The list goes slightly esoteric:
The modern man is not I.
You go to the gym to change and improve your body. You study to seek knowledge and train and improve your mind. You learn a new language to improve your communication with others. All of these actions elicit change in yourself. Even though change is in of itself difficult, we can easily accept that such a thing is possible.
But when it comes to their personality people are unyielding.
An attempt to change your personality is an immediate threat to your self-ego. Your ego is the defense mechanism you have built up over the course of your life to protect you from injurious thoughts and comments from others. It is formed over your first few years and it solidifies into adulthood. It is who you are, or so you believe. But it is not.
It is merely a tool that has outlived its usefulness. But by the time you realize that it might be an idea to change it the tool has become the master. It will protect itself to the death. More than that, it will have projected itself to the egos of your family and friends. They are all symbiotic in nature. A threat to one becomes a threat to all.
In The Rational Male, Rollo Tomassi writes of men trying to change who they are being held back by their peers. ‘Just be yourself, dude’, is the communal put-down of a young man attempting to change who he is. Change is hard enough in of itself but almost impossible when externally judged in its beginning stages by well-meaning friends and family. We then internalize this by saying, ‘that’s just who I am’, or ‘I can’t change who I am; take it or leave it’.
But you can change. Change is necessary if you do not like who you are or if you are constantly searching for an external satisfaction to fill an internal void. That void is your dissatisfaction with your self. External forces are beyond our personal power. You might have a very high opinion of me. But it is beyond useless for me to value that for you may change your opinion of me at any time and then what do I possess? I have nothing, just as I had when your opinion was positive. It is an illusion.
This is what teachers mean when they say the world is an illusion. What you do possess is the self, and the process of understanding the self begins the journey of becoming who you are. We begin this process by defining who we are not. It is useless to say, ‘I am’. The term ‘I am’ is not just self limiting; if the external factors are out of your control how can you then identify yourself as something else? It makes no sense.
In my book I wrote of my journey across Australia to an unknown city where I quickly found myself cut off from everyone I had previously known. It was a blessing, although at the time it did not feel that way. There I seriously began the process of internal change without the hindrance of the attitudes and prejudices of people who knew ‘who I was’. Alone I was free to examine my personality and challenge its fundamentals. When I arrived in Cairns almost nobody knew who I was and once again I was free to continue the exploration of who I was not.
This process is so difficult that the majority of people do not attempt it let alone succeed once they have begun. But the benefit of reaching a point where you like yourself and are not dependent on external forces for momentary satisfaction should be obvious. The answer is inside you but you need to dig deep. You need to cleanse yourself of the walls and defenses you have erected that stand in your way. You need to examine them, however painful it may be, until you arrive at a point where they can be studied without emotion as if you were examining a rock held in your hand.
I realize that this trait is esoteric. My expectations for how you receive this message are nothing. It is enough that the message is there; what you do with it is up to you as it was up to me to write about it. Remember; the harder something seems to be the greater the reward for the journey. Sometimes it is enough to begin.
The modern man is not I.