By Sanjiv Ranjan
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.
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.
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, and even though you were born free, you remain chained to the paradigm of being perceived in a good light, all the while, trapped in the darkness that conformism is. Being a conformist alienates you from your own mind and takes away from you the power to have a dream and fulfil it. It makes you deny your own emotions and severely hampers your emotional intelligence. Loss of emotional intelligence restricts your ability to feel empathy, because if you are dead to yourself, you cannot be alive to anybody. To move out of conformism you have to love your dreams, dig them out from wherever they lie buried within you, and live them fully without bothering what anyone will say to you. Nobody will die with you. Your life and your death are yours alone, so why not live for your dream, from your own divine self?
The Buddha repudiated the role of
religion or God in salvation There is a simple exercise, which can help you to revisit your youth and dredge out from its depths, dreams that once upon a time ignited your soul.
Honouring yourself: The art of saying a ‘positive no’
A conformist does not know how to honour himself. A conformist is against himself. A conformist lives in denial and negation of his inner world.
To fulfil your divine destiny, you have to deeply love yourself. Even before you love yourself, you have to honour yourself. To honour yourself truly, you have to learn the art of saying ‘no’ gracefully.
When you don’t know how to say ‘no’ you become what you are not, you end up doing things that you don’t want to do. When you do not say ‘no’, you operate from a constant shearing stress within you, which tears you apart.
You are torn between honouring yourself and pleasing the other person.
This stress is dangerous because it keeps giving birth to resentment, guilt, and regret. It makes you reject yourself deeply.
For those who are heavily programmed into conformism, it is extremely difficult to say no. Saying ‘no’ goes against your core programming. You actually need new neural networks in your brain.
The exercise given below can be done repeatedly, so that the foundation stone of new behaviour can be effectively laid.
To be pleasing to others at the cost of your own life and dreams is a kind of death. Living each day, you carry a thousand corpses within you, those of your dishonoured, mutilated selves. Very often, this type of self-effacement precipitates grave diseases like cancer, due to a breakdown of your immune system.
A conformist often feels like a victim and resents those who impose their will on him, even while he succumbs to their power over his inner world.
A conformist does not know how to stand up for himself. Because he cannot say no, he cannot hear a ‘no’ from anyone. It pierces his heart with pain when someone says ‘no’ to him, and because he has not stood up for himself, he resents those who live their life on their own terms.
When a conformist says ‘yes’, he is turning himself into a victim within his mind. It is a powerless, negative response even though it is affirmative. He spends the first half of his life being a victim, and the next half being a persecutor.
All victims allow themselves to be controlled. This gives rise to a constantly simmering need to control others within their heart. When they are not able to effectively control, it brings them misery and unhappiness.
They then are hopelessly trapped in control dramas.
However moving out of a control drama is not so difficult. All it takes is a little bit of focus and dedication. The simple exercise given below can go a long way in liberating you.
The moment you begin to seek something you begin to move away from it. To find the truth you have to stop seeking it. To find love, you have to stop seeking it. To find God you have to stop seeking Him. When all searches within you come to a halt, the truth is revealed to you.
One of the greatest paradoxes of our times is the way we relentlessly try to conform to a path walked by a non-conformist. That is why religion is always against God. God is not, and never was, separate from yourself.
God is your invisible self.
You cannot find Him by walking down a road walked by someone else, no matter how enlightened that ‘other’ was. You will only find Him when you renounce all paths, all outward journeys, and fall into the vast, empty spaces within you, and in that falling, you will find your wings as well as your flight.
Nature owes its diversity and beauty to its inherent spirit of non-conformism.You cannot evolve into your flight unless you allow the winds of non-conformism to unfold beneath your wings. You owe it to the future generations of mankind to teach them to honour themselves above everything else in the world. You owe it to your planet, to teach your children to listen to their own voice, before you force them to drown in the cacophony of the myriad voices that surround them. When you honour your own self, when you listen to your own inner voice, when you dare to declare your allegiance to the truth which blazes within your heart, you begin to live from the light of non-conformism.
You move into the river of existence, just like Mother Nature, who relentlessly honours and supports non-conformism.
Nature, the non-conformist
Nature celebrates diversity. Nothing in nature tries to conform to anything except itself. That is why nature is centred in such tremendous harmony. Harmony is when you follow your own path, and allow someone else to follow theirs. That is how everything in nature is.
It is far easier for Mother Nature to be non-conformist, for she remained behind in the Garden of Eden. She does not know of ‘good and evil’ for she eats only of ‘the tree of life.’ There is no society, which seeks her conformism so she lives in an unbridled spontaneity.
When the life-giving air is tormented by the storms of its life, it is allowed to move into being a tempest. When the fury has passed, once again it becomes the gentle breeze, which lulls many into a peaceful sleep.
When the heart of a river swells, it is allowed to flood and overflow. When she wants to change her path and follow another route to the sea, she is gracefully allowed by the land.
When the earth feels the heat of the burden she carries, she is allowed to vent out her fury and spew molten rocks into the sky.
But the child of man moved out of Eden, with Adam and Eve. The child of man was pulled out of the river of existence by society. He has lost with himself, his feelings, and repression rules his unconscious mind.
It is difficult for the child of man to celebrate the spirit of non-conformism, but for that to happen, Earth shall one again have to become Eden.
The Rebel is the rejected bad boy, the half-brother of good sister conformism.
Why does a child move into rebellion?
Most of us have spent time with a newborn child. We all know how a newborn child can only be loved and not controlled. A newborn child will sleep for as long as he wants to, will wake up only when it is hungry, will smile only when it wants to, play only when it wants to, and curl its palm around your finger only when it wants to.
You cannot force a newborn baby to do anything, because yet, it is still connected to the river of existence. It is connected to the river of existence by virtue of breathing deeply. A baby breathes deeply, with his whole body and abdomen.
As long as the baby breathes deeply it is looked after by Existence. It cannot be controlled. It is deeply rooted in the love that the Creator has for all beings. But the moment the baby turns into a child, society teaches it shame, guilt and fear.
Shame, guilt and fear create repression within the child. And repression alters breathing forever. The child is pulled out of the river of existence, the moment he moves into shallow breathing. Now that he has lost his power he can be easily controlled by society. The child begins to conform. The more he conforms the more society bears down upon him. Repression begins to rule his world, until one day he cannot handle the energy any longer. As conformism moves towards its peak, it turns into rebellion.
He becomes unruly in the beginning, and then when you reject a so-called unruly child, his self-love turns into hatred for himself. Hatred for ‘himself’ fuels hatred for those who killed his self-love, and he turns against society. The rebel is against himself, as well as against society. The rebel is against love, because it was destroyed in him, while he was still learning to honour himself. A rebel is a victim of a society, which enforces conformism. Rebellion is a mission of destruction. Something has died within, there is corpse inside which relentlessly burns, a heart which refuses to turn into ashes, so it keeps the funeral pyre burning. That is why rebels carry flaming torches in their hands.
They will not rest until the fire that has scorched their wounded hearts consumes society, as well as the world at large.
But love can heal the heart of a rebel. Only love can soothe its pain, because only love can allow and accept. Only love can understand and heal the pain. The only way to quell rebellion is to pour love into it.
The only other way to quell rebellion is through meditation. No matter what path you are following or what culture you belong to, meditation will bring you to your breath. As you focus on it, it will become deep. As your breath becomes deep, once again you will be sucked into the river of existence.
And then Existence will look after you. You will leave the shores of society. It can no longer control you, because you have moved into the flow. A meditative man cannot be controlled. The repressions would be released.
A man in whom rebellion has died through meditation will become a revolutionary.
You celebrate the spirit of non-conformism, when you stop living in other people’s minds. By relying excessively on others’ opinion of you, you forget how to think like an individual, an indivisible whole, and live from the mind that creation bestowed upon you.
To be a non-conformist you have to be in love with life and the million possibilities that live in each moment, each breath.
The non-conformist can never be against anyone, because he is – for himself. Anyone who has honoured himself totally will respect the freedom and liberty of another. The non-conformist is never against society, but he may seem to be against societal norms. He who honours himself will always love and honour anything which serves the whole.
To be a non-conformist you have to love the fact that life is an adventure, and a process of new discoveries, and each day will bring you closer to yourself and your uniquely human potentiality. And to do that you need to be completely available to the present.
It takes tremendous energy to be a non-conformist, because it is a walk through power corridors, through and through. You cannot allow any energy that belongs to you, to slip into time traps. You have to set yourself free from the past and the future. You have to evolve in every moment. You have to keep pace with eternity. You have to think of reincarnation not in terms of lifetimes, but in terms of a moment. Only then can you live like a revolutionary, a non-conformist.
A revolutionary dies in every moment, and in the next second, he is reborn. If you are willing to die in this moment there is no question of a past. If you are willing to die in the next moment, there is no future and so there is no anxiety.
This is when you come completely alive to the present moment. The present moment is where life is, the present moment is always without any anxiety. The moment you move out of anxiety, you become available to ephemeral whispers of your spirit.
Listening to the voice of your spirit turns you into a unity. All your divided selves unite. All your fragmented selves integrate. You become the powerful, formidable force that you are.
One of the most powerful and formidable Gods in Indian mythology is Shiva, the ultimate revolutionary, the one god centred in meditation. Meditation is the core of the Shiva essence. That is why he is one integrated, non-conformist reality.
Non-Conformism’s presiding deity
Shiva, the epitome of non-conformism Shiva, the Hindu god of death and destruction, is intensely alive. He is alive because he dies in every moment. That is why he can dance to the sound of his own heartbeat, and when he moves into the cosmic dance, the whole Earth moves. Shiva is the ultimate symbol of non-conformism and self-love. That is why he is dearly loved by Shakti, the sacred feminine force, whose womb is the cradle of the universe. Shakti knows that she cannot possess Shiva, the eternal non-conformist. She knows because she has stabilized in love as a peak experience. She knows that she can only watch his flight, and drown in the vast empty spaces of his being. That is why Shiva exists in a never ending surrender to her love.
Love begins with death, death of the personality, the breaking of all images, and ends in the coming alive of being.
In fact, you move into love only when you move beyond conformism, because love happens when the ego dies, and conformism is nothing but a submission to the greatest of all egos, the ego of the collective consciousness. You can practise the ‘Shiva Tatva’ breathing exercise if you long to return to Eden, and if you wish to stabilise in love.
Easy to fly
Non-conformism is a path slightly difficult to walk, but very easy to fly.
To save our dying Mother Earth from the cancer of unsustainable growth, you have to dare to live by the truth which is uniquely yours.
You have to feel compassion, first for yourselves, and then for all those whose lives are directly or indirectly touched by yours, without compromising on the ideals which form the edifice of your life. You have to find within yourself, the courage to align with nature and allow non-conformism to stir within you.
The journey of a non-conformist is a movement in stillness, and stillness in motion. It is the ultimate paradox because it begins and ends in a state of – inlightenment. It may seem a difficult path to walk upon, the path of non-conformism, but actually it is the easiest, once you learn to drink from the nectar of being and let go of attachment to an image. To be a conformist is far more difficult, because it involves going against the self.
Non-conformism cannot be taught. Just as a bird is born with the principles of flight, your whole being is centred in it already. It can only be allowed to surface.
The non-conformist teacher will never teach you how to fly. He has faith in your wings, even though they have yet to materialise. He will not give you any sermons, but he will definitely take you to the brink . . . and then stand back and celebrate your flight.
The time has come.
There is an inner revolution, which is silently simmering, the fire of evolution has to spread.
Perhaps you too have felt its life-giving heat.
Wake up, so that you can live your dream!
Your Mother Earth needs you to live a powerful life, so that she can heal, nurture and support your progeny.
She needs you to be Muhammed, Buddha and Christ.
Within you breathes ‘The Messiah’ your Mother Earth is waiting for.
Within you is the light, which will resurrect her.
About the author
Sanjiv Ranjan’s powerful new book, The Seven Mystical Laws of Self-healing has just been published by Life Positive Publications. You can order it online by visiting our website, or send a demand draft, money order or cheque favouring Life Positive Pvt Ltd.
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