Authenticity and Approaches to Personal Transformation

Theme of the following quotations: The drive towards self-actualization impels us towards transformation. How do we consciously cooperate with this drive in a way that complements our authenticity? Do we slice and dice ourselves according to others’ dualistic notions of good and evil? Do we subordinate the person to objective moral laws? Or might we allow the unfolding of our nature within the field of presence?

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All this talk of goodness and duty, these perpetual pinpricks, unnerve and irritate the hearer; nothing, indeed could be more destructive of his inner tranquility. If you indeed want the men of the world not to lose the qualities that are natural to them, you had best study how it is that Heaven and Earth maintain their eternal course…thus you too shall lean to follow the course that the Way of Nature sets; and soon you will reach a goal where you will no longer need to go round laboriously advertising goodness and duty, like the town-crier with his drum, seeking for news of a lost child. No, Sir! What you are doing is to disjoint men’s natures!

~ Chuang Tzu (399 BC-295 BC),
Chinese philosopher,
quoted in Crazy Wisdom by Wes Nisker

 

Man cannot approach the divine by reaching beyond the human: he can approach Him through becoming human. To become human is what he, this individual man, has been created for.

~ Martin Buber (1878-1965),
German philosopher,
in Hasidism and Modern Man

 

To me there is no liberation a tout prix. I cannot be liberated from anything I do not possess, have not done or experienced. Real liberation becomes possible for me only when I have done all that I was able to do, when I have completely devoted myself to a thing and participated in it to the utmost. If I withdraw from participation, I am virtually amputating the corresponding part of my psyche. Naturally, there may be good reasons for my not immersing myself in a given experience. But then I am forced to confess my inability, and must know that I may have neglected to do something of vital importance. In this way I make amends for the lack of a positive act by the clear knowledge of my incompetence.

A man who has not passed through the inferno of his passions has never overcome them. They then dwell in the house next door, and at any moment a flame may dart out and set fire to his own house. Whenever we give up, leave behind, and forget too much, there is always the danger that the things we have neglected will return with added force.

~ Carl Jung (1875-1961),
Swiss depth psychologist,
in Memories, Dreams, Reflections
~ see also the post, Is Being Good, Good Enough?

 

Once we accept fully and completely exactly who and what we are, we have then given up the struggle to ‘be someone else.’” Perls

The problem is that an unintegrated response repeats itself until integrated. On this point, nature seems eternally patient and forever cruel. It may take years or even generations, but a negative experience returns until human presence is brought to touch it with love and acceptance and integrate it.

~ Stephen Gilligan,
Contemporary psychotherapist
in The Courage to Love

 

A tree reaching up to heaven must have roots reaching down to hell.

~ Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900),
German philosopher

 

The only way out is through.

Fritz Perls (1893-1970),
father of gestalt psychologist,
cited in Fat is a Family Affair,
by Judi Hollis,
contemporary author

 

It is extraordinarily important to grasp this, in order to understand the relation between personality and the suprapersonal values, about which I have spoken above. The relation of personality to suprapersonal values may be achieved either in the realm of objectivization, and this easily gives rise to slavery of man, or in the existential realm, in a process of transcension, in which case life with freedom is born.

~ Nicholas Berdyaev (1874-1948),
Russian Christian existentialist philosopher,
in Slavery and Freedom

 

“Shamunatha was a Great Tantric Master. The Way of Tantric Buddhism is the Way of Acceptance, the way of working wilth all the energies and powers of living, refusing and denying none of them, but using all of them, transforming all of them into wisdom. That is why he is shown surrounded by living things. His is a mind, we say, that makes the world flower; his is a mind that has denied nothing and transformed everything within him and within the world into harmony and spiritual power. This is the way of Tantra. It is the hardest way.”

“Why?”

“Because it is the most dangerous. Because it has so many temptations –to hedonism, to the relish of worldly power. It is also the most effective way. The man who can travel it successfully, we believe, can attain Enlightenment in one lifetime.”

~ Nawang, a Tibetan Monk, in A Journey in Ladakh
by Andrew Harvey,
contemporary British writer/mystic

 

‘Self-Liberation’, in the Zogqen sense, means that whatever manifests in the field of experience of the practitioner is allowed to arise just as it is, without judgment of it as good or bad, beautiful or ugly. And in that same moment, if there is no clinging, or attachment, without effort, or even volition, whatever it is that arises, whether as a thought or as a seemingly external event, automatically liberates itself, by itself, and of itself. Practicing in this way the seeds of the poison tree of dualistic vision never even get a chance to sprout, much less to take root and grow.

So the practitioner lives his or her life in an ordinary way, without needing any rules other than his own awareness, but always remaining in the state of primordial unity by integrating his state with whatever arises as part of his experience, and with absolutely nothing to be seen outwardly to show that he is practicing. This is what is meant by self-liberation, this is what is meant by the name Zogqen, which means ‘Great Perfection’, and this is what is meant by non-dual contemplation, or simply contemplation.

~ Namkhai Norbu (1938-present),
Tibetan Buddhist Dzogchen Master,
in The Crystal and the Way of Light

 

It is not necessary to judge thoughts and experiences as good or bad, as desirable or undesirable, profitable or unprofitable. Let them come and go just as they are, without becoming overly involved, without identifying with anything, neither indulging in them by following after them nor suppressing or inhibiting them. Simply let all inner and outer things appear and disappear in their own way, just like clouds in the sky, and remain above and beyond it all, even amidst one’s daily activities and responsibilities.

~ Nyoshul Khenpo (1932-2001),
Tibetan Buddhist Dzogchen master,
in Natural Great Perfection

 

As a poisonous substance does not injure the worm born in that substance, so he who does even an unpleasant duty ordained by his own dharma incurs no evil. That is the only real thing for him. All other duties are alien to his nature. Throughout all of Sri Krishna’s exhortation to Arjuna about duty it should not be forgotten that duty must be performed as an act of worship. From our work we must not seek any personal gain; we must regard ourselves only as instruments for the fulfillment of divine purpose. For Arjuna, participation in the cruel battle is more desirable than the life of a recluse living on alms and inflicting no injury on others. Such a life would be entirely alien to Arjuna’s inborn nature.

~ Swami Nikhilananda, (1895-1973),
Hindu Swami,
commenting on The Bhagavad Gita

 

Thou shall bear all things that all things may change.

~ Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950),
Indian mystic,
in Savitri

 

~ Note: If you have found these quotes to be supportive, you may be interested in my book How to Be Yourself: A Guide to Living an Authentic Life which contains more than 300 quotations such as these which are organized into different topics related to authenticity. The book is available on Amazon in print and ebook format. (See top right cover image for a link to more info). ~

Return to the Markers on the Path of Personal Authenticity quotes collection

 

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