There was a time I felt I was in a very dark moment of my life. Everything felt like closing in on me. The future looked dim and all my life seemed to be shattering into a million pieces of meaningless rubble. It felt like there was no way out of it until, at what seemed like the lowest point, a very loud and powerful message came to my awareness. It said “Who are you fighting with? There is nothing to hold on to”. At that exact moment, it felt like a lightning had just zapped me right between the eyes. The words shocked me out of the dark corner I was in and everything felt like melting away in a scary, beautiful and liberating feeling at the same time.

At that moment I realised two truths at the same time. The first is that all of our struggles and battles are within ourselves. We do not struggle to resolve a problem, situation or conflict outside of us or around us. We struggle to resolve a conflict within ourselves. What or who we are fighting with is really ourself even though we do not realise this most of the time. And you know what? You can never win a fight with yourself for very obvious reasons – because every blow is met with equal force and in the end there are no winners, only losers.

The second truth is that most, if not all, of our pain, knots and suffering comes because of our constantly trying hard to latch on to something – an idea, an expectation, a dream, an outcome, an ideal. I had known about this already so what I learned that day was something beyond that. For the first time I came up, close and personal with the scariest notion of all – that I do not exist after all and in the end there is nothing to hold on to really – least of all myself. So our biggest attachment, and the root of all suffering is the attachment to the notion of there being a self. Bang!

So you might be thinking “what are you trying to tell me here….that I do not exist? really?”. Well in many ways, yes, in some others no. I do not want to get too metaphysical here. Let’s say that the sense of a separate self, the notion of ‘I’ that you have with its nuances, its histories, its conditions, does not really exist. It’s a fabrication; an illusion. Yet it is an illusion that we hold on to most dearly and the more we do the more we beget resistances and struggle within ourselves because we all want to be free but what we don’t really realise is that in truth we want to be free of ourselves; of that inauthentic, separate and conditioned ‘I’. So we want to be free without ever suspecting the real culprit. This is how we end up fighting with our own self because we stand in our own way.

This brings me to the following point. If you want to be someone, you have to become no one. If you want to be really free, you have to let yourself go. If you want to live more fully, try emptying yourself first. Letting go of yourself bit by bit is the hardest thing you can do yet the most profound.

The big question is “how on earth do I let myself go?” The answer is always one – Love. Ironically, you let yourself go by loving yourself more. I know this may sound counter-intuitive but it isn’t. Loving yourself is different from holding on to yourself. The former is unconditional love while the latter comes out of fear and illusion. When you love yourself without conditions, you allow space for the truest aspects of your being to shine through. Love dissolves boundaries, conditions, needs and fears. Hence the famous words “love will set you free”. When you love yourself you become whole not a fragment or a separate splinter we call the ‘I’. You realise the boundlessness of your true Self – the one that far outreaches the limited and illusory conditions of mind.

You might want to read or re-read a related past article that I wrote about Self-Love – Why Self-Love is the Basis of All Personal Growth.

Blessings <3

Gilbert Ross

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