The Rebel in Us

The growth of civilization has encouraged the growth of social institutions that encourage order and structure amongst human beings. The very purpose of most of these institutions – marriage, family, community, society, religion, etc. is to promote conformity. And yet it is unrestrained creativity and ‘thinking outside the box’ that has pushed the boundaries of human thought and led to the progress of civilization, technology and essentially, life as we know it today.

Non-conformists or rebels are not understood by society. Starting from their very families, they face conflict, ignorance and narrow mindedness. Why is this? As a result of centuries of conditioning, most people do not question belief systems and established ideas or theories; when they encounter thoughts outside their purview, they either run away from it, or just rationalize it away. Rebels are the ones who question the philosophy of others.

Rebels think differently from others and ask different questions. We question ourselves, our own consciousness and how we live our lives. We question authority or reject beliefs, attitudes, or societal mindsets that do not feel right. As children we ask questions about everything around us and question the answers as well. But often parents and teachers do not have time for such questions, or do not have answers to them. The result? Children are asked to shut up and listen. They are told to curb their curiosity and learn what is stated in books. Today’s educational scenario largely encourages a herd mentality leaving little room for an individual to grow at his or her own pace and scientific curiosity.

Rebels that survive the education system are the lucky ones, either enlightened by parents or teachers who could match their intellectual abilities and satiate their curiosity. But as we continue our life’s journey, we get bogged down by the day to day demands of life – whether it be work or family. Both the personal and professional worlds demand compliance for the most part and few people can resist being drawn in.

The lucky few remain rebels till their mid 30’s to 40’s when thoughts about mortality and spirituality begin to occur. That is when we go searching for gurus and end up getting straight jacketed by spiritual teachers. This is perhaps the most ironical because ‘gurus’ are meant to set one’s mind free to realise its potential; instead most gurus tend to narrow one’s spiritual imagination. Many spiritual teachers are largely feudal in their approach and seek to draw the pranic energy from their students. Since they are themselves not free and unable to transcend to higher levels of thought, they bog others down with their limited thinking (Read ‘What is the Meaning of Freedom’ for more insight).

This is where we as rebels should hold fast and believe that the answer lies within and keep searching for enlightened teachers to help us along the way. Why do I say teachers? Have you ever heard who Buddha’s teacher was? Or Jesus Christ’s teacher? Both these spiritual leaders went through a phase of learning and exploring the world around them and are bound to have been influenced religious and philosophical thought and traditions. So who influenced their thinking? Perhaps we haven’t heard of one because they had many teachers.

Also think of your learning process in school and college… just as we learnt from multiple teachers (representing different disciplines), distilled the learning, and figured out on our own what our chosen profession should be, so must we do in our spiritual journey as well. We should use our intuition to guide us and keep the quest alive to find spiritual teachers. One can learn meditation from one, pranic healing from another, gain insight about the scriptures from yet another and so on. Once we have begun our journey of learning, we will begin to create our very own belief system synthesised from the wisdom of many different traditions and theories.

We have the answers to all our questions, frustrations and issues within us. We have the power to shape the rebel within us. What we need to do is to meditate on oneself and we will be enlightened and in doing so one can find the Buddha within.

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