Said inquiry had been in mind since my late teenage years. But because I was distracted by life and what it has to offer, I didn’t give it much attention and stored it in the subconscious part of my young mind. Years later, when I was able to shut the distractions, my mind was clear enough to ponder such existential topic.
The major reason I got the chance, and clarity, to become a dedicated psychonaut is leaving my comfort zone of familiarity and moving to the unknowns of a new country. At the age of 33, I left Egypt — were I was born and raised — to Canada. After three years there, I left again to the unknowns of the U.S.
Venturing out of the bubble I was born into has taught me many lessons.
One, is seeing through the veil of illusion; realising that we are all One, only separated by flags, books, beliefs, fears and egos. Not that I was some kind of bigot before, since I was lucky to have traveled around since I was a child. But living abroad is a totally different experience than traveling — even if you travel a few times a year. Having a new ‘home’ outside of your usual ‘home’ is what energises the equation.
A second lesson is realizing that everywhere has its beauty. All places are charming in their own special way. It’s how we look at things is what essentially matters.
An additional lesson is coming to the conclusion that nothing too creative will come out of our comfort zone; for comfort is the enemy of achievement.
But possibly, the most beneficial lesson I have learned from living abroad, which relates to all other lessons, is getting to know who I truly am — my essence.
See, when we are born into this life, we usually keep doing what the elders have taught us. We mimic what their own elders have taught them. We become replicas of the parent generation, which is more or less a replica of their own parents’ generation. Some way or another, we take on parts of their identities and we persist into them until they become ours — forgetting our own individuality in the process.
The remarkable thing in this process is that it quite subtle, as it happens unconsciously. You don’t actually sit down to think why you have become so much like your father or mother. It just happens gradually over the years without you, or them, realising it. You wake up one day finding yourself already there. This is the scary part.
The relief is, this person you were told to be by society is not who you are at the core. It is not your natural character, neither is it your final destination. But one thing is certain, he or she does not serve the evolution of your soul... or of our species. For we are not here on Earth to keep doing the same things in the same ways. We are here to innovate, not to imitate. We are here to add novelty by creating that which didn’t exist before. This is how we benefit humanity. This is the key to true immortality — creating something that lives on.
In fact, without deviating from the norm, even rebelling at times, there wouldn’t be any advancement. Throughout all of history, no one genuinely found themselves by following and adhering. They did so by embracing their individuality and challenging the dominant way of thinking; by standing out, not by fitting in.
To fundamentally know who we are, going against the mainstream paradigm and embracing solitude is the way to go. Meditation and other esoteric practices also introduce us to our true, higher selves. So do psychedelics.
That said, the secret to self-transformation from who were told to be to who we genuinely are, or to any change for that matter, is not to confront or to fight the old paradigm. The key is to create a new paradigm which will make the old one obsolete.
Regarding one’s own mission, there is no fight, or race, or need to hurry as it’s commonly believed; only dedication, perseverance, and a healthy dose of creative rebellion. We are not required to disprove others’ realities and shatter their paradigms to create our own.
The transformation, however, may be hindered if we’re living within that old paradigm and surrounded by it. The reason I say this is because it’s hard for those who adhere to the old paradigm to let go. Whether they are social customs, religious superstitions or family traditions, the average population is attached to old patterns like peas in a pod. In actual fact, they themselves are the batteries that feed the old patterns; without them, the whole paradigm would crumble.
Though when we really think about the average population, we realise that it’s all they know. It is indeed scary to let go of such things which have been ingrained into us since childhood. To deprogram from the generations-old culture of embroilment into the matrix and desert the herd-mentality is a true challenge not many are ready to take. Oftentimes, they actually regard it as blasphemy or heresy to break away from the norm... their norm. That’s because the unknown remains scary and uncomfortable for them.
So as a defence mechanism, and as a chance to hold on, the average will always tend to resist the few who dare to desert the herd and break away from the norm.
We, on the other hand, cannot have a creative mindset to create — reality, or art, or anything — and fight back at the same time. Scattering our energy in such a way is a waste. As mentioned earlier, there is no fight and there is no race. Staying away from the old patterns then appears to be the only intelligent thing to do if one is looking for newer patterns which accompany novelty and change.
It is always vital to remember that we are not responsible for the conditioning we were exposed to during our childhood. But as adults we are fully responsible for fixing it. In truth, the day we learn how to think for ourselves and stop blaming anyone or anything for what happens in our lives is the day we’ll become forever free.
Once we venture and travel to different places, we leave the old and comfortable behind. We are exposed to newer paradigms, which is an extremely healthy thing. It gives us the chance to explore the unknown, experience its novelty, learn, and grow. It adds us with a novel perspective and enables us to create a newer, more suitable paradigm for oneself.
This is how our journey through life is enriched. This is how we fundamentally better from ourselves and evolve. This is how we create the reality we wish and not be stuck in someone else’s idea of reality.
As mentioned earlier, one of the reasons why living abroad makes us think about who we truly are is being away from the distractions. Naturally, when you live abroad your social circle is significantly smaller than where you were born and raised. Thus, the solitude and the feeling of being outside of the herd makes one think about such a deep notion as our true identity.
Whatever the answers that you may, or may not reach, the very idea of you thinking about who you are adds you with a different perspective. It catalyses personal growth. Simply because when you see yourself in different scenes, scenarios, and situations you will come to realize that you’re fine; that there is nothing to fear; that the uncertainly which comes with the unknown could actually be fun.
If you’re fortunate, you will reach this aha-moment: I can make it here, like I have made it there... perhaps even better. You will then come to believe in yourself. And this is when everything changes for the better. You realise that you can be successful away from your labels, away from the comfort of the tribe. This is one major enlightening realisation, which has an immense effect on our self-esteem and self-confidence
Another reason why personal-growth is catalysed by traveling is that we meet lots of very different people. We end by having fun stories to tell and weird moments to reminisce about. We consequently have newer memories and a richer life than, say, those who vegetate in one place all their lives as Mark Twain once put it. For the more we see, the more we know.
Then when you genuinely know yourself, possibly after living outside of your comfort zone for a while, you eventually come to the conclusion that you can indeed make it alone. You realise that don’t need your nationality, religion, family name, or your birth certificate to feel safe, happy, or fulfilled. You get the see that before being unwillingly tagged when we are born, in essence we are human beings naked of all labels.
Whenever I meet a stranger I never like, dislike, classify or judge them according to these labels — or any labels. That’s because they are useless. In actuality, this illusion of separateness goes against the human condition. It’s not about forgetting your roots, which should never be the case. But rather, it’s about blooming into a full flower by reinventing yourself as you remember who you were.
I know I am me, now more than ever. I know I am not a label or a number or other things I did not willingly chose. Therefore it is nothing one should be proud of. It is not an achievement, nor is it an accomplishment. Your country is not “The greatest country in the world” and your religion is not “THE chosen one” because you were born in it. We have to realise that this is nothing but an infantile delusion.
Seeing the sperm which caused you as better than other sperms which caused other people because of a geographical haphazard happening means you chose to use your small, egoic mind to view the world. Unlike the big-picture view of the Higher Self, this way you are separating your self from all the rest of humanity by believing you are better than them, which, again, is a mere delusion.
As how I personally see myself, the closest would be is a soul having a human experience for some decades. I don’t feel any need to separate it from others. No matter how vile, ugly, or different they are. I remain you and what I see is me, no matter who you are.
If I have to self-identify a tad more, then I’m a cosmic traveler who happens to be a citizen of the Earth for a short while. I may also be an Eclectic Sapiosexual Philomath Lexophile Hedonist Psychonaut BoBo. Yet, these appellations are nothing but an attempt to have fun with language. They do not make me superior or inferior than anyone else. Because down deep inside, at the very core, we are all One — unlabelled.
This is who I truly am. This is all I need to know.
Now who are you?
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Piece published on Conscious Life News