I travel the world teaching spiritual principles. What follows is an interesting discussion I had with some young men.
“I don’t need God,” says the spokesman. “I have my own way.”
“Okay, ” I say. “What ‘way’ is that way?”
He was expecting that answer. He hesitates. Finally he speaks up, “I believe in my own self. I rely on my own self. I follow only my own self.”
“You believe in your self, rely on your self, and follow your self. Great… Who is that self?”
More hesitation. He tries to answer, but realizes he can't.
I ask them, “How can you believe in it, rely on it, and follow it if you don’t even know what it is?”
He answers with silence.
“This is why you need spiritual knowledge and a spiritual practice. This will help you realize your self.
“The first point is that the self is not the body.”
He responds, “Yes. I am not the body. I am the collection of all my ideals."
“These ideals are not the self,” I say. “They’re all impressed upon you from outside yourself.”
We talk more. They eventually agree: The self is beyond the body and the ideals of the mind. Then I ask, “We know what the self isn’t. But what is it?”
“Yes. The self is a particle of spirit, a part of the complete spirit. Just like a guitar string is a part of the complete guitar. If you rip off that guitar string and throw it on the sidewalk out here – what value does it have?”
“Yeah, it’s useless. But when you connect that string to the complete guitar, tune it up and all that – it has so much value, right? It can make music. It can make songs … The string is valuable when it works for the complete guitar; but on its own, setting on the sidewalk, it’s worthless. The part becomes useless when it’s not connected to the complete unit.”
“The self, the individual spirit,” I continued, “is a part of the complete spirit. When the self tries to live separately from the complete self, he or she is like the guitar string rusting on the sidewalk. And that’s what we’ve done – disconnected ourselves from the complete. Just like the guitar string, our value is forgotten, our meaning is forgotten. Most of our time is spent trying to fill in the gaps of a hollow life as we loiter on the sidewalk."
“The real nature of the self,” I explain, “is to serve the complete self, just like the string serves the complete guitar and reaches its highest expression and fulfillment in the process.”
“What do you mean, ‘Complete self?” they ask.
“You know: God. Whatever you call him. Jesus, Krishna, Allah… The highest expression of the self is to serve God.”
“That’s what it really means to ‘follow yourself.’ That’s what we call Krishna consciousness.”
They were thoughtful. I was thankful