“Knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is enlightenment.” ~Lao Tzu
Over the past few months, I’ve had the same recurring dream. Having been placed in some remote city I’ve never visited, in my dream, I am desperately trying to find a way back home. Often, I am in the company of family members, but none of them can help me to return home. All of my sweated efforts to board an airplane to fly home somehow fail. Strangely, “home” in my dream is neither the town nor the house where I grew up, and it is not the current home I live in. While the goal in my dream is to reach home, it is not a destination I recognize or have ever seen in my life. Ultimately, in my dream, I never return home. Because of this recurring dream theme, I was yearning to discover the meaning behind it.
One night, while having dinner with my husband, I curiously asked him to describe himself and me in three words. About himself, my husband said, “fair but take no crap” (well, that’s 5 but who’s counting), and about me, he said, “searching for yourself.” Not in a million years would I have thought to describe myself with these 3 words — “searching for myself” — but, in my husband’s own wisdom, I knew in my heart that it was profoundly true. When I had that same dream again this week, adding 2 and 2 together, I had this enlightening “aha” moment where I realized that “home,” which I could not recognize or ever return to in my dream, represented the elusive “home” to where I could ultimately return and find myself.
Since I was like 13 years old, I have been on a journey in search of finding myself. As a teenager, I used to lay in my bunk bed asking myself why I am “Moon,” and not Fred, Jenny, Amy or anyone else for that matter. My curiosity for answers to this existential question — i.e., the meaning of my life — was yearning inside me my whole life, and it was not until my sister Sun was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer that I started to actively seek and nurture it.
Regardless of our level of self awareness, ultimately, each and every one of us is on a journey back home to find ourselves. During this journey, we often struggle with our lives because finding ourselves can feel like a treasure hunt where we never find the treasure. None of us wants to believe that our lives are just random sequences of events. If we didn’t care whether our lives had any meaning, none of us would ever search for love because it is through love that we find ultimate meaning in our lives. Our deepest desire for love is what validates our quest for meaning in our lives.
While we may feel like the treasure hunt for that golden answer to who we are is nowhere to be found, the enlightening secret is that we have already found ourselves at home, but we just have not tapped into it. Our unhealthy attachments to people and material things, caused by our egos, prevent us from being at home with ourselves. In “A New Earth: Awakening to our Life’s Purpose,” Eckhart Tolle says, “In the last moments of life, they (“they” referring to the dying) also realize that while they were looking throughout their lives for a more complete sense of self, what they were really looking for, their Being, had actually always been there, but had been largely obscured by their identification with things.” Here, Tolle is also including the attachment to people as “identification with things.” It is our attachment to the material world and people, through our egos, which obstructs us from knowing that we have already arrived home to our true nature, so rather than “arriving” at our self discovery, we just need to access it.
We often make the cardinal mistake that when we fall in love with another person, we can find ourselves. This is an illusion and another dysfunctional attachment because human love can never last forever and will eventually disappoint, whether by death or abandonment by the other person.
The only healthy attachment that we can ever have is love for our God and this Universe because their love for us is eternal and unconditional. It is only through spiritual love that we can ever discover the truth about ourselves, our world, and this Universe. Divine love can only speak the language of truth in our hearts because it opens the windows to our souls and informs us about our true nature. And it is in these moments, when we truly know ourselves, that we become powerful beyond measure, taking on any challenges in life that we never thought possible and feeling our magnificence shine out into the world like a shooting star. Have you ever felt that sense of awe when you faced your fear by rising to the challenges of something new and unimaginable in your life? It is as if some higher power was working through you. These experiences are fueled by spiritual energies of love.
True love, which is the foundation for discovering ourselves, is never dependent on another human being, but rather on your connection to God. I realized recently why Mother Teresa inspires me so much and is my spiritual rock star. Even though she served her fellow humans at the highest level, Mother Teresa’s love was never dependent on another human being, but only and solely on Jesus Christ, her God. It was through her dependent love on Jesus that extended her love to her fellow humans. Yes, there is no doubt or argument that she loved her fellow humans unconditionally, but the important distinction — and make no mistake about it — is that her love was only attached and dependent on Jesus Christ. And her service to her fellow humans was just a manifestation of her true love for God.
Unlike Mother Teresa, who had found herself so deeply through God, I confess that I am still actively on this journey to find myself. While God and my late sister Sun are using me as their pencil to promote healthy, happy and spiritual living, I know deep inside that Ying & Yang Living is a big part of my journey to find myself because it is when I serve you, my fellow humans, with healthy living messages, that is when I have the possibility of becoming even closer to God in order to find myself. At the end of the day, I think all of our altruistic endeavors are in search of finding ourselves, but it is this kind of self serving that helps others, so I believe in its intrinsic value.
For those of us who never feel like we have found ourselves in this life, I believe it is in our passing on to a higher realm and returning our souls home to the heavenly kingdom of God and this infinite Universe that we can truly find and free ourselves. As Ralph Ellison said, “When I discover who I am, I’ll be free.”
I wish you all of God’s Blessings in finding yourself, and may your journey for self discovery be magical and enlightening!
By Moon Cho, Creator of Ying & Yang Living