The Spiritual Emergency of Inauthentic Living

Theme of the following quotations: Some persons are fortunate to be called to an authentic life by nature, upbringing, or good fortune. Many however are called by the psychological pain of an inherently inauthentic life. These pains are messengers, as Rumi notes. Rather than run from these pains or numb ourselves to them, were we to heed them, then we would be lead to an adventure in self-discovery.

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The call at the beginning is a vague, almost imperceptible and mysterious flame. It shows itself as a questioning of the disharmony you live in. It is your disharmony, as you experience it. It is your own questioning. And it is your personal yearning.

~ A.H. Almaas (1944-present),
American American psychologist and philosopher,
in Essence: The Diamond Approach to Inner Realization


When I was young, it seemed that life was so wonderful, a miracle,
Oh it was beautiful, magical.
And all the birds in the trees, they’d be singing so happily,
Oh joyfully, oh playfully, watching me.

But then they sent me away, to teach me how to be sensible,
Logical, oh responsible, practical.
And they showed me a world where I could be so dependable
Oh clinical, oh intellectual, cynical.

There are times when all the world’s asleep,
The questions run too deep for such a simple man.
Won’t you please, please tell me what went wrong.
I know it sounds absurd.
Please tell me who I am.

~ written and composed by Roger Hodgson of SuperTramp,
in the song (listen here >>) The Logical Song


… Her dilemma is simply a caricature of the dilemma we all have encountered, an identification with our adaptations, a confusion of the Self with our persona. Sooner or later, a great distress will rise from our soul to trouble us, perplex us, dismay us, but which, if we can possibly query it to find what it wants from us, will prove to be our best friend.

~ James Hollis,
contemporary writer and Jungian analyst,
in What Matters Most


These pains that you feel are messengers.
Listen to them. Turn them to sweetness. The night
is almost over. You were young once, and content.
Now you think about money all the time.

You used to be that money. You were a healthy vine.
Now you’re a rotten fruit. You ought to be growing
sweeter and sweeter, but you’ve gone bad.

~ Jellal ed-Din Rumi (1207-1273),
Persian poet and Sufi master,
from “A Man and a Woman Arguing,”
in The Essential Rumi
translated by Coleman Barks
~ and see the post, “Turning Psychological Pain into Sweetness


My life had got on the wrong track, and my contact with men had become now a mere soliloquy. I had fallen so low that, if I had to choose between falling in love with a woman and reading a book about love, I should have chosen the book.

~ The narrator in Zorba the Greek,
by Nikos Kazantzakis (1883–1957),
Greek author, poet, and philosopher


I have of late, but wherefore I know not, lost all my mirth, forgone all custom of exercises, and, indeed, it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory; this most excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave o’erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire, – why, it appeareth nothing to me but a foul and pestilent congregation of vapors.

~ The character of Hamlet in Hamlet
by William Shakespeare (1564-1616),
English playwright


The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats.

~ Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862),
American writer,
in Walden
~ also see the post “Whose Life Are You Living?”


The context of the general teachings is one of talking to a sentient being who is experiencing uninterrupted bewilderment – one thought or emotion after another like the surface of the ocean in turmoil, without any recognition of mind essence. This confusion is continuous, without almost any break, life after life.

~ Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche (1920-1995),
Tibetan Buddhist Dzogchen Master,
in As It Is, Vol. II


He [man] is a machine, everything with him happens. He cannot stop the flow of his thoughts, he cannot control his imagination, his emotion, his attention. He lives in a subjective world of ‘I love,’ ‘I do not love,’ ‘I like,’ ‘I do not like,’ ‘I want,’ ‘I do not want,’ that is, of what he thinks he likes, of what he thinks he does not like, of what he thinks he wants, of what he thinks he does not want. He does not see the real world. The real world is hidden from him by the wall of imagination. He lives in sleep. He is asleep.

~ P. D. Ouspensky (1878-1947)
Russian esoteric philosopher known for his writings on the esoteric teachings of G. I. Gurdjieff
in In Search of the Miraculous
~ See also the post, “Personal Authenticity and Presence”


It is tragic how few people ever ‘possess their souls’ before they die…. Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.

~ Oscar Wilde (1854-1900),
Irish playwright, novelist, and poet,
in De Profundis


Bagger Vance: Yep… Inside each and every one of us is one true authentic swing… Somethin’ we was born with… Somethin’ that’s ours and ours alone… Somethin’ that can’t be taught to ya or learned… Somethin’ that got to be remembered… Over time the world can, rob us of that swing… It get buried inside us under all our wouldas and couldas and shouldas… Some folk even forget what their swing was like…

the character, Bagger Vance,
in the movie (click link to see scene), The Legend of Bagger Vance


I discovered that I was drifting without rudder or compass, swept in all directions by influence from custom, tradition, fashion, swayed by standards uncritically accepted from my friends, my family, my countrymen, my ancestors. Were these reliable guides for one’s life? I could not assume that they were, for everywhere around me I saw old ways of doing things breaking down and proving inadequate… But what else was there? If I was neither to do simply what other people did, nor just what was expected of me, what guide was there?

~ Joanna Field (1900-1998),
English author,
in A Life of One’s Own


O air-borne voice! long since, severely clear,
A cry like thine in my own heart I hear:
“Resolve to be thyself; and know that he,
Who finds himself, loses his misery!”

~ Matthew Arnold (1822-1888),
English poet,
in Self Dependence


And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.

~ Anais Nin (1903-1977)
French-Cuban author and diarist


~ 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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