Saturday, May 29, 2010

To thine own self be true

I stumbled upon this page, and this quote from Thomas L. Masson: "Be Yourself is about the worst advice you can give to some people".

On the surface it appears to be funny and true. But underneath, it isn't. I believe that people are basically good, kind, honest and courageous. I believe that each of us carries a spark of God, or good if you don't find references to God comfortable.

As a Quaker I believe that if we are still, and listen to that inner guide, we will find our true selves, the person we are meant to be. I believe we are all unique and that we do all have our own paths to follow. We have freedom to change that, to become something different. But inside there is always the person we are meant to be.

Everyone and anyone can ignore the inner guide. Whether you are aware of it, or unaware of it, it is there. We cover it up with concerns about the trivia in our lives... when we are selfish or hurtful or greedy you can be sure that we are stopping our ears to the promptings of our inner guide.

Being still and quiet and listening is all it takes to discover it for yourself. I believe that trying to find harmony between the person you are and the world thinks you are, and the person you are meant to be, is the way to happiness. And that's what being yourself means to me.

So even if you have been selfish or violent or greedy until now, trying to be the person you really are inside, the good and the true, is still good advice.

The full quotation from William Shakespeare reads: "To thine own self be true, and it must follow as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man."

Do you think that when you exhibit negative parts of your character to other people that this is the real you? Does anybody? I don't think so. I believe it is what Jesus means when he says "Love they neighbour as thyself". Many people think it has the one meaning, that you should love other people and treat them the way you would like to be treated, and it does carry that meaning for some people. But much more important, much more relevant to many people is the idea that they should learn to love themselves, and it then follows that to be loved one has to be lovable, and to do the things that allow us to love ourselves.

It is easy to see that if we are behaving selfishly, violently, greedily, we may obtain what we seem to be after, but how do we feel, inside? Better, pleased with ourselves? I think not... generally we feel worse about ourselves when we behave badly.

Listening to that inner guide teaches without words, without preaching, without sermons. Try it. Do something nice for somebody else, and see how good it feels.