By Sanjiv Ranjan September 2013 We owe it to our magnificent potential and to Mother Earth to free ourselves of the deadweight of conformism and to follow our inner light, says Sanjiv Ranjan In the first century, Judea was a dangerous place to live if you were going to go against the law enforced by the Roman Empire. One man did. He said that the Law of Love was greater than any law on earth. They called him the saviour of the world, ‘The Christ.’ In the 5th century BC, in India, one man went against religion to say that to achieve salvation one did not even need to acknowledge the presence of God, leave alone follow any scriptures. They called him the enlightened one, ‘The Buddha.’ At about the same time in Mecca, one man went against many tribes and their pagan Gods, to proclaim that ‘God is one.’ He was Muhammed, the Prophet of Islam. Each one of the above had the courage to go against prevailing belief systems. They were ablaze with the Spirit of Non-Conformism. They had the courage to face their truth and declare their allegiance to it. Each of them became the founder of one of the three largest religions which flourish on Planet Earth While society encourages and rewards conformism in order to buttress the status quo, it is the fire of non-conformism which dispels darkness and lights the path ahead. A messiah is a man who has seen light within himself, who has watched his façade die, along with all his illusions, including the illusion of safety. That is why a messiah cannot – conform. Before we try and understand non-conformism in depth, we need to understand why conformism is so deeply programmed into our psyche, and why rebellion stems from a wounded inner child. The origin of conformism Conformism has its origin in a phenomenon known as herd behaviour. Herd behaviour is a relic from our cave-man past. It is deeply programmed into our genes. Millions of years ago when man was still a part of the jungle, being alone meant death. Being part of a group ensured survival, because man on his own, was weak. He did not have jaws that could kill. He did not have long sharp teeth. He did not have claws or talons that could injure, grasp and kill. Hence, safety lay in numbers. And then slowly, man moved out of the jungle. His life became more protected. He no longer needed the safety of numbers. Survival was no longer a function of being together. Yet the behaviour remained, even though it was no longer needed, as it was deeply ingrained. But even amongst the teeming multitudes who still feel weak on their own and seek to conform to the groups who rule their consciousness, there are some who have felt their own power, who have heard the voice of their spirit, and do not hesitate to walk alone. If you look at the animal kingdom, all the powerful ones walk alone. It is only the weaker, meeker animals who move around in herds and graze together. The lord of the jungle lives in his den alone, he does not rely on any herd to protect himself; he knows the power that throbs in his sinew. He knows that a single roar can bring pindrop silence in the jungle. The lion is known as the king, because he has the largest heart in the animal kingdom. The eagle too circles the sky above the clouds alone because it is aware of its powerful wings. Safety in numbers is only sought by those who have yet to experience the grandness of human design. Numbing your intelligence Herd behaviour does not allow revolutionary thinking to emerge. It does not allow your creativity to flow and because your mind is constantly engaged in what others are thinking or saying, you are never able explore the grandeur of your own thought process. If you find yourself hanging on to people who you think are powerful, then you have denied your own power. If you are taking too much advice from other people, then you are destroying your own intelligence. If you are constantly seeking social attention, then you are completely bereaved of any kind of relationship with yourself. Saying what others are saying, means that you have lost your own voice. Believing what others are believing without examining it on your own premise, is akin to leading a borrowed life. Following the herd, seeking to identify with people, destroys your identity. Anybody who has lived mea ningfully or lived through achievement has separated from the herd and sought light within. All powerful writers have sought solitude. All poets spend more time with nature and themselves, instead of mindlessly following other people. All scientists have preferred absorption in their work rather than diffusion into society. All mystics have preferred the company of their own soul. Stop running away from – YOU To come home to your inner self, you need to stop clinging to the herd. You need to move into an awareness of this unconscious need to identify and associate with the herd, which is programmed into your genes. You need to tell yourself that herd behaviour is a relic from the past. It is the symbol of man’s weakness in face of the mighty jungle. It stems from the fear of being alone in a hostile environment. Believing that life and the universe are hostile is a regressive thought process. Life loves you deeply. The universe serves your grandest vision. It nurtures all your deeply loved dreams. To believe so, is to be your own greatest blessing. The simplest way to dissociate from herd behaviour is to seek and love your own company, to be your own guide and mentor. Don’t be afraid to walk alone. Don’t be afraid to think alone. Don’t be afraid to act alone. Don’t be afraid of the fire that blazes in your heart, for it lights your path to freedom. Let go of the need to please people. Let go of the need to seek approval. Being alone does not reflect an island attitude. In fact, it is quite the opposite. It is an acknowledgment of the principles of al-oneness. Allow yourself to experience the person you are, by not running away from you. Know yourself before you wish to be known by another. Know yourself before you wish to know another. Have faith in yourself before you place it in anything outside you, even if it is a god, whom you have not yet experienced as belonging to you. Why follow a herd, when you were born to lead? If you find yourself trapped in herd behaviour, and if you feel that you need to get rid of the ‘Social Burden’ you are carrying, then all it needs is a little bit of reflective writing. Reflective writing is a very potent tool of transformation. It helps you delve into your unconscious, because writing bypasses the critical barrier of the mind. It creates new neural networks and gives control to the more evolved regions of your brain, like the neo-cortex. There is a simple exercise which can go a long way in helping you to stop clinging to social herds. Genetically embedded Let us once again take a look at the history of social evolution to understand why conformism is so deeply rooted in our psyche. As man moved out of the jungle and began living in groups to ensure safety, the concept of the ‘Tribe’ evolved. A tribe was a very tightly woven cluster of people who followed a common set of customs and lifestyle. Each and every member had to conform to a set of rules to enjoy the protection of the tribe. The tribe had a tremendous hold on the individual psyche, so much so that if a member was banished from a tribe, the enforced rootlessness often resulted in death. But the tribe, by virtue of being a tightly woven unit, also took care of all those who were a part of it. Tribes functioned more out of group consciousness, like animals do, which ensured a feeling of belonging to a benevolent force, larger than the self. Over a period of time, tribes evolved into villages, villages evolved into towns, and towns ultimately gave way to cities. Cities became urban jungles, where man once again found himself alone. But this time the loneliness, the necessity of fending for himself, the loss of a benevolent support system, the pressure of earning a living all by himself, was accompanied with conformism programmed into his genes as a biological imperative. The child of man was told that he was an individual, that to walk in liberty was his birthright, but he could only do so within the confines of an enforced conformism. Conditioning conformism Long before you are in any position to relate with yourself, you are forced to learn how to relate to others in ways which are pleasing to them. So while you are busy learning how to be a good boy or a good girl, you are moving further and further from the self, completely estranged from it. You are taught to listen to elders, do as they say, eat when they want you to, sleep when they want you to, go to school when they want you to, play when they want you to, in the way they want you to, wear what they want you to, say what they want you to, and so on and so forth. In short, you can only do what you want to do, as long as you do not ruffle any feathers belonging to others, and as long as you have their approval. When you become a stranger to yourself, it creates a severe separation anxiety within you, and this separation anxiety further pushes you to conform to the herd, in an attempt to seek respite from the loneliness, which haunts you. It creates a need to merge with something larger, so that for a few fleeting moments you can revel in the illusion of security. Conformism is a potent, social evil. It is the crucifixion of the individual at the altar of society. Society will not carry your cross, yet it will seek your allegiance. Unlike tribes of yore, which considered you to be one of them, society thrives on alienation when it comes to a real crisis. Conformism represses your free will. It destroys your spirit. It does not let you live an inspired life. It kills your flight, a
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