The Journey of My Life
Every journey starts with a quest to fulfill, and my Journey of life began when I started questioning my existence. I frequently asked myself, "What am I doing here? Why do I need this suffering? Would there be any purpose for my life?" I was not satisfied with the answers I got from my parents and teachers. Someone from within told me that there was much more than I could imagine. But my circumstances forced me to accept suffering and misery and walk ahead without questioning anything. So I began to see myself as an ordinary being without any special gifts, completely oblivious of the endowed gifts within, and the fact that I was called for a special purpose.
Poverty wasn't a new thing in my family. Ever since I could remember, I knew that poverty was something that didn't allow me to experience the sweetness of life. Summer came but there wasn't any birthday celebration. Winter was on the door, but Christmas was without colour and odour. The usual churchgoing and the sweet plum cake we used to get after the mass was my only hope, but the cake was too small for my big tummy. The only comforting thought was that Christ himself was poor, and didn't even have a good place to be born. There might be after all some purpose in suffering. I loved autumn, probably, because it looked like nature too knew how it felt like being poor.
One day, I saw my mom and dad hiding behind the bushes. It was a scorching summer day. There were two men standing at the door calling out my parents. They were the money lenders. They asked where my dad was. I didn't tell them. After waiting for a while they muttered some cursive words and left. It was a scene that never faded from my memory. That day I told myself that I never wanted to live a poor life and I would do whatever I could do to help people lead a financially healthy life. But before it could happen I had to go through an evolutionary transformation.
When I was studying 6th standard, my mom got a phone call that my father had an accident. My dad was selling vegetables on a small truck, when the truck lost its break and hit a pedestrian who died on the spot. Dad was thrown out of the truck and his left leg was crushed under the wheel. He was unconscious when he reached the hospital.
Mom didn't tell me about the accident, but she asked me to look after my sister and the cattle, and ran to hospital. The doctor told my mom that his leg had to be amputated, but my uncle pleaded not to, and asked him if there was any alternative. His bones were shattered so they had to be put together with an iron rod. He had to be in hospital for 6 months. Meanwhile I looked after my sister and the cattle at home. Before I went to school I had to help my grandmother at home, and after school, I would gather fodder for the cattle. One day when I was in school, and My primary school teacher, Lillykkutty Ms., called me and gave me a hundred rupee note. I didn't know how much the money meant until I reached home and gave it to my grandma. That night there was an aroma of some special food. She used the money to buy some meat and rice. Boy, it was really good, and I almost forgot we were poor as I devoured the food.
As a young boy I used to have a lot of nightmares. In most of my dreams, I was seen as being bullied and teased by others, and sometimes I would wake up at night and crawl under the bed and cry. Daydreaming became my way to escape reality, as it often helped me to be myself, and take my mind away from the suffering and pain I had to go through. Sometimes I had day-dreams in which I would even speak to myself. When my friends or parents asked me why I was talking to myself, I would, then, realize that I was daydreaming. I always thought that I was the only one with the mind to imagine, and would often wonder what would the life of others, and how would they think. Most of the time I would imagine as if I were a superhuman saving the lives of people.
I wasn't very popular at school. My friends used to call me a mistake, and whenever I looked in the mirror, I didn't see myself, instead, I saw a ugly boy whose existence became a mistake. When I finished my high school, I joined my classmates for a group photo. After I received the photo, I looked at my face, it was the same ugly face I saw everyday in the mirror. I couldn't bear looking at my face. I took a black ink pen and disfigured my face. I hated the way I looked. I never expressed my opinions in front of others as I thought I would be ridiculed. I used to walk with my head down as I was afraid of facing people. I would even walk away if I saw people coming to me. I thought they would treat me badly.
After my highschool, I used to clean buses to cope up with my expenses. I would get 30 to 50 rupees for washing a bus. One day when I was cleaning the bus a man walked towards me and said, "Son, why are you wasting your life by doing this pathetic job? You must be studying now." I looked at him and smiled and said in my mind, "I ain't gonna be a sweeper, I know I will be someone who will make a change in the world." I did not know why I had this thought that day, but the thought that I wanted to be a catalyst in the modern world kept coming to me.
I became addicted to drugs at the age of sixteen. I failed in exams and ended up without finishing my graduation. Then I went on to study for a diploma in Automobile Engineering but I dropped out. It was like I would be interested in something for some time and then I would lose that interest and would move on to do something else. It was later that I knew that I had ADHD and that accounted for my short term interest.
I did not believe in life’s purpose because my life did not have any meaning. Smoking and drinking became my dearest friends as I thought tomorrow I would die, and what if I didn’t enjoy my life. I thought that was the meaning of being alive. My life principle was to drink as much as booze and taste different varieties of tobacco products, and so I became very good at those things, and accumulated lots of friends who had the same principle. I repeatedly told myself that my life was a mistake, because I flanked almost all subjects in school and college and I wasn't good at anything. I was a laughing stock in front of other people. My friends called me curse names. I screwed up my education and wasted money. I did not have a good job. Everything I tried crumbled to the ground after a while. I would start some business or ideas and then continue for some time but all my efforts were futile. I ran after money, status, love, fame, and recognition, but the more I chased them, the farther they went. I cursed God for letting me suffer. I found pleasure in the suffering of others. I hated myself and spread the power of hatred toward people around me. I thought they were plotting against me and wanted to see my failure. I was angry and resentful at my parents, and blamed them for everything that happened in my life. I let the fear and doubt control the rein of my life. I used to affirm:
“I am not good at anything.”
“I don’t have anybody by my side."
"Nobody loves me; I am alone in this world.”
“I am a failure and there is nothing I can do about it."
“No matter how many times I try I cannot improve my situation.”
“It is my fate to live in this way.”
And so these affirmations became true. Sometimes I would lock the door and sit in the corner and cry. There was no one by my side—I was lonely, depressed, and hopeless and couldn't trust anyone because I didn’t trust myself. I was hurt so did I do hurtful things. I was unloved so did I not love anyone. I was unwanted so did I not care about other people or their feelings. Every day I would think of death. I thought it was the only way. I thought I could not do anything to improve my situation. That was my mindset. I was programmed to think that way.
This was my life. Like the lost prodigal son I was helpless, worried and desperate. But somewhere in the middle of my journey I knew that I was travelling in the wrong direction, but my limited belief and the mindset denied my access to the world where I truly want to live. I knew I had to change myself, but I didn’t know how. It all happened when I found my true identity; the day when I discovered my true self.
It was at this time my uncle asked me to accompany him for a five day retreat. I had no idea what a retreat was but I knew there would be counseling worship and meditation. At first I was reluctant to go with him but then I agreed. We went there on a Sunday. We had to stay in the dormitory as the rooms were only available for family. It was difficult at first but after two days I began to enjoy the retreat. The final day arrived when we had to leave for our home. I felt like I didn’t want to leave as I completely fell in love with the atmosphere and the retreat. It didn’t completely change me but I felt like something was pulling me toward the retreat; something began to work in me without my conscious awareness.
The next year I went to the retreat again. Although my transformation began in the first retreat, it was this retreat that changed my mindset and influenced me to become a new man with a higher purpose. When I was in the middle of the last day retreat I heard my name spoken out loud. At first I thought it was only my imagination, but when I heard it the second time I knew I was not imagining it. Someone was calling me. I looked either side and saw people completely absorbed in the meditation. I looked around to see who called me, and saw no one. I continued to meditate and then I heard my name spoken again. Now I knew it was not from the people around me, but I didn’t know where it came from. So instead of looking for the owner of the voice, I decided to heed the voice.
After a while I fell into a complete trance state and heard the voice spoken to me. I knew the message was for me because I felt like someone was speaking from within. I listened to the voice instead of resisting. The voice said, “Son, I have been speaking to you from the very moment you were born, but you never heeded me because you were looking at the wrong direction. Now, you heed my words. You were chosen for a higher purpose. But you must transform your life and you must be willing to forego the wrong habits you have been clinging to. You must strive diligently to be inwardly free, to have mastery over yourself everywhere, in every external act and occupation; all things must be subject to you and not you to them, that you must be the master and director of your actions. Always remember who you are; you are the part of the divine source. God has plans for you; plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you hope and a future.”
When I opened my eyes, I felt an immense relief. It was as if I had gone through a complete body and mind purification. I no longer felt any regret about my past life, nor did I feel any resentment towards anyone. I felt immense love flowing through me. I didn’t know how many hours I spent there, but when I woke up, I had completely changed. I was no longer depressive, fretful or resentful. I knew my identity. I was a part of the divine source, sent here for a higher purpose. This self realization changed my life’s course. It made me become the man I am today. If I had not rediscovered myself or had I not found out who I am, my true identity, this transformation would not have been possible.
I felt like I was just born because that was the moment I discovered who I was and the power and gifts that were given to me. Knowing that there was a purpose for my life, and that I was born to make a difference made me feel alive again. Having a clear vision helped me to see the path ahead clearly, and to take the boldest decision to start my journey towards creating my own future.
Although there was a sudden change in me, I could not easily forgo all the wrong habits I was clinging to. It was difficult, and I struggled, but I was unwilling to stop trying and become my true self. Whenever I would go back to the old self, I knew I was going the other direction. Then I would meditate and recreate my story of my future self, the story that I invented to create my own destiny. I knew that my future self was one possibility among many, and it is only a matter of time and practice to bring that into reality. And I kept teaching my brain to become familiar with my new future self. When I was doing this I did not really know that there were millions of possibilities that existed and I could create any one depending on where I put my attention. I was just following the advice from teachers like Bruce Lipton, Tony Robbins and Joe Dispenza, but it changed my life.
When I took the path to my own destination, people who were with me left. I was alone. The path was unfamiliar. For a while I enjoyed the journey, but then it became an uphill task. I would often think of giving it up, and be the old self, but then I hear the wise man talking from within: "Not yet, you have to win this." Sometimes I would look in the mirror and see the round empty balls looking at me as if what this was all about. Then I would see a spark of hope flickering somewhere deep within, and I would smile. I began to look for answers within me instead of seeking it outside of myself. The more I looked, the better I saw, and those answers cleared the weeds on my path. I walked further, and the path began to appear smooth with bumps here and there. Then one day, it happened.
I was sitting on the lawn looking at the sky through the leaves of the trees. It was a starry night, a light breeze was touching everything as if it were soothing them, and there were some fireflies dancing around. I reclined on my chair, and took a deep breath. I felt lighter and happier. I didn't know what was happening around me, but suddenly, everything looked different. I felt a deep connection with everything around me. I looked at my dog who sat beside me, and he looked into my eyes. I had a sense of deep love. As I watched the leaves dancing in the wind, fireflies moving in a rhythmic pattern, I felt an uncontrollable emotion of love and a sense of connection with everything. It was as if I were seeing it for the first time in my life, I could sense something that was beyond this physical world, something that binds us all together. As I sat bathing in love, I felt as if I were liberated. A moment of complete ecstasy. Liberation.
The experience was the awakening of new life. From that day on, everyday I wake up with a new beginning. I feel a deep sense of connection with everyone around me. Love, joy, peace is settled within.
I started teaching and sharing my experience and lessons I learned while I was working as a communicative English trainer in Telangana, a southern state of India. But my teaching wasn't as effective as I thought. They should be. What happened? My old fear and doubts began to resurface, but instead of giving into those emotions, I challenged myself to find the problem and solve them.
After a bit of study, I found out that there were two problems I faced: one was my poor communication skills. My grammar and vocabulary were good, but I wasn't able to reach out to them as my communication filtered through fear and doubt. Every time I was giving a speech, my old self was fighting back. It shouted at me and ridiculed my performance, and sometimes I gave into fear, doubting my own ability to create change in the society. But, the more I spoke, the better I became. I began to embrace myself as the most unique person among billions of people on earth with the potential to create my own destiny, and that gave me power over my fear and doubt.
The other was that I didn't have the true cure for the transformation. Dr Martin Seligman once said in an interview that Psychiatry's dirty little secret is that all its treatments are symptomatic. They don't tackle the causes of the disease, they just alleviate the symptoms. I was just trying to help them with their symptoms, and when these people would go home to their normal environment, these symptoms resurfaced again.
I was searching for a cure that could transform the lives of people. Then one day I had the chance to teach kids in Sunday school. These five year old kids were really amazing. They always wore a smile coming from their hearts, and were vibrant and dazzling. It seemed that they were little angels singing and dancing in joy. Their eyes spoke to me of love and compassion without uttering a word. They had a stunning imagination that transfixed me for a while. We were once like these kids with all those love and gentleness. Where is our laughter? Love, truth, and trust are misplaced. What happened as we grew up? The answer came to me from a poem by Gabriel Okara that once I read. The poem begins with the poet's memory of his childhood when they used to laugh with their hearts and eyes, and then, he writes what happened once they grew up:
"So I have learned many things, son.
I have learned to wear many faces
like dresses – homeface,
officeface, streetface, hostface,
cocktail face, with all their conforming smiles
like a fixed portrait smile.
And I have learned too
to laugh with only my teeth
and shake hands without my heart"
(Extracted from "Once Upon a Time" by Gabriel Okara)
We lost our true nature, our identity, while acquiring many things that meant nothing to our soul. We have learnt to say "I love you" without even feeling anything at all. Greediness, hatred, depression, apathy, pessimism, fear have reigned over us. We are no longer what we once were. Most of our problems start from here. Our childhood experience, religious cultural influences, beliefs and the acquired learnings from our parents, teachers, elders and friends shapes our thoughts, emotions and behaviour which in turn create our personality. Once we acquire these things, they act as filters through which we view the world. These influences could be either good or bad. They could either stunt our growth or help us to grow to become what we are meant to be. When we are badly nurtured by the environment we live in, it will bury our true nature beneath the layers of these barriers of influence, and will be blinded by the unwanted things we carry within. Unless we learn to unlearn these muting things that hide our true face, we can never become what we truly are.
Transformation can only be possible if these invisible filters and barriers are removed. So, I began to advocate teaching and saw people transforming their lives, and returning to their true identity. It was like shedding the old torn skin and wearing a new one. Every time someone comes to see me to tell how my teaching have impacted their lives, and have given them hope and the power to face anything in their life, I cry overwhelmed by joy and love. I feel content deep within. Every pain, struggle, and shame I went through pays me back in that moment. And I realize, I cannot sit idle. There are many whose lives I need to touch. After all, my suffering has a purpose, and yours has too.