Let me share my story. It’s both ordinary and extraordinary.
I used to work as a lawyer, and there were aspects of the job that I liked. I enjoyed the legal craft of figuring things out, piecing together puzzles, and presenting strong arguments. However, I struggled with interpersonal skills. I was weak, constantly stressed and worried about making mistakes, and I often felt jealous and negative towards those who were more successful. Whenever I made a mistake, I deeply despised myself, and moving on was incredibly difficult. I was constantly afraid of my own reaction to failure, even though I knew that in order to grow as a person, I needed to be bold and courageous.
It was a terrible cycle. I lacked productivity and felt mediocre in everything I did. I believed I had more potential within me, but I couldn’t tap into it. I couldn’t surpass a certain point. This made me feel sad and inadequate, like a real loser.
My secret side project
On another note, I started developing a deep interest in what some might call the “spiritual” realm. (Actually, I dislike the word “spiritual”; a better word would be “truth” or something that signifies authenticity, permanence, and a deeper understanding of life.) I found this to be a quite perplexing turn of events because I had always been an atheist, and a rather proud one at that!
My intuition told me that there must be something beyond the material world, something more significant than just work, money, fame, and love. I became increasingly obsessed with this idea and began discussing it with others, like colleagues and friends. However, most people didn’t share my interest and considered me strange. I felt lonely and out of place. This led me to take my job less seriously and grow bitter towards the world and life itself.
I read many books about enlightenment and the spiritual world. I also experimented with meditation sessions at home. I distinctly remember turning off all the lights in my apartment and lighting a candle while chanting something to myself. During these practices, I have had some peculiar “awakening” experiences. There were instances when I would wake up at 3am and sense something beyond the ordinary. It’s difficult for me to articulate and describe these experiences accurately, but their specific details are not important. What I have come to realize is that these experiences served as gentle pushes to encourage me to continue on my journey.
When I turned 32, I started meditating. I became deeply engrossed in it and dedicated more and more time to the practice. I felt that it held great importance, and I yearned to discover something beyond the dull existence I called life. As I meditated and cleared my mind, my perspective on life began to change. I stopped identifying with success and failure, wealth and poverty, good and bad, past mistakes, and shortcomings. It was as if all of that burden was lifted from my mind, and I entered a new realm of existence.
Pushing through and entering the world beyond
In this new realm, I found unwavering peace. No matter how upset, sad, or angry I became, there was a core peace within me. I understood that my emotions didn’t define who I am or what life truly is. I recognized that material possessions, circumstances, successes, and failures are transient. I couldn’t hold onto them or identify myself through them. I understand that this may sound pretentious, but I’ve realized that my life is what it is in this very moment. Everything exists within my mind, and every breath I take is connected to the breath of the entire world. Through meditation, I have discovered a new way of existing in the world.
The path of meditation was incredibly challenging. At times, I wanted to give up and succumb to despair. However, I persevered. Bit by bit, the pains and hardships of my former self started to fade away, and a new realm of consciousness began to emerge. Day by day, I am discovering this new world. I would like to say that I have found heaven within my mind, although it is not yet fully clear to me. But every day, something becomes clearer, and another piece of the puzzle falls into place.
I still possess many negative traits. I can still be narrow-minded, self-protective, stingy, short-tempered, a coward, and generally unpleasant to be around. However, all of these traits are gradually disappearing as well. I have to “repent them” as a part of my meditation practice. Sometimes, I surprise myself by genuinely caring for others or saying something kind without any pretense (which I used to do before).
I don’t know what my ultimate destination will be, but I believe it will be heavenly. If not, I am still grateful for how far I have come. I’m already in semi-heaven for goodness sake! Meditation provides a means for introspection, being honest with ourselves, self-improvement, and discovering an inner truth.