I felt my heart pumping with euphoria and an immediate feeling of certainty the moment I allowed myself to accept this simple statement as truth. In that instant, I knew I had to leave my hard-earned and highly respected career in accounting and finance to become a writer (what?) and dedicate my life to improving the lives of others (really?). Where the heck did THAT come from?
Shortly after the revelation, my close friend doubt came to pay a visit. He asked his usual unsettling questions, seemingly in an attempt to keep me from going crazy. Was I being arrogant or delusional perhaps? Did I really want to become a writer and expose myself (and my family) to everything that comes with putting myself out there? He had a point, I didn't have any evidence that I would like it or be any good at it. With so many people out there that are absolutely killing it, how could I possibly compete with them?
Then came a surprising visit from an acquaintance that I greatly admired, certainty, who made quick work of removing doubt from the scene. Certainty reminded me that this was, and had always been, what I was meant to do. My greatness would be achieved through the pursuit of passion. THIS is my purpose.
What a relief! I finally had the direction I had always been seeking. Feeling emboldened, I started on my journey only to be frequently interrupted by another old friend, fear. He told me that he and doubt were worried about me and that I should not trust certainty. After all, I barely knew him, while fear and doubt had always been there for me through the good times and the bad.
Fear also wanted to prepare me for all of the things that would certainly go wrong. You know people are going to think you're crazy, right? How are you going to earn a living? Are you going to cause suffering to your family? He also presented the worst fear of all -- what if this is my purpose and I try and fail?
Again and again, my new friend certainty came to the rescue. As the relationship blossomed, he began to bring some of his friends (many I barely knew) to support me as I worked to end the relationship with fear, including clarity, strength and courage. Sure, I had to accept the high probability that I would run into some, if not all, of the problems presented by fear. But, with the help of my new friends, I could now see that I had everything I needed to overcome them.
Along this journey, I was forced to come face to face with the thought patterns that had trapped me my entire life -- the self-lothing state of surrender and restless state of grasp. I was shocked to learn of their pervasiveness, impacting everything from my internal beliefs and feelings, to my relationships to the way I viewed time. I had to accept that I would never be able to move forward to the peaceful state of be unless I was willing to see surrender and grasp, acknowledge their existence, and release them.
My experience with each of the three Illumed Mind States is as follows:
In my path, I was firmly rooted in the state of surrender until I was able to "rise above" to the state of grasp during my college years. I was resolute in the enticing delusion that, while I wasn't good enough to be great now, I could make myself great in the future through sacrifice, grit and determination no mater the consequences on health, family and mental well-being. After all, a lot of these personal attributes are glorified in our culture, so they must be right. Right?
Interestingly, to move forward to be, I had to accept that neither surrender or grasp was "better" and that both are, and always will be, equally in me. The reality is that when we make the decision to be in them, they both endlessly loop on themselves with ever-increasing severity as their impact sinks their way into our identities. In truth, they both lead nowhere.
For me, real change could only happen when I had the courage to admit to myself that I have greatness IN ME NOW and that it is MY RESPONSIBILITY to pursue it. I had to remove myself from the familiar endless loops of suffering that rapidly speed to nowhere to get on the road to "somewhere". It's very scary and I don't have a map, but I trust I'll have the courage, intuition and resilience to get there.
I share my story because I believe that everyone, especially you, has greatness within them. Greatness does not just happen through luck or circumstance and cannot be achieved with wealth or accolades, but is created today in the pursuit of purpose and passion. The first step to achieving it is to give yourself permission to accept that it is there, even if you don't see it yet.