, to understand how integral your noble heart is for your well-being.
I look to you as an explorer engaged in this effort to understand who you are and the noble nature of your heart – inner peace. Rest of the chapters in this book will assist you to penetrate either the philosopher or the sage in you. Through the insights thus gained, you will grasp the essential meaning of your life. Your curiosity to understand who you are will in turn serve as the driving force to find your inner peace. As you continue to read, please critically examine and undertake the various self-checks outlined throughout this book to get a firsthand experience of your heart. Your insight into the true nature of your noble heart will gradually grow and enable you to evolve into a better sage or philosopher. I welcome you to this expedition where you can recognize your true self to live blissfully.
To help you on your way, I have refrained from any mention of gender, race, or color that may unintentionally lead to an expression of bias or perception of discrimination. I have made it a point not to use limiting words like he, or she. Nor have I confined myself to a geographical location. My aim in deliberately avoiding these pitfalls is to build a bridge that will enable your noble heart to directly connect with the contents of this book, unhindered by prejudice. The basic intention here is to encourage you to keep an open mind to all possibilities, regardless of the characteristics that define the person you are—male or female, child or adult, rich or poor, black or white, able or challenged, and everything in between.
You need to set aside all such discriminatory identities that you may have about yourself. Pay no attention to any of your self-identifications such as your nationality, race, creed, or even your gender. Be free from all such boundaries and open your mind to all possibilities. Imaging you are an infant who has no grasp of social and physical differences. This will open your noble heart. You will be released from the friction of all discriminatory perceptions. In this process, once you go beyond the identity of gender as well, you break through your enslaved mind. You are free and a sense of calmness will rush through your mind and body. I trust you can feel and recognize this phenomenon right now. Let go of all your identities and open heart to sense peace within you. A sense of lightness free of agitation will surge through your inner peace. You touched your noble heart – inner peace. Relax on this condition and dwell in your noble heart as long as you can. This is your first level of experience of inner peace which is the bliss of being alive – true happiness.
While your own heart is unique to you, it is present in every living being on this earth. Your heart’s nobility—inner peace—is within you, and you share that with all human beings and everything else on this earth and beyond. As you read, draw your inferences without prejudice, and absorb what is presented free of prior concepts. An open mind is fundamental to this expedition of self-discovery.
I welcome you the explorer, philosopher, or sage to this expedition, who is, above all, an important member of this evolving civilization who will carry forward a peaceful way of life. This discovery continues from generation to generation from ancient times. Many people discovered this by following a path defined by their religious teaching or the discipline of society, or certain individuals discovered this on their own. You could do the same.
As Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” We need to examine our life by exploring within. You had a glimpse of peaceful experience by letting go of perceptions – friction – of discriminatory identities. In the next few chapters, you will explore within to discover much more of who you are and your inner peace. I have no doubt that you are a great explorer, and in the not-too-distant future, you will share the experience of this discovery with many other philosophers and sages, including those who are yet to be born into this world.