When I joined the CI (Compassionate Inquiry) program in Feb 2022, little did I know that I would slip through the crevices of my mental landscape, and reach my very core. It has been a rather eventful inner journey, one I would count on my one hand’s fingers, as one of the top experiences of my life.
Is it not absurd that a person, the owner of the self, cannot know itself? People flock to personality tests, astrology, writing analysis, to answer the basic questions: Who am I? Why am I like this?
Trust me, I have been pursuing these question for at least two to three decades – I have studied psychology, tried past life regression, hypnosis, had tons of astrology or occult readings, tried psychotherapy, handwriting analysis, spiritual scriptures, deep meditation through the gruelling 10-day vipassana, and yes, all have revealed a facet of myself. Yet, I succeeded mostly in scratching the surface. And then I join this program and got to have a detailed, torch-light view of my most formative stage in life.
Gabor explains his approach:
“Being cut off from our own natural self-compassion is one of the greatest impairments we can suffer. Along with our ability to feel our own pain go our best hopes for healing, dignity and love. What seems nonadaptive and self-harming in the present was, at some point in our lives, an adaptation to help us endure what we then had to go through. If people are addicted to self-soothing behaviours, it’s only because in their formative years they did not receive the soothing they needed. Such understanding helps delete toxic self-judgment on the past and supports responsibility for the now. Hence the need for compassionate self-inquiry.”
― Gabor Maté, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction
Let me explain it like this: every creature put on earth has a method of protecting the self. A porcupine has quills to attack with, a crab has a hard shelf to defend and hide within, and a skunk has a spray to push you away with. Yet, the porcupine does not use its quills if it is not under attack. It goes about its day doing things every creature does – eating, sleeping, moving. The quills are not the porcupine, although the observer would mostly see the quills in the first meeting. The quills are useless to the porcupine for his daily life. Yet – under threat, its most iconic part is hurled for painful effect. Even the most romantic flower – the rose, is covered in thorns. Creation has decided everything has a right to exist and be protected.
The problem with the human experience, is we become identified with our defensive, outer personality. In a stress-filled world, there is no time and space to see what lies beneath. This is why we are all unfamiliar with our natural self, that Gabor calls our “Authentic Self” or “Our Essence”. A whole lifetime can pass by without becoming acquainted with this aspect.
Why so? That is because finding this self, is a task of taking time off, of going within, it is partly psychological work, but eventually it ends up becoming a spiritual quest. There are no riches to be gained for finding this self. No fame or enrichment awaits you. Only peace and self-fulfilment. This is the lost self your outer personality is protecting, but not ever discovering.
This is what I discovered in the year long course. All my habits, procrastination, attitudes, even diseases are just a big set up, protecting my survival. As long as I can recall, I always felt ‘unsupported’. An unspoken feeling that invaded my being. Yet when I met my essence, my authentic self – I was awed. It is a new experience for me, like I have much to learn from this self – my Higher Self. It reminds of the stability of a mountain and the wisdom of the earth. Now I have changed my tune. I can feel the truth throbbing in this:
“I am supported, yes I am supported”
Especially when I close my eyes, go inwards and connect. What I experience is a sturdy river flowing along the top of my head, supporting my neck, and warming my back, as it flows down my spine. This is where I stay in calm completeness.
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