Have you ever limited yourself with what you thought was a power at the time you started it? Sometimes you can do something that takes you twenty years before you begin to suspect that it's a limitation and not a power. You think to yourself, "I'm really going to empower myself by getting an education, because when I have that new education, I'll have the approval I want, I'll feel accepted, and everything will be great." Then, ten years down the line, you find yourself continuing to give yourself away in order to keep that approval.
There is a certain longing inherent in us to belong to something greater than ourselves. From a very early age, we find ourselves being pushed along, looking to be accepted by our friends. That longing to be accepted -- which is very powerful -- doesn't end with grammar school. In fact, as we grow older and mature, that longing to be accepted blossoms and expands.
What is the catalyst inside of us for what is always seeking acceptance and approval? If we could find out what the root of that unspoken suffering is, then we could get rid of the game of pumping ourselves up, buying what we think we have to buy, selling ourselves so that someone will look at us and say, "You're fantastic!"
If we're honest, we can look at ourselves and see that we are always striving for acceptance and approval -- even in the smallest things. We can meet somebody, and if we don't make a good impression, we'll beat ourselves up about not making a good impression, or we'll try to make ourselves special by thinking, "What's wrong with that person? Why didn't they see my brilliance? Why didn't they see there was something unique about me?"
What is in us that feels as though we're unacceptable as we are has to be the root of what drives us to always find acceptance and approval. It's like a thorn. On a good day, it's not so bad, because on a good day our hair is right, we've got the right clothes on, the wind is blowing in our direction, and things are OK. Maybe we're even witty. There is no problem because "even if they don't like me, I like myself." But that nature disappears, and up comes this person who is doing a song and dance in order to gain approval. And if people don't approve of me, then I go into a bigger song and dance, and if that doesn't work, I just close the curtain on those people because "there's something wrong with them."
What is it in us that has us not just believing that we are unacceptable as we are, but serving the whole idea of being unacceptable to the point that we have sold our soul to gain acceptance? What do I lose my soul in order to gain? To belong to something by which my sense of self is corroborated. I'm real because these people and this world agrees. But I no sooner gain a sense of myself from that than in comes this unacceptable thing that says, "This isn't enough. You've got to go further." Then I'm off again, searching for something else. It is, in short, the comparative mind that is the source of all suffering relative to a person always feeling as though they are unacceptable as they are.
Do you ever think to yourself, "I'm not enough. I need more money"? So you go and make more money. Then something happens because you've defined yourself by that condition to what it was that defined you. And as soon as what defined you goes away, what happens to you? You go straight down. You crash. Then you have to find something new to define yourself by again. This is what it means to live by a comparative mind, a mind that always gives us a sense of ourselves by thinking about something else.
How can who I am depend upon the kind of home that I have? The kind of car that I drive? The way people think about me, no matter who they are? If who I am, my true self, depends upon those kinds of relationships in which the simplest change causes me to compare myself again to what was, and I now feel as though I've lost something, do I own my own life, or do those people, conditions, and circumstances own me? They own me, and they are really just ideas that I have vested in myself about them. While the comparative mind only knows itself through thinking about itself, our true nature is a set of relationships that are not defined by anything outside of themselves. A true individual cannot be shaken, so being a singularity is what we are after.
If we're honest about it, there is nothing that we've done through struggling for approval and acceptance to find that sense of confirmation in ourselves, that true individuality that can't be shaken by a change of conditions outside of us. Everything we've done to find true, unconditional selfhood has been done by finding it outside of ourselves, always connected to something we become attached to for the sake of finding freedom. Think about the contradiction in that! How can something that I become attached to ever bring me the freedom that I pursue it for? But when we're in the middle of chasing it, we don't see that.
To work at being a singularity means (and we can do it right now), I can bring myself into the room, and I can actually see that here is a negative thought, something that is telling me I've got to do, be, get, win -- whatever it is -- and at the moment that negative thought presents itself to me, I don't need to fight with it. I don't even need to replace it with anything. All I need to do is recognize that the reason it is troubling me is because I have become identified with it, and when I become the negative thought or the negative feeling, I become its dupe. I become that which is used by the darkness instead of allowing the living light in me to transform that darkness as it is intended to do.
When I'm awake to what divides me, I'm doing the work of being a singularity. I'm actually living in the moment, being what I was created to be, which is that which transforms the darkness into the light by letting the light reveal the darkness in me. I'm in the right place, doing the right thing, for the right reasons, and only I can do that. When I actually understand what it means to be whole, to be awake, to practice this act of singularity, in that moment there is nothing that can happen to me that isn't right, true, bright, and good.